vBloc® Vagal Blocking Therapy
Currently in use by leading bariatric surgeons in the United States, the vBloc device is a promising treatment for obesity that uses electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve to reduce hunger and to signal fullness.
Controlling Your Hunger
Feeling full is a critical communication between your stomach and brain that tells you when it is time to stop eating. The sooner your brain receives this communication, the less likely you are to overeat. Unfortunately, it can take as long as twenty minutes for your brain and stomach to communicate with each other. If you eat too quickly, as many people do, you can easily have eaten too much by the time you recognize that you are satisfied or full.
The vagus nerve is responsible for transmitting feelings of fullness to the brain.
The Vagus Nerve and Hunger
The vagus nerve has many functions when it comes to digestion. Communicating a sensation of hunger or fullness is one of them.
Other functions include:
- Allowing the stomach to expand
- Creating the movement of the stomach to mix its contents with digestive secretions
- Controlling the emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine
- Signaling the pancreas to release digestive enzymes into the small intestine
How vBloc Therapy Works
vBloc works in a way that is similar to the familiar heart pacemaker. However, instead of signaling the heart to beat, vBloc uses its electrical signals to reduce the activity of the stomach and intestines to lessen feelings of hunger, slow down muscular contractions in the stomach, and delay the stomach’s emptying of its contents into the intestines.
The vBloc neuroregulator device is about the size of an iPhone. The neuroregulator is implanted under the skin, usually on the side of the chest. Two electrodes are attached between the neuroregulator at one end and the vagus nerve at a point between the stomach and the esophagus. The electrodes are implanted during a laparoscopic surgery. However, normal anatomy is not altered as it is in some bariatric surgeries, and the device can be removed if necessary.
The neuroregulator is charged and programmed externally by placing a device over the skin above the neuroregulator. When activated, the vBloc intermittently blocks the impulses being sent along the vagus nerve while you are awake. The vBloc is programmed and can be customized to the needs of each individual.
Is vBloc a Good Choice for You?
The approval criteria for the vBloc system are the same as those for a lap-band. If you have a BMI above forty or if you have weight-related health problems and a BMI between 35 and 49, vBloc may be a good choice for you.
If you are primarily interested in the health benefits of weight loss and do not want to change your diet as dramatically is as necessary after bariatric surgery, vBloc is worth considering. Studies have demonstrated a 25% loss of excess weight at twelve months that is maintained for over three years. These studies continue to monitor patients who are using this exciting technology.