Psychological Effects of Weight Loss Surgery

In comparison with other weight loss solutions, bariatric surgery is still the most superior one as it brings about the most physical and biological positive outcomes. However, the overall psychological effect of weight loss surgery is a mystery to many patients.

The truth is that if the initial cause of your mental health issues is obesity and high BMI, surgery will definitely solve it. Some of these positive changes are the betterment of social relationships, improved body image, and reduced eating disorders. On the other hand, there’s a chance that you experience negative mental effects post-surgery such as fear of gaining weight, regrets, and changes in your relationships, mostly the unhealthy ones as you won’t tolerate misbehaving anymore.

In this article, I’ve explained each of these effects in detail.

Psychological Effects of Weight Loss Surgery

The Psychological Advantages of Weight Loss Surgery

As you lose the extra weight of your body and embark on a healthy lifestyle, you will definitely feel some positive changes in your overall mental status. Enhancement of your psychosocial health and changes in your relationship and employment opportunities, improvement of your body image, betterment of your eating disorders are just a few of these changes we will explain in detail in this section.

Impact on Psychosocial Health

A study published by The International Journal of Obesity observed the changes in the psychosocial aspect of patients’ lives after bariatric surgery. The result shows noticeable improvements in their social relations and employment opportunities.

The result seems logical because one of the main determiners of people’s success is self-esteem. In societies where obesity is not appreciated, unfortunately, most overweight or obese people lack self-esteem and self-confidence. As you change your circumstances and are not considered overweight anymore, you feel profound changes in your self-esteem.

But remember, if your low self-confidence is due to any other reason, surgery will only enhance it for a short while. So, before going for surgery make sure you’ve found the exact source of it.

Other changes in your physical and psychological health result in changes in your social life, such as:

– Spending more time and doing more activities with family and friends as a result of increased physical ability

– A broader support network of other weight-loss surgery patients

– Better intimacy in romantic relationships as a result of improved body image and self-esteem.

Reduced Eating Disorders

BED or Binge Eating Disorder has a prevalence of 10 to 27% in pre-surgical candidates, but research shows that weight loss surgery, especially the ones that have biological impacts on your body, plays an important role in resolving these disorders.

The two researchers Wood and Ogden studied the reason for reduced BED in the post-operation life of patients and identified behavioral intentions as the fundamental predictors.

In other words, The initial source of many eating disorders is a lack of control over appetite. We know that surgical procedure makes biological changes in the release of gastrointestinal hormones, which are responsible for appetite control. Therefore, patients’ eating behavior will change as a result of surgery.

Moreover, surgery causes changes in patients’ cognition of food because the hormonal changes occurred to change the association between emotions and food.

Research implies that the procedure triggers biological changes in the release of gastrointestinal hormones that control appetite which could in turn influence eating behavior postoperatively

Procedure possibly facilitates a change in cognitions relating to food by changing the association between emotions and food.

Improvement of Body Image

Talking about body image and how you can improve it is not easy because it is not only affected by one or two reasons. But on the whole, body image is “one’s body-related self-perceptions and self-attitudes, including thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors.”

According to studies, obesity is one of the causes of weak body image. Therefore, if the source of your body image dissatisfaction is obesity, you will definitely feel fundamental changes in your feelings toward your body.

But you should know that your body has gone through a lot while you gain weight and weight loss occurred after the operation might cause other problems such as saggy skin. However, there are always ways to prevent loose skin, most of which are nonsurgical and can be done at your home.

In addition to weight loss, there are other reasons causing enhanced body image in patients after the surgery. For instance, the healthier attitudes and behaviors you have to pick up on make you feel better not only about your body, but your life in general.

But always remember, if this lack of self-esteem is rooted deeply and has reasons other than excess weight, bariatric surgery will make everything better only for a short while. After that, body dissatisfaction will shift to a different part of the body after the procedure.

Psychological Side Effects of Bariatric Surgery

Let me tell you a big lie: after bariatric surgery, your life is full of happy moments and you’re not going to feel any ups and downs. You have to change most of, if not all, your eating habits. You are not allowed to do some of the activities you liked as you did before, like drinking. But of course, you’ll do a lot of other activities you could not do.

There might be times you’ll regret your decision. The fear of weight regaining brings about stress for some patients. Sometimes the possibility of divorce increases and you might experience changes in your relationships. But let’s see why these conditions happen and if it is possible to prevent them or not.

Regrets after Weight Loss Surgery

Regrets mostly happen between one to three months after the surgery because patients haven’t gotten used to their new life yet. Moreover, complications are more frequent and severe during this period. However, another study showed no regrets among patients.

So, we can conclude this is a rare psychological negative impact and will be solved as you get used to your new life and the results get more observable.

The thing is to know why you are doing this because “if you know the why, you can live anyhow.” When you know why you are undergoing surgery, you will manage to adapt yourself to your new, healthy lifestyle.

Relationship Changes after Weight-Loss Surgery

Right after the surgery, you will experience vulnerability and that’s totally natural for a while, but it makes both good and bad changes in your relationships.

One research demonstrates that divorce became more common in patients’ post-operative lives. However, one main reason associated with this outcome was the increased self-esteem that gives patients enough courage to leave toxic, unhealthy, or unhappy relationships.

So, if you’re in a strong, healthy relationship, don’t worry at all. On the whole, we can say bariatric surgery has both good and bad impacts on your relationships after surgery and the overall outcome relies on the quality of your relationships before surgery and how you manage them afterward.

Fear of Weight Regain

A study on previous weight loss experiences of bariatric candidates shows that on average, patients try 15 different diets till they decide to go for bariatric surgery. Each of these efforts causes short-term loss of weight but again weight gain continues, and in some cases, becomes even worse than before.

So, it is normal for patients to be reminded from time to time of the frustration they’ve gone through, especially, in the case of nonreversible procedures like gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.

Despite the other negative effects, fear of weight regain gets worse with the passage of time because the pace of weight loss reduces. It is important for patients to have the support and comfort of their family and friends during this rough time. Individual efforts to calm yourself and meeting a psychiatrist also help a lot.

The last point to mention is that before going for surgery, solve the other reasons for overeating

Conclusion

Bariatric surgery can have long-term positive psychological effects if only the reason for your psychological difficulties is obesity. Sometimes, the reason seems to be being overweight on the surface, but deep down something else is bothering you. Find these resources before surgery and then if you decide to go on for surgery, you’re sure you made the right decision.