Bariatric surgery can be life-changing, in more ways than one

Bariatric surgery can be life-changing, in more ways than one

People living with obesity often say attracting a partner is a strong motivator for having surgery such as gastric banding or gastric bypass. And, for many, this dream comes true. Research has shown people who were alone at the time of the surgery were more likely to get married or start a new relationship after the procedure.

For those already in a relationship, however, the record is not as rosy. A study has people who were obese were more likely to divorce or separate after the surgery. Also, the more weight people lost, the more likely they were to change their relationship status.

The results, published in the journal JAMA Surgery, are from a four-year study by Swedish researchers of more than 30,000 people listed as obese on two health registries in Scandinavia.

Previous research has shown a high divorce rate after bariatric surgery, usually attributed to already-shaky marriages that could not resolve life changes brought on by the surgery. The new study supports these findings, showing a 21 percent divorce rate among those on the registries who had the surgery, compared with 11 percent among those who did not.

The study also found those who had a previous divorce were more likely to start a new relationship. This is a good indication, the authors said, that the weight loss led to a better quality of life.

Physicians, the experts said, should counsel patients before the operation that their relationships could change drastically after surgery. But the patients should also be told that bariatric surgery is not only the most effective treatment for severe obesity, it is also a powerful tool for making a positive change in your life.

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