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Psychological Implications of Weight Loss Surgery Report

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Updated: May 27th, 2020

Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is a variety of surgeries performed on people who are obese (Delin, Saebel, Anderson, 1997). Gastric banding, which involves implanting a medical device, reduces the size of the stomach therefore causing weight loss. Alternatively, a section of the stomach can be removed or the small intestines can be redirected to a small stomach pouch. Weight loss surgery has been found to be of use to individuals who find it hard to lose weight and as a result end up having poor health. Although diet, exercise, behavior therapy and anti-obesity drugs are first line treatment, some individuals still find themselves gaining weight or returning back to their original weight (George, 2004).

Obesity has become a major problem in UAE where one of the chief causes is diet. It has been found that young Emirati nationals eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and fats. Other causes of over 60 % of Emirati nationals being overweight is lifestyle and education. Cheap foreign labor has encouraged Emirati nationals to adopt a lifestyle of less exercise. This is because they opt to have sedentary jobs instead of jobs that require moving around. Lack of awareness and not teaching their children good eating habits has contributed to a lot of the people having little knowledge about a balanced diet or good nutrition. One of the biggest effects of obesity is low self-esteem in the individual. This in turn contributes to depression, crash diets and a variety of eating disorders. As a result, many weight loss centers such as the Dubai weight loss surgery center have been opened and provide people with weight loss problems, bariatric surgery.

People who opt for weight loss surgery are usually under the impression that it will cure their obesity and other weight problems for good. They believe that this will be their ultimate solution to better relationships and good health (Richard, David & Leone, 2004). They forget that undergoing any type of weight loss surgery is just the beginning of a long weight loss journey. Most people hardly prepare themselves for the psychological hurdles that may arise as a result of the new body that they acquire soon after the weight loss surgery.

It is a common thing for overweight people, especially those that have esteem issues, to disconnect with their bodies. Many overweight people are likely to avoid looking at an image of their bodies and withdraw from life. This image and self-perception doesn’t automatically go away once one has had the weight loss surgery. Studies have shown that most people who have been overweight most of their lives find it difficult to adjust to their new body size after surgery.

It is true that weight loss surgery may be quite energizing and empowering because of the weight loss that one experiences. Experts call this the “honey moon” phase because one feels like they have won a long overdue battle against obesity and other overweight complications. This however, experts believe, may put one at risk of developing depression once they start to gain weight somewhere along the road. Most of the people who experience depression due to weight gain after weight loss surgery often feel humiliated and ashamed. This prevents them from seeking professional help for their depression or accessing psychosocial support from friends or family.

Most people who have undergone the weight loss surgery find it difficult to adjust to a new lifestyle and diet. Before the surgery, food may have been a central and important part of their life. They may have spent hours planning and thinking about food. Some people may have turned to food to provide them with comfort; others may have turned to food to relieve stress after an exhausting day while others just engaged in eating as a way of entertaining themselves. This may make some individuals feel like they are experiencing a sense of loss because of the numerous dietary changes and lifestyle adaptations. Some may even regret why they had the surgery in the first place.

Addiction swapping is another issue that may come up as a result of weight loss surgery. This is because initially, the individual was addicted to eating food and this was a major obsession. However, after undergoing the surgery, the individuals have to make dietary changes and lifestyle changes. This means that their addiction has to shift from food to other activities, thus resulting to addiction swapping. The individual could end up engaging in gambling, smoking, drinking and other unhealthy habits (Sarwer, 2005).

Some people may find it difficult to adjust to life after surgery because of lack of psychosocial support from their friends. This especially happens when one is around overweight friends who still indulge in binge eating. They may try to discourage one from engaging in healthy diets and ultimately cause one to go back to unhealthy eating habits. Others may try to sabotage success by giving negative comments about one’s progress or newly acquired body image. It is therefore necessary for one to evaluate their relationships before and after surgery and determine which kind of relationship is most healthy for them (Sarwer, 2005).

Most people after the surgery may develop an eating disorder. This happens as a result of internal pressure that makes the individual strive so hard to maintain their new body size and image. Disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa may develop. In addition, some people may suffer post-surgical effect such as vomiting especially when one eats too quickly or doesn’t chew the food thoroughly. Some people may rely on this vomiting so as to maintain their new weight but this could end up being tragic in the end.

Others may develop a habit of chewing and spitting out of food. An individual may feel that since they cannot indulge in their old eating habits, chewing and spitting food that they once found pleasure in may sound like a good deal. However, experts stress that although this may seem harmless, it may develop into an uncontrollable habit resulting in serious eating disorders. The quality of life is also robbed of the individual (Elkins, Whitfield, Marcus, Symmonds, Rodriguez, & Cook, 2005).

Although there is an increase in self-esteem after weight loss surgery, there is also likely to be massive stretching and loosening of skin. This mostly occurs around the abdominal areas. This results in the individual disliking their own bodies.

References

Delin, C.R, Watts, JM, Saebel, J.L, Anderson, P.G (1997), Eating behavior and the experience of hunger following gastric bypass surgery for morbid obesity. Obesity Surgery 7 (5): 405–13.

Elkins, G, Whitfield, P, Marcus, J; Symmonds, R; Rodriguez, J; Cook, T (2005). Noncompliance with behavioral recommendations following bariatric surgery. Obesity Surgery 15 (4): 546–51.

George A. (2004). Medical Consequences of Obesity, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 89 (6).

Richard P, David J, Leone, L. (2004), Self-Control and the Self-Regulation of Dieting Decisions: the Role of Prefactual Attitudes, Subjective Norms, and Resistance to Temptation. Basic and Applied Social Psychology 26 (2–3): 199–213.

Sarwer, D. B (2005). Obesity – Psychosocial and Behavioral Aspects of Bariatric Surgery. Web.

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