By Dr. Kristin Allison
Everyone entering our program at Tri-State will meet with either our staff psychiatrist or social worker at the beginning of your journey. This behavioral evaluation is different than an outside appointment with a mental health professional that may be intended to diagnosis and treat a condition, usually because you are experiencing certain symptoms that concern you.
Our meeting is an opportunity to discuss psychological and social factors that can have an impact on surgery. It is important to be honest during the interview because it is not pass/fail, but is intended to help you identify areas to work on. Sometimes these suggestions can optimize your weight loss outcome. The role of the behavioral evaluation is to provide education, and make recommendations to the team and yourself. We often meet again to assist with lifestyle changes and help you get mentally ready.
It can be an emotional up and down time after surgery. Losing weight fast, hormone changes, and not having certain comfort foods can all play a role. Preparing for surgery can make your experience smoother. The following are some topics that may be discussed during the initial visit of your behavioral evaluation:
- Your previous weight loss attempts. Understanding why you did not lose or regained weight may reveal some obstacles you may again encounter after surgery.
- The timing of surgery. If possible, it is best to undergo surgery when your life is relatively free of major stressors. This is an important consideration as surgery is going to require your focus and time.
- Your support system. You may need to think about ways to increase your support system. Family, friends, and co-workers can all make a big difference. Your health care providers also need to be involved. Tri-State’s support groups and professional staff are available to help you through any challenges.
- Your expectations about surgery. We want you to have realistic expectations about surgery. It is not magic. The surgery itself is only the beginning of your part in getting and keeping the weight off. In addition, while your quality of life improves in many ways after surgery, losing weight will not solve all your problems.
The above points may help you start thinking about the behavioral evaluation process and perhaps decrease any apprehension. Our desire is for the behavioral evaluation to be seen as helpful and informative rather than a required part of your pre-operative process. Our meeting can be the start of a relationship where we can share in your struggles after weight loss surgery and provide ongoing support.