In 2015, the FDA approved the Maestro System, a new obesity treatment option which delivers VBLOC Therapy. This vagal blocking device was developed by EnteroMedics of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Obesity treatments typically first focus on diet, exercise and behavioral therapy. In more difficult cases, placement of intragastric balloons or bariatric surgery is performed to insert a lap band or create a bypass.
According to the World Health Organization, “worldwide obesity has increased more than twice since 1980. WHO statistics outlined 1.5 billion overweight adults in 2008,” reported an article in the journal Gastrology. (3)
VBLOC Therapy works by sending electric signals to the vagus nerve in an attempt to block messaging from the brain and the stomach. The vagus nerve is involved in stimulating the muscles that help empty the stomach, and in the secretion of digestive enzymes.
It is possible that a delay in digestion may make one feel full longer and less hungry, but the exact mechanism of VBLOC is unknown, according to NPR.com.
Vagus nerve stimulation has been used to treat people with delayed emptying of the stomach called gastroparesis and for other conditions such as depression and epilepsy.
However, “EnteroMedics' Maestro System has become the first obesity device to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in ten years,” according to gizmag.com. The last product approved was the Realize adjustable gastric band.
The VBLOC system must be surgically implanted in an outpatient procedure, but it is fully reversible. A controller attached to a battery outside the body adjusts impulses to the device.