By Avra Sullivan
Bariatric or weight reduction surgery is a relatively new, fast-growing procedure available to obese patients as an alternative to other forms of weight loss. It in fact includes a variety of procedures developed over the last 15 years. Bariatric surgery is a life-altering procedure, and patients must commit to making the lifestyle changes needed to be successful. To assist individuals who have undergone or are considering the procedure, the Queenstown office of Maryland Primary Care Physicians (MPCP) started a Bariatric Support Group five months ago led by MPCP member Dr. Jamie Harms.
After seeing many bariatric patients post-op, Dr. Harms was concerned about the difficulties they faced with physical recovery and with adjusting their eating habits, exercise routines, and handling stress triggers that could cause them to overeat. While the surgery does make it difficult for a person to overeat in one sitting, Dr. Harms explains that “it can be very easy to sabotage surgery by grazing all day.” She says patients still need to be cautious in what they eat, read labels, and develop and commit to healthy lifestyle changes.
Bariatric support groups available in cities such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. generally meet in the evening, making the commute from the Eastern Shore difficult. Dr. Harms, with the assistance of a front desk staff member who had the surgery, decided to begin a local support group. The group meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6pm at the MPCP office in Queenstown. Support groups have been shown to increase the chances of short and long-term success for patients. Members share their pre- and post surgery experiences and both personal and professional issues that arise. They help each other in other areas such as recipe exchanges, exercise advice, dealing with restaurant eating, coping with the holidays, and nutrient supplements. There is even a clothing exchange.
Dr. Harms says there has been a lot of enthusiasm from participants. Anyone who has undergone or is considering the surgery is welcome to join the group. Those considering the surgery are encouraged to use the opportunity to observe realistic results and to talk with patients who have undergone the procedure. Spouses and other family members also are welcome since the surgery is a significant adjustment for the entire family as well as the individual. Dr. Harms says they continue to learn and discover new things about bariatric surgery. Surgeons are becoming better and more specialized with the various procedures, and she hopes support groups will help patients’ succeed post-op.
There is no membership fee to join the Bariatric Support Group. For more information contact Maryland Primary Care Physicians in Queenstown at 410-827-4001 or visit their website at www.mpcp.com.