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Stomach Pacemaker Zaps Obese Patients Slim

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And there is 14-year follow-up data showing that "90% of gastric bypass patients lost 50%-75% of their excess weight and kept it off," says Smith. "I think we still have a long ways to go with the gastric pacing data. It's far too early to recommend its application."

Cigaina cautions that gastric pacing is not a 'cure' for obesity. "You have to have the pacemaker all your life," he says, "because even though you are lean, you are still an obese person. Without the pacemaker, you will regain the weight."

Technology is continuing to improve, but for now, the cost of the unit is quite high, and batteries must be replaced every four years or so.

Still, Cigaina tells WebMD, receiving the gastric pacemaker is a much less invasive procedure for treating obesity than is the increasingly popular gastric bypass surgery. "In terms of quality of life, there's no comparison," he says.

In Europe, the device should be on the market by September of this year, says Cigaina. In the U.S., however, the rigorous FDA approval process will likely delay availability for at least a few more years.

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