Therapy Before WLS: Why It's Important

Therapy is one of those things that people either believe is great or believe it has no purpose. If you have ever read my blog, then you know I advocate heavily for therapy. As a person who has battled depression since I was a child; I understand the importance of therapy.

WLS is Not a Quick Fix

Although there are plenty of people out there who truly believe that weight loss surgery (WLS) is some type of cheat code; it’s anything but. I’ve been familiar with the wls surgery process for awhile. The one thing that is constantly reiterated is that it’s a lifestyle change; not just a diet or a quick fix surgery.

There’s a lot of people who don’t believe in that message. They still believe lifestyle change is code for diet. However, if you plan to get wls, it most certainly needs to be a lifestyle change if you want to see yourself thrive post op.

I happen to be apart of a few online support groups for people pursuing wls or who have already had it. There is a pattern in the mindset of many people in the wls community that began to disturb me. It’s what prompted this article.

It is the lack of understanding how are mental health can affect our eating habits.

Unhealthy Mind and Unhealthy Habits

Conversation after conversation with women in these support groups and most were saying the same thing. “I didn’t think it’d be this hard.” “I’m still eating the things I did before.” “I’m so depressed I can’t believe I did this I just want to eat.” “Do I have to exercise?” “My weight loss isn’t what I thought it was gonna be I’m depressed.” “I fell off the wagon again, I need to reset my pouch.”

As I engaged in conversation with these women, not one of them had decided on therapy before surgery. Some even went so far as to share tips on how to “pass” a psych evaluation so they can get the surgery. I had to wonder, if they are going thru all these difficulties with being able to change their view on food, eating habits, and a major lifestyle change; why didn’t they go to therapy?

Most all of these women thought that wls was going to miraculously make them happy with themselves. They didn’t think they needed therapy.

Why I’ve Chosen Therapy

If you’re not familiar, wls is a permanent restrictive tool. Depending on what surgery you choose; your stomach is being reduced, and or bypassed to limit your calorie intake. This restriction is what causes weight loss.

The process leading to surgery is really rigorous. If you’re my size; you’re more than likely placed on a 1200 calorie a day meal plan in order to encourage weight loss before surgery. Having a lower BMI helps reduce risk of complications during surgery.

Prior to this, I had already made changes in my diet and lifestyle. So being on this restriction hasn’t been that difficult. But let me tell you, in the beginning of my journey; I cried! I began to realize how much food had been a tool of comfort for me.

Taking away food as an option forced me to look at my mental and emotional health and reevaluate the relationship I had with food. Intense prayer, and an honest look at myself revealed my struggles with food were pretty real.

I decided I wanted therapy so that I could deal with these issues, learn new coping skills, and prepare taking on a major surgery.

Therapy Prepares You for the Mental & Emotional Aspect of WLS

Bariatric surgery is not typically given to a person who just woke up one day and decided to have it. It’s usually prescribed to someone with a long history of being at a weight that causes their body and health complications. Sometimes a persons health is so compromised, wls is the only answer.

Therapy before surgery can help a person explore their habits and prepare them for how intense recovery is going to be. Therapy can help a person adjust to the new lifestyle they will need to lead in order to keep the excessive weight off in the future.

When people DM me on social media to discuss their interest in wls; I always include the conversation of therapy in those discussions.

In Conclusion

If you’re pursuing wls, I’d like to think you’re making this choice for your health (though I’m aware that’s not always the case.) Your health is not just what you are physically. What we are physically is directly linked to the health of our minds and emotions. Being healthy is not simply being small, because even smaller people can be unhealthy in mind and body.

I understand that everyone does not have access to the same resources. Insurance can be fickle that way. However, if you’re going the route of wls; please take the time to go to therapy so that you give yourself the best chance possible at success.

Until Next Time,

AP Young signature with kiss print.