Saturday, October 24, 2015

A New Noninvasive Weight Loss Approach

Because diet, exercise, and pharmacotherapy are often not as effective in weight loss as desired, other approaches are sought. And compared to other weight loss methods, weight loss surgery is considered by some to lead most often to successful weight loss. But the surgery can be traumatic and may lead to complications. So when a noninvasive, safe form of weight loss is made available, this new form offers obese patients another option.  And a new approach being tested in rats may eventually be one of these options.

This new approach uses "high intensity focused ultrasound (MR-HIFU)" to heat fat tissue. In their research, the investigators determined that the overweight rats, receiving the treatment, "lost 7.5% of their body weight 10 days after HIFU, compared with 1.9% weight loss in sham animals." The researchers concluded that the MR-HIFU could be "a safe, effective and noninvasive weight loss therapy for combating obesity."

There is an appetite for noninvasive or very minimally invasive approaches to weight loss that might be more effective than diet, exercise or obesity drugs. This is indicated by the FDA's recent approval of VLOC and two intragastric balloons.

VBLOC was developed by EnteroMedics Inc, which is based in Minnesota. The VBLOC system impedes signals sent from the digestive system to the brain by way of the vagus nerve. These signals can contain hunger, satisfaction and fullness information. The VBLOC system is placed in the body laparoscopically. One day it may be placed endoscopically.

One of the two intragastric balloons that received FDA approval was produced by San Clemente, California based ReShape Medical, Inc. And the other balloon was produced by Austin, Texas based Apollo Endosurgery, Inc.  These balloons are endoscopic because they are inserted via the mouth.

Of course the MR-HIFU weight loss approach must undergo more testing before it can ever become part of the weight loss arsenal. Still, it is an interesting idea. And if, one day, it is possible to use the approach, it will be a wonderful addition to the weight loss arsenal for both weight loss providers and their patients. 


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