Weight loss: Safety debate between medical procedures and physical endeavours

Whereas the gastric balloon has been hailed for its advantages such as being a non-surgical procedure, traditional methods of losing weight such as exercise are safer.  PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Debate: Amidst safety concerns surrounding medical weight loss procedures, where is the balance between innovative methods and traditional approaches to weight loss.

As the pursuit of weight loss continues to captivate Ugandans aiming for a healthier lifestyle, a significant debate unfolds regarding the safety and effectiveness of medical interventions compared to traditional physical exercise and lifestyle changes. 

The comparison between medical interventions and conventional methods such as physical exercise and lifestyle modifications is a complex debate. Advocates of traditional weight loss approaches emphasise the importance of holistic lifestyle changes, citing exercise, diet alterations and behavioural adjustments as safer and more sustainable methods.

"Medical procedures are a shortcut," remarks Dr James Namutete, a proponent of holistic weight management. "Long-term success comes from lifestyle modifications, fostering healthier habits, and understanding the dynamics of nutrition and exercise."

As the dialogue ensues, individuals grapple with choices that impact their health and well-being. The allure of rapid weight loss through innovative methods beckons, yet the safety and lasting effects remain pivotal considerations in the journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

The debate
Derek Mwesigye, in his mid-30s is keen on maintaining a healthy body and mind, says he would prefer to keep it physical. He believes the medical approach should only be taken by those that have for long neglected maintaining their weight and as a result, it has spiralled out of control. 

Mulindwa Ssekanwagi, in his late-40s agrees with Mwesigye: “The physical approach seems safer for me. It takes long but I feel better safe than sorry,” he states. He thinks the medical approach will in a way leave longer side effects on the body organs, for example liver damage. 

Yosia Lukwago, on the other hand is not all out against medical procedures. He makes a case, arguing that depending on the circumstances, he would go for a safe weight loss procedure.  

Christine Nakabuye questions why a person should resort to medical rather than the natural physical way. 

“Let us use the example of a headache. If you can take water to stop a headache, then why swallow painkillers. It works the same way, why take medicine to lose weight yet you can lose it through physical exercise," she questions. 

Gastric Balloon
Among these debates is the rising popularity of the Allurion Gastric Balloon, lauded for its rapid results and non-surgical approach.

At the heart of this conversation is Refine Skin and Body Clinic, a bastion for individuals seeking transformation through the innovative Allurion Programme. The programme introduces a cutting-edge method - a gastric balloon that, once placed in the stomach, jumpstarts weight loss without surgery. Its allure lies in the promise of rapid yet sustainable weight loss, monitored by a dedicated team of healthcare professionals.

"Non-surgical, rapid weight loss," boasts the clinic's promotion of Allurion, emphasising its non-invasive nature and promising long-term results. "It's a straightforward process," Dr. Chirag Kotecha, an expert in cosmetics and aesthetics states, highlighting the insertion of the balloon in a quick and painless procedure, augmented by technology to track progress through an integrated app.

Dr Kotecha, founder of Refine Skin Clinic and also double as the medical director of Uganda Medical Centre (UMC) reassures that the Allurrion treatment follows a comprehensive and meticulous process. 

How does Allurion work?
“It is a straightforward process that starts with the placement of a state-of-the-art gastric pill balloon in your stomach. This balloon, previously known as 'Elipse,' is inflated during a quick and painless procedure, all while being monitored using X-rays,” Dr Kotecha explains, adding: 
“The Allurion Connected Scale and Health Tracker, seamlessly integrated with the Allurion Mobile App, help you track and support your achievements. It is technology at your fingertips, ensuring you stay on course towards your weight loss goals.”

Yet, amid the allure of such innovations, concerns arise within the medical community. Dr Namutete acknowledges the benefits of the Allurion Programme but underscores the need for comprehensive understanding and caution. 

"While the Allurion Programme presents a non-surgical option with promising results, it is crucial to weigh its safety against conventional methods," he states. 

The quest for a healthier, slimmer self navigates a terrain laden with choices; each bearing its promises and uncertainties. In the balance between medical interventions and time-tested practices, the quest for lasting health endures, prompting individuals to weigh their options and make informed decisions.
As the debate rages on, individuals tread cautiously, seeking the most effective, sustainable and above all, safest path to their weight loss goals.

Set realistic goals
According to www.mayoclinic.org, it may seem obvious to set realistic weight-loss goals. But do you really know what is realistic? Over the long term, it is smart to aim for losing 0.5 to one kilogramme a week. Generally, to lose this much weight a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity.

Depending on your weight, five percent of your current weight may be a realistic goal, at least for an initial goal. For example, if you weigh 82 kilogrammes, that is four kilogrammes. Even this level of weight loss can help lower your risk of chronic health problems, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.