Doctor Assisted Bulimia or Revolutionary Weight Loss Tool?

Wannabe weight loss cyborgs take note! Dean Kamen, inventor of the segway, has come up with an invention designed to help you lose your lunch. It is now possible to get a port implanted into your stomach, through which you can purge about a third of the food you eat at each meal. This bizarre device is currently in use in Europe, but not yet available in the US.

The Register reports:

The cynical among you might observe that there’s also a practical similarity between Aspiration Therapy and a certain, much older technique, one well known to ballerinas, runway models, and Roman senators. But Aspire is quick to point out that this new technique has significant advantages over sticking one’s finger down one’s throat.

For one thing, patients are meant to practice Aspiration Therapy only under the supervision of their doctors, who will monitor their electrolyte and metabolite levels and administer supplements as necessary. Furthermore, vomiting causes stomach acids to enter the mouth and esophagus, which can cause long-term damage over time. The Skin-Port presents no such risks.

Moreover, Aspire says, people who habitually vomit after meals are often bulimics, while candidates for Aspiration Therapy are just obese people who want to lose weight. “There is little overlap between people with bulimia and obesity,” the company says, adding that patients will be screened for bulimia and other psychological disorders to determine their eligibility for the treatment.

Aspire says patients should be able to bathe, swim, and conduct most other activities normally with the Skin-Port installed. And if you want to back out, or if you’ve managed to wean yourself off the therapy, the A-Tube can be removed in a 15-minute procedure under conscious sedation.

What do you think about this technology? Is it responsible to peddle a device which essentially mimics the function of  a dangerous eating disorder, or are the differences significant enough to justify marketing it to people who may otherwise opt for more invasive surgical measures?

8 Comments on "Doctor Assisted Bulimia or Revolutionary Weight Loss Tool?"

  1. InfvoCuernos | Jan 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm |

    Seems like the long way to get to the problem which is “too much food in my belly”. Obviously this is only for that problem as it doesn’t address any other cause of obesity. If I had to spend 5-10 minutes after every meal pumping undigested food out through a port in my stomach, I might not eat so much.

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  3. As it clearly points out in the body of the story, this does not “essentially mimic the function of bulimia,” and the writer is to be admonished for making that statement. However, the basic function is to reduce the amount of food being digested. This seems like a pretty extreme route to that goal, when a much simpler method would be to control the intake. How is this tech in any way superior to dieting? I don’t see anything to recommend it.

    • Amber Pollock | Jan 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

      AspireAssist and bulimia both remove food that has been eaten from the
      stomach before it has a chance to be digested. The only difference is
      the method of removal.

      • There are the differences you noted, as well as the medical concerns related to purging acid through the esophagus, as outlined in the report. Comparisons and notations of similarity are fine, but an article that points out the differences, then insists that they are essentially the same is contradictory. My criticism stands.

    • The difference is in the ability to invent, patent, financialize, market, regulate, and “make money” in this economic system from new “products”.

      The diet-plan market, while not nearly saturated with all conceivable, possible plans and experts, is somewhat saturated with old ideas that newcomers who want to “make money” can’t capitalize on.

      Just think of the jobs in the fields I mentioned in the first sentence above that will be negatively impacted if this new product fails. Better to tolerate it and see it all as a matter of consumer choice, rather than try to condemn it with the primitive, out-dated ethics or memetics of certain primates.

      “It’s for the greater good.”

      (note: I despise this product and the economic system that has brought us to this point)

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