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Health Beat: Gastric bypass hypnosis: Help or hype?

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: May 22 2013 01:15:15 PM CDT
Updated On: May 22 2013 04:58:16 PM CDT

From cutting meals to going under the knife, there are lots of ways to lose weight.

From cutting meals to going under the knife, there are lots of ways to lose weight.  Now, there's a new way that has some mesmerized: hypno-surgery.

You've heard of people using hypnosis to quit smoking, but have you ever heard of it for losing weight?  One couple tried it and says it worked. Specifically, they had what they call "hypno-surgery," where they were tricked into thinking they had gastric bypass surgery.

Every year, 200,000 Americans are stapling, banding, even removing part of their stomachs to beat the bulge.

“I’ve tried every diet in the world, and nothing worked," said Roy May. 

So, he and his wife, Sue, spent about $1,200 each on something else they believe  is just as effective -- hypnosis.

Rena Greenberg hypnotized the couple into thinking they had gastric bypass surgery. 

"So I’m actually guiding them through the experience as if it were actually happening -- going to a hospital, meeting the nurse, having the anesthesia,”  the hypnotherapist and author said.

"Definitely for me it’s been a miracle," said Sue. 

Combined, she and her husband have lost 160 pounds.

"It has changed our life completely,”Roy said.

Bariatric surgeon Ernest Rehnke, however, isn't buying it.  

"These people that are morbidly obese or have weight that is killing them, they need to have something done," Rehnke said.

The doctor said only surgery can physically shrink the stomach. It works for 80 percent of his patients. He doesn’t believe hypnosis has that kind of power. 

"It's not going to work long term for them. They are going to end up reverting back to their habits of eating a little bit more, a little bit more," Rehnke said.

Either way, it seems to be helping Roy and Sue stay on course. They’ve kept the weight off for more than a year.

Currently, there are no studies about hypno-surgery.

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