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FDA Approves The Installation Of "Stomach Taps"

Stomach tap
The tap is effectively a feeding tube, but in reverse. via YouTube

Being morbidly obese is incredibly damaging to your health. For some people though, dieting and exercise are simply not enough. For these people, they may need to go under the knife to either receive bariatric surgery or, as the FDA have just granted approval, they could instead have a “stomach tap” installed. This latest extreme intervention may, however, make you feel a little sick to the bottom of your stomach.

The device works, in effect, as a reverse feeding tube. Instead of pumping food into the stomach of patients who are unable to eat, the device drains the already chewed and partially digested food from those who eat too much. The tube in the stomach is inserted in such a way that those who have it installed are only able to withdraw up to a third of the stomach's contents, which can be enough to lead to weight loss in morbidly obese people.


Already available in some European countries, the US Food and Drug Administration have just given the go-head for people to have the AspireAssist Aspiration Therapy System surgically implanted into their bodies. The tube goes from the stomach, through the abdominal wall, and to a valve on the outside of the body that is normally kept closed. After a meal, the patient can then attach another tube to the valve, turn it on, and drain out up to a third of the stomach's contents into the toilet.

The FDA have said that only people between the ages of 22 and older, obese with a body mass index of between 35 and 55, and who have tried and failed to lose weight and keep it off using non-surgical means will be allowed to have the device installed. The valve means that the device can only drain the partially digested food from the stomach three times a day, and it can only be in place for up to six weeks, when the device is designed to stop working and needs to be replaced.

The manufacturers, Aspire Bariatrics, claim that it is an effective way for users to lose weight, with a trial of 171 people showing that those who used the device in tandem with counseling lost 14 percent of their body weight over one year, while those who just had counseling only lost 5 percent. They do warn, however, that users need to chew their food more thoroughly and slowly, in order to avoid blocking the tube.

Needless to say, there has been some criticism. The main one is that the device simply treats the symptoms, and not the cause, doing little to stop the overeating that is leading to the obesity in the first place.


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