It’s right around the time folks are starting to feel guilty about their New Year’s resolutions. Weight loss is not easy, especially when dieting takes a lot of the pleasure out of eating. Diet pills have a risky and uneven reputation, and stomach-stapling surgery seems like a big step… What if there was another, more straightforward way to lose weight?
Well, chew on this: A team of inventors headed by the prolific Dean Kamen have developed a system that can suck undigested food directly from the stomach through an implanted tube. This invention has been developed into a commercial product by Aspire Bariatrics, though it’s not yet FDA approved.
We’d call the concept “elegant” except it’s the most disgusting thing we can imagine. Here’s how it works:
About twenty minutes after finishing your tasty meal, you hook up the AspireAssist external device to a port that’s been implanted in your belly. Turn a lever and your stomach’s barely-digested contents flow into a reservoir on the device. Once the flow stops, you then squeeze an attached bottle that pumps water into the stomach to wash out the “leftovers.” According to the company, the system is used with a lifestyle modification program that encourages “healthier food choices, smaller portion sizes, and increased physical activity” (though it seems to us this device removes the need for smaller portions and healthy choices altogether).
More about the device from Aspire Bariatrics:
The A-Tube is a thin silicone rubber tube that connects the inside of the stomach directly to a discreet, poker-chip sized Skin-Port on the outside of the abdomen. The Skin-Port has a valve that can be opened or closed to control the flow of stomach contents. The patient empties a portion of stomach contents after each meal through this tube by connecting a small, handheld device to the Skin-Port. The emptying process is called “aspiration”.
The aspiration process is performed about 20 minutes after the entire meal is consumed and takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Because aspiration only removes a third of the food, the body still receives the calories it needs to function. For optimal weight loss, patients should aspirate after each major meal (about 3 times per day) initially. Over time, as patients learn to eat more healthfully, they can reduce the frequency of aspirations.
We can’t decide what’s more revolting: excusing yourself after a meal to physically suck the food from your stomach, or deciding AspireAssist and its permanent G-tube port is a viable way to deal with obesity.
Don’t get us wrong – It’s good to see innovative tech approaches to public health issues, between this and the new weight-loss fork that debuted at CES. But it makes us wonder if there’s a market for just duct-taping your mouth shut during mealtime.
If you can stomach it, here’s a link to a fascinating video of how the system works and here’s an animation of the implantation of the system…