We all know that the way to lose, or at least control, weight is to eat less. That's easier said than done for most people. But a new treatment makes it possible to reverse your food intake ... literally.
It's called the AspireAssist system. It was recently approved by the FDA and is being presented as an alternative to bariatric surgery, which involves putting a band around the stomach to literally make it smaller and thus able to hold less food.
Instead of making your stomach smaller, AspireAssist basically gives food another way out. Here's how it works:
A doctor uses an endoscope to place a thin tube into your stomach. The tube is connected to a small button on the outside. After each meal, you use a handheld device, about the size of a smartphone, that pumps a third of the meal out through a tube and into a nearby toilet. The procedure takes about five to ten minutes and removes the food before it can be absorbed by the stomach.
The manufacturer, Aspire Bariatrics, says that because only a third of the meal is removed, the body still receives the calories that it needs and you still get the full feeling that satisfies your hunger while shedding about a third of the calories that would otherwise be ingested.
AspireAssist is intended for use by adults with a Body Mass Index of 35 to 55 for whom more conservative weight loss therapies haven’t worked. (The Centers for Disease Control considers a BMI of 30 or higher to be “obese”). The company says its studies show patients lost an average of 46 pounds after using the system for a year.
The manufacturer says its device is implanted in a 15-minute outpatient procedure, which is fully reversible and doesn’t alter your internal anatomy. The system is intended for long-term use and is designed to be used in conjunction with diet, exercise counseling, and close medical monitoring.
“With less than 1% of the 25 million Americans with BMIs over 35, availing themselves of bariatric surgery each year, there is clearly a need for a non-surgical weight loss procedure that is effective, safe, and reversible,” says Dr. Christopher Thompsoon of the Harvard Medical School. “AspireAssist therapy satisfies this need and additionally offers a lower cost solution to the healthcare system.”
The device should not be used by people with eating disorders.