Aspiration Therapy

Weight Loss Solutions at RWJ University Hospital New Brunswick

Aspiration therapy is a new weight loss modality that is non-surgical and reversible. The AspireAssist works by reducing the calories absorbed by the body, while helping you make gradual, healthy changes to your lifestyle. After eating, food travels to the stomach immediately, where it is temporarily stored and the digestion process begins. Over the first hour after a meal, the stomach begins breaking down the food, and then passes the food on to the intestines, where calories are absorbed. The AspireAssist allows patients to remove about 30% of the food from the stomach before the calories are absorbed into the body, causing weight loss. You’ll also need to chew carefully and eat mindfully, which helps give time for the fullness signals from your stomach to reach your brain.

How is the AspireAssist tube placed?

The AspireAssist tube is placed during a 15-minute outpatient procedure. Patients can usually return home within one to two hours, and many return to work very quickly compared to invasive bariatric surgeries. The does not usually require general anesthesia, and instead is typically performed under “twilight anesthesia”. The procedure is very similar to the routine placement of feeding tubes.

How does the aspiration process work?

The aspiration process is performed about 20 to 30 minutes after the entire meal is consumed and takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. The process is performed in the privacy of the restroom, and the food is drained directly into the toilet. Because aspiration only removes a third of the food, the body still receives the calories it needs to function.

How does this help me lose weight?

The procedure uses a device that reduces the number of calories your body processes. The device also requires you to chew your food very carefully, giving time for the fullness signals from your stomach to reach your brain so you’re less likely to eat too much.

This therapy is used in conjunction with lifestyle counseling. This program combines one-on-one counseling and group support meetings to encourage healthier food choices, smaller portion sizes, and increased physical activity. The therapy also requires careful and comprehensive monitoring by a physician to ensure you are losing weight in a healthy manner.

Do I qualify for the AspireAssist procedure?

Ideal candidates:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 35 and less than 55
  • Be willing to participate in a medically supervised program
  • Have attempted weight-loss through diet and exercise without success
  • Do not qualify for, or do not desire, bariatric surgery

What can I expect after the AspireAssist procedure?

Over a week or two, the stoma, or the newly-created pathway where the tube is placed, needs to settle around the tube. Most patients return home within an hour or two after the procedure. Your doctor will prescribe pain medications and antibiotics for you to take at home. You may experience some pain or discomfort in the first few days, but the medications will help. Patients can usually begin showering two days after the procedure.

Patients generally return to work and resume regular activities within a few days, but it is likely you will experience some abdominal discomfort during this healing stage.

After about a week, you will return to your doctor’s office to have the button attached to the tube, right at the surface of your skin. This only takes a few minutes and is completely painless. After this visit, you’ll need to wait one more week to begin using the AspireAssist to make sure the stoma has fully healed.

About two weeks after your procedure, your healthcare team will show you how to use the AspireAssist. After this appointment, you will take the AspireAssist kit home with you. This kit includes the small handheld device (about the size of your palm) that helps the food drain from your stomach, and a case to store the device after use. The case is small and discreet so it can be carried in a purse or briefcase.

How much weight can I expect to lose?

By the end of six months of aspiration therapy, patients lose on average about 40 percent of their excess weight.

What are the risks of AspireAssist?

The most common adverse events immediately after the procedure were abdominal discomfort or pain (treated with pain medication), and nausea or vomiting related to the sedation medicine given during the procedure (treated with anti-nausea medication, if necessary).

The most common adverse events related to the device or therapy were skin irritation or granulation tissue around the tube placement site on the abdomen (treated with silver nitrate sticks or medicated lotion). Other less common side effects include infection (treated with antibiotics, or device removal or replacement) and abdominal pain or discomfort (treated with medication).

Major complications are rare.

Who is not a candidate for AspireAssist?

The AspireAssist is not recommended for patients who have certain disorders that cause extreme difficulty swallowing or digesting food, previous stomach ulcers that do not resolve with treatment, high blood pressure than cannot be controlled with medication (blood pressure >160/100), blood clotting disorders, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or night eating syndrome, anemia, serious pulmonary (lung) or cardiovascular disease, chronic abdominal pain, or for patients who are pregnant or lactating. The AspireAssist is also not recommended for patients with previous abdominal surgery that significantly increases the medical risks of gastrostomy tube placement, or for patients with physical or mental disability, or psychological illness that could interfere with compliance with the therapy.

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