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Dr. Aayed AlqahtaniSince its establishment in 2008, the King Saud University’s Obesity Chair has become a bastion in the battle against morbid obesity in the Kingdom, the region and beyond, but the last 18 months has been a banner period for the clinic.

A primary reason for the chair’s success has been its supervisor Dr. Aayed R. Alqahtani and his surgical team that has achieved major gains in combating obesity, particularly through the revolutionary surgical procedure laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG).

In 2011 alone, the clinic evaluated and treated more than 900 cases of obesity and related surgeries, and the numbers of cases continues to expand in what Dr. Alqahtani describes as “the epidemic in our time.” The progress and success in the clinic’s efforts has attracted international attention to Dr. Alqahtani, who was named 2010 Surgeon of the Year by the University of Graz (Austria), and his surgical team in the KSU Obesity Clinc.

This spring, Dr. Alqahtani’s article “Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy in 108 Obese Children and Adolescents Aged 5 to 21 years” was published in the Annals of Surgery, one of the oldest and most highly referenced surgery journals in the world. In addition, his research has recently been featured in Yahoo Finance and in Reuters Health “The Doctor’s Channel Report.

In March, Dr. Aqahtani was a featured speaker at the SAGES 2012 Conference in San Diego, USA, and in January the clinic was on the short list of candidates for the Excellence in Patient Centered Care Award in recognition for its success in its tremendous 2011 workload.

Operated by an expert team of behavioral therapists, sports specialists and therapeutic nutritionists, the KSU Obesity Clinic – part of KSU’s Sheikh Ali Bin Sulaiman AlShehri Obesity Chair – possesses an expert team of behavioral therapists, sports specialists and therapeutic nutritionists, and is the region’s first multi-discipline clinic devoted to treatment in all aspects of obesity. The clinic’s treatment process begins with a health education group in which the patient and family undergo collective therapy because studies reveal that the obesity problem begins at home with poor daily habits and nutritional values.

King Saud UniversityMuch of the attention accorded the KSU Obesity Clinic hinges on its LSG surgery, a procedure involving the re-sectioning of the stomach sleeves which dramatically reduces the stomach’s capacity. In contrast to other excessive weight loss surgeries such as gastric bypass and gastric banding, LSG employs no malabsorption or foreign body items and the risk of ulcer is low and the absorption of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and drugs are not altered.

The nature of LSG surgery depends on the amount of excessive weight a patient needs to lose and the patient’s age and state of health. The procedure began primarily on adult patients, but the absence of post-operative complications and adverse reactions prompted Dr. Alqahtani and his team to begin a program for morbid obesity in children and adolescents.

“I have seen children crippled with their obesity and in wheelchairs, unable to go to school, even having multiple cardiac arrest due to their sleep apnea and other obesity-related morbidities,” he said, “and this surgery has changed their life by curing their problem. I feel it gives new hope to obese children without serious complications.”

Dr. Alqahtani offers some clinic results to show the effectiveness of LSG.

In 88 patients evaluated 3 months after surgery, the median excess weight loss(allowing for height increase) was 28.9 percent. In 41 patients evaluated after 12 months, the median weight loss was 61.3 percent. Equally impressive is the fact that after 6 months, 42.1 percent of patients achieved at least a 50 percent excess weight loss and after 12 months the percentage climbed to 73.2.

In more than 90 percent of the patients, substantial excess weight loss was noted and nearly 100 percent, diabetes of cases, hypertension, sleep apnea and other life-threatening obesity-related diseases related to obesity were gone.

“In our group, we found that kids grow well without any malnutrition,” Dr. Alqahtani said in his Reuters Health interview regarding LSG. “I feel it is the best option nowadays for morbidly obese children and adolescents compared to other weight loss surgeries.

Obesity, Dr. he concludes, will not be eliminated if its causes are not logically addressed. Patients and their families must learn how to change their daily routine through the clinic’s expertise, followed by evaluation and continuous therapy begins.

The evaluation phase includes comprehensive checks from which a therapy plan is established. The plan is implemented is based on the patient’s weight and health issues.

Parents or guardians of potential patients’ may apply to the KSU Obesity Clinic’s children-adolescent program using a special form online, by telephone or in person. A clinic member will review the request and schedule an appointment according to the nature of the case.

Dr. Alqahtani emphasizes that it is difficult for anybody who is not obese to comprehend the ordeals and severe challenges that it imposes on those who are obese. Many patients have spoken gratefully about the positive impact the clinic has had on their lives by providing them with freedom of movement, a pleasing new look and a sense of high self-esteem.

Dr. Alqahtani, who began fashioning a brilliant curriculum vitae in the early 1990s, credits much of the clinic’s success to the unbridled support of KSU Rector Abdullah Othman and Dr. Mubarak Al-Faran, dean of KSU’s College of Medicine.

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