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Gastric Bypass Hypnosis Helps People Lose Weight, Without Surgery

BOSTON (CBS) - Gastric bypass surgeries have helped thousands of people lose weight. But there are always risks associated with surgery and there is also a recovery period. Now there's a new weight loss system that promises the same results without the surgery. It's called the Virtual Gastric Band Weight Loss System. It uses hypnosis to make people think they've had the surgery and their stomachs are much smaller than they really are. That makes them eat less and they lose weight.

Mark McGovern was skeptical about the whole idea of hypnosis. "I was afraid of getting up and clucking like a chicken on someone's key word," he said. But he decided to give it a try and went to licensed psychologist and hypnotherapist, Elinor Burke.

WBZ-TV's Paula Ebben reports

"It was like a switch got flipped," he said. He used to be able to eat an entire pizza in one sitting; now he gets full after just a few bites of tuna. He has lost 35 pounds in just six weeks. "It's been so easy," he said.

The system includes four hypnosis sessions and a CD that patients listen to daily. Elinor Burke understands many people are skeptical but she believes in the power of hypnosis. "Hypnosis is not a trick," she explained. "It's just a mental image that you place in yourself." Elinor had success with the program herself. She lost 45 pounds. "It has become so much a part of me that I just east smaller portions," she said.

Doctors are quick to point out that there are no scientific studies that prove this system works. "The idea that you'll get surgical weight losses without surgery is probably more wishful thinking than reality," explained obesity expert Dr. Gary Foster.

Debbie Baylor is a believer. She's lost 62 pounds, going from 270 to 208. "You feel that you know, you went for that surgery even though you don't have stitches," she said.

Scientific proof or not, Mark McGovern is just glad he had the opportunity to try it. "I feel great and I'm not hungry," he said.

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