Body Image and Bariatric Surgery

Despite the fact that a primary goal of bariatric surgery is to prevent, improve, or cure Body Mass Index Words Scale BMI Measure Overweight Fat Lossmedical health problems, the psychosocial effects of the surgery can be just as powerful and important. Several studies have reported dramatic positive changes in the body image of patients following weight-loss surgery. So what really motivates people to seek this surgery in the first place?

Body image is loosely defined as a person’s perception of their own physical appearance, or the internal sense of how one’s body appears to others. Although it is a complex subject, research suggests:

  • Body image dissatisfaction is greater in women than in men.
  • A person’s body image is often dramatically different from the way their body actually appears to others.

There is no doubt that there is still a great deal of stigmatization and moralizing about obesity and excess weight in this society. Many scientific studies demonstrate this point. They show that people with excess weight, in comparison with their normal-weight counterparts, are often perceived as being:

  • Less intelligent
  • Lonelier
  • Having less self-control
  • Lazier

While these perceptions are often not true, they still persist and can have a marked effect.

Although body image seems to develop naturally as we mature, there is probably a large part of our body image that is socially derived from real or imagined perceptions, judgments, and comments of other people. When you add this social stigma to a person’s previous failure at dieting, already low self-esteem, and poor body image, it is not difficult to imagine that the idea of significant weight-loss through surgery is appealing for a number of reasons.

There are many sources for motivation, and they should be examined carefully, especially when the subject is weight-loss surgery. Primary motivating factors often include:

  • Health concerns, including medical co-morbidities
  • Improvements in self-esteem, including feelings of self-worth and enhanced body image
  • Increasing physical functioning, including better mobility and ability to accomplish physical tasks
  • Business or job advancement
  • Increased social attractiveness

Read more online about body image at:

People choose to have bariatric surgery for many reasons. If you live in the Las Vegas area and are considering bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Heidi Ryan. She and her team of experts can help you find the right treatment for your unique case.

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