This study used a qualitative approach to understand patients' experiences in post-surgery adaptation related to bariatric surgery, 12 months after this procedure. The study population included 30 obese adults, with a mean age of 40.17 years, who were interviewed 12 months after bariatric surgery. Individual interviews, using open-ended questions, were audiotaped, transcribed and coded according to the grounded theory methodology. The data showed that the subjects described themselves as belonging to one of two opposite and separate groups: success or failure. In both groups, two core categories emerged from the data: outcomes and treatment. Previous expectations were reached by the patients who described themselves as successful, with some remaining concerns related to future weight maintenance and aesthetics issues. The failure group emphasized their unmet expectations and the expectancy that surgery would change their lives remained. Treatment in the successful cases integrated lifestyle changes and bariatric surgery, highlighting the personal commitment required to achieve the objectives. The failure group emphasized bariatric surgery without personal commitment, and healthy eating behaviour was understood as a sacrifice. The post-surgical adaptation experiences were diverse: the cases that were described as a success highlighted lifestyle changes, personal efforts and commitment with the global treatment process. External understanding and the desire for a miracle surgery characterized the cases described as a failure. According to these results, it is necessary to promote adequate information about the whole process and skills required to ensure commitment in all treatment dimensions.