A project dedicated to patients who have undergone bariatric surgery is launched at the Obesity Centre of Humanitas: these are psycho-diet support groups aimed at acquiring greater awareness of the changes deriving from the intervention and how to maintain its results for longer through the necessary work on one’s own lifestyle. If, in fact, in a first period, the outcomes of the intervention remain regardless of the lifestyle, over time, without a significant change in their habits, the benefits obtained by the surgery may also gradually fade.
As Dr. Katia Rastelli, psychologist of the Obesity Centre of Humanitas, explains: “These groups are born from a need brought by the patients themselves, who often, following a bariatric surgery, need further support. Bariatric patients are included in a follow up of periodic checks with the surgeon and the dietitian; in some cases, however, psychological needs may also emerge, to which we currently try to respond individually.
However, we do not always succeed in clearly intercepting patients’ needs and, just as often, patients struggle to ask specialists more personal questions related to their experience, everyday life, their emotions or their connection with their new bodies. The birth of groups of patients tries to move in this direction: to offer a space and time dedicated to them, so that they can receive all the necessary information about changes in their relationship with food, but also share their experiences and questions, comparing with others, in the discreet presence of a psychologist experienced in the field.
The programme of the meetings
“The groups are composed of about ten patients and there are five meetings, one per month, and they will be held, at least initially, on Friday morning. There are several topics that we plan to address, such as: the dietary diary (in collaboration with the dietician, Dr. Martina Mura), the importance of regularity in the number of meals and the role of physical activity, the daily fatigue that can emerge following the post-surgical process within family routine and work, trying to listen to patients and offering them some advice in this regard, as well as attention to the change in the body image of each patient: losing 30-40 kilos (if not more) in fact has a very strong emotional value, both in the relationship with oneself and in relations with others. The relational and social sphere is in fact equally involved and patients can experience changes, not always easy to understand and manage, in the life of a couple and also in sexuality. The work will then be calibrated in the light of the participants and their needs, so that it can really meet their specific needs and help them live with greater awareness and serenity in this delicate phase of their lives, in which they have decided to be active players,” emphasized the psychologist.
The importance of the emotional component
“Once the group is composed, the participants will always remain the same for all five meetings. This allows the construction of a more protected context, which helps each component to feel increasingly free to express itself and to share their thoughts, their difficulties and also the new aspects of themselves. The emotional component of bariatric surgery is very strong, but patients are not always specifically aware of it. The creation of these groups wants to help them to have an extra tool to work both on changing habits and on the emotional dimension (which often affects the diet), through the acquisition of useful information in daily practice, through confrontation with those who can share satisfaction and fatigue. The groups are also open to patients who have undergone surgery in other facilities and to book an appointment (or just ask for more information) you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org,” concluded Dr. Rastelli.