For three years, we have been collaborating with Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) to create a leading-edge bariatric surgery program. Not only is this now a flagship service for JHAH patients, it also has been designated a Center of Excellence according to the Surgical Review Corporation, an internationally recognized accreditation organization. Just eight institutions in Saudi Arabia have earned this distinction for providing patients with exemplary weight management care.

These were big achievements, and we’re proud of our shared progress. We also recognize that the field of bariatric surgery is dynamic and so we continue to strategize on how to achieve even greater successes in patient weight loss.

Most bariatric surgery patients at JHAH undergo a laparoscopic sleeve procedure, in which surgeons reduce the size of the stomach by as much as 80% to limit the person’s food intake. This treatment proves to be highly effective in helping these patients achieve a healthier weight.

For other patients ― particularly those with a body mass index of more than 60 ― the sleeve procedure may be a first step to help them lose enough weight so they can then safely have a more extensive type of weight-loss surgery. One option is a gastric bypass, which not only reduces the size of the stomach, but also reroutes the small intestine to limit the amount of nutrients the body absorbs.

Surgeons are increasingly performing both sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgeries using minimally invasive techniques — either laparoscopically or with robot-assisted surgery.

At present, and for the foreseeable future, bariatric surgery remains the most effective and longest-lasting treatment for obesity. Our focus now at JHAH is to maximize the use of its highly advanced surgical robot to continue to deliver on these in-demand services.

As an example of how we plan to achieve this goal, we tapped the expertise of Hien Nguyen, a surgeon from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s comprehensive bariatric surgery team who has been providing continued clinical and training support to JHAH’s bariatric surgery program. Nguyen recently traveled to Dhahran Medical Center for the fourth time and performed and proctored 24 bariatric surgeries using the surgical robot. (Read more about his work at JHAH.)

Our goal is provide patient care when needed, but, more importantly, to help ensure JHAH surgeons are fully trained to provide the most advanced weight management treatment in the Kingdom, where nearly 1 in 3 adults is obese.

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