Psychological Considerations in Bariatric Surgery

The purpose of a psychological evaluation before having your bariatric surgery is to evaluate for any psychiatric conditions including eating disorders that may lead to less-than-optimal outcome post-operatively. The evaluation is also a time where the clinician can provide you with answers to any questions regarding adaptation to your new way of life, as well as a possible recommendation for continued psychotherapy.

Making the decision to have bariatric surgery is the hard part. Once you have received all the information, identified a surgeon, and gone through your clearances, it’s excitement for the surgical date. The promise of a new, healthier, more robust life full of activities and outings that may not have been possible pre-surgically. A crucial issue that is important to discuss is how you will adjust to your new life and how will your social support system adjust with you. Yes, it’s a team effort.  

Psychological Consideration of Bariatric Surgery
Psychological Consideration of Bariatric Surgery

Your life will change considerably after bypass surgery. Think of all the holidays that revolve around food, games, outings etc. Food takes a central role in our lives. For you, your way of viewing food will change substantially. It will be about grams of protein consumed, ounces of water drank, and taking all your supplements. You will find that you become full with 3 to 4 ounces of food. Think of going to dinner with friends, they are not used to your new way of eating. It is not uncommon to hear “Is that all you’re going to eat?”. This is referred to as “food pushing”. People become worried or uncomfortable seeing you eat such small meals and think it is healthier for you to consume more. They do not realize that this is actually detrimental to your success. In this situation it’s advisable to provide your support system with information regarding why you are committed to your meal plan and give them information on your goals post-surgically to optimize their support.

Consider the question of “How will you socialize when food is no longer the primary focus?” This is a question worth taking your time to consider and worth discussing with your support system. Prior to bariatric surgery identify friends that you can engage in different activities with.

As the weight comes off, you will find you will have more energy to engage in various activities such as bicycle riding, swimming, playing tennis, golf, going for walks or on hikes etc. You can also get creative and skip the dinner and just go for the movie. Post bypass surgery your life will shift and food will no longer be a primary focus. This will free up time so you can read, enjoy music, and explore any other activities you’ve wanted to try but have not.

Psychotherapy can be instrumental in helping you adapt to your new personal goals in a healthy way. Miami Psychology Group is here to help with experienced Psychologists that can guide you in navigating this journey.