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Expert Advice

Beyond the Operating Room: The Importance of Support Groups for the Post-Operative Bariatric Patient

By Sue Levy Walker, MSW
BIDMC Bariatric Social Worker

gathering of hands in supportThe journey from application to operation is often times a lengthy one. It is a time of preparation, of distancing one's self from behaviors and eating patterns that have become all too familiar, and requires all patients to evaluate their life from many different angles.

Pre-operative life circumstances that rise to the forefront of struggles for patients can include health concerns, limited engagement in activity, disordered eating habits, problematic family systems, past traumas, stressful work environments, troubled social connections, difficulty with time management, and general relationship issues. What gets examined before patients are approved to have weight loss surgery is how each person's connection with food has come to play a role in what are simply normal circumstances of the human condition.

As clinicians we feel, without question, that the time patients spend working on their individual issues in preparation for surgery, along with the support and guidance needed to help each person reach the point of approval, is equal to the post-operative work needed for patients to achieve long-term success.

The value in support being received within the context of a group of patients, all sharing a similar journey, can be a unique bonding experience where patients can connect through a common shared experience. The value of connecting with others who are dealing with the same questions, concerns, and challenges is crucial for patients who can often feel misunderstood, judged and alone on a journey that can all too easily become derailed.

In a dedicated support group focused on continuous reinforcement work on behavior modification, and ongoing education about nutrition and general post-operative needs, an environment is created that offers patients a place to stay focused and feel supported.

Life after bariatric surgery can pose many challenges. There are new issues to deal with, new questions that need answers, and a new life to adjust to. Engagement in post-op support groups with individuals who are working through similar situations can often help patients achieve success in meeting both long and short term goals.

At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Weight Loss Surgery Center, we offer a monthly support group program which incorporates many of the disciplines and discussion topics of importance to our patients. The program is open to all of our post-op patients and is free of charge. Our schedule includes a variety of presentations from staff and guests, including cooking classes, general support and open discussion, physician and patient presentations, recipe and clothing swaps, nutritional and medical education, and exercise discussions.

Our schedule can be found online and is also posted in our clinic. For additional information and questions, please call our clinic at 617-667-2845.

We hope to see you soon and help support you in your journey towards health and wellness.

Above content provided by the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted April 2014

Contact Information

Weight Loss Surgery Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Clinical Center, 3rd Floor
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

Post-Op Support Groups

Support Group sessions for post-operative bariatric patients are held at least once per month. Please call the clinic at 617-667-2845 for additional information.

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