What Is Gastric Band Hypnotherapy? Everything to Know About This Non-Invasive Treatment

You’re probably familiar with gastric band surgery — also known as lap band surgery — which involves constricting the stomach with an inflatable band to decrease its size and in turn, the amount of food one can consume. This surgery is used for weight loss, as it results in people feeling full after consuming a small amount of food, which in turn helps lower the amount eaten.

Gastric band hypnotherapy, on the other hand, uses hypnosis treatments to achieve a similar result. According to Richard Kellow, a certified clinical hypnotherapist and Virtual Gastric Band Practitioner, gastric band hypnotherapy can help change one’s relationship with food.

“Gastric band hypnotherapy convinces people that there is a gastric band fitted around the upper part of their stomach and this will help you to feel fuller for longer, satisfied on smaller portions and helps to cut out any mindless snacking and unlike a diet there is no denial or deprivation,” Kellow told POPSUGAR Australia. “You can still eat the foods that you enjoy, just in smaller amounts.”

How does gastric band hypnotherapy work?

Using hypnosis techniques and in some cases, the use of a soundtrack with hospital noises, a patient is convinced that they have undertaken lap band surgery. In Kellow’s treatment, the gastric band hypnotherapy requires four sessions, with the first focusing on the surgery.

“In the first session, we go through an imaginary operation to ‘fit the band’ — this really is a metaphor for putting into your body what your body needs,” Kellow said. “As we go through the other three sessions, we focus on eliminating those sabotaging behaviours of eating for boredom, habit, comfort, stress or any emotional ties. We also look towards that future you, exactly how you want to be to ensure we can create a permanent change in how you think and feel about food.”

Before the treatment kicks off, Kellow creates a personalised plan for his patients to ensure they are working on specific areas that need addressing. “We go through a consultation discussing your goals and your individual eating habits, behaviours and what you are looking to achieve,” he said.

“This may be physical, mental or emotional but to ensure we can create a tailored plan. There are a set of guidelines you need to follow too including a support MP3 to listen to each night in between the sessions to reinforce the suggestions. I’ll then guide you into hypnosis which a lot of people liken to a deep sense of relaxation and go through a series of visualisations to help you get to where you need to be.”

How effective is gastric band hypnotherapy?

The effectiveness of gastric band hypnotherapy is quite mixed given the limited number of studies on the topic. Anecdotal evidence, on the other hand, is largely popular. According to Professor Clare Collins from the Dietitians Association of Australia, hyponosis can help deal with negative self talk and self-sabotage behaviours that are related to diet.

But, as Professor Collins told Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group CHOICE, hypnosis isn’t likely to be enough on its own. “There may be other cognitive behavioural treatments that are more suitable for the individual (than hypnosis), and then there’s the same old advice; knowing what is healthy eating, changing food habits and exercise. You can’t just pin your hopes on hypnotism,” Collins said.

While it’s hard to tell the effectiveness of lap band surgery when it comes to weight loss given how differently each person responds to it, research from 2012 found that “weight loss averages 65% for most patients with over 85% of patients losing and maintaining 50% initial excess weight loss” after surgery.

According to Kellow, the effectiveness of gastric band hypnotherapy, on the other hand, is far greater than surgery. “Statistics show it has a 95 percent success rate as opposed to surgery which has a long term success rate of 50 percent,” he said.

“Gastric band surgery doesn’t take away the wants, the desires and the cravings. I see a lot of people who come for gastric band hypnotherapy who have had surgery and lost a lot of weight and started to put it back on as the surgery doesn’t deal with the mind.”

How much does it cost?

Four sessions with Kellow costs $1000 and can be performed in his Auckland-based clinic or virtually via Zoom. While this is a significant amount of money, as Kellow points out, it often works out to be cheaper than gastric band surgery, while also having other benefits.

“There’s no downtime, it’s 100 percent safe, painless and helps you quit dieting for good,” he said. “This is no magic wand or quick fix. There is still some conscious effort required, but if you come with the commitment, dedication and motivation to make a change then hypnosis can help to flick that switch.”

For more information on Kellow and his work, head to his website. When searching for a hypnotherapist, CHOICE has a few recommendations on what to look for. Consult with your doctor as to whether this is the right treatment for you.