There has been much discussion, debate and a fair amount of media coverage over recent months for this application of hypnotherapy… There are even people jumping on the wave of interest and offering short courses for hypnotherapists to offer this process… That of having an imaginary gastric band fitted, with hypnosis in a hypnotherapy session.That is, being hypnotised to believe your stomach has shrunk and it is affecting your appetite accordingly.

Among the many articles that I have read about this, I came across one that really piques the interest and also describes in depth the process that a client goes through during this hypnotherapy approach and I thought I’d share parts of it with you. The full article can read here in the Daily Record. I think it is really good and well worth reading.

The author describes her own battle and lack of feasible options that led her to consider this line of hypnotherapy treatment. She then adds:

Then I heard about the Virtual Gastric Band (VGB) – where you are hypnotised into thinking you have had the operation and, as if by magic, you will eat less.

I should probably mention that a real gastric band operation involves inserting a plastic tube around the upper stomach. You eat less and feel fuller earlier and for longer.

There’s a mechanism inserted below the skin that allows for the tube’s tightness to be adjusted by a doctor. It’s only available on the NHS for those who are clinically obese, but available privately for about £7000.

Famously, Fern Britton and Sharon Osbourne have had it done.

The article then introduces the hypnotherapist Lyn Lyons, who has started to offer the virtual gastric band service in Scotland and is going to be working with our author and adds:

She said: “Over the past 10 years, I have helped many people lose weight through ‘normal’ hypnotherapy. However, there are some people who need additional support and I thought this could provide the answer.

“The subconscious mind is very powerful and when it believes in something, the body will react accordingly.”

Lyn spent a lot of time researching the physical process of having a real gastric band inserted so she could confidently convince someone under hypnosis.

The experience is enhanced by a strong smell of hospitals, Lyn wearing surgeon’s scrubs and the “patient” lying on a medical bed.

“It might seem a bit peculiar, but these are all cues to increase the impression of having a surgical procedure. They help even if the rational mind understands they are just props.”

Initially, I thought it sounded odd, but I do see the thought process behind it, and heck, if it enhances the process, why not, eh? A bit of theatre tends to get us all more involved! This is also one of the few hypnotherapists that I have read about who has actually researched in depth the process that she employs in relation to the gastric band process. She then explains the process:

Lyn’s virtual gastric band treatment takes place over five sessions in the soothing atmosphere of her treatment room just outside Houston in Renfrewshire.

During the first session, we talk about what to expect and she expertly draws out my attitudes to food, eating and my body. It feels like a relaxed chat with a friend.

She weighs me and establishes that my BMI is 29 (well into the overweight category) and fat enough to undergo VGB treatment.

The following two sessions are hypnotherapy to prepare me for the “operation”.

I would like to recount what Lyn talked about while I was “under,” but I don’t have a clue. I did, however, come away feeling relaxed and comfortable.

Before the day of the operation, Lyn had advised me that I should only eat light foods for 12 hours before I arrived and nothing at all for two hours before the session.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t difficult as I was becoming more and more aware of what I was eating.

As the day grew near, more than once, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t actually having a real gastric band operation.

I also found myself genuinely believing I would be my ideal weight again and looking forward to it.

Previously I hadn’t been sure I would ever get there.

I was so convinced my virtual gastric band would be a success that I began to worry that it would spoil future special occasions; that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy turkey at Christmas or cake on my birthday.

On the big day, I explained my worries and Lyn put my mind at rest by explaining that I would still enjoy food as much as ever – I would just stop eating earlier.

She said: “The first quarter of any meal is the bit you enjoy the most – it’s the most satisfying and delicious.

“After that, your enjoyment diminishes until you stop eating. So you will enjoy meals – particularly special ones – just as much.

“You will eat less and eat more slowly and thoughtfully.”

It’s easy to dismiss the use of hospital smells and uniforms as gimmicks, but I was shocked at how much I was affected by the sight of Lyn dressed as a surgeon.

She really looked the part and for no reason I could rationalise, my heart started beating more quickly and I got butterflies.

Lyn was delighted. She said: “That’s good. It shows you have a subconscious reaction to medical situations. They are serious and slightly alarming to your subconscious mind.”

Then she checked once again that I was totally happy and made me promise I’d come back to her if I found I lost too much weight. Part of me said “fat chance”, but part of me started to think “what if?”.

I lay on a hospital-style bed and the hypnotism began.

I remember Lyn telling me I was to have an anaesthetic and was being wheeled into an operating theatre where the surgeon was waiting. After that it became a bit hazy, but I woke with a slightly uncomfortable feeling in my stomach.

The final session is to have the virtual stitches – all seven of them – removed and the band tightness adjusted if necessary.

After all that, does it work? Well, it’s been three weeks and I “feel” thinner.

My scales tell me I’ve lost seven pounds. I see myself in the mirror and think, “It doesn’t matter about the extra bits, they’ll be gone soon.”

Almost every meal I’ve had, I’ve not finished and I have certainly not fancied sweets or cake. A couple of times I’ve found myself so hungry I’ve become wobbly and have started to carry an emergency packet of peanuts in my bag.

The big test was my favourite Saturday night takeaway. I wasn’t even halfway through the first plateful of chicken balti before I had to declare myself stuffed. So far, so good.

Naturally, there are elements of the terminology used here that I would not use, and the ‘subconscious’ references are not my way, but no-one can argue with the results… And heck, results is what counts, eh?

I enjoyed reading that and I hope Lyn Lyons continues to thrive with her Virtual Gastric Band hypnotherapy sessions in Scotland. Good on her! 🙂