LOS ANGELES (WFLX) - A California doctor is performing a weight loss procedure being dubbed "The Miracle Patch".
The doctor says recovery is rapid, and people can lose 23, sometimes 50, pounds. There's one catch though; it makes eating a pain.
Erica Renteria was desperate to lose weight. "I wanna lose weight 'cause I have something important coming up. I don't care how I lose it."
Erica had just been hired to be a stage filler at the Latin Grammys. Unable to stick to a diet, she consulted with cosmetic surgeon Dr. Nicolas Chugay about the Tongue Patch. "This is a small procedure," Dr. Chugay said. But, once it's done, eating solid food is very uncomfortable.
Dr. Chugay starts by numbing the tongue to place the patch that's no larger than a postage stamp.
The operation consists of applying a small prolene mesh to the tongue. Once in, the patch prevents patients from eating solid foods.
"You have the little whiskers from the sutures, and you have the little patch," explained Dr. Chugay. "It has a bit of a rough surface."
To cope with the pain, Dr. Chugay prescribes a liquid diet. Erica's tried liquid diets before, but now, with the patch sewn in, it's going to be easier to stick with it.
Erica says she had pain and difficulty talking for about two days after the surgery, but as long as she stayed on her liquid diet, she had no pain.
Dr. Chugay knows sewing a patch to the tongue may seem outrageous. "First of all, I think, it's a very safe procedure. It's not under local anesthesia. It takes about anywhere from five to 10 minutes to perform."
Moreover, it's reversible. The patch can be removed any time by snipping the sutures.
For safety reasons, Dr. Chugay says it must be removed after 30 days. "I have patients that lose as much as 50 pounds, but most of them will lose 20, 25, 30 pounds," he said. "And they are happy with that weight loss."
Erica's goal is to lose 20 pounds.
To read a spirited debate about the pros & cons of the patch check out "Tongue Patch: The hurts-too-much-to eat weight loss program" and "Tongue Patch Diet Review".