Patients’ Experiences of Weight Regain After Bariatric Surgery

Liisa Tolvanen, Anne Christenson, Pamela J. Surkan, Ylva Trolle Lagerros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Bariatric surgery is a successful obesity treatment; however, an estimated 1/5 of patients have regained more than 15% of their body weight 5 years post-surgery. To increase the understanding of patients who experienced weight regain after bariatric surgery, we conducted a qualitative study. Materials and Methods: We recruited 16 adult participants (4 men, 12 women) at an obesity clinic in Stockholm, Sweden, 2018 to 2019, and performed semi-structured individual interviews. The transcribed recorded interview data was analyzed with thematic analysis. Results: Participants had undergone gastric bypass surgery on average 10 years prior to study and regained 36% (range 12 to 71%) of their weight from their nadir. Participants experienced challenges such as eating in social settings, loneliness, family difficulties, increases in appetite, and physical and mental health problems, which distracted them from weight management. Participants responded to weight regain with emotional distress, particularly with hopelessness, discouragement, shame, and frustration (theme: loss of control and focus). Nonetheless, participants experienced remaining benefits from the surgery, despite weight regain. Social support, self-care, and behavioral strategies were perceived as facilitators for weight management (theme: reducing the burden of weight management). Conclusions: Weight regain after bariatric surgery was perceived to be an unexpected and difficult experience that induced hopelessness, discouragement, shame, and frustration. Results indicate that internal and external circumstances such as psychosocial factors, changes in appetite, and physical and mental health problems may contribute to loss of control over weight. Social support, self-care, and behavioral strategies might facilitate long-term post-surgical weight management. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1507
Number of pages10
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Body weight trajectory
  • Interviews
  • Obesity
  • Thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Surgery
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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