New non-surgical treatment for obesity launched in Riyadh

Updated 21 November 2017

New non-surgical treatment for obesity launched in Riyadh

RIYADH: A new non-surgical, fully reversible treatment, the “Obalon Balloon System,” is now attracting many obese Saudis who are unable to lose weight through traditional diet.

In Saudi Arabia, where the prevalence of obesity is a growing health concern resulting in a number of other diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, hyperlipidemia, and osteoarthritis, this new treatment is gaining popularity.

The effectiveness of the “Obalon balloon system” for losing excess weight, heralded as an innovative solution for individuals who suffer from obesity, was discussed at a medical conference organized by Al-Sultan Saudi Medical Company held in Riyadh, and attended by an elite group of doctors specialized in obesity treatment.

During the past three years alone, a total of 5,500 Saudis used the Obalon balloon system for weight loss. The success of the system is estimated at 90 percent, whereas 10 percent failed due to non-compliance of the patient with the required diet and physical exercise.

The Food Drug Authority (FDA), and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), have approved the Obalon balloon system as the latest, safest and most-developed medical technique to help individuals lose weight without surgery.
Dr. Jaime Ponce, MD, an expert in bariatric Surgery at CHI Memorial Hospital in the US, and former president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), said the modern Obalon system adopted in many developed states is known for its effective results and total safety. Clinical studies proved that patients using this technique have lost double the weight they had lost using the normal diet and sport only, he noted.

“This technique is attracting many patients in KSA, especially since weight loss is considered to be one of the difficult challenges they face, while many patients had recourse to liposuction or to sleeve gastrectomy which may cause dangerous side effects,” Dr. Ponce noted.

He pointed out that the Obalon technique does not work alone. It should be accompanied by diet and exercise so that the person reaches the optimal weight.

The patient has to swallow three lightweight balloons over a period of six months, which will then inflate using nitrogen gas and occupy a part of the stomach which suppresses the desire to eat more. Each balloon placement takes less than 10 minutes. The older version of the system was for a three-month duration. No surgery or enteroscopy is involved in the balloon process.

The Obalon system is used to lose the excess weight among adults whose BMI (body mass index) is between 27-35, and who failed in losing their weight through diets or sports only.

Emad Al-Zaben, group general manager of Al-Sultan Saudi Medical Company, said the company is cooperating with the health sector to offer the latest techniques for overweight treatment, including Obalon.


Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.