As the dread spectre of Christmas bloat wallows into view, Aeon reminds us about one way to shed the pounds - down the toilet.
The AspireAssist could be the most intuitive weight-loss therapy ever proposed. It works as a feeding tube in reverse: with the aid of an endoscope and a tiny blade, a physician places an internal catheter into the stomach and pulls it out through the skin. Shortly thereafter, the patient wakes up and goes home with a circular plastic window into the belly. For the next several months, about 20 minutes after every meal, the patient affixes an external drain to this implanted skin-port and spills a good bit of his or her gastric contents directly into the toilet.
This intervention is the latest in a series of minimally invasive devices approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of obesity. Its proponents cite data: there is no argument that ‘aspiration therapy’ helps people lose weight. Its detractors cite their revulsion: many argue that if one wanted to surgically induce an eating disorder, this would be the way.