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Psychological Evaluation for Weight Loss Surgery

As part of the bariatric surgery evaluation process, each patient undergoes a psychological assessment to determine readiness and suitability for surgery.

Patients undergoing weight loss surgery typically face many changes: initial dietary restrictions, permanent changes in eating and dietary habits, altered body sensations and experiences, shifting body image, new cognitions and feelings, and an emerging and different lifestyle. In addition, they may experience unexpected and significant changes in relationships, which can result in marked stress. Generally, patients will need a secure identity, sound psychological resources, resiliency, effective coping strategies, and willingness to access meaningful support from others to help them through their weight loss surgery journey.

The psychological interview is sometimes a feared portion of the bariatric surgical evaluation. It is very common for patients to minimize psychosocial difficulties they may be experiencing from fears of “not passing” the evaluation and, thus, being denied surgery. The purpose of the psychological assessment is not to deny surgery to those people with psychiatric diagnoses or emotional distress, but rather to identify possible areas of challenge that may interfere with patient safety and adjustment to the surgical procedure, and to make recommendations aimed at facilitating the best possible outcome for the patient.

In addition to psychological functioning, the pre-surgical assessment identifies strengths and weaknesses of the patient’s psychosocial functioning, so that the necessary pre-surgical and post-surgical interventions can be put into place. The pre-surgical psychological evaluation can also serve as an opportunity to further educate the patient about the surgical process and the changes that will follow.

The initial part of the psychological assessment consists of self-report questionnaires (several are computerized), which take about 50-60 minutes. This is, followed by a semi-structured interview of 45-50 minutes with the psychologist. We accept most insurance plans, but please verify coverage with your insurer. Parts of the testing may not be covered by insurance.

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