After bariatric surgery, patients can look in the mirror and see the progress they are making toward their weight-loss goals and a healthier, more enjoyable lifestyle. But sometimes their minds don’t quite believe the new reality.

“You know you’ve made progress,” Dana Bradley, certified bariatric nurse and bariatric coordinator of Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery, told a group of pre and post-surgery patients at a recent support group meeting. “But in your mind’s eye, you may still see yourself the way you used to be.”

Body image is just one of the topics covered during the meetings, which are available to patients both before and after bariatric surgery. The groups are designed to help patients prepare for surgery and then stay committed to the lifestyle changes that are required for weight-loss success.

“Attending Dana’s group before surgery made the transition after surgery much easier,” said one patient. “The support group has been a godsend.”

As one who has had bariatric surgery herself, Bradley understands patients’ frustrations and fears prior to surgery, and the emotions they experience after the procedure.

“A good support system, whether it be family, support groups or a combination of both, are essential to long-term success. The group knows exactly the struggles they face, and can give unique support that family can’t,” Bradley said.

Patients agree that group support is very helpful. “Dana works hard to share personal experiences and professional tips to keep group members on track with our changing bodies,” said a group member.

“The staff and doctors have been very knowledgeable and supportive during my journey. Dana is so helpful, and you can tell she genuinely cares about us,” added another.

Much of the group’s energy comes from sharing experiences. “It keeps you on track just by hearing other people’s successes or downfalls on the path to a better, healthier life,” said a participant. “It’s so helpful that others who have had the same surgery tell their experiences. You learn a lot from others just like you,” said another.

For most, the support group is critical to long-term success. After-care is extremely important – the support of the group is helpful for continuing on my weight loss journey,” one woman noted. “I think the support group plays an important role in ongoing post-surgery success,” said another. “It lets you hear that you’re not the only one going through emotions and issues. It also helps keep you on track and maintain accountability.”

As one man summed it up, “The after-care is great. I was watched over by the best.” And one woman declared, “I had surgery almost one year ago. I’m so glad I decided to have it – I feel wonderful!”

For a schedule of upcoming support Foothills Weight Loss Specialists’ bariatric support groups, CLICK HERE visit our Support Group webpage.