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Aspiration Therapy

An endoscopic weight loss procedure is a minimally invasive approach that uses an endoscope for your weight loss treatment. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube that helps a doctor view your digestive system. Endoscopic procedures are considered very safe and less risky than surgery.

Aspiration therapy is a minimally invasive option that, unlike some of our other procedures, does require a small incision in the abdomen. Aspiration therapy can be appropriate for certain patients based on factors like BMI and medical history. Our team can work with you to decide if this is the right weight loss procedure for you.

What is aspiration therapy?

Aspiration therapy uses a tube and an attached device to “wash out” a portion of your stomach contents after you eat (see image, below). This method removes food that remains in the stomach after 20 to 30 minutes, so that fewer calories are digested.

How is aspiration therapy performed?

While you are sedated, your doctor inserts a tube into the stomach through an incision in your skin. The doctor also creates a port (or opening) in the area of the incision on your skin. This port can be connected with a device, called AspireAssist, via a tube after you’ve eaten a meal. AspireAssist can be hooked up to the port after meals in order to remove most of the contents of your stomach. After the aspiration, the device can be returned to its case. It doesn’t remain attached to your body. Using this device regularly should help you lose weight. 

An aspiration therapy tube is like the opposite of a feeding tube. The attached device used for aspiration therapy needs ongoing, lifetime maintenance. As a result, you may need to check in with your doctor more often than with other weight loss methods.

How much weight can you expect to lose from aspiration therapy?

After aspiration therapy, you can expect to lose about 15 to 20 percent of your total body weight and the implant is approved for long-term use.

What is recovery like after aspiration therapy?

People usually take 1 to 2 days off from work and most patients can go home the same day as the procedure. The procedure is also considered reversible. This means the procedure can be undone.

Are there any additional health benefits to treatment, besides weight loss?

You might experience better health, like improvements in weight-related health conditions. These can include sleep apnea, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver and dyslipidemia. Dyslipidemia is when you have abnormal amounts of lipids (fats) in your blood.  In some cases, these conditions may even resolve completely.

Am I a candidate for aspiration therapy?

Your doctor can help determine if aspiration therapy is right for you. People typically qualify for aspiration therapy with a body mass index (BMI) between 35 and 55. Healthcare professionals use BMI to determine your health risk for weight-related diseases. It’s based on a formula that considers your current weight and height. While it’s not a perfect method, BMI can be a useful health indicator for many people. To find out your BMI, you can use our BMI calculator. This weight loss method requires you to carefully maintain the tube and device, to reduce the risk of complications such as infection or leakage.

How do I improve my health before the procedure and prepare for aspiration therapy?

You can meet with your doctor to ask any questions you may have about aspiration therapy. You can also work with our dietitians and nutritionists before and after the procedure to learn how to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Do you offer long-term weight management support after the procedure?

Yes. We provide support after the procedure.

We take a collaborative approach to treatment that combines the expertise of many different specialists, including the expertise of nutritionists and dieticians. Our team-based approach helps us offer a very high quality of care.

Which doctors offer treatment with aspiration therapy?

Christopher Thompson, MD, MSc, AGAF, FASGE, FACG
Co-director of Center for Weight Management and Wellness
Director of Endoscopy
Director of Bariatric Endoscopy

Pichamol Jirapinyo, MD, MPH, ABOM
Associate Director of Bariatric Endoscopy
Director of Bariatric Endoscopy Fellowship

How do I schedule an appointment to learn more about aspiration therapy?

If you would like more information or would like to schedule an appointment with a Brigham doctor, you can call us at 617-525-3597 or fill out our appointment request form.

I’m a physician. How do I refer a patient for treatment?

Physicians who are looking to refer a patient can call 617-525-3597 or email us at brighamweightloss@bwh.harvard.edu.

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