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Path to Success for Bariatric Surgery

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Thursday, October 25, 2018
By Mark Smith, Psy.D

If you are considering on becoming a candidate for bariatric surgery, you will most likely be referred for an evaluation with a clinical psychologist. Although this may seem surprising, or even a little scary, it has become routine preparation for many types of surgeries and at times a requirement made by insurance companies. The American Society for Bariatric Surgery recommends that patients who are seeking bariatric surgery obtain a pre-surgical psychological evaluation.

Prepare for success

Experts agree that a patient undergoing a bariatric procedure must be psychologically prepared for their physical transformation. The mental health check is a means of identifying emotional and behavioral factors that contribute to eating patterns, and preparing patients for long term success. This can be done by identifying patient’s strengths, the ability to commit to long-term aftercare, learn new skills, and the motivation to succeed. Therapists can also insure that a patient has a complete understanding of the effects surgery will have on them, as well as determining if a supportive team at home is in place. A therapist can also identify where a patient might need additional support after surgery. This may include identifying triggers for past emotional eating or mood swings. 


Depression is one of the most common issues after weight-loss surgery, but also one of the issues that tends to improve when you have the right kind of help.  

  • First, following doctor’s orders and recommended dietary changes is a top priority. 
  • Having regular appointments with a helpful therapist is key. 
  • Identifying thoughts and feelings, especially those around eating, can be very helpful, as well as journaling. 
  • Setting realistic goals and expectations and learning to navigate related changes. 
  • Documenting your progress through pictures and measurements can add to motivation, and offer a sense of forward momentum. 
  • Speak with family and friends: educating loved ones about what to expect from you physically and emotionally after surgery can reduce stress on relationships. 
  • Getting your home ready in advance for when you return home after surgery can help reduce anxiety. 
  • Being prepared for your new diet, activity plan, wound care, and medication can help make it easier to function at home after surgery. 
  • Finally, a nutrition plan is vital to postoperative bariatric care. 
It is a hard journey, but the benefits can be better than you could imagine.

Gastric bypass surgery requires a major life change. Not only is it major surgery, but success and your health depend on lifestyle changes with both diet and exercise. Adjusting can be a difficult process, but it can also be a very rewarding one.
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