Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, the resident medical expert on TLC’s My 600-lb Life, has been helping morbidly obese patients with their weight for years. Over the course of the hit reality TV show’s seasons, viewers and avid fans of My 600-lb Life have taken a liking to the bariatric surgeon, with his trademark motivational speeches, “tough love” talk, and his dedication to his patients’ improvement being the highlights of each episode. Despite the massive press attention that the TLC series has received, however, Dr. Now has not really opened up about what he does on the show and his motivations for doing so. That is, of course, until now.
The bariatric surgeon recently did an interview with People Magazine, revealing several aspects of his practice and explaining his actions on the show. In the brief interview, Dr. Now talked about the difficulties that patients experience when battling obesity, the importance of mental health in a person’s journey to recovery, why some subjects need tough love, and how their family could be enablers to morbidly obese individuals. Apart from this, Dr. Now also revealed the reason why there are some patients that he had to let go. Here are some excerpts from the People Magazine interview.
One thing that the 72-year-old bariatric surgeon revealed in the People interview was that there are always patients who are self-destructive. According to Dr. Now, motivation goes a long way in the recovery of a morbidly obese patient, and it is his task to kindle the fire that would ultimately enable patients to pursue recovery.
“It’s a daily challenge to work with some patients that can be self-destructive. My job is not to get aggravated, but to find a way to motivate them to work hard to get to their goals. There are times where I think it’s necessary for some tough love and I have to be stern with them, so I show some of my concern and frustration.
“Even during those times, my job is to find a way to work with them to get their weight to a healthy place. They are the patient because they need help and it’s my job to help them no matter what.”
A particularly interesting notion that Dr. Now discussed in the People Magazine interview was how morbid obesity is a complex condition that tests not just a patient’s physical body, but their mental and emotional strength as well. According to the weight loss expert, a gastric sleeve surgery is but the first step in a patient’s long road to recovery.
“Severe obesity is a complex physical and psychological condition with many components. Not realizing how much of their struggle is psychological and not just physical can be the biggest obstacle for change with patients. Many refuse to admit they have any emotional compulsions or compulsive psychological disorders driving them to overeat.
“However, once we removed the physical compulsion to eat with weight loss surgery, we have our best window to get them to see that and address those issues that will lead to long-term success for them.”
During the People interview, Dr. Now also described how the families of patients could end up compromising recovery. Though the support from a patient’s family goes a long way, the bariatric surgeon stated that those recovering from morbid obesity need to make it a point to avoid those who enable their unhealthy eating habits. This has been seen in numerous episodes of My 600-lb Life, where Dr. Now personally calls out family members who are preventing some patients from losing as much weight as they could.
“Families can either be enablers or encouragers. Having a supportive family for patients on a weight loss journey is an important component to their success. If they don’t have that, it’s almost impossible for them to be successful in the long term, unless they remove those people from their environment. So they either have to change their dynamic with those enablers or separate from them if they want to succeed.”
Though My 600-lb Life has proven time and again that Dr. Nowzaradan is arguably one of the most dedicated and patient bariatric surgeons in the country today, the medical expert stated that there are some times when even he had to throw in the towel. According to Dr. Now, a patient’s recovery is largely influenced by their own desire to get better. If patients do not have a desire to get healthier, then there is very little that he could do.
“There have been a few patients I felt I could no longer help. I will always be available if they need me. If they won’t stick to the program, at some point, I can longer help them and they are taking resources from someone else who needs it.”
[Featured Image by TLC]