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New Weight Loss Device Makes You Feel Full

Stomach Anatomy

People who are obese have a new tool in their arsenal for fighting excess weight.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a medical device called the Maestro Rechargeable System that is implanted in the stomach and, through an external, adjustable controller, helps obese people lose weight. It is approved for patients 18 and older who have a body mass index of 35 to 45, have a condition related to being obese such as type 2 diabetes, and have not been able to lose weight through traditional means.

The Maestro Rechargeable System targets nerve pathways between the brain and the stomach that are responsible for making a person feel full. In a clinical trial, patients using the device lost 8.5% more weight than people who received an inactive version of it. About 53% of the patients with the device lost at least 20% of their excess weight, and 38% lost at least 25%.

But compared with bariatric surgery, the trial's results are not as impressive. Eric T. Volckmann, MD, who specializes in bariatric surgery at University of Utah Health, says that after gastric bypass surgery, patients can expect to lose 60% to 80% of their excess body weight.

Bariatric surgery is a highly invasive procedure. But so is implantation of the Maestro Rechargeable System.

"Any procedure, no matter how small, is still risky," Volckmann says.

Furthermore, Volckmann says the long-term effects of the device are not as well understood as those of bariatric surgery. He says more research is needed before he would recommend the Maestro Rechargeable System for a severely obese patient.

In the future, the device may make sense for a patient with a BMI between 30 and 35 who is not responding to medical weight loss measures such as lifestyle modifications.