Joaquín Ortega: Obesity surgery is the only treatment which has shown itself to be effective on a long-term basisThe lack of physical exercise, a sedentary lifestyle and a diet based on food which contains large amounts of fat and calories are fertile ground for the significant increase in the excess weight epidemic. This condition, which is becoming more and more prevalent in developed countries, also leads to numerous other pathologies, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, which can have fatal consequences. On the occasion of the Spanish Society for the Surgery of Obesity´s 12th Congress, we spoke to the meeting´s chairman, Dr. Joaquín Ortega, Head of Surgery at the University Clinic Hospital of Valencia.
This is the first time the congress is to be held in Valencia. As the meeting´s chairman what does this imply for you?
This is our 12th congress. A lot has happened since we organised the first meeting in Alicante. The association has grown in numbers since the first congress when it was practically a group of friends. Nowadays, putting the event together takes a lot of hard work and effort although it is worth it in the end.
The Valencia Conference Centre has been chosen to hold the event this year. What´s your opinion of the venue?
It is a magnificent setting and thanks to the professional attitude of the Centre´s staff, it is a perfect backdrop for the different activities we have organised. It is also going to be the congress with the largest number of delegates, who are attracted not only by the programme we have put together but also by Valencia´s current appeal as a modern, avant-garde city. If we add the fact that it coincides with the week before the Fallas festival, this makes it an even more attractive proposition.
Before we go into the contents of the congress, why did you choose such an eye-catching image for the posters and conference material? Why is it so special?
The image, by the Argentinian artist Pablo Schugurensky, is a reproduction of a painting I have had at home for some time. I´ve always thought that it would be perfect to represent the treatment of obesity and from the comments people have made about it, I was right. I must confess that the artist has given me the rights to the image in exchange for exhibiting some of his paintings, which I am sure the participants are going to like, during the congress.
What are the focal points of this congress?
The programme has been organised around two main objectives to show the evolution and results of bariatric surgery. The first is to reach a consensus amongst surgeons so that we can all apply the same protocols. The second is metabolic surgery. This is a new field in obesity surgery which is opening many new doors for us. Bariatric or obesity surgery is the only treatment which has shown itself to be effective on a long-term basis.
What are the latest developments in this area?
This is an extremely interesting time for metabolic surgery. The congress aims to share the results of recent operations so as to map out the way for future treatments. These operations use minimally invasive techniques and produce results which enhance patients´ health considerably. We mustn´t forget that obese patients also have other related pathologies, such as type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, cholesterol, sleep apnea and high blood pressure, which reduce their life expectancy significantly. These new techniques enable us to cure this type of diabetes and reduce patients? weight. This in turn leads to an improvement in the majority of related conditions.
Renowned international experts, such as Dr. Ludovico de Paula and Dr. Schirmer, will also be speaking at the congress
Yes, that´s right. Their presence gives the event greater prestige, although we have had international speakers at our congresses before. Dr. De Paula has carried out the largest number of metabolic operations in Brazil whilst Dr. Schirmer is an authority in the field in the USA. We want to make the congress special and also give them the chance to get to know Valencia as this will help us to work towards holding the world congress in obesity surgery in Spain in the future.