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A Team Approach is Essential for Long Term Success
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A Team Approach is Essential for Long Term Success

By Raymond G. Washington, MD

 

Morbid obesity affects nearly one third of adults in the United States. Surgical weight loss can provide a long-term solution for weight loss. Perspective patients spend endless hours researching bariatric programs.

 

When you decided on your bariatric program, you selected your program based on several factors to include its care providers.  This team of health care providers can make a major impact on patient success.

 

A multidisciplinary team approach is imperative to a patient’s overall well being. So, do not forget that you have this team of people ready to give you a helping hand.
 
Who is the multidisciplinary team? The team usually consists of healthcare professionals who provide educational, nutritional, psychological, exercise and social support. These members provide the backbone and framework of continued weight loss success. They are important in preoperative, perioperative and postoperative success.
 
A bariatric coordinator plays a key role in managing the multiple healthcare providers working with the patient. The coordinator advocates patient and staff education, as well as coordinates between the hospital and surgical practice. By assuming the leadership of the many disciplines they can help guide and inform patients.
 
The bariatric dietitian is important in the preparation and long-term management of the surgical weight loss patient. The dietitian meets with patients and educates on appropriate healthy eating choices. Also, the dietitian can assess any potential nutritional deficiencies preoperative or postoperatively. Nutritional education is paramount in your long term health.
 
You may be required to see a psychologist as part of your preoperative clearances.  The psychologist on the bariatric team helps with postoperative counseling by assessing eating disorders, depression and anxiety problems which helps to ease the transition after weight loss surgery. The psychologist is important in setting patient expectations and determining a plan for postoperative counseling.  If you feel you need support, it is recommended that you reengage with the psychologist on the team.
 
The National Institute of Health recommendations dating back to 1991 recognized a multidisciplinary approach to surgical weight loss as important. Utilizing a bariatric coordinator, dietitian and psychologist lays the foundation for improved patient outcomes. So continue to take advantage of this team as you continue your weight loss journey after surgery. It does not matter how far you are out from surgery, your bariatric team has a genuine interest in your long term success.