No, Gastric Bypass Hypnosis Won't Make You Lose All That Weight

Real talk: Hypnotherapy is awesome, but it will never take the place of weight-loss surgery. Why? Because one is a medical procedure that transforms your stomach and hormones forever, and the other is a motivational tool that works only if you really want it to. Save your money! Buy a guided CD instead.

I wrote my master's paper (class of '11, holla!) on the beneficial uses of hypnotherapy (as an adjunct to psychodynamic psychotherapy), so I will be the first person to tell you that if used properly, regularly hypnotizing yourself can help achieve results from weight loss to stress relief. Even some hospitals are using "guided imagery programs" to help some patients relieve stress, manage pain and prepare for surgery. But because hypnotherapy is all about motivation and wanting to change, it can never replace actual medical treatment and labeling something as "hypnosis gastric bypass" is just some ridiculous marketing, because that's not really how any of that works. (I would explain exactly how it all works, but I want to bind my paper and sell it as an ebook for $9.99, ya dig?)

In any case, CNN is reporting that a woman has lost over 140 pounds using "hypnosis gastric bypass" and has kept it off. In fact, after only a few sessions with a hypnotherapist, Julie Evans said that she was craving Spinach (a thing that several of my colleagues assure me is a thing) (#notathing) and was only able to eat about a quarter of what she had before. She credits "hypnosis gastric bypass" with saving her life. Before hypnosis, her weight was "stopping her from living," Evans told CNN. But now, she's living life to the fullest.

CNN breaks down the differences between gastric bypass and "hypnosis gastric bypass:"

Gastric bypass surgery, sometimes called bariatric surgery, divides the stomach into a small upper pouch and a larger pouch that's unused, physically shrinking the stomach's capacity to hold food. The results are that patients aren't able to eat as much, due to their smaller stomachs.

Hypnosis gastric bypass is exactly what its name implies. A hypnotist walks patients through a simulated version of gastric bypass surgery — from meeting the doctor, nurse and anesthesiologist to describing the surgical procedure to leaving the hospital.

Here's the thing: Weight-loss hypnosis does work (again, if you're motivated, willing to stick to it and ready to make life changes) so why bring the idea of surgery into it? While using hypnotherapy to help someone consider their food choices or exercise more is realistic (because these are changes you can actually make), telling someone that hypnosis will actually make them feel like their stomach has shrunk and taking them through the process of surgery just seems really unnecessary to that endeavor. Engaging in the process of hypnosis is all about using the trance state (really, just a narrowing of attention) (Imagine you're watching reruns of Ally McBeal slackjawed on the couch) to empower oneself to change. Telling clients they can lose hundreds of pounds just by going to sessions with a hypnotherapist (or purchasing a CD) just seems like an unrealistic expectation that can end in disappointment, especially because gastric bypass surgery isn't just about a tinier stomach.

From CNN:

"There are changes in many gut and brain hormones after bypass surgery and other operations for weight loss," said Dr. Ann M. Rogers, director of Penn State Hershey's Surgical Weight Loss Program. "This is why it's becoming more common to call this 'metabolic surgery' than 'bariatric surgery.' "

Rogers said that the hunger hormone, ghrelin, drops post-surgery, helping patients to feel less hungry and eat less. There are also hormonal changes that improve the way the body processes sugars and fats, which can reduce the risk of diabetes and lower cholesterol.

Can hypnosis do all of that? Probably not. And the important thing, according to Rogers, is long-term maintenance. Many people can lose the weight, but keeping it off through a real gastric bypass surgery will be a different process than doing it with hypnosis.

Still, Evans is happy with her weight loss and has managed to keep the weight off for three years. Her results, however, may not be typical.

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