For more and more severely obese individuals bariatric surgery is the solution to ridding themselves of excess pounds when exercise and diet have not been successful, despite the fact that it is certainly not an easy choice and produces a wide range of outcomes in different patients.
There are a number of different surgical weight loss procedures used nowadays from a full gastric bypass which involves the decrease of the size of the stomach and the bypassing of part of the intestine to limit the quantity of food that can be eaten and the absorption of calories from that food to gastric banding which simply reduces the size of the stomach to once more limit the quantity of food which can be consumed.
Whichever type of surgery is done the underlying principle is to make the body burn off a greater number of calories than can be ingested and so reduce weight by using up the body’s fat reserves.
The true problem with weight loss surgery however does not lie in the actual surgery itself but reveals itself in the weeks and months following surgery when individuals find that their lifestyle has to change radically and that they must adjust to a totally new method of eating. For many patients this is hard but for some it can bring severe problems which are quite simply too much to cope with.
There are many reasons for obesity but a couple of commonly seen problems demonstrate this point.
The first problem is that of those individuals whose obesity has been caused, or exacerbated, by emotional eating. In this case individuals turn to eating whenever they find themselves stressed or whenever their emotions are particularly low. Emotional eating can become an extremely strong habit which is difficult to break and the psychological pressures which normally follow weight loss surgery are just the kind of pressures which will spark the desire for emotional eating in people who suffer from this particular difficulty.
The second problem is that of those individuals who are given to binge-eating and the uncontrollable depression, disgust and guilt which often follow binge-eating episodes. It is only too easy to see the extreme difficulty that such individuals will experience in attempting to cope with the major changes in lifestyle following weight loss surgery.
Taking all of these factors into account it is possibly not too surprising to discover that in the region of 20% of those being considered for gastric bypass surgery are not suitable, or more correctly not prepared, for surgery which is where psychological obesity treatments come into their own.
Much attention is paid to the requirement for individuals to meet the physical requirements for surgery (in terms of things like their body mass index and the existence of other medical problems which are linked to their being severely overweight) but far too frequently little attention is given to very real psychological problems which are associated with surgery. For surgery to have the very best possible chance for success then it is vitally important to pay close attention to the psychological needs of individuals and then provide them with pre-surgical assessment, counseling and, most especially, treatment.