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VBLOC therapy is a new minimally invasive system which was approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods administration in January 2012. It works by influencing how we digest our foods and the feelings of hunger and fullness that we experience.
The procedure is done under general anaesthetic as a laparoscopic or "keyhole" operation. VBLOC therapy is delivered by a device called the Maestro Rechargeable System whereby, electrode leads are placed on the two major nerves of the abdomen, the anterior and posterior vagus.
These electrodes are then connected to a neuroregulator which is placed under the skin over the left lower ribs. The neuroregulator has a rechargeable battery which delivers a small current through the electrodes to the vagus nerves.
This current blocks the action of the nerves and as a consequence a number of effects occur which lead to weight reduction. These effects include slower emptying of the stomach thus feeling full early, reduction in pancreatic juices hence reducing food absorption, and reducing the feeling if hunger.
Initial clinical studies have shown that VBLOC therapy leads to steady and sustained weight reduction. This occurs at a rate of 0.5 to 1 kg per week and by 1 year approximately 30% of excess weight is lost.
A major advantage of the vagal blocking system is that the normal anatomy in the abdomen is not altered. There is no restriction of the stomach so there is no restriction of the type of foods that can be eaten. They are just eaten in smaller quantities.
Vagal blocking is one of the least invasive long term therapies currently available for the treatment of obesity and its comorbidities. Along with the multidisciplinary programme of support it is very effective therapy for the treatment of obesity and its complications such as diabetes and hypertension in certain patients.