The VBloc System
Electrical Blockade of Hunger
What is VBloc?
VBloc is an implantable device that blocks the hunger signals coming from the stomach nerves. It looks and works like a pacemaker for the stomach, except it doesn?t create nerve impulses, it blocks them. The V Bloc can be turned off and on and the strength can be adjusted according to the patient?s needs. In short, it decreases hunger between meals and decreases the amount of food a person has to eat in order to feel full and satisfied.
Understanding the V Bloc system is simple – the “V” stands for Vagus nerve. We all have two Vagus nerves: one on the left and one on the right side of our stomach. Part of what the Vagus nerves do is send hunger signals to the brain, telling us to eat. Blocking the hunger signals to the brain results in feeling less hunger between meals and feeling full on smaller amounts of food .
How is VBloc Inserted?
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The video shows how two wires (electrodes) are attached to each of the Vagus nerves on the stomach. The other ends of the wires are connected to a small flat disc that sits under the skin on the lower ribs, very much like a heart pacemaker. The disc is tucked about 1 inch under the skin, so it isn’t noticeable to others. The surgery is performed on an outpatient basis with patients going back home the same day. It is very minimally invasive, performed through very small incisions and there is no cutting or removal of internal organs.
Eating After VBlock
| Patient Erica Describes
Eating After VBloc
One of the reasons that people are attracted to V Bloc is that you generally don’t have to change the type of food that you eat. There are no food intolerances. The V Bloc helps you eat less - it provides portion control with the foods that you already eat. Dr. Ellner will analyze your diet and help you understand where your calories are coming from so you can make healthy choices to maximize your personal weight loss. It is important to share your goals with Dr. Ellner so she can assist you in creating a manageable program that will suit you, one that you can live with.
V Bloc does not change your anatomy, so you will not have to be on extensive vitamin supplementation because of the surgery itself. However, Dr. Ellner will evaluate your laboratory testing for vitamin deficiencies that you might already have (sometimes as a result of chronic dieting) and she will let you know if you require additional vitamins for this reason. After all, her goal is your overall health, not just helping you lose weight.
Recharging the Unit
The V Bloc is easily recharged at home by placing a charging disc over the skin for 20-30 minutes. There are no external wires whatsoever. Recharging can take place most anywhere: while reading in bed, while doing housework… some patients simply prefer to recharge in the car during their commute to work.
Customizing the System
The unit is programmed with a computer in the doctor’s office which adjusts the strength of the nerve blockade and the exact hours of the day that the unit is on. Different people require varying strengths to achieve their desired level of fullness. It is important to have the unit turned off for a period of time during each 24 hour period. Leaving it “on” all the time would allow the body’s compensatory mechanisms to “figure it out” and allow undesirable hunger to return. It is generally recommended to have the unit “on” for about 13 hours per day. You and Dr. Ellner will decide together when you need the most hunger suppression. This feature of adjusting the times is particularly appealing for people who tend to snack at certain times of the day/night, or who work varying shifts, and for those who are travelling to different time zones and will be on a different eating schedule. It also allows patients to turn the system “on” and “off” during holidays, family get-togethers, etc.
Weight Loss and Feeling Better
| Patient Erica Describes How
VBloc Works For Her
Like other weight loss surgeries, the amount of weight that an individual patient loses relies strongly on your follow up with Dr. Ellner and not consuming needless calories when not hungry. Dr Ellner will teach you how to recognize a true hunger signal, so you will know when your body actually needs food, while the VBloc is reducing "brain hunger." On average, patients in the V Bloc research studies lost 28% of their excess body weight, which is 50% more than those who did not receive the V Bloc. The weight loss resulted in substantially less joint pain, lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, lessening of diabetes and sleep apnea – all reasons why we want to lose weight. The pace of the weight loss has been shown to be about 1-2 pounds lost per week. It is important to understand that the anticipated weight loss with V Bloc is less than what you would expect with a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. V Bloc is a less invasive surgery and works completely differently from these other procedures. It is advised that you discuss your needs, goals and expectations with Dr. Ellner before mentally committing to one procedure or another.
The V Bloc system has been officially approved by the FDA for those patients with a Body Mass Index of 35-45kg/m2, for whom regular dieting has failed. You can use the calculator here to determine your BMI by inputting your height and weight. V Bloc is not recommended for those with BMI over 45. Many people with BMI's less than 35 have the procedure and do very well with their weight loss. Those with a BMI lower than 35 are evaluated on a case by case basis.
How Many Patients Have Had VBloc?
V Bloc has been placed in over 600 patients worldwide, with no deaths and no major complications. It is the first new device approved by the FDA for weight loss since the gastric band, in 2001.
V Bloc is reversible by surgically removing the wires and the disc under the skin. Removal is recommended if you require an MRI. Removal is not necessary for pregnancy – in the event of a pregnancy, you would be advised to turn it off for the duration of the pregnancy. V Bloc is designed to be permanent, to be used as a tool for the rest of your life. You may lose the weight that you desire and find that you wish to turn it off to maintain your weight. If life throws you a curveball, and you start to regain weight, the unit can easily be turned back on.