Frequently Asked Questions
Do patients eat more to compensate for aspirated calories?
There is no evidence in the clinical trials of compensation for aspirated calories by increasing food intake. In fact, clinical data indicate that patients exhibit better self-restraint, less disinhibition, and no tendency to binge eat. These results suggest that many obese people eat excess calories because of environmental influences (stress, social activities, desire to taste specific foods etc), rather than a signal from their bodies to eat a certain amount of calories every day.
Is the AspireAssist permanent?
Lifestyle Therapy is given in conjunction with Aspiration Therapy so patients can gradually learn healthy eating and exercise behaviors while they are losing weight. For those patients who are successful in modifying their lifestyle sufficiently, the tube can be removed without re-gaining weight. Our trials show that most patients who start Aspiration Therapy elect to continue it to ensure that weight loss is maintained. However, if Aspiration Therapy is needed to maintain weight loss, it is likely weight regain will occur if therapy is stopped.
Why does the system only remove 30% of the calories?
After a "complete" aspiration (when food stops draining), about 70% of the calories are still left in the stomach or intestines. This happens for several reasons: 1) some food has already been passed to the small intestine for absorption, 2) the tube sits mostly in the upper portion of the stomach so food in the lower portion is not aspirated, and 3) some food may not fit through the tube. Our studies have shown that patients attempting to completely empty a meal can remove about 30% of the calories on average.
Do patients get enough nutrients while using the AspireAssist?
Aspiration only removes about a third of the ingested meal, and food removal is uniform. It effectively provides “portion control” without deprivation, so Aspiration Therapy is similar to being compliant with a reduced calorie diet. Additionally, patients are monitored carefully for nutrient or electrolyte imbalance, and to ensure that weight loss occurs at a healthy rate.
Are infections a problem?
In clinical trials, we have seen no major infections, but we have seen occasional minor infections which were resolved with conservative treatment. As with PEG tubes, the body “heals” around the implanted tube, reducing susceptibility to infection. Patients are instructed to regularly inspect their site for redness and inflammation and contact their doctor if they notice any change.
How is this different from bulimia?
Aspiration Therapy does not cause bulimia. Bulimia is a psychological illness characterized by excessive and uncontrolled binging episodes followed by purging. Bulimia is medically unsupervised, while Aspiration Therapy is under the control of a physician and electrolytes and metabolites are carefully monitored. One of the primary dangers of bulimia is the damage to the teeth and esophagus due to stomach acid; Aspiration Therapy poses no such risk.
Additionally, there is little overlap between people with bulimia and obesity. Patients who wish to undergo Aspiration Therapy will undergo screening for bulimia and other psychological illnesses to make sure they are eligible for therapy.
Can patients do normal activities, like take a bath or swim, with the AspireAssist?
Yes, once the body has healed around the tube, people with the AspireAssist can swim, exercise, or engage in other activities that are part of normal daily life!
When will the AspireAssist be available?
The AspireAssist received CE mark approval for sale in Europe in December 2011, and is now available on a limited basis in Europe and select additional regions. The AspireAssist is currently an investigational device in the U.S., and is not commercially for sale within the United States. Although we expect to seek FDA approval in the future, we do not know when it will be commercially available in the US.