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Young adult women's experiences of body image after bariatric surgery: a descriptive phenomenological study




To understand the lived experience of body image in young women after obesity surgery.


Quantitative studies have documented that health-related quality of life and body image are improved after bariatric surgery, probably due to significant weight loss. Female obesity surgery candidates are likely to be motivated by dissatisfaction regarding physical appearance. However, little is known about the experience of the individual woman, leaving little understanding of the association between bariatric surgery and changes in health-related quality of life and body image.


A qualitative descriptive phenomenological study.


Data were collected over 4 months during 2010. Selection for interview was carried out through purposeful sampling. The participants were five young women who underwent bariatric surgery (range: 1–12 months). In-depth, semi-structured interviews were analysed by systematic text condensation influenced by Giorgi's phenomenological method and supplemented by elements from narrative analysis.


The analysis revealed three concepts: solution to an unbearable problem, learning new boundaries and hopes of normalization. These revelatory concepts were synthesized into one major theme: on the edge of control, that is describing these women's feelings of being on the edge of balance between control and loss of control.


Perception of control may be an essential aspect of body image and the key to understanding these young women's feelings of empowerment and quality of life through body control postbariatric surgery. Future studies should focus on how body control is an essential aspect of body image, which may contribute to long-term weight loss maintenance and improve quality of life.

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