Q: Do patients eat more to compensate for aspirated calories?
There is no evidence in our clinical studies of patients using the device as an excuse to eat more, or eating more to compensate for aspirated calories. 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.
Q: Is the AspireAssist permanent?
Lifestyle Therapy is given in conjunction with the AspireAssist 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 this therapy elect to continue it to ensure that weight loss is maintained. However, if the AspireAssist is needed to maintain weight loss, it is likely weight regain will occur if therapy is stopped.
Q: 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 it’s similar to being compliant with a reduced calorie diet. Therefore, most patients do not need to take additional supplements. Most doctors will also recommend a multivitamin, as with any weight loss regimen including dieting. Additionally, patients are monitored carefully for nutrient or electrolyte imbalance, and to ensure that weight loss occurs at a healthy rate.
Q: 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 bottom portion of the stomach 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.
Q: Are infections a problem?
In clinical studies, we have seen no major infections, but 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.
Q: How is this different from bulimia?
Bulimia is a psychological illness characterized by excessive and uncontrolled binging episodes followed by purging. Bulimia is medically unsupervised, while the AspireAssist is used under the control of a physician and electrolytes and metabolites are carefully monitored. The AspireAssist does not cause bulimia. Successful aspiration requires careful chewing and slower eating, which is quite opposite from an uncontrolled binging episode. One of the primary dangers of bulimia is the damage to the teeth and esophagus due to stomach acid; the AspireAssist poses no such risk.
Additionally, there is little overlap between people with bulimia and obesity. Patients who wish to begin therapy with the AspireAssist will undergo screening for bulimia and other psychological illnesses to make sure they are eligible for therapy.
Q: 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!
Q: Where is the AspireAssist available?
The AspireAssist is now FDA approved, and is now available in the United States. The AspireAssist is also approved for sale in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and select additional regions. Click here to learn more about availability in your area.
Q: I’ve already had bariatric surgery. Am I eligible for the AspireAssist?
It depends on the type of surgery you had and your personal health factors, so you will need to discuss this with an AspireAssist-trained doctor. If you’ve had a permanent procedure (for example, gastric bypass), there may not be enough space in the stomach for the tube, so you may not be a candidate for the AspireAssist. Patients who have had a Gastric Band may be eligible for the AspireAssist, but should speak to a doctor directly. Only a physician can determine if the AspireAssist is appropriate for you.