Bariatric Times

MAR 2018

A peer-reviewed, evidence-based journal that promotes clinical development and metabolic insights in total bariatric patient care for the healthcare professional

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Original Research 13 Bariatric Times • March 2018 and gradually distilled into emergent themes common to the participants' experiences. The research team agreed they had reached a point of saturation 14 when no new themes emerged from the data. RESULTS One theme that emerged from the data was a confirmation of the existence of the stigma itself. The majority of participants in this study reported that they themselves did not experience many remarks or behaviors suggesting such stigma, but that they were aware of the sentiment. Most noted that while it was not said to or about them, they heard others discuss their experiences of stigma in their face-to-face postoperative support groups. Many participants also noted that they read about other people's experiences of stigma around the surgery in online forums they joined or visited. Most of the participants acknowledged that stigma toward WLS is pervasive. To some extent, the participants in this study avoided dealing with this problem by limiting whom they told regarding their surgery. A few patients were completely open, one of whom posted on his Facebook page that he had undergone surgery. But others limited whom they told. One participant noted, "I didn't let anyone around the way know what kind of surgery I was having, but I let them know that I was going to have surgery." Yet another participant stated, "Immediate family knew, but socially [I] did not tell anyone. I made a private separate Facebook page for those I wanted to tell." Another participant commented, "I was gonna (sic) keep it private…probably it was because of fear…of what people would say". She went on to say that when people noticed her weight loss, she would disclose that she had surgery, and she noted "I think some people, I mean you get, you get some people that are like 'Oh, OK' like you haven't done any work." The other major theme was a rather vigorous defense against the idea that bariatric surgery is the "easy way out." Most participants had heard this particular expression, and some made comments about the idea that bariatric surgery is the easy way out. One participant commented that it really irritated her to hear someone say that surgery was the easy way out, even though the statement was not directed at her. She said, "you literally change your whole diet… your whole outlook on things, and you know, it just kinda, it, it takes a nerve off…They don't know how much pressure and stress people put into this with, you know, 'cuz (sic) you've basically lost all your lifestyle that you use to have." As one participant noted regarding the idea that many people think this is the easy way out, "I think in general that society believes that." DISCUSSION The notion that bariatric surgery is an "easy fix" is alive and well. The idea that obesity is the fault of the individual 15 remains prevalent in our society. This societal attitude of blaming individuals for their obesity might lead further to the idea that people with obesity do not deserve what is perceived as an "easy fix." Another possibility is that the speed of the resulting weight loss, rather than the rigors of surgery and subsequent lifestyle changes, makes the surgical approach seem "easy" in comparison to changing one's diet, decreasing dietary intake, exercising, or struggling with a weight loss. The internet contains numerous accounts of patients encountering this negative attitude from others and defending their surgical experience as not "easy." There are several forums on Facebook that deal with gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy support that have thousands of members. A keyword search on one The notion that bariatric surgery is an "easy fix" is alive and well. The idea that obesity is the fault of the individual 15 remains prevalent in society.

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