For individuals seeking a solution to obesity and a fresh start on life, every case is unique. Success requires a customized approach from a center with several treatment options.
That is why the Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery at Lowell General Hospital has the most comprehensive program in the region, offering surgical and medical intervention while surrounding you with support at every step of your weight loss journey.
Physical and Emotional Support
For patients who are candidates for bariatric surgery, the Center for Weight Management provides access to a team of experienced surgeons who together have performed thousands of procedures.
But the Center’s broad treatment approach does not stop after surgery – patients undergo individual counseling, take part in support groups, body movement classes, and educational workshops that help them succeed with lifelong weight loss.
Paul O’Brien, PhD, is a psychologist who provides evaluation, support and short-term mental health counseling for patients in the program. “We see a lot of patients with anxiety and depression, and it’s very common to use food to avoid these feelings,” he says. “A big part of what we do is to help people make the connection between emotions and eating, and help them move past the negative talk about why they overeat.”
Behavioral courses such as My Hungry Head and the Psychology of Eating are very popular. And although in-person groups and exercise classes are temporarily suspended with COVID-19 restrictions, the team uses virtual meetings to keep patients on track.
O’Brien says the patients that are the most successful are those who make the major lifestyle changes to fill the void with other hobbies and activities to make them happy.
“Weight loss surgery creates an opportunity, and people are more willing to do things that they wouldn’t do in the past, like going to the beach or traveling on an airplane. New and improved relationships are also a big benefit of weight loss and patients really look forward to that.”
New Non-surgical Options
Patients who do not qualify for weight loss surgery and struggle with losing 20 pounds or more can still access the comprehensive support services and clinical expertise of staff with a non-surgical approach through the Center’s new Medical Weight Loss Program.
Led by Dr. Supriya Rao, a gastroenterologist who specializes in obesity medicine, the program takes a similar comprehensive approach. Dr. Rao stresses to patients that the program is not a diet but a complete lifestyle overhaul to help them achieve their weight goal, and most importantly, live their healthiest lives.
“With a medically supervised program, we pay special attention to the lab tests that can reveal issues with cholesterol, fatty liver, electrolytes, blood sugar levels, abnormal heart rhythms, and thyroid hormones that may be impacting weight loss,” says Rao. “We also look at their entire medical history and evaluate work habits, sleep cycles, and activity levels.”
This deep dive into a patient’s history helps Dr. Rao develop a personalized plan to set them up for a lifetime of wellness. To ensure nutrition needs are met, registered dietitians meet with patients regularly to assist with meal planning and portion control. If needed, weight loss medications and meal replacement options are available to help jump-start success.
“Weight loss is definitely not a one size fits all approach,” says Rao. “Accountability and regular appointments help patients maintain their loss. Patients often tell us they have struggled with the same 30 or 40 pounds their whole life, and we give them the tools to lose the weight and keep it off.”