After covering the importance of maintaining your BMI earlier last month, today I’d address the topic of obesity. Even as a dermatologist, it’s hard for me to see so many patients have to go through surgery to lose weight. It doesn’t seem fair that diet, exercise or surgery are the only answers to obesity, especially since even with a combination of healthy food and regular exercise, it’s not the solution for everyone.
You might wonder why a dermatologist should feel so concerned about body weight – fair enough. Recently, it became protocol for dermatologists to have to ask patients about their weight, height, BMI and encourage them to make lifestyle changes if their BMI is high. After all, a dermatologist is a physician as well, and I’m happy to say that I’ve had great conversations with patients about losing weight and making better choices, which is why obesity matters so much to me.
That’s why when the FDA recently approved a novel implantable device to treat obesity, my interest was naturally sparked. The VBLOC Vagal Blocking therapy, consisting of a rechargeable neuroregulator device that’s implanted into the lateral chest wall. The surgery takes about 60 to 90 minutes and is usually done on an outpatient basis, according to the manufacturer. It helps target patients with a high BMI, and has already seen significant results.
However, this won’t be made available immediately. As a condition of the approval, the FDA is requiring the company to conduct a 5-year post-approval study. Nevertheless, I appreciate the innovation and the fact that the U.S. continues to push for people to lose weight – the reason this device is important is because it fills a much-needed gap in the options available for people struggling with obesity. Here’s to new treatments and alternative options for everyone!