A bizarre ‘stomach tap’ allows people fighting obesity to empty their stomachs before food is digested. The treatment known as AspireAssist is directed towards those over the age of 22 who have failed to lose weight through natural procedures.

Although many medical experts are protesting against the device, it was approved by the FDA, but they state that it should not be used by patients with eating disorders.

The AspireAssist System comes from Aspire Bariatrics, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
The AspireAssist System comes from Aspire Bariatrics, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Image Credit: NBC News

“It’s like giving someone bulimia, basically,” commented Dr. Sajani Shah from Tufts Medical Center.

Draining food directly out of your stomach

Those with uncontrolled hypertension, binge eating disorder, night eating syndrome, pregnancy, stomach ulcers or diagnosed bulimia cannot opt for the AspireAssist System.

The AspireAssist System comes from Aspire Bariatrics, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The goal of AspireAssist is to perform an “effective control of calorie absorption,” which could be highlighted as the main factor in weight management. The FDA suggests that patients undergoing the treatment should be regularly monitored and that their lifestyle should follow a stricter program in order to develop a healthy evolution of their efforts to lose weight.

AspireAssist has surgeons insert a surgical tube on the patient’s stomach through an incision in the abdomen. A valve is then set on the patient’s skin. Several minutes after the patients’ digestive process begins, AspireAssist’s external tubing must be connected to a port. The valves are then opened and in 10 minutes, the food is expelled to the toilet.

Some implications of AspireAssist

The FDA highly emphasizes that patients under the AspireAssist program must be assisted by a health care provider. As the program develops, the tube must be shortened in order to match the patient’s reduced body weight. They also note that there are some minor side effects, which include vomiting, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.

Research efforts had 111 patients undergo the surgical treatment and lifestyle monitoring. Results showed that patients who had chosen to submit themselves to AspireAssist lost 12 percent of their body weight, while 60 control patients lost an average of 3 percent.

The loss in body weight was linked to healthy factors in weight management, such as the drop in risk of hypertension and diabetes.

Dietitians and doctors all over the U.S. have claimed that, even if the AspireAssist system is able to effectively act upon calorie consumption and reduce body weight, it is not the ideal measure to fight the underlying causes of obesity.

When taking into account the price of the procedure, its side effects, the risk of infection, and the untested psychological implications, the AspireAssist System may do more for the patient than just reducing its body weight.

AspireAssist’s website states, “It takes 5-10 minutes to aspirate a meal. In the beginning, however, it may take longer to aspirate each meal. Prior to getting the AspireAssist, you should make sure that you can fit regular aspiration after each meal into your schedule.”

They also highlight the fact that the patient must be willing to perform a “complete lifestyle transformation,” which in the end, is all that is needed to achieve a desirable body weight.

Source: FDA