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I’ve Had Bariatric Surgery Too

By Liz Ornstein

I am just thrilled, and honored, to be invited to blog on the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery program! Let me start by telling you a bit about myself.

surgeon with maskI am a clinical psychologist in Rochester, NY. For the last 30 years I have specialized in working with folks suffering from all sorts of eating, weight, and body image issues. About seven years ago, I made the decision to have bariatric surgery. It was NOT an easy decision, but one of the best I ever made!

I didn’t have any of the typical medical consequences of morbid obesity (don’t you just HATE that term?) but I was increasingly unable to get around. With a young daughter, this was a significant problem for me. My metabolism had been affected and my body behaved as though a famine was right around the corner so it was very reluctant to give up any significant amount of weight.

While surgery seems to result in a metabolic change which allows the body to finally give up excess weight, many bariatric surgery patients develop (or continue) the habit of using food to satisfy their emotional needs. If this is not addressed (and no surgery, pill, or magic wand can do that for you), the powerful tool of bariatric surgery is unlikely to result in long-term, sustainable weight loss. This realization led me to develop what I call the “escalator model of morbid obesity.” More on this in my next post.

In the meantime, if you have questions for me, please let me know and I will do my best to address them in upcoming posts.


About the author

Lisbeth B. Ornstein, PhD is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry/psychology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating clients dealing with all sorts of eating, weight and body image issues and has a particular interest in working with clients at all stages of the bariatric surgery process. Dr. Ornstein was a founding member of the Rochester Eating Disorders Organization and served as its clinical director, as well as founding the Partial Hospitalization Program for Eating Disorders at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. She can be reached at www.DrLizOrnstein.com.


  1. Kristina says:

    I was so happy to read your post today. I have scheduled my gastric bypass surgery for end of June. Although I know it won’t be easy- I am so looking forward to finding a tool to help me lose weight. I feel like I have tried every diet out there with little to no success. I definitely have issues with overeating & emotional eating so I have a lot of mental work the next few months as well. I would appreciate any hel

  2. Karen says:

    At 5′ 7″, 305 lbs I had a gastric bypass on May 1, 1995. I dropped to 136 and stayed there for 10 years. I leveled out until 2010 at 143-147.

    In 2009 my fiancé had a life-saving liver transplant after suffering for 9 months and being days away from death. We married in October 2010, lost my 90 year old step-father in November, my 30 year old son to suicide December 20, and a dear friend to suicide in February. I tore the meniscus in my knee in March, and in June finally had it repaired, the day before my 81 year old mother had bladder surgery and was diagnosed with bladder cancer which she battled for 8 months before we lost her. My marriage was a total disaster, and we divorced before our 2-year anniversary. So, mindful eating has not been on my mind for the past 4 years. I have eaten and drunk my pains away (if only). Consequently, my weight crept up to 191.

    In the past 2 months I have dropped to 180.5, by changing to whole foods and a rare glass of wine now and then instead of several times a week. I wish my tummy weren’t stretched out again, but it is, and short of another bypass procedure, that can’t be undone. I know I need to add exercise, but what else can I do to get this weight off?

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