Pre-Operative Bariatric Surgery Mental Health Evaluation: What is it? Why is it necessary?
At the time a person decides to take the step toward bariatric surgery, they have likely already attended a seminar at a local bariatric surgical center or at the very least received a referral from their primary care physician or a specialist. Once the bariatric surgical office has been selected, there are usually pre-operative requirements that patients must go through to meet criteria for insurance approval. Even in some cases where patients are not required to obtain insurance approval, surgical practices want to make sure that patients are mentally ready to make the necessary post-operative bariatric lifestyle changes required.
Within the United States, many (if not all) insurance companies require a pre-surgical “psych” evaluation which can be completed by psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, or licensed clinical social workers.
As a licensed clinical social worker and provider for these pre-operative evaluations for years, I am often a referral source for physicians and surgical centers.
What’s included in the bariatric pre-surgical evaluation?
The evaluation consists of a clinical interview and psychological testing.
Within the clinical interview, we will go over reasons for seeking surgery, weight and eating behavior/diet history, current eating behaviors, psychiatric history, social supports and history, and an overview of the understanding of the surgery and its associated lifestyle changes.
All the testing components are completed via self-report in the office and provide critical information to complement the subjective data collected during the clinical interview.
What happens next?
The preoperative evaluation is about helping the patient to prepare for the surgery mentally and emotionally. Many people worry that this evaluation will eliminate them from having the surgery. On the contrary, the evaluation helps individuals see where they are, where they need to grow, and the evaluation can make specific recommendations that can help the patient to get additional support or can bring certain issues to light that the patient themselves might not have been aware of.
Ultimately, the preoperative evaluation has been regarded as an important part of the pre-surgical process to improve patient readiness and overall mental health.
After the evaluation, I will prepare a report and send it directly to your surgeon.
This evaluation is not a barrier in your journey to surgery. Knowing this interview as part of the process; as opposed to a “pass/fail.” Most importantly, you will learn more about food and the role it plays in your life; emotionally and physically.
How Much Does the Evaluation Cost and Will My Insurance Pay For It?
Currently, my bariatric evaluations are self-pay $350.00. These reports will be sent back to the surgeon within 7-10 days.
Many patients elect to meet with me for the mental health evaluation rather than use someone else on their insurance plan because they prefer to receive a mental health examination from a highly experienced and professionally trained bariatric specialist. By now, you have likely invested a lot of thought, time, and money on your decision to pursue weight loss surgery. The mental health evaluation is an important qualifier for your insurance company and for your surgeon. I understand program and surgeon requirements, and the pre-and post-operative process as I have trained extensively in bariatrics and disordered eating. I am able to understand where you are currently and how it can be a new journey after surgery.
Why should I see Katie McIntosh, MSW, LCSW for my Bariatric Mental Health Evaluation?
Bariatrics is important and specific; I have lived life knowing the shame and guilt weight can carry. The time during your visit will not just be to conduct an evaluation. You have put a lot of time and thought into this; you need a clinician who thoroughly understands bariatric surgery. I am compassionate about the daily battles and struggles (emotionally, physically, etc) surrounding obesity. In addition to the evaluation required by insurance companies and surgeons, I will offer education and behavior modification tips unique to your own needs to better prepare you for success.
I will offer you an appointment typically within 1-2 weeks of your phone call and your report will be done in a timely manner.
I am available for pre and post-weight loss surgery support, therapy, and/or behavior modification. I will be available throughout your journey; you have come so far getting to this part of the process. I have been there, I know how you feel and I will support you all the way.
Behavioral Therapy and Behavior Modification
As a bariatric specialist, I help people address issues about themselves or their behavior that they would like to better understand or change. Many individuals choose to work with an experienced bariatric specialist following bariatric surgery. As many know, having weight loss surgery is a life-changing experience. Any change, even change for the better, can be stressful, especially when it’s a lifestyle change.
Therapy can help you understand why you are returning to those behaviors, perhaps more importantly, overcome dysfunctional patterns and reduce emotional distress. Instead of putting yourself through that emotional stress, reach out; therapy helps! You are not alone in your weight loss journey. Consider therapy and behavior modification sessions to continue your success.
Snyder, A,G. 2009. “Psychological Assessment of the Patient Undergoing Bariatric Surgery. The Ochsner Journal, Volume 9, page numbers 144-148.