By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– Think Yourself Thin. A new kind of hypnosis for weight loss is now being done in our area. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has results from some of the first success stories.

Mark McGovern gets full after eating just a few bites of tuna. He can’t wolf down a pizza with ease like he used to.

“It was like a switch got flipped,” said Mark. With a starting weight of 320, Mark so far has lost 35 pounds, in just six weeks. It’s happened thanks to Mark being hypnotized to think he’s had gastric surgery. That a lap band is making his stomach smaller, like the size of a golf ball, even though he never had an operation.

“It’s been so easy it scares me,” said Mark.

Like many, Mark was skeptical thinking hypnosis was about getting sleepy, being put in a trance.

“I was afraid of getting up and clucking like a chicken on someone’s key word,” said Mark.

“Hypnosis is not a trick. It’s just a mental image that you place in yourself,” said Ellinor Burke, a licensed psychologist and hypnotherapist in Medford. She says people in a relaxed state are more open minded and susceptible to suggestions.

It’s called Virtual Gastric Band Weight Loss System. There are four hypnosis sessions, and patients listen to a CD daily, to be reminded of thinking they have a smaller stomach

Stephanie asked, “So you convince people in their mind that they’ve had surgery when they haven’t, and they have no scars no evidence of surgery, but still think it?”

“In essence the surgery is just a vehicle to think that your stomach is small,” said Burke.

To make sure it could work, she says she was hypnotized by someone else and lost 45 pounds.

“It’s just become so much a part of me that I just eat small portions,” said Burke. She claims a 90 percent success rate in helping people lose weight, but says it won’t work for everyone. And she acknowledges there are no scientific studies to prove it works.

Dr. Gary Foster is the Director of the Obesity Center at Temple University.

“The idea that you’ll get surgical weight losses without surgery is probably more wishful thinking than reality,” said Dr. Foster.

Debbie Baylor says losing 62 pounds so far, going from 270 to 208 pounds, hasn’t been wishful thinking for her. She says the gastric hypnosis has changed the way she eats.

“It really puts you in that mind set you feel that you went for that surgery even though you don’t have stitches, you have no side effects,” said Debbie.

Stephanie said, “A lot of people would say that’s crazy, it doesn’t make sense.”

“People just look at you like are you serious. But it really, really works,” said Debbie.

Mark says it might sound goofy, but it’s working for him, and he’s already ditching his old fat shirts.

“I feel full, and I feel great. And I’m not hungry,” said Mark.

The cost is $150 a session, and it is not covered by insurance. There are four sessions in all. Patients are not required to pay for all sessions at once.


Virtual Gastric Band Weight Loss System Information

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