Living in New York City, it's not hard to find someone who's obsessed with losing weight. Not in the colloquial, "OMG, I'm OBSESSED with that sweater!" sense of the word. We're talking obsessed. Juice cleanses, fasts, colonics, liposuction, spa treatments involving mummy-like bandage wrapping — we really honestly thought we'd seen it all.
Leave it to the Brits to take weight loss to a whole new level of crazy pants. A new "pill" from a British company called Obalon promises to inflate into a balloon when it gets to your stomach.
Roughly the size of a softball, the balloon takes up space in your stomach to make you feel full sooner than you normally would. Up to two more balloons can be introduced over the course of three months, depending on how patients are responding to the first balloon. At the end of the three-month period, all balloons are removed with an endoscope. So, that's pleasant.
While doctors have long used surgically implanted balloons to help obese patients lose weight, Obalon is the first such method to be available without surgery; the procedure takes about 15 minutes, and doesn't require anesthesia. The product is recommended for patients with a BMI of 27 or over.
The "balloon pill" is also a lot cheaper than surgical options (each balloon costs about $3,300). While it's only approved for investigational use in this country, it's totally kosher in Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and several other E.U. nations.
In honor of this odd approach, we rounded up the scariest weight-loss procedures we could find. Click through if you dare — things are about to get weird.
The Tongue Patch
Already a growing trend in Latin America, a seriously disturbing procedure is making its way into the mainstream. A cosmetic surgeon sews a patch of rough plastic mesh onto patients' tongues to make eating solid food unbearably painful. For the next month, patients must adhere to a strictly liquid diet. Patients lose an average of 20 pounds, and the procedure takes about 10 minutes. Masochistic doesn't even begin to cover it.
Acupuncture, obviously, is nothing new. But, a very strange procedure that relies on the principles of acupuncture to lose weight has become more and more common in recent years. An acupuncturist uses a staple gun to lodge a steel staple in one of the inner ridges of cartilage in your ears. The staples are removed after a few months. Theoretically, the act of piercing stimulates pressure points that control your appetite — though, as the Mayo Clinic points out, there's little evidence to suggest that the risk of infection outweighs the possible benefits.
The Acupressure Beads
Slightly less brutal, the so-called Sadkhin Complex revolves around acupressure — specifically, putting pressure on "hunger points" behind the ears with the help of little silver balls that are taped to the skin. Every two hours, patients are supposed to put pressure on the balls for about a minute, which supposedly releases an electrical current that causes your body to metabolize fat so you don't need to ingest nutrients. Clients have to come back every two weeks to get the balls moved to other pressure points on the body. Sadkhin practitioners swear by it, but somehow, we're not totally convinced. Call it "alternative" if you want — sounds like a scam to us.