Washington: People who undergo bariatric surgery to treat obesity experience an overall improvement in quality of life issues after the operation - from their relationships to medical conditions, a new study has revealed.
Bariatric surgery is an increasingly common procedure that individuals are turning to that typically results in dramatic weight loss — sometimes of 100 pounds or more.
The new study, conducted by Arizona State University researchers, examines how patients who had the surgery fared afterward.
The researchers collected data from 213 patients ranging in age from 26 to 73 years old, with an average age of 50, through a self-selected sample of participants in an online support group.
“We thought there would be more negative reactions to the surgery, but the response was very positive,” Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld, co-author of the study, said.
“Most people had improvements in chronic health problems,” she said.
Health issues that respondents reported improvements in included diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol level, and sleep apnea.
Study respondents also cited increased mobility as one of the positive aspects of having surgery to lose weight.
Weight loss among participants averaged 95 pounds per person while the range of weight experiences was wide — from a gain of 80 pounds, which is atypical according to the researchers, to a weight loss of 260 pounds.
People who elected to have the surgery to reduce negative reactions to their weight among friends and family reported better relationships after surgery. Respondents also reported a decrease in depression after the surgery.
“This provides evidence that overcoming the stigma of being overweight, as reflected by negative reactions of others, can lead to greater satisfaction among relationships with family and friends, and in social life in general,” Doris A. Palmer, co-author of the paper, said.
Satisfaction with how participants felt about their appearance was lower on average than satisfaction with other aspects after the surgery.
“They were satisfied, but not as pleased about the way they looked as with other aspects of their lives,” Kronenfeld said.
“They may have hanging skin and those kinds of issues to deal with. It’s not clear if most insurance companies will cover treatment of those issues since it may be considered cosmetic,” she said.
Researchers asked a variety of questions in the survey that was made available through an online support group for bariatric patients. Study questions examined physical health, self esteem, social life, work life, family life, mobility, and satisfaction with surgery results.
Motivators to have the surgery in order were - to decrease the risk of health problems, to improve overall health, to improve appearance, and to boost self esteem.
Respondents also cited the ability to be physically active like being able to play on the floor with their children if they hadn’t been able to manage that in the past when they were larger.
Another benefit respondents noted after losing weight was overcoming society’s stigma of being overweight.
The findings of the study were presented at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.