A new alternative to bariatric surgery for weight loss has received Food and Drug Administration approval.
It’s called the AspireAssist system and it’s designed for 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.
A doctor uses an endoscope to place a thin tube into a patient’s stomach. This tube is connected to a small button on the outside of the patient’s stomach. After each meal the patient uses a handheld device, about the size of a smart phone, to activate the AspireAssist system. Then, before the food can be absorbed by the stomach, the system pumps about a third of the meal through the tube and into the toilet. The process takes about 5 or 10 minutes in the bathroom. The manufacturer, Aspire Bariatrics, says that because only a third of the meal is removed the body still receives the calories that it needs.
The manufacturer of the weight loss system says its device is implanted in a 15-minute outpatient procedure, which is fully reversible and doesn’t alter the patient’s 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.”