The health benefits of bariatric surgery are well documented; however, the occurrence of weight-regain after surgery, along with the development of mental health difficulties poses a question of how contemporary psychology could assist to prepare people living with obesity prior to undergoing bariatric surgery. This research explored individuals' (in the immediate pre-operative and post-operative population) attitudes, beliefs and experiences towards obesity and their journey to bariatric surgery. Seventeen adult participants (males n = 4; age range: 26–64 years) were recruited and participated in a semi-structured interview. Twelve individuals participated prior to undergoing bariatric surgery. Five individuals participated in the early post-operative period (<3 months post-surgery). People living with obesity displayed high optimism for positive outcomes, with participants hoping that bariatric surgery would be different to previous attempts at weight regulation, with there being a clear shift in the locus of control for weight management from self to healthcare professionals. Whilst this is adaptive, there was the presence of seemingly unrealistic optimism, with many pre-surgery participants not relaying the realistic possibility of post-surgery weight-regain. Despite the optimism individuals feel about bariatric surgery, participants felt that the psychological factors influencing eating behaviours are not being addressed by healthcare. These findings suggest that mindfulness, mindful eating, and self-compassion approaches should be incorporated into clinical practice to support weight regulation and adaption to physiological changes after bariatric surgery.
Bibliographical note© 2024 The Authors. Clinical Obesity published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of World Obesity Federation.
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- bariatric surgery
- mindful eating
- qualitative methods