|Image from Wikipedia|
In essence, a mesh made of marlex typically used for hernia repair is surgically sutured to the back area of the tongue and left in place for up to one month. While in place, this postage-stamp sized patch causes extreme discomfort if not pain whenever eating leading to a decrease in food ingestion and therefore weight loss. This non-FDA approved procedure is paired with a 800 calorie liquid diet.
In a normal swallow, the back of the tongue is required to help propel food down into the throat. With a patch in place, this step of the swallow becomes disrupted. Watch video to see how swallowing works here.
Does the concept work? In theory yes via starvation (hurts too much to swallow)...
Are there problems with it?
Absolutely and may even be considered highly unethical.
This procedure is associated with substantial risk including difficulty talking (you do need a tongue that moves well to enunciate words), infection, swelling, tissue overgrowth, and potential to dislodge leading to possible airway obstruction.
Why would somebody even consider this procedure? Well, if diet and exercise just doesn't work and financially, a desperate patient can't afford gastric lap band or bypass surgery... that's why some patients have pursued it.
Tongue Patch Surgery: Risky Weight Loss Procedure Draws Criticism. Yahoo News 6/5/13