Preparing Weight Loss for Surgery

Weight loss surgery takes thorough mental and physical preparation, but most important, it takes commitment

By Heather Hatfield
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

For those who consider weight loss surgery, they are at the end of their ropes. Traditional methods of diet and exercise have had no effect, and this procedure is a last resort. But by no means is the leap from thinking about weight loss surgery to the operating table a short one.

"People need to be aware, in great detail, of the risk and benefits of weight loss surgery so they understand what it is all about," says Harvey J. Sugerman, MD, president of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery. "The procedure is not without risk, and there is a great deal of anxiety that comes with it, so it takes considerable preparation."

From checking on insurance coverage to psychological exams to support groups, preparing for this life-changing procedure takes time, physical and mental readiness, and most of all, commitment.

First Steps

"From the time a person first thinks about having weight loss surgery, to the time they make the commitment to have it done is typically about two years," says James Kolenich, MD, a bariatric surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Horizon. "Most people don't rush into this, they talk to family and friends, they talk to the hospital, they go home and they think about it more; it's usually a very thoughtful approach."