Web reacts to weight loss gadget that sucks food through stomach

An at-home stomach pump billed as an alternative to gastric bypass surgery is generating a lot of online attention for its drastic and stomach-churning weight loss method, essentially vacuuming indigested food out through a hole in the patient’s belly.

Called the AspireAssist Aspiration Therapy System, the stomach pump hinges on the principle of a feeding tube, similar to the insertion of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy or PEG tubes used for patients who can’t obtain adequate nutrition orally, such as stroke patients with poor swallowing muscles.

Only instead of pumping the patient with nutrients, it works the other way. The company, Aspire Bariatrics based out of Philadelphia, recently filed to patent the device.

During a 20-minute, outpatient procedure, a tube is threaded through the patient’s throat, implanted into the stomach, and then passed through the surface of the stomach skin in a 1 cm incision.

After the skin has healed around the tube, a valve the size of a poker chip is attached to the end of the tube outside the body; the valve opens and closes for sucking foods out of the stomach. The makers of the system claim that performing the aspiration therapy 20 minutes after a meal will remove 30 percent of the calories consumed.

But what the company calls a “non-invasive,” “breakthrough weight loss solution,” website Jezebel calls a “Terrifying New Bulimia Machine,” a form of automated bulimia and highly disordered eating that promotes an unnatural relationship with food.

In reference to the device’s Skin-Port, the stomach valve that can be opened or closed to control the flow of stomach contents, for instance, Jezebel writer Laura Beck writes, “I’m sorry, is this a viable weight loss option or a scene from ‘Prometheus?’”

Nor would it be a particularly attractive feature during sex, she adds.

The Daily Meal also calls the device "cyborg-ish" while the New York Daily News calls it quite possibly the "Grossest weight loss method ever."

While not approved for use in the US, the device received the CE (Conformité Européenne) approval in December of 2011 to market in the European Union and is now commercially available in parts of Europe.

The system was created by Dean Kamen, who also invented the Segway, the self-balancing, two-wheeled personal transport.

Watch the video to see how the system works at http://bit.ly/VSi6zk.