Implant Shrinks Waistline Without Lifestyle Changes

July 11, 2008 01:04 PM
by Devin Felter
A new weight loss device enters the final stages of FDA testing, offering the obese and diabetes-stricken yet another method for trimming pounds.

30-Second Summary

The demand for easy ways to lose weight has led researchers at EnteroMedics to develop VBLOC, an electric transmitter implanted in the dieter’s torso that helps control hunger signals moving between the brain and the stomach.

The device has helped test patients lose about 30 pounds of excess weight on average, and has few side effects.

“With our device there is no restrictive diet, no change in lifestyle,” says Greg Lea of EnteroMedics.

At five minute intervals, the VBLOC transmits 5,000 hertz of electricity through the vagus nerve, the path through which the brain and stomach communicate. This amount of electricity depolarizes the nerve, temporarily breaking the brain’s link to the stomach. Without this electric communication, the stomach fails to expand upon eating and patients feel full sooner.

Although there have been reports of nausea by those using the device, complaints have been less frequent than in studies of other weight loss methods, such as gastric bypass and banding.

“This is a hopeful and useful thing,” said Richard Atkinson, editor of the International Journal of Obesity. “But what I hope will happen is that this will enable us to better tailor treatments for patients who don’t respond to a particular weight loss procedure.”

Headline Link: ‘Implant Designed to Shrink Waistline’

Reference: The vagus nerve; gastric bypass

Related Topics: Fat fines and childhood obesity


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