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Gastric Bypass Hypnosis: Weight Loss Training for Your Brain?

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Imagine having the sensation that your stomach is surgically constricted to a fraction of its original size, making your appetite tiny, and your weight loss huge -- no surgery, no magic pills. According to hypnotherapists, you can achieve that for just a fraction of the cost of real bariatric surgery, by undergoing so called gastric bypass hypnosis.

The idea of losing weight through hypnosis has been around for decades, but now some hypnotherapists are offering "gastric bypass hypnosis," also called "lap band hypnosis." This "procedure" is done to "reprogram" the minds of patients to believe their stomachs are actually smaller, making them incapable of eating large meals without feeling uncomfortably full.

Every year, nearly 400,000 Americans undergo painful and expensive surgical procedures to have portions of their stomachs removed, repositioned or constricted. These procedures can cost up to $35,000 dollars, but gastric bypass hypnotherapists claim their hypnosis sessions can provide similar weight loss results for a lot less money: about $1200 dollars.

Certified hypnotherapist Rena Greenberg said she has worked with over 100,000 patients in the past 20 years and is adamant that hypnosis helps stop her clients from obsessing over food. Her "virtual" procedure includes three hypnosis sessions, her therapeutic CDs and a weight-loss juice she invented called "Slender Cider."

This promise of an inexpensive, re-programming of the brain to eliminate sugar cravings could appeal to many of the 60 million Americans who are classified as obese. To the skeptics of gastric bypass hypnosis, Greenberg said, "Many of us underestimate the real power of the mind -- what we're capable of."

Dr. David Treen, a leading bariatric surgeon in New Orleans, performs a radical stomach surgery known as sleeve gastrectomy, which removes 85 percent of the stomach and a hormone called Ghrelin, which stimulates appetite.

Treen said he thought long term success with hypnosis seems "unrealistic."

"The reality is that there are no studies which demonstrate that kind of weight loss with hypnosis alone," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio