A few months ago, Patrick Hetzner had one of the new devices implanted into his stomach after trying diets and exercise, as well as some other weight loss methods. Since he had it installed, he has lost 22 pounds and is still making progress.
Hetzner received the gadget in a clinical trial, but since then it has been approved by Britain medical authorities and is available for sale in the European Union. It is similar to a heart pacemaker, and is made up of a stimulator and a sensor, both of which are put into the patient’s stomach. The stimulator puts out electrical pulses that make the stomach and brain think the stomach is full. Hetzner said the pulses start after he begins to eat and he is usually full after eating about half the food he used to eat. He said it feels sort of like a tickle on his stomach, but it isn’t a bad feeling and it doesn’t hurt.
About 65 people have gotten the pacemaker so far and about half of those have had it about a year and most of them lost about 20 percent of their weight and kept it off.
Doctors say there are ways around the pacemaker’s affects and that some patients may grow used to the pulses and ignore them. However, they stress that part of the whole thing is for patients to learn self control. The sensor also tracks when a person eats, drinks or exercises and there is even a website the patients can go on to chart their progress or talk to other patients.
The main advantage is that the stomach pacemaker is less invasive than procedures such as gastric bands or stomach stapling and is therefore a safer alternative. It is installed using a keyhole surgery process and the battery lasts about five years.
Hetzner said he plans to keep it for at least four years, and that he would recommend it to others.