More on the Personal Stomach Pump

To get up to speed, see yesterday’s post on the reverse feeding tube, and we will consider the lifestyle changes involved in having one of these installed. What is it like to live with AspireAssist?

Sara G. Miller interviewed Dr. Shelby Sullivan of the Washington University School of Medicine, where clinical trials took place. Like many other professionals, Dr. Sullivan recommends a slow and mindful rate of eating on general principles, because the body then has time to send and recognize its signals of fulness. With the AspireAssist system, very thorough chewing is not suggested as an option, but mandated as an absolute necessity.

No matter how diligently chewed, the food has to be broken down even more by the stomach. So the person must wait half an hour before retiring to the bathroom with the handy gadget in its carrying case. The steps for use are described in yesterday’s post, and illustrated in a 1:40 video that shows a greatly condensed version.

But sometimes, the emptying mechanism refuses to work, which can easily happen, especially in the early days to an inexperienced user. The inside diameter of the tube is just under a third of an inch. Food particles need to be no more than .02 inches.

In other words, to eventually fit through that tube, a piece of food an inch long must be divided in at least five parts. Miller reports:

Patients need to chew their food up really well, until it basically disintegrates in their mouth, Sullivan said. Otherwise, the food particles will get stuck in the tube, and nothing will come out… A clogged tube won’t cause any pain, and patients can normally clean it out on their own, though as a last resort doctors can clean the tube using a brush…

In the best-case scenario, the clear evacuation tube provides entertainment. According to Dr. Sullivan, by this time, the fat will have separated out, so globs of it can be seen among the general stream.

Or, in the case of a healthful meal, the stomach contents may still resemble dinner as it looked on the way in. While the sludge spurts from the device, observing it is said to provide “positive reinforcement for healthier foods and negative reinforcement for unhealthier foods.” In other words, depending on how squeamish the person is, watching the recently-eaten meal exit through the tube can be an extreme form of aversion therapy.

So. Eat very, very slowly and chew everything until it liquifies. Say, half an hour for that. Then wait an additional half hour, go to the bathroom and do your thing, which is (optimistically) another 15 minutes. Seems like, once the routine is done, it would be time to start the next round. One and a quarter hours per meal, minimum. With two meals, 2.5 hours; with three meals, almost four hours per day, devoted to eating and purging.

Who has that kind of time? Could anyone handle this, who has children or elders to take care of? And what about an outside job? Imagine trying to cope with this process in the restroom of an office suite, or the port-a-potty on a construction site.

Then, imagine going through the expensive procedure and daily time-consuming ritual, only to suspect that it was all an exercise in futility. Would there be grounds to believe this? Yes. Critics suggest that any benefits attributed to AspireAssist should actually be credited to the slow eating and thorough chewing alone.

Next: More stomach pump backlash.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Stomach Sucker: How Does New Weight-Loss Device Work?,”, 06/22/16
Photo credit: John Loo via Visualhunt/CC BY

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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