Beyond Gastric Bypass: New Weight Loss Device in Development

Image courtesy of Aspire Bariatrics

Scientists have plans to develop a new surgical method for weight loss: aspiration. What does this mean? People can potentially suction out their stomach contents right after eating in order to lose weight. A new firm is investigating this possibility by developing a device, AspirationAssist. This device may hit markets in the US as early as 2015.

Current surgical options for weight loss include highly invasive surgeries that alter one’s gastrointestinal anatomy to shrink the stomach or lessen the intestines’ ability to absorb fat and sugar. Over the years, the procedures have improved and gotten less invasive. The now-popular Lap-Band surgery, which only places an adjustable band around the stomach, shrinking its size, is a sign of how surgical methods of weight loss have evolved.

The AspirationAssist procedure, though surgical, acts differently. Instead of going inside your abdomen under general anesthesia, the surgeon installs a tube, known as the A-Tube™, inside your stomach that connects to a port in your skin. After eating a meal, food travels to the stomach, and the digestion process begins. With an aspiration tube placed in the stomach, one can connect the tube to a portable vacuum and aspirate its contents before the body is able to absorb them. The company, Aspire Bariatrics, claims that it “allows patients to remove 30% of the food from the stomach before the calories are absorbed into the body.”

After the procedure, a physician would require the patient to take a multivitamin, electrolyte supplements, and an acid-blocker in order to maintain proper body chemistry and nutrition.

During their investigation, Aspire Bariatrics found that obese patients using this device lost an average of 45 pounds during the first year, which is comparable to the weight loss seen in Lap-Band surgeries and the gastric sleeve procedure.

The practice of inserting a tube into the stomach isn’t new. Surgeons have been doing it for years – but with different intentions. Stomach tubes, also known as gastrostomy tubes (G-tubes), are commonly used to help feed those who have difficulty swallowing or are unable to eat, like cancer patients.

Researchers will need to take the time to determine its possible side effects, which can include infections and nutritional deficiencies. Also, another potential setback involves the pump’s ability to break up larger portions of solid food. Any medical professional will attest to the fact that G-tubes get clogged all the time.

Even though the device won’t be available for general use in the US until 2015 or later, this approach to weight loss is definitely unprecedented. That said, AspirationAssist will have to work out many kinks before becoming a household word term “gastric bypass.”

Learn more about today’s bariatric surgeries.