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How does postoperative behavioral therapy influence weight-loss surgery?

A study was conducted in the U.S. to evaluate the feasibility of postoperative behavioral therapy in patients who had undergone weight-loss surgeries.

Weight loss surgery is a serious surgical procedure, and post-operative behaviours and psychosocial challenges, like binge eating, mood changes, depression, substance use problems, marital discord or other life stressors can affect the long-term success of this surgery.

Recently published in Plos One, researchers conducted a pilot study to see whether a postoperative behavioural therapy intervention could help with the long-term success of weight loss surgery.

For this study, 50 adults who had weight loss surgery within the past 18 months were selected.  Preoperatively, a 6 to 12-month medical and psychosocial evaluation was done, in addition to diet, nutritional, and lifestyle education. Each patient was given a “light status” following the psychosocial evaluation. Green light indicated that patients are cleared for surgery, yellow light patients have difficulty in making dietary or behavioral changes, inadequate understanding of the procedure, risks or eating or mental health concerns.

The postoperative behavioural therapy intervention consisted of eight one-hour group sessions that took place over a period of 16 weeks and included up to 10 postoperative patients. The sessions, which were based on principles of cognitive behavioural therapy, focused on overcoming the psychosocial changes after surgery and challenges such as food cravings, emotional eating, and managing food cravings and changes to routine. The participants each set personal goals to achieve, which would be reviewed at the beginning of each session.

Participants in a postoperative behavioral therapy intervention program had better outcomes

Individuals participating in the postoperative behavioral therapy program following weight-loss surgery reported better social functioning and increased physical function, compared with those who did not take part in the program. These participants were also more likely to stick with healthy eating plans compared with those who were not in the intervention group. The researchers found no difference between groups in weight changes or eating behavior.

Postoperative behavioral therapy following weightloss surgery showed promising psychosocial benefits and improved health-related quality of life. According to the authors, “Implementing structured behavioural intervention programs as standard of care could further elevate gains in functioning that are inherently present for most patients after surgery, as well as provide support and surveillance for patients at risk for adverse outcomes.”


Written by Dr. Radhika Baitari, MS


References- Lent, M., Campbell, L., Kelly, M., Lawson, J., Murakami, J., Gorrell, S., Wood, G., Yohn, M., Ranck, S., Petrick, A., Cunningham, K., LaMotte, M. and Still, C. (2019). The feasibility of a behavioural group intervention after weight-loss surgery: A randomized pilot trial. PLOS ONE, 14(10), p.e0223885.


Image by Tumisu from Pixabay




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