Answering Your Questions

Who Can Get VBlock?


The VBloc was studied on and approved for patients with BMI’s from 35-45kg/m2. Patients with lower BMI’s can do very well with VBloc and are considered on a case by case basis. Patients must have attempted and been unsuccessful with other weight loss strategies like regular dieting, within the last 5 years. Check your own BMI on the BMI calculator.

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How does VBloc therapy work?


The vagus nerve is the main pathway for communication between the stomach and the brain. VBloc helps regulate this communication by intermittently blocking the hunger signals to the brain. This is what helps patients feel less hungry between meals and feel full and satisfied on smaller amounts of food at mealtimes.  


Is the VBloc FDA approved?


Yes. After years of testing, the FDA found the VBloc to be safe and proven effective for weight loss. It is the first device to be approved by the FDA for weight loss since 2001, when the band was approved.


How many patients were in the VBloc research studies?


Over 600 patients were studied, some of whom have been followed since 2005. The results of VBloc have been proven over many years.   


What’s the weight loss?


The patients in the research studies had an average of 28% excess weight loss in one year. As with other weight loss operations, the success of the patient relies strongly on follow up with Dr. Ellner. The patients in the studies were told not to substantially change their diet. They just let the VBloc make them less hungry, so they ate less at mealtimes and didn't snack. More weight loss could be expected if dietary and exercise changes are made, alongside the work that the VBloc is doing. Dr. Ellner can customize a program that is reasonable for your lifestyle, to help you meet your personal goals.  


Does the VBloc change my anatomy?


One of the reasons that VBloc is so popular is that there is no cutting, stapling or re-routing of internal organs. The surgery involves attaching electrodes to the Vagus nerves (the hunger nerves) on your stomach. The wires hook into a pacemaker–like device that sits under the skin on the side of your ribcage.  


How “invasive” is the VBloc compared to traditional bariatric operations?


The VBloc is one of the least invasive procedures available, and is typically performed in an outpatient setting. It is performed laparoscopically, through tiny incisions. The wires hook into the unit that sits under your skin, which is inserted through a small incision a few inches long.  


Is VBloc reversible?


Yes. The device can be turned off, or completely removed if the patient desires.  


How is VBloc controlled?


The device is controlled by wireless technology in Dr. Ellner’s office. You will decide with Dr. Ellner if the settings need to be changed, ie if you need the “strength” adjusted, or if you need the device turned on at a specific time of day (during periods of increased stress-snacking, for instance). 


What kind of aftercare do I need?


You will be given a schedule of visits in Dr. Ellner’s office. Most patients meet with Dr. Ellner 2 weeks after surgery, then 1 month after surgery and every 2-3 months thereafter for a year, depending on your needs. You and Dr. Ellner will decide together how often you will need visits after your first year. Dr. Ellner realizes that every patient is different and she will help you customize a schedule that will be in keeping with your personal goals. 


Does insurance cover VBloc?


Most cases at this time are cash-pay, but insurance has covered some. The VBloc company, Enteromedics, is working with insurance companies to try to get better coverage across the board. Call 1-800-MY-VBLOC to talk to the representatives about your options and pricing.


Is financing available?


Yes. For more information about financing, call 1800-MY-VBLOC and the representatives will be happy to assist you with applying. It’s easy and they are very pleasant to work with. 


How long does the device last? Does the battery ever wear out?


The VBloc has a lithium ion battery, much like those in heart pacemakers. It is expected to last up to eight years; however, it is warranted to last five years with normal use and recharging. Battery lives can vary of course. A new system/new battery could be easily installed if necessary. 


What disqualifies patients from having the VBloc?


The VBloc should not be placed if you have cirrhosis, enlarged vessels of the liver/stomach, hiatal hernia of the stomach or if you have another implanted electric device. The VBloc would need to be removed if you need an MRI. 


What are some of the complications/side effects?


Complications are very uncommon, but some patients have felt tingling of the throat, pain, heartburn, nausea, difficulty swallowing, belching and/or abdominal cramping. 


How do I get started?


Call us! 619-286-7866. We will answer your questions, help you get more information, assist you with speaking to a patient who has had the VBloc and assist you with getting a consultation, if you desire.