surgery with bulimia

Recommended Posts

Sorry I'm new so I didn't know where to post this but I'm currently on the waiting list for a gastric bypass for the second time. The first time was in 2015, I was approved for surgery but 2 days before my op the team found out I was self harming and restricting/purging and cancelled it. Fast forward to the present, I've been diagnosed with bulimia and a couple other mental health conditions but they're under control. Will having an eating disorder on my medical records completely stop my chances of having the surgery or do you think I'll be able to have it done as long as I'm in recovery? Sorry I know it might be hard to answer as it's not a black and white thing but any kind of insight would be greatly appreciated 

Edited by puglife9

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

For gastric bypass surgery to be successful in the long term (which is what really matters) the patient must be willing and able to develop a new and permanent “relationship with food” based on a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and mindful eating. The surgery helps in at least three ways - by giving the person a small stomach to prevent binge eating, by having caloric malabsorption to help with weight control, and by requiring a very limited diet in the first few months after surgery which makes it easier to stop bad eating habits. 

The reason that any reputable weight loss surgery program requires the patient to get a psych clearance in advance of their surgery is that the odds of long term weight loss success with a gastric bypass (or a gastric sleeve)  is very low if the person does not have their mental health problems, substance abuse problems, and/or eating disorders already under control. It is also necessary to show before surgery that you have a proven support system in place and also to demonstrate to the psychologist that you appreciate and accept the massive lifestyle changes that will come with the surgery. 

So to answer your question, you should be approved from a psych point of view if you can show that any eating disorders and any mental health or substance abuse problems are under control AND you have a good support system in place AND you are emotionally prepared for the surgery. 

We are here to support you. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I also had a medical record of eating disorder history when I went into the surgical approval process. My version included an inpatient hospitalization (ED-NOS), but I'd also done a lot (like a LOT) of work since then and was not actively symptomatic, at least not on the clinical level. I was also very concerned about being denied on this basis, but with the diagnosis & hospitalization on my record, I figured it would be worse if I didn't deal with it, so I put it right out there from the jump. My surgeon was very up-front with me; he said "that is not a problem we can fix." (That's completely true, and an ED can definitely mess with the feelings and changes and behavioral adjustments that follow surgery. If you don't have a therapist who knows what they're doing about that stuff—and ideally bariatrics as well—start looking for one!) But it was also not a problem that disqualified me from surgery—my therapist acknowledged it in her psych letter and expressed her sense that my recovery was durable enough to weather surgery.

I was approved, and my therapist was, I'm happy to say, right. I'm two years out now and very happy and stable; I would say my eating is less symptomatic than it was when I had surgery and my emotional recovery has advanced significantly. I waited until I was really ready to deal, and then I dealt, and that has been really gratifying. I think the most important thing is that: can you say, with enough honesty and confidence, that your recovery is in a place to be able to support your health through this process? 

That cancellation you had two years ago must have been rough, but also such a blessing. I'm very, very grateful that I did not go into surgery with an active ED. I read Jen Larsen's book Stranger Here: How Weight Loss Surgery Transformed My Body And Messed With My Head a few months after surgery and it wrecked me. I cannot imagine how terrible it would be to deal with postsurgical eating, body, and emotional stuff while very much in the teeth of an eating disorder, as she was when she had surgery. There but for the grace of God go I, and anyone who's been disordered. 

I'm rooting for you and wishing you the best.

Edited by nimiety

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.