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Doctors Defend Tongue-Mesh Surgery as a Safe Weight-Loss Technique

Going to the gym is hard.

Going to the gym is hard. It requires a lot of effort, and your 45-minute workout is the caloric equivalent of two pints of beer. It’s just a shitty and exhausting way to lose weight, and that’s why some are turning to the “tongue mesh”, the newest quick fix in weight-loss alternatives. It’s mainly practiced in South America, where plastic surgeons will sew a piece of plastic mesh to patients’ tongues with six stitches.


The patient keeps it in their mouth for a month. From day one, it becomes incredibly painful to eat any solid food, so they stick to a strict liquid diet. All they can drink is broth, smoothies, juice and soup. It costs as low as $600 to get the mesh sewn to your tongue for a month. The results? Shed 30 pounds in 30 days.

Dr. Raúl Góngora is the inventor of the tongue mesh technique. The Tijuana-based doctor came up with the idea 16 years ago and has been practicing it on thousands of patients every year, he said, with no problems. His friend and colleague Dr. Leonel González in Bogotá also practices the tongue mesh, but only after testing it out himself – he told us that he lost 40 pounds as a result. The technique is new to North America, and is hugely controversial. Some patients have been reported to have speech and sleep difficulty, while other doctors claim it is a massively unhealthy way to lose weight. We spoke with both doctors, the tongue mesh inventor Dr. Góngora and fellow colleague Dr. González, who defended the tongue-mesh surgery.

VICE: How did this process begin?
Dr. Raul Góngora: Mexican cares more about the present. Obesity is a very serious problem, which is due to poor discipline. This method is considered a physical and psychological brake.

This recently reached North America – performed by Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Nikolas Chugay – but seems to have deeper roots in South America. 
Dr. Chugay is threatening the health of the American population, as my method hasn’t been approved by the FDA yet.


What are the demographics of your patients?
Our patients are 12 years to 80 years old; 80 percent of them are women, and 20 percent are men.

How much does the procedure cost?
The procedure is very cheap, $600 to $900, so it's accessible to all people. I do not know how doctors like Dr. Chugay profit from our invention by charging up to $3,000.

It is the controversial procedure? Are there long-term consequences or pain caused while eating?
No. To the contrary, the patient is detoxified and thus carries the diet we recommend. They do not develop malnutrition or have complications.

How do you feel about disciplined exercise at the gym and going on a steady diet, as against this approach?
I think it's less effort to lose weight with methods like this. They help you to properly take the diet without cheating.

Do you have something to say to people who think this is wrong?
If our method did not work or had no results, I would have abandoned it many years ago.

VICE: What is the mesh made of?
Dr. Leonel González: The lingual mesh is made of a synthetic material that is hypoallergenic, bioinert and bio-compatible with no reaction to anatomic structures

Are there side effects?
The side effects depend on three main factors:

First: The physician must find out allergies and obstructive pathologies. Second: Fully explaining [to the patients] what the lingual mesh is what to do or not do, what the lingual mesh consists of, and what the results could be in every particular patient. Third: A strict weekly follow-up during the time the patient carries the device on and two additional months after procedure


The patient must eat at least five times a day, but some patients who are not hungry omit this rule, and as a consequence, in a few instances, a patient will show low blood sugar.

A liquid diet must be integrated with this procedure, to obtain the best possible benefits. Liquid diet is based on high-protein, vitamin-C-rich, low-calorie, natural-mineral smoothies with a maximum of 1,100 calories a day. Patients also receive natural supplements to regulate the metabolism in general.

It is a controversial procedure? Are there long-term consequences or pain caused while eating?
Anything innovative is undoubtedly controversial, and more so when it comes to health. If the mesh is not placed properly by a trained doctor, it can cause pain and even problems after removing the device, so it is essential that the patient selects a physician carefully. Do not forget that the tongue is one of the strongest muscles in our body, besides being the organ of taste and swallowing.

What happens when the patch is removed from the patient? Are there any additional procedures?
After four to six weeks – maximum – the mesh is removed, and a nutritional monitoring starts for eight weeks, when we slowly correct the patient's eating habits. We must not forget that the patient needs motivation and interest, but also the doctor must keep track; that's fundamental.

Do you have something to say to people who think this is wrong?
I have much to say, because four years ago I lost 40 pounds with the lingual mesh. After losing those 40 pounds my health recovered and so did my self-esteem. It lasted four years. I am the strongest advocate of the procedure, after the creator. No doubt that, after over 1,000 patients treated, it is the best method for healthy weight-loss without surgery.