Weight-Loss-Surgery: The Psychological Consultation
Dr. Jennifer J. Sowle
Obesity is a national health emergency in the United States. Weight-loss-surgery is one of the ways many Americans are choosing to
deal with the battle of the bulge. Because of the high demand for
bariatric surgery (gastric bypass and lap-band are two of these
procedures), new protocols are being established to help assure the
safety and appropriateness of these medical procedures.
Many medical tests are required before a patient is given the go-ahead
for this surgery. The psychologist has become an integral part of the
medical team. Both insurance companies and surgeons require a psychological consultation for each patient they are screening for bariatric surgery.
Because eating issues are complicated and the emotional stability of the patient
is important, the psychologist helps assess the patient’s readiness for surgery.
For those patients seeking this pre-surgery consultation, you can expect the
psychological consultation to address these important areas of mental health:
1. Details of the patient’s personal history such as family background,
education, marital status, home situation, work history, and current
Some psychologists may use objective psychological tests to help
with the evaluation of a bariatric patient. Most, however, use their
professional skills and training in a clinical interview to make sure
the patient is able to understand and make informed choices about his or her
The primary focus of the consultation is to assess whether this
patient is emotionally stable and psychologically capable of
undergoing the surgery. While it is not possible to predict with
absolute certainty that an individual will sail through such a
procedure with no emotional complications, the psychologist can
provide valuable insights that contribute to the overall assessment
of a patient for bariatric surgery.