Is AspireAssist A Personal Bulimia Machine?

January 13, 2013

Is AspireAssist A Personal Bulimia Machine?

Gone are the days fighting obesity by wiring one’s jaw shut, at least mostly.  Weight loss surgery has for years been a proven weight loss success for many obese or morbidly obese individuals  But, here we go again.  A new procedure, perhaps a new solution?   Or not.

If the three physicians who collaborated to developed a new device have it their way, you may soon be able to eat whatever you want to and then self-pump up to 30 percent of your meal from your stomach shortly after.  The procedure, called the AspireAssist Therapy System, reduces the calories absorbed by the body but still allows your body to absorb the calories it needs.  The trick is that you will have to pump that 30 percent from your stomach before your stomach starts to break down the food.

AspireAssist consists of a specially designed tube, called the A-Tube™ that is placed in the stomach.  The tube (which is much like a feeding tube) connects to a small port that is located on the outside of your abdomen. A valve within the port can be opened to empty part of the stomach contents into the toilet after each meal.  This process is called aspiration.  The aspiration takes place 20 minutes after each meal and the process takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes to perform.

Touted as an alternative to mainstream bariatric surgery, AspireAssist is a minimally invasive procedure and is reversible. The surgery takes about 20 minutes to perform and the patient doesn't' have to go under general anesthesia.  The patient is usually home with in 1-2 hours after the procedure is done.  According to initial clinical studies, most patients lost about half of their excess weight in a years time, and the infection and complication rate has been low.

Reactions to this new device have been mixed.  Some find the device disgusting and nothing more than a personal bulimia machine that does nothing to address the unhealthy eating patterns and food addictions.  “It’s nothing more than an enabling device.”  said one poster.

Bariatric surgeon Dr. Christopher Finnell of the United Regional Physician Group has concerns with the AspireAssist procedure.   His concerns include: patient compliance, safety, and social implications.  "It's going to require a patient to do something disgusting to lose weight," he said of the personal stomach pump. "Obese people who get (feeding) tubes have a higher rate of complications than skinnier people.

AspireAssist has been available in medical practices in parts of Europe since 2011 and currently has Clinical Trials ongoing in the United States.

What do you think about this procedure?  Would you consider using the AspireAssist device to lose weight? Or do you think it is nothing more than a a personal bulimia machine that promotes eating disorders?

*View the video below to see how AspireAssist works!