Scary Venezuela diet craze: 'Miracle' tongue patch

The "Miracle Patch" is stitched onto the tongue and prevents patients from eating solid food. The procedure brings rapid weight loss, but is it safe?

Venezuelan women are going to a new extreme in the quest for the perfect body: getting an abrasive plastic patch stitched onto their tongues to limit food intake.

The "Miracle Patch" — approximately the size of a postage stamp and made from a type of plastic designed for hernia repairs — has taken the South American nation by storm, Time magazine reports. Patients with the patch experience extreme pain when chewing solid food and are forced to adopt a liquid diet, resulting in rapid weight loss.

The plastic patch was developed by Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Nikolas Chugay, whose Los Angeles practice has treated approximately 100 patients since 2009. Chugay is currently the only doctor offering the procedure in the U.S. and it has been available in Caracas clinics for two years, according to Time.

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Chugay’s son Paul, who works with his father, told Time that "we found a niche."

"We wanted to offer patients something effective without resorting to the risks of invasive surgery," he said.

According to Chugay’s website, the procedure takes less than an hour and patients are able to return to work the next day. Some doctors are expressing concern about the extreme procedure, which is not FDA approved. 

Patients can reportedly lose up to 30 pounds in a month, but the procedure is not without risks. Side effects include pain, difficulty speaking and sleep disturbances. And the patch can only be worn for a maximum of one month because it has the potential to actually grow into the tongue.

"At the start you can’t even move your tongue for the pain," one Venezuelan patient told Time

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Plastic surgery and extreme diets are common in Venezuela, where society places a heavy emphasis on female beauty. 

The treatment doesn’t come cheap in the U.S. (around $2,000), but can be obtained for as little as $150 in Caracas, Time reports. The low price could also make Venezuela a destination for medical tourists seeking the procedure.

The "Miracle Patch" is just the latest in a long line of fad diets from around the world. In 2012, the "feeding tube diet" gained popularity among some American brides seeking to shed a lot of weight before their weddings. Like the “Miracle Patch,” the feeding tube diet forced patients onto a liquid diet.  Other international diet fads include an Asian diet soup and the Australian “pranic” diet.

 

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