Health Care

Why Do I Need a Psychological Evaluation Before Bariatric Surgery?

Woman taking notes about bariatric surgery

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If you’re considering weight loss surgery, you may be surprised to learn you’re required to undergo a psychological evaluation beforehand. The evaluation is just one step in the bariatric surgery process, though.

Much like how your health care provider must clear you physically before you can undergo surgery, a mental health screening for bariatric surgery is simply a check on your mental and emotional health to make sure you’re a good candidate for this life-changing surgery. (Plus, most insurance companies require it.)

A good candidate for bariatric surgery is physically, mentally and emotionally ready to achieve long-term weight loss success after surgery. That means making the necessary lifestyle changes after bariatric surgery and sticking with them.

Reasons for the Psychological Evaluation

Choosing to have weight loss surgery is a big decision — one that will affect your behaviors and lifestyle choices going forward. Talking with a psychologist during your evaluation can help ensure you’re making a decision that meets both your weight loss and life goals.

A psychologist can also help make sure you think about food and exercise in a healthy way, and that you’ll continue to do so after your surgery.

In addition, it’s important to go over your mental health history. That means discussing any past diagnoses of conditions like anxiety or depression. If you have a history of mental health conditions, talking through them and understanding that the symptoms you experienced may reappear can help you prepare for any emotional challenges after bariatric surgery.

A psychological evaluation before bariatric surgery also helps your team learn how to better serve you — not only during surgery but during the days, weeks and months to follow.

What You’ll Discuss

For your psychological evaluation, you’ll likely be paired with a mental health professional well-versed in working with weight loss patients. They may ask you about the following topics:

  • Your past attempts at weight loss
  • Your mental health history
  • Your feelings toward food
  • Your understanding of what post-surgical life will include, such as regular exercise and potential dietary restrictions
  • Any trauma you’ve experienced

Because research has found that some people are at risk for developing alcohol use disorder (or relapsing after surgery), you also may discuss substance abuse risks in bariatric surgery patients.

If the mental health professional decides there are a few areas that need further discussion, you may receive mental health counseling before you’re scheduled for weight loss surgery. That will help prepare you for life after surgery. Don’t stress about the psychological evaluation. The goal is not to bar you from weight loss surgery. It’s to help you achieve a lifelong commitment to better health after your operation.

Helping You Achieve a Positive Outcome

At AdventHealth, our expert team addresses the needs of your body, mind and spirit to personalize a weight loss program that will work for you — not just tomorrow and the next day, but in the months and years to come.

We’ll help you find solutions for your weight loss needs, including minimally invasive surgeries like laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which helps patients lose up to 80% of excess body weight, or laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, which removes about three-quarters of the stomach.

Learn more about our bariatric surgery program.

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