October 9th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health has issued an alert over the so-called “tongue patch” procedure meant for weight loss, saying it can cause damage to the mouth, such as infections and bad breath, and is not registered as a weight loss product or procedure in the country.
In the procedure, plastic mesh, meant for hernia repair, is sewn onto the tongue, making eating solid food painful, if not impossible – forcing the patient to adhere to a liquid diet of weight-loss shakes.
“As you’re swallowing, say, a cheeseburger or something, that tongue is pushing things up against the roof of the mouth and back into the throat,” explained Chugay. “And so while it’s doing that, it’s going to basically be uncomfortable if you have that on top of the sutures, which are basically fishing line. So now you have two little sharp points on the tongue, rubbing up against the top of the mouth, and it’s going to be uncomfortable,” Dr. Nikolas Chugay, who performs the procedure in the United States, explained in a recent interview with ABC News.
The procedure takes about 10 minutes, and the patch is removed about one month later. Chugay said average weight loss is between 18 and 20 pounds.
Surgeon William Rojas has been providing the procedure in Costa Rica since 2007, and claims it is perfectly safe, though admitted it is not always applied consistently.
“Patients undergoing extreme surgery such as gastric bypass undergo a diet of pure liquids for six months and lose more weight [as a result of the liquid diet] than from the surgery itself,” Rojas told Spanish-language online newspaper, CR Hoy.
In Costa Rica, the tongue patch procedure usually costs around $250 – significantly cheaper than the $2,000 charged by Dr. Chugay in the United States.
ABC News Nightline reported on the tongue patch in August (video below).