Don’t expect big results from new weight loss device

The device is not a permanent one

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The FDA approved a new device for obesity last week, the first in more than seven years, but how effective is it?

Obesity is a major crisis in our country. It can increase the risk of developing a number of serious conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer. The CDC estimates about 25-percent of Connecticut’s population is overweight or obese.

VBLOC is a safer option in the battle against obesity, but one doctor says don’t expect big results. The pacemaker-like medical device is placed under the skin of the abdomen with electrical impulses aimed at the vagus nerve.

“The electricity is sending a pulse signal that blocks the nerve from functioning,” said Dr. Nissen Nahmias, a bariatric surgeon at St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center.

It interrupts hunger signals from the brain to the stomach.

“As a result, the patient feels full and satisfied without that big of a meal,” said Dr. Nahmias.

However, “the results were modest,” said Dr. Nahmias.

He implanted patients with the device during a clinical trial while he was a fellow at a Virginia hospital. He says it’s an alternative designed to help shed 10-percent of the extra weight.

“If you have 100 pounds of excess, the goal would be to lose about 10-15 for every 100 pounds and you would probably lose 8 to 10 pounds,” said Dr. Nahmias.

A gastric bypass would be more effective, but it comes with a higher risk of complications.

“It’s an option for those that are on the fence about a big life-altering operation,” said Dr. Nahmias.

The device is not a permanent one, so it can be removed at anytime.

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