The Importance of Support Groups Before and After Bariatric Surgery

By Jessica Basso, RN, BSN

Support Groups are a great way for patients to help assist each other, throughout the weight loss journey both pre and post operatively. Everyone’s weight loss journey will be a different and unique experience. With support from family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and other WLS patient’s, studies have found individuals have increased success losing and maintaining weight when attending support groups. The reason is patients can obtain validation, learn new techniques to approaching weight loss, stay motivated and celebrate the various accomplishments achieved as well as helping each other overcome the many obstacles that may develop throughout the journey. Support groups provide a safe environment for patients struggling with losing weight. They can provide social and emotional support to patients that may not have the necessary support from family or friends. Weight-loss surgery patients can sometimes feel alone and misunderstood, so it’s important to create a circle of people who understand the decision to have bariatric surgery. Doing so will enable the patient to better understand what it is like to deal with the many physical, emotional, and relationship changes that can be experienced throughout the weight loss journey. Support groups are great places to find other people who can provide understanding, compassion and encouragement.

All support groups are different and there are so many different ways of participating. With technology readily available, patients can attend groups online or in person. The various support groups can help provide insight, perspective and real world experiences from those who have personally gone through the process and now are able to share their perspective. Some support groups can provide a more structured agenda featuring topic presentations and discussions. Other groups can include more participatory activities designed to reinforce key principles of success and help patients learn concepts as well as to help them adjust to lifestyle changes. Many groups often invite guest speakers like dietitians, psychologists and/or fitness instructors. Other guests provide presentations on topics like grooming, dating, or cooking. All groups are designed to educate, inform and provide a well-rounded foundation of knowledge for long-term weight loss success.

The success patients achieve after weight loss surgery is something to be proud of and can be shared and celebrated at groups. Patients may not even realize they are helping someone else by simply just sharing their own experiences. It’s a great way to provide WLS patients with hope and encouragement by enabling them to achieve their own goals. Patients are able to hear and see for themselves that success is possible, by providing them information on how success can be achieved. Our office at Tristate Bariatrics, provides numerous support groups throughout the various offices and hospitals for patients that are both pre & post op. The groups are designed to help our patients give and receive support amongst each other and we highly encourage patients to attend to hear and see the different aspects, obstacles, and accomplishments that are involved with WLS.

Mary Anne

Mary Anne