x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

'I weighed 188kg … cosmetic surgery changed my life', says UAE man

Take our survey Ali Al Zubaidi is a bright-eyed young man who loves to travel and meet new people. But two years ago, it would have been hard to tell.

Ali Al Zubaidi says he has renewed confidence after receiving bariatric surgery.
Ali Al Zubaidi says he has renewed confidence after receiving bariatric surgery.

Ali Al Zubaidi is a bright-eyed young man who loves to travel and meet new people. But two years ago, it would have been hard to tell.

The weight problem he struggled with most of his life kept him hidden at home.

"I was too embarrassed to speak to people and I felt others didn't want to engage with me because there was an overweight person in front of them," the 29-year-old Emirati says.

He was the only one of his six siblings with a serious weight problem, and a social culture that places emphasis on image only exacerbated his experience.

In 2010, when he topped 180 kilograms, he decided it was time to take action. "I thought to myself, that's it, I've gone over," he says. "I wanted to take hold of my life and show people the person I really am. Thank God I didn't have any serious health complications, and I didn't want to wait until it was too late. "

He struggled to lose weight by making traditional lifestyle changes, and chose bariatric surgery - removal of part of his stomach, or sleeve gastrectomy. His mother first opposed the idea, fearing the side effects of such an invasive procedure.

Weighing 188kg, Mr Al Zubaidi had to lose 9kg before he could safely undergo the operation.

Although the procedure helps patients to lose weight rapidly, it often results in excess, sagging skin once the fat is lost. A year later, after losing 94kg, Mr Al Zubaidi returned to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital for a tummy tuck, neck tuck and chest reduction.

He weights 89kg now, and wants to lose another 9kg after putting on a little holiday weight. An avid bodybuilder, he now maintains his weight through diet and exercise.

Ali has plans to travel extensively and his life has taken a turn for the better since he lost the weight.

"I now go out and engage with people. They see me for who I am and not my weight," he says. "My world has completely changed.

"In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with cosmetic surgery if it's going to boost confidence. It's a personal choice."

mismail@thenational.ae