The FDA has approved the use of a stomach pump device, AspireAssist, to aid in the weight loss of obese patients.
To use the device, patients must first have a tube placed in their stomach.
“It’s an endoscopic procedure, done under sedation, where we put in a tube from the skin of the abdominal wall into the stomach,” Dr. Shawn Garber, President of the New York Bariatric Group, tells PEOPLE.
After eating, patients use the device which is about the size of a smartphone to pump the contents of their stomach into a toilet.
“Thirty percent of the calories they eat get suctioned out and goes into the toilet bowl,” says Garber, a contributor to RealSelf. “The initial FDA study of 171 patients comparing patients with the device to people who just had nutrition and exercise counseling showed that the people with the device lost three times more weight than the ones that did not. That’s pretty significant weight loss.”
While the thought of pumping your own stomach may not be the most appealing, there are many pros to the AspireAssist device for use with obese patients.
“It’s a relatively safe and pretty simple procedure,” says Garber. “It’s not surgery. It’s done in an endoscopy suite in the office. The nice thing about the procedure is it can stay in forever, so you can continue doing this for a long term, or you can remove the tube – it’s another simple procedure and the hole will just close up on its own.”
However, Garber says he would recommend weight loss surgery over the pump for patients who qualify for it.
“For people that are morbidly obese, surgery is usually the best option,” he says. “The most popular procedure is sleeve gastrectomy – but there is a subset of patients that are scared of surgery, or there are people that because of their health conditions can’t have surgery. This is a great option for those patients.”