By Mohammed Rasooldeen
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.