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A Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon and counterparts in Venezuela are helping patients lose weight by sewing patches onto their tongues.
The postage stamp-sized patch is abrasive, making it so painful to eat solid foods that the patient can consume only liquids, according to a report on MSNNow.com.
The patch also makes it difficult to speak, sleep or move one's tongue, MSNNow reported.
But patients allegedly are losing 30 pounds in a month using the patch, the Huffington Post said.
The procedure was introduced in 2009 by Nikolas Chugay, Time.com said. It involves using six stitches to sew a patch made from marlex -- a material usually used to fix hernias -- to the top of of the patient's tongue. It is removed after a month; if it stays any longer it may begin to grow into the tongue, Paul Chagay, who works with his father at the Beverly Hills practice, told Time, adding:
"We found a niche . . . We wanted to offer patients something effective without resorting to the risks of invasive surgery."
Their office is the only place in the United States where the tongue patch is available. Patients pay $2,000 there for the procedure. Fewer than 100 patients have consulted with him about the diet since 2009, Chagay said.
It's become popular in Venezuela, where clinics are charging as little as $150 U.S. One clinic in Caracas, the capital, has seen 900 patients month since it began offering the procedure two years ago, Time said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the tongue patch and some physicians expressed concern. Among them is Dr. Richard Chaffoo, a plastic surgeon in La Jolla, Calif., who told Yahoo! Shine that he believed the procedure was unethical and called it a sham.