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The Importance of a Pre-operative Psychological Evaluation

Many patients don’t realize the importance of their psychological evaluation before bariatric surgery and, in turn, do not take advantage of the professional assistance that they can receive. In fact, many patients believe that the need for a psychological evaluation means that there may be something wrong with them. That is decidedly not the case.

Psychologist sits on light gray sofa smiling kindly ready for a pre-op bariatric surgery psychological visit. VIPSurg logo at top right

Instead, the psych evaluation is not only a requirement of many insurance plans that cover bariatric surgery, but it is meant to address some of the underlying causes of obesity and why a patient may be over-eating or unable to lose weight. Further, the psychological evaluation prepares the patient for life after surgery, which will be significantly different from what they are accustomed to now. It may seem trivial, but these preparations will make the postoperative experience easier, more fruitful and less frustrating. The psych evaluation represents 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 a professional help can be the difference between good and great results.

Here are a few tips to make your psychological evaluation as fruitful as possible

  1. Be totally honest and forthcoming with your provider. It is important, both for your progress through the weight-loss surgery process and ultimate results to honestly discuss any underlying concerns you may have.
  2. Don’t fight the process. You have the opportunity to learn a whole bunch about the best ways to lose weight and how to best manage your postoperative life. Remember that your provider will have worked with hundreds if not thousands of bariatric patients and can offer a great deal of good advice.
  3. Write down your questions beforehand and feel free to ask whatever is on your mind. There truly are no dumb questions. In fact, sometimes the most basic questions yield the most profound answers.
  4. If appropriate and allowed, try to include close family members in the consult. It is important that the people around you – who will be caring for you and supporting you throughout the process – know as much as they can about bariatric surgery and the psychological effects thereof.

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

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