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New Weight-Loss Surgery Makes It Painfully Impossible to Eat

New weight-loss surgery makes it painfully impossible to eat

What will they come up with next?  You may have seen recent news stories on a new, extreme method of weight loss: the tongue patch. That sounds innocent enough, right?  Well, let’s take a look at what it is and how it works.

What is the tongue patch?
The tongue patch surgery involves sewing plastic mesh (meant for hernia repair) onto the tongue. The mesh is about the size of a postage stamp. Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Nikolas Chugay introduced the procedure to the U.S. Tongue patch surgery takes about 10 minutes, and carries a hefty price tag of $2,000.

Dr. Chugay advises the tongue may swell up for two or three days after the procedure, affecting speech. There is also a risk of infection, ulcers in the mouth, excessive drooling, and the patch potentially coming loose and obstructing the airway. The patch must be removed after a month, or the tongue will start to grow around it.

How does it work?
Having anything stuck on your tongue is irritating. Have you ever had the hull of a popcorn kernel get stuck on one of the taste buds in the back of your mouth (tell me I’m not the only one!)?  The plastic mesh takes up more space, and would have to be a lot more annoying. The tongue patch reportedly makes it so difficult and painful for patients to eat, they can only drink liquids. The procedure is paired with a liquid 800-calorie diet to maximize results.

Is the tongue patch a good idea?
This is an extreme and potentially dangerous way to lose weight. Any surgery involves risks. Plus, having plastic sewn to the tongue means a month of pain — your tongue moves all the time, not just when you eat. The procedure is not approved by the FDA, meaning there is no regulation at all on this, and there is not enough evidence to be able to say this is safe and effective.

The 800-calorie diet is also a concern. As anyone who has ever tried an ultra-low calorie diet, or “starvation diet,” can attest, any weight loss generally does not last. That’s because calorie levels so low can cause your body to think it’s starving. Your body may start burning muscle stores for energy, and lower your metabolism in self-preservation efforts.

The other problem with the procedure is that it doesn’t teach healthy habits. Even if a patient loses a significant amount of weight, the chances of keeping it off are slim to none without a long-term healthy lifestyle change.

Then what does work?
It’s no secret that the winning combination is eating less and moving more. Easier said than done, but the key is to find and develop healthy habits you will continue forever.

Successful weight management involves many aspects, including healthy eating, exercise, stress management, and getting enough sleep. No patch can do that, but our resources can help if you’re not sure where to start!  If you’re a UPMC Health Plan member, call one of our specially trained health coaches at 1-800-807-0751 to help you take control of your health today!

What do you think of the tongue patch?


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