Obesity is a public health epidemic with medical, psychological and economic consequences. It continues to increase globally in prevalence and severity. Despite numerous behaviourally, medically or pharmacologically guided treatments, an effective non-surgical long-term treatment approach has not been identified. Bariatric surgery has surfaced as a viable option for a subset of individuals with medically complicated obesity who have failed non-surgical approaches. Pre-operative evaluation followed by post-operative, longitudinal follow-up by a multidisciplinary team specializing in surgery, medicine, psychiatry/psychology, exercise science and nutrition constitutes recognized and necessary standard of care for these complex patients. More information is needed regarding factors that interfere with successful outcomes and mechanisms of optimal follow-up for bariatric surgery patients to prevent and detect post-operative medical, psychological and social difficulties. We will review these issues with a focus on issues relevant to eating disorders professionals. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.