Therapy Before and After Bariatric Surgery

Therapy Before and After Bariatric SurgeryBariatric surgery is a powerful step in achieving and maintaining weight loss. Nevertheless, weight loss surgery patients encounter a host of social, psychological, and lifestyle changes both prior to and following bariatric surgery. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a helpful tool to assist with both the pre- and postoperative adjustments that accompany bariatric surgery.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Overview

When guided by a mental health professional, cognitive behavior therapy is a structured, short-term method to help individuals become aware of negative thinking and view challenges in a clear and realistic way in order to respond in a more effective, positive manner.  In terms of weight loss therapy, CBT assists patients in learning about and committing to lifestyle changes, including implementing dietary changes.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy before Bariatric Surgery

Individuals who are contemplating weight loss surgery have many questions and concerns prior to making their decision to move forward.  Many of these questions revolve around food: Will my portions be dramatically reduced? What foods will I be able to eat? Will I have to take vitamins every day? Will I have to avoid high-fat foods?

In preoperative CBT groups, therapists discuss these areas to help the patient cope with any thoughts of anxiety or fears of the unknown that they may be having before surgery. These discussions help to reinforce the surgical team’s preoperative instructions. In addition, patients can discuss their worries, concerns, and fears openly with other group members, which helps them to realize that their fears are normal.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy after Bariatric Surgery

For many bariatric surgery patients, meeting the lifestyle recommendations following surgery requires significant changes in eating habits and physical activities. While many patients embrace these changes easily, others struggle with implementing them into their lives. Cognitive Behavior Therapy following bariatric surgery helps patients to learn about negative thoughts and actions that may be interfering with their adherence to the changes necessary to achieve long-term weight loss success.

In addition, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience psychological struggles like poor body image, lack of confidence, relationship difficulties, and even depression, following surgery. CBT groups provide the platform for individuals to open up and discuss these feelings to realistically explore how these psychological struggles impact their weight loss progress — and more importantly, impact their motivation to adopt the positive lifestyle changes needed after bariatric surgery.

Individuals contemplating weight loss surgery are usually doing so to improve their health and have a better quality of life through weight loss. Cognitive behavioral therapy can assist patients with these goals both before and after weight loss surgery.