What is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric or weight-loss surgery is a surgical procedure performed to help significantly obese patients lose weight when more traditional methods, such as dieting and exercise, have not helped. Depending on the type, these surgeries change the gastrointestinal tract to limit how much food can be eaten and also change how food is absorbed by the body. Of the various bariatric surgeries available, the most common is gastric bypass.
By far the most common of the gastric bypass surgeries is called “Roux-en-Y.” During this surgery, part of the stomach and small intestine are detached from the gastrointestinal tract, in order to make the tract smaller. The surgeon divides the stomach into two parts. The working stomach, at the end of the esophagus, is now tiny - only the size of a walnut. This makes patients feel full after eating a small amount of food. Then the small intestine is also divided, and after bypassing a section of the small intestine to reduce food absorption, the intestine is attached to the small stomach pouch. The patient now has a working stomach and intestine like before, only much smaller.
Because gastric bypass is used to treat extreme obesity, it can reduce the risk of some of the problems associated with obesity. Gastric bypass can help treat or reduce the risk for such conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes. However, it is a major surgery and also carries risks itself. Any surgery can lead to infection, bleeding, or blood clots, and weight loss surgery in particular carries risks of leaks in the gastrointestinal system, malnutrition, bowel obstructions, and vomiting.
Typically patients are considered candidates for gastric bypass surgery if they have a BMI greater than 40, or sometimes if they have a BMI between 35 and 40 but are suffering from obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes. The outlook is generally good, with most patients losing between 50-75% of their excess weight in 1-2 years. However, patients must follow strict diet guidelines so that the stomach can heal, starting with no food at all, then followed by a liquid diet for some time. For many severely obese patients who have tried strict diets before without success, gastric bypass surgery is the tool that allows them to finally achieve their weight loss and health goals.
What is Psychology?
Psychologists are not medical doctors, but they are important workers in the mental health field. A psychologist studies the way people feel and think, as well as how thoughts and feelings change the way people act. When psychologists work with patients directly to help them feel better, they practice clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists diagnose mental health disorders and provide treatment in the form of therapy.
A clinical psychologist might work with individuals, families, groups, or organizations. They may see people who are struggling to work through difficult circumstances, trying to overcome bad habits or patterns in their lives, recovering from a brain injury, or suffering from mental illness such as depression.
Clinical psychologists are skilled assessors. Through talking to their patients they can: (1) identify which thoughts or feelings are causing the problems in their patient’s life, (2) help their patient acknowledge what emotional strengths they bring to face those problems, and (3) make plans for treatment.
Treatment varies widely depending on the patient’s problems and the psychologist’s areas of expertise. There hundreds of recognized modes of therapy; in addition, a patient may need to see a psychiatrist (medical doctor) for medication treatment. Whichever therapies a psychologist uses, the goal is to help patients see areas in their life where their thoughts or feelings are holding them back and causing distress. Through therapy, psychologists can encourage their patients to develop new ways to adapt so that they can lead happier lives.
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