Bloodless, incisionless gastric band surgery

July 12, 2011

Hypnosis is touted as effective virtual gastric band surgery
Hypnosis is touted as effective virtual gastric band surgery

Thirty-year old Amber, a 30-year-old Washington communications specialist, can explain in detail the gastric-band surgery she had last July: the sound of the gurney wheeled into the OR, the smell of anesthetic, the tight feeling in her stomach that she woke up with. In six months she dropped 82 pounds. This is not unusual unless you consider one fact: the surgery never happened.

Instead, Amber underwent “Gastric Mind Band,” also known as GmB, a virtual reality hypnosis session in which patients experience the implanting of a stomach-shrinking device. When this method is successful clients walk away feeling as though their stomachs are smaller and can’t hold much food, just as if they had undergone the actual surgery. The method was developed by British hypnotherapist, Martin Shirran. Shirran and his wife have trained hypnotists who offer GmB in London, Seattle and Philadelphia. More than 600 patients have been treated since 2008 and now there’s a 3-month waiting list. The procedure costs $1,950 and has no risks except for money loss. Gastric banding costs about $20,000 and carries a 40 percent chance of complications and a one in 1,000 risk of death.

Elle magazine, June 2011, reports that with no clinical studies of GmB, all claims of success are purely anecdotal. According to Mitchell Roslin, MD, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, “The idea of comparing hypnosis to a medical device that’s been through two FDA trials is basically marketing voodoo. What you’re seeing is the short-term effect, the placebo effect – not medically verified, long term results.”

But, in support of GmB, Joachim Vosgerau, PhD claims that imagination and experience overlap: “Whether I think about seeing a spider or really do see a spider, the same reaction will occur in my brain.” Further, consider the placebo effect: 75 percent of subjects derive some benefit from taking dummy pills in FDA trials of new drugs.

Shirran’s system doesn’t use hypnosis alone. There is an intensive four-day program in which clients analyze their eating patterns, watch videos of actual gastric-band surgery and are taken through guided imagery in which they imagine their stomachs deflating from the size of a melon to that of a golf ball. So, by the time subjects undergo the faux surgery, they’ve already begun to understand the factors that led to their weight problems.

If you have recently succeeded in losing a dramatic amount of weight through diet, exercise or surgery, you probably have an excess of hanging skin. Body contouring at the hands of a plastic surgeon, although never virtual, will help you achieve the body you want. Contact a board-certified plastic surgeon at the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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