Expectations and Outcomes with Gastric Bypass Surgery
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Background: Bariatric surgery is widely accepted as the effective treatment option for morbid obesity. However, the extant literature does not provide mental health clinicians with consistent guidance for evaluating candidates for surgery, nor for preparing patients for postsurgical adjustment. Among both bariatric clinicians and patients, there are commonly endorsed expectations about who will do well postoperatively and what the psychosocial impact of the surgery and weight loss will be. The current study surveyed our patient population regarding the accuracy of these expectations. Methods: Medical charts were reviewed and surveys mailed to all 194 patients who had undergone the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGBP) at University of New Mexico Hospital prior to April 2003. Surveys explored patients' expectations and actual experiences with RYGBP and the subsequent changes in their physical and psychosocial status. Results: Completed surveys received from 47.9% of the patients reported significant improvements in physical health, emotional status, and binge eating. These improvements were seen across the entire sample, regardless of the presence of preoperative psychological distress, and were unrelated to the degree of weight loss. Professional and non-romantic relationships benefited from the impact of weight loss, but romantic relationships appeared unaffected. There were no significant changes in occupational status. Conclusion: The impact of bariatric surgery appears sufficiently potent to negate whatever preoperative differences might otherwise affect weight management. It may be time for the field to cease its search for surgical outcome predictors and focus instead on improving postoperative support.
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