Before undergoing weight loss surgery, a certain amount of mental and emotional preparation is necessary. It is imperative that a person is able to welcome the change surgery will bring before he/she could go under the knife. Weight loss surgery will not only transform a person externally but internally as well. It will affect the way a person lives life, the way he/she interacts, the way he/she perceives his/her self and surroundings. Shedding off the weight gained from obesity is not only a physical process. Having lost some pounds does not equally lighten the load deep inside. Obesity carries along with it series of deeply-seeded negative emotions.
Even after surgery, it is quite possible that the patient will still be struggling with his/her body image. The patient might even find something strange about her leaner self and feel a loss of her former identity. Some post-op patients feel awkward in their bodies and become unhealthier than before. This is a flaw in their process of adaptation but it can be corrected with therapy. To completely overhaul a person who has been obese for a long time, it is usually advised during the entire surgical process that a psychiatrist should be consulted.
Meeting with a psychologist before the surgery helps the patient evaluate his/her current state of mind; his/her fears related to the surgery and his/her feelings towards it. The session also allows misconceptions to be corrected and questions to be answered. For an hour, the doctor will provide the patient with the necessary information and support he/she needs. The therapist talks to the patient about realistic expectations regarding the surgery and may tap the patient’s family and solicit their ideas regarding the medical procedure.
Post-surgically, another visit is done. About three months after the operation, patients will again visit their therapist and report their effectiveness in managing the change that has occurred. Therapists will still discuss with the patient and his/her family about their feelings and reactions, to assess whether they are positively coping. This is usually the last time patients submit themselves for counseling but extension of the sessions are possible if requested.
Therapists and psychologists are specially educated to intervene in crisis situations. Surgery is a life-altering event that might bring this about. In order to get the full impact of the surgery, the patient must embrace its totality. It may take some time and with some degree of difficulty. But it can be done with counseling.