Tongue Patch Diet: How Did Painful Procedure Become Weight Loss ‘Miracle?’

By Philip Ross on June 6, 2013 3:25 PM EDT

miracle tongue diet
The tongue patch diet involves sewing a coarse, postage-stamp-sized patch onto a person’s tongue to keep them from eating. The patch is made of plastic and is sewn onto the surface of the tongue with six stitches. (Photo: YouTube/Screenshot)

The tongue patch diet involves sewing a coarse, postage-stamp-sized patch onto a person's tongue that will make eating so painful that they just ... stop doing it. How did this agonizing (and dangerous) procedure, which started in Beverly Hills, Calif., become a weight loss "miracle" in Venezuela?

Venezuela, a country that has won 17 international beauty queen titles in the past 30 years, has long been obsessed with image and beauty. According to Time, many young women are even given breast implants for their 15th birthdays.

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"People here, from all walks of life, will get into debt for a pair of stilettos or a boob job. Whatever it takes," one author told The Guardian.

So when a new and affordable extreme diet, called the "miracle" tongue patch diet, cropped up, Venezuelan women reportedly jumped on the procedure, which is advertised as non-invasive. One Venezuelan doctor was supposedly seeing up to 900 clients a month. And, at a cost of just $150 USD, the tongue patch diet is much cheaper in Venezuela than in the U.S. where the same patch comes with a $2,000 price tag.  

"I don't have the willpower to go on a diet, so this was the only way," Yomaira Jaspe, a Venezuelan woman who got the tongue patch sewn into her mouth, told Time.

The patch is made of the same plastic used in hernia repairs and is secured to the tongue with six stitches. It makes eating solid foods so painful that users get on liquid-only diets. The "miracle" tongue patch can only be worn for one month. If the postage-stamp-sized patch is not removed before then, the patch will fuse to the tongue.

Dr. Nikolas Chugay, a Los Angeles plastic surgeon, developed the tongue patch diet at his offices in Beverly Hills, Calif. He says he has done the procedure on over 60 women since he started doing it in 2009; he charges $2,000 for the plastic tongue patch.

"We wanted to offer patients something effective without resorting to the risks of invasive surgery," Paul Chugay, who works with his father, told Time.  

But not everyone thinks the "miracle" tongue patch diet is a dream procedure -- or even a safe one. For one, the tongue patch diet has yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"With any kind of thing you put in there and suture into the tongue, you run the risk of getting an infection," Dr. Richard Chaffoo, a plastic surgeon in La Jolla, Calif., told Yahoo Shine. "You're going to be drooling a lot, it's going to be really painful. Anything that's in there that shouldn't be there's going to rub the surface raw."

Yahoo Shine reports that extreme diet fads are nothing new, and that people have even wired their mouths closed in order to avoid taking in solid foods.

Read more from iScience Times:

99 Cent Diet: Papa Joe Aviance Loses 250 Pounds By Walking, Spending Almost Nothing

McDonald's Cat Diet: How Is Frankie The Cat Doing Now After A Year Of All That Grease?

Melissa Joan Hart Lost 20 Pounds: How Did The Nutrisystem Diet Help The Mother Of 3?

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