Preparing For Bariatric Surgery

How A Psychologist Can Help with Bariatric Surgery

Some insurers require a psychological evaluation prior to surgery.  Many patients don’t realize the importance of this.  In turn, they do not take advantage of the professional assistance they can receive from a qualified mental health professional. In fact, many patients believe the psychological evaluation means there may be something wrong with them, but that is not the case. Instead, the psych eval is meant to address some of the underlying causes of obesity and why a patient may be overeating or unable to lose weight.

Further, the psychological evaluation prepares the patient for life after surgery, which will be significantly different from what they were accustomed to before the procedure. It may seem trivial, but these preparations will make the postoperative experience easier, more fruitful and less frustrating. Further, this is an opportunity for the patient to discuss some of their nagging concerns. These concerns may have developed over the course of years suffering from obesity and are not easily resolved. Indeed, having professional help can be the difference between good and great results.

So, what are some good questions to ask during your psych eval?

  1. An important question to ask is how your relationships will change after bariatric surgery. This will certainly happen. As you lose weight, others can begin to feel left out or jealous of your new and improved lifestyle. These are important considerations you may have to address before surgery and will certainly have to deal with afterwards.
  2. How do you get buy-in from your family and friends to make sure you build a proper support group that keeps you on the right track over the long term?
  3. How do you deal with the temptations of everyday life especially during the holidays or at parties or gatherings when there is little regard for the healthfulness of the food? This can also be extended to restaurant eating, which can be similarly tempting.
  4. How do you avoid the possibility of addiction substitution, which essentially involves substituting drinking or even drugs for the food that you are missing? Make sure you know your triggers and your risks.
  5. How do you deal with the inevitable perceived failures or hurdles you will have over the course of the first two years after surgery when your weight plateaus or you are even gaining a little?

Remember the bariatric surgical process is a collaborative effort between the medical team, the patient and the patient’s family. All of the resources we provide and all of the requirements that need to be met are there for a reason. And that is to ensure the patient experiences the most comfortable and effective postoperative recovery possible.

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