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PASADENA, Md. - Many of us obsess over ways to lose weight. Some go extreme, going under the knife for gastric bypass or gastric bands that actually shrink the size of your stomach, forcing you to eat less. But what if you could get all the benefits of a stomach band without ever stepping foot in a hospital? ABC2News Joce Sterman has details.
The operating room machines beep and hum as you lay sleeping. Your stomach is being shrunk through a simple procedure thousands of Americans get every year. But Sondra Lambert isn't undergoing a gastric band surgery in an operating room. She's only under the knife in her mind. Hypnotist Brian Sanders says, "Our clients actually believe their stomachs have shrunk down to the size of a golf ball."
At this clinic it's all mind over matter. Clients like Sondra think they're in a hospital, convinced they're getting a gastric band. But there's no scalpel and no scar because the surgery isn't really happening. It's hypnosis. Lambert says, "It doesn't hurt. It's me. He's going to be talking to me on the inside."
Sondra's happy inside. She wanted to change her outside so she opted for the virtual gastric band at Sanders Hypnosis Center in Pasadena (Anne Arundel County). Lambert says, "This is something that will blend what I need and what I enjoy and I truly believe this is a solution."
And she's not alone. Brian Sanders started offering hypno-bands six months ago and he says he's already put 200 clients under his four-session pseudo-surgery. Sanders explains, "We are able to basically go in and reprogram the brain through hypnosis kind of how you reprogram a computer. You really can't do that at the conscious level. You access the subconscious mind and then you can reprogram these things and that's why it works so well."
It's worked well for Deborah Herbert. Her weight yo-yoed for years. But after three sessions and a couple of months her loss this time is a mind trip. She's down 58 pounds. Herbert says, "It doesn't feel like a temporary measure this time. It feels more like a lifestyle change, like something I can live with and I can continue."
Sanders is quick to sing the praises of the procedure. He claims his patients get full faster because they feel like their stomachs are smaller. Some even claim they feel tenderness from an incision!
Dr. Peter Liao, the Medical Director of the Comprehensive Obesity Management Center at GBMC is intrigued by the idea. While he wants overweight people to have options, he’d like to see more clinical data before he's sold. Liao says, "We need to see how well does it work in the long run so patients really understand when they make these choices, yes, this is zero risk but what is the benefit?"
The benefit according to Sanders is that you lose without the side effects of surgery, changing your body through your mind. But just like the actual surgery, Sanders agrees the virtual procedure isn't for everybody, "You have to believe in the process. You have to be willing to open your mind and allow yourself to be hypnotized."
You can consider Sondra a believer. She's three sessions in and already feeling a difference after losing 15 pounds in three weeks. But her journey into the mind is about more than the number on the scale. She says, "It's not the weight or even the health issues. It's the lady in the mirror." Now she’s a lady getting smaller and beating the adage - no pain, no gain.
If you sign on for the virtual gastric band, you show up for four sessions and pay $799. You've also got to agree to other steps you'd do if dieting like eating smaller meals and exercising.