Patients Need Counseling Prior to Bariatric Surgery


recent article written by Mayo Clinic psychologist and psychiatrist Karen Grothe, Ph.D highlighted a lesser-known aspect of bariatric surgery: Many insurance companies require patients who wish to undergo weight-loss surgery attend a number of counseling sessions beforehand. Here’s a look at why counseling can help obesity sufferers make significant long-term improvements to their physical and mental health.

Why Do You Need Counseling Before Undergoing Bariatric Surgery?

For those unfamiliar with the term, bariatric surgery is an umbrella categorization for surgical procedures performed on the stomach and/or intestines with the intent of treating up patient’s obesity. The most common types of bariatric surgeries are sleeve gastrectomygastric bypass and laparoscopic gastric banding, commonly referred to as lap band surgery. Reduce the size of a person’s stomach, thereby limiting the amount of food they can consume at any given time.

The reason insurance companies are increasingly requiring patients who wish to undergo bariatric surgery is that the procedure will ultimately be ineffective if the obese person doesn’t make serious long-term lifestyle changes. By working with a counselor, patients can construct a diet and exercise regimen that will work in tandem with the bariatric surgery to help an obese person achieve a nominal body mass index.

Meaningful Lifestyle Changes

As this post on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute notes, the most common cause for obesity is an energy imbalance. What this refers to is your rate of caloric intake versus the calories you burn during your everyday life. If you have in an active lifestyle marked by sedentary behavior, a lack of regular exercise and an unhealthy diet, your energy levels will become unbalanced and you will gain excessive amounts of weight. So, while bariatric surgery can help you reduce your overall caloric intake, if you don’t make regular aerobic exercise and healthy eating habits a priority, you will not achieve your weight loss goals.

Mind Over Hunger

If your inactive lifestyle is the result of underlying psychological issues, a counselor can help you address those problems. For example, many people suffering from obesity eat to relieve stress. As we tend to crave foods heavy in saturated fat and refined sugars when stressed, reflexive overeating can quickly lead you down the path of morbid obesity. A qualified counselor can teach you new techniques for stress management that are not as deleterious to your health.

By using meditation or cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, you can lessen your psychological compulsion to eat when stressed. Additionally, by working to remove carbohydrate packed non-nutritious foods like potato chips, cakes and processed meats from your diet, you will be more satisfied at mealtime and your cravings for unhealthy snacks will gradually fade away.

The Importance of a Holistic Solution

As the Mayo Clinic’s website points out, obesity can have a seriously negative effect on your physical health. Obese people have high risk factors for contracting type 2 diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cancer and stroke. Additionally, obesity can have a detrimental effect on your psychological well-being, as obesity sufferers are more likely to be depressed and socially isolated than those who maintain a nominal BMI. It’s for that reason that counseling sessions have been mandated as a precondition of bariatric surgery. Successfully treating a complex disorder like obesity requires a holistic form of treatment.