Have we all gone stark raving mad?
The latest invention to prey on the insecurities (and insanity) people have about their weight is a 'miracle patch' which is sewn into the tongue.
It is apparently so painful it makes it virtually impossible to eat solid food. But, hey you can lose as much as 14 kilograms in a month, so who cares.
Promoted as an alternative to "more drastic weight loss measures such as gastric bypass surgery or the lap band," you can have the abrasive plastic tongue patch for just NZ$2400.
With six stitches, the reversible procedure "makes chewing of solid foods very difficult and painful, limiting the patient to a liquid diet," says the Los Angeles plastic surgeon who created the patch, Dr Nikolas Chugay.
Chugay kindly provides an "easy to follow" liquid diet plan for his patients "maximising weight loss results".
The patch must be removed after a month so that it doesn't "become incorporated into the tongue" and comes complete with side effects including sleep and speech difficulties.
Blythe O'Hara, who researches behavioural change at the University of Sydney, is not a fan of the 'miracle patch', "It seems a very extreme way to go about losing weight; and does very little in the way of helping a person make lifestyle changes that can be sustained over the long term."
"I would be most interested to see if there were any studies that have been undertaken assessing the effectiveness of such surgery; and honestly would prefer people needing help to lose weight spent their money on getting assistance from professionals who can educate and support them in making lifestyle changes both now and in the future," she says.
More distressing than the fact that it exists is the fact that people are paying for it.
While in America, where Chugay launched the procedure in 2009, only around 60 people have had it done, in Venezuela it is becoming something of a fad. Considerably cheaper at $180 a pop, Venezuela is a notorious hot spot for cosmetic tourism.
One doctor told Time magazine last week that since she started offering the procedure two years ago, she has seen around 900 people a month.
"At the start you can't even move your tongue for the pain. I've tried to eat solid food but it's impossible," Venezuelan Yomaira Jaspe, who has had the procedure, told Time magazine. "It's a huge inconvenience, but I'm doing it to feel better about myself. I was very fat."
Yomaira's 40 year-old aunt, Vilmaris Ojeda, who also had her tongue patched, told Time: "The real challenge is going to come once they take it out. Not eating is easy when you physically can't"
Chugay says he has not yet seen any "serious complications" as a result of the procedure, which is not FDA approved.
So pleased is he by his 'helpful' invention that he "is thrilled to offer a solution to the eternal search for rapid weight loss techniques".
O'Hara says, "The majority of people can lose weight through moving more and eating less; if people exercised 30mins most days of the week and gave up the cans of soft drinks; the chocolates, lollies, the fried food and the salty snacks (or only had them very occasionally), drank water and ate more fruit and vegetables then this kind of drastic surgery would not even need to be considered."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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