weight loss surgery support groups: vital for healing

By: Dr. David Provost

More and more, people who struggle with severe or morbid obesity are turning to weight loss surgery to treat their disease. But, weight loss surgery addresses only the physical aspects of obesity. For a person who struggles with weight issues to manage their physical health long-term, they also need to address the psychological and emotional issues that drive their behavior and the damage that has been caused to their self-image. For this reason, many bariatric surgeons incorporate regular support group meetings into their aftercare program for their patients.
The bariatric support group offered by Dr. David Provost, who performs weight loss surgery in Denton, Texas, is one such example. The biweekly meetings are open to anyone who has had bariatric surgery, regardless of their surgeon, and patients’ friends and family are welcome, as well.
The group’s support centers around an approach called Attitudinal Healing, a program of spiritual and emotional treatment based upon nonsectarian principles and designed to improve patient health in conjunction with traditional health care practices. It operates by providing injured people with a secure environment in which they may express, acknowledge, and release the emotional pain and fear that usually accompany physical illness or trauma. Its goal is to help patients recover from these injuries and enjoy a more fulfilling and peaceful life.
“We feel it is vital to a patient’s continued success for them to have a place where they can talk through the issues surrounding their struggles with excess weight,” says Dr. Provost, who performs both Lap-Band and gastric bypass surgery in Denton at Presbyterian Hospital. “Surgery is just a tool. You need to know how to use that tool if you’re going to get the best results.”
Weight loss surgery support groups take different forms, and not all of them use the Attitudinal Healing approach to treatment. Some groups offer regular guidance from a nutritionist or dietician, while others are led by a professional counselor or therapist, who may initiate discussions on specific topics. Still other weight loss surgery support groups take a more casual, round-table approach, in which patients share issues with which they may currently be struggling and get feedback from other members of the group.
Although the formats may vary, the benefits of meeting with other bariatric patients to address the challenges of weight management are predominantly the same. Research shows that patients are more successful at maintaining a healthy weight after surgery when they participate in regular support group meetings, and have a sense of accountability to their peers.

What’s more, support groups are not just for post-operative patients. Individuals who are considering weight loss surgery or who are awaiting their surgery date can also benefit.
“Participating in the support group before their surgery gives pre-op patients a head start on learning to think and act differently,” says Dr. Provost. “They’re going to have to make significant changes in the way they eat, in their fitness routine, and in other parts of their life after surgery. The support group meetings give them a chance to prepare for those changes, and to get advice and guidance from other patients who have already been down that path.”

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Dr. David Provost provides expert weight loss surgery in Denton, Texas. He was formerly the Medical Director for the Surgical Treatment of Obesity at UT Southwestern in Dallas and is one of the leading bariatric specialists in the nation.

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