A HYPNOTHERAPIST whose “virtual” gastric band sessions helped one woman lose seven stone claims the therapy could save the NHS millions.
Andrew Farquharson offers Virtual Gastric Band (VGB) therapy, which transform the way clients think about food, at his Morningside clinic Hypnotherapy Now.
Mr Farquharson, a former teacher, said: “This is not a diet, the client does not have to deny themselves any particular food, you just eat smaller amounts.
“The process involves the person going in to hypnosis and using their imagination to think and believe that they have had a gastric band fitted at the top part of their stomach.
“Clients will start to eat a more healthy diet, they have to put some effort into taking control of their heating habits.
“Because VGB is not a diet, but it is about changing habits, there are not the same problems with ‘yo-yoing’ associated with dieting.
“They are taking control of their eating habits again.”
The therapy involves four sessions at weekly intervals and a CD to reinforce the work that has been done.
After the four weeks, clients should see a permanent change in the way they think about food, with around 85 per cent losing weight.
Mr Farquharson said: “If this was done on the NHS it would save the health service millions of pounds, plus it is safe – no chance of infections or complications.
“It’s not like what you see on the TV – I can’t make people run around barking or eating onions thinking they are bananas. Not unless you want me to.”
Gastric band procedures mean fitting a band around the upper part of the stomach, making the patient feel full.
The cost of having the procedure done privately is around £9000.
Figures issued recently showed that NHS surgery for obesity-related issues in Scotland soared to more than 400 cases last year, at a cost of £3.5 million.
New figures from the NHS show that gastric bypass operations – seen by many doctors as a last resort procedure – have increased three-fold since 2007. The cost of a bypass us around £12,000.
An estimated 24,000 patients in Scotland would be eligible and willing to have surgery, but only about 150 procedures a year are carried out.
The NHS says gastric band procedures are less risky than bypass surgery, which fell from 111 to 105 operations over the same period.
Together, the two types of procedures, which can help people lose weight, increased in number from 128 to 174.
On average, gastric band patients will lose between 50 and 60 per cent of their excess weight and gastric bypass patients will lose 70 per cent.
However, many will develop medical problems caused by excess skin left over once the weight has gone and many elect to have expensive plastic surgery.
In the private sector this alone can cost in excess of £50,000 or more to deal with, including extra time spent in hospital and repeat surgery.
IT’S BEEN A REVELATION
Carrie Findlay, 33, from Dreghorn, credits Andrew Farquharson’s sessions for helping her to lose more than seven stone.
The NHS Lothian ward clerkess, who lives with husband Jamie, 33, and children Ryan, seven and Ellis, aged three, said the sessions have transformed her life.
At her heaviest, Carrie was 21 stone. Now she weighs in at just 14.
She said: “Last Christmas, my mum asked we what I wanted and I said nothing, not until I’ve lost some weight.
“On Christmas Day she gave me a voucher for the clinic. She said it was a bit of a joke but she hoped it might work.
“I believed it could work for me because I’m an emotional eater – my husband is in the army and is on a seven-month tour of Afghanistan.
“Sometimes I would comfort eat when I was on my own. I would eat more when I was sad than happy.”
Carrie, who has several friends who have decided to try the therapy, said: “It’s the best Christmas gift I’ve ever had – it’s been a revelation.
“From the moment I got home I immediately started eating off a side-plate and have done ever since.
“I’ve tried every diet but this works for me.
“At the sessions, Andrew asked me to imagine myself thin and I pictured myself wearing a black polka-dot dress. Now I’m wearing that polka dot dress.”