Weight Loss Surgery Patients In Good Hands With Support Groups

Weight loss surgery should be followed up with guidance or counseling. Kathleen Kellenbeck, a bariatric support program coordinator and herself a weight loss surgery patient, explains how a center with a diversity of post surgery classes can accommodate a variety of patients.

Weight loss surgery program coordinator Kathleen Kellenbeck handles many weight loss surgery patients and knows exactly how they feel. She should; nine years ago, she had the surgery herself.

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“As patients, somewhere, there’s a little voice in the back of our heads that’s afraid we’re going to wake up tomorrow and be fat again,” she said. “And we can create a self-fulfilling prophecy in one way or the other.”

Kellenbeck now oversees five monthly post-operative support groups. Four are in Medford, Ore., and are divided between patients of gastric bypass surgery and those who have had adjustable gastric banding surgery. A fifth group in Grands Pass, Ore., combines both categories. Everyone is required to attend at least one group before surgery. “We want people to come even before they decide whether to have surgery or not,” she said.

As Kellenbeck explained, some patients like the combination support group but others don’t. This is because gastric bypass surgery tends to provide weight loss at a faster rate – a sight that can discourage patients who have chosen gastric banding. The center she coordinates for also offers a monthly nutrition class.

“We try to offer a variety of options,” she said. “There are some patients who just can’t stand coming to a support group because they don’t want to listen to people whine. Even though people don’t necessarily whine, that’s their preconceived notion. But they will come to the nutrition class, where they have the opportunity to learn, and also to express their challenges.”

Kellenbeck and the center strive to make as many options available to people as they can. But as a former patient herself, she knows what is required of someone who has had a weight loss procedure.

“If we’re bound and determined to be healthy for the rest of our lives, we need to take advantage of the tools and resources that are available for us.” For more information, visit www.sobariatric.com.