Not only does bariatric (weight loss) surgery benefit the physical health of obese patients, but it tends to enhance their intimate relationships as well, according to a new study published in Springer’s journal Obesity Surgery.
The findings show that, after surgery, couples experience greater intimacy and affection and find it easier to resolve conflicts.
Overall, it’s a shared journey that brings partners closer together, said lead author Mary Lisa Pories, Ph.D., of East Carolina University. The study provides new insights into the experience of couples after one of the partners undergoes weight loss surgery.
Bariatric surgery is considered one of the most effective ways to counter morbid obesity. It results in significant weight loss and reduces many health problems.
This is the first study to look at the impact of obesity on relationships since 2000. Over the last decade, surgical interventions, methods of support, and the knowledge of the general public about weight loss surgery have evolved considerably.
For the study, the research team interviewed 10 couples in which one partner had recently undergone bariatric surgery. The findings showed that all of the patients and their partners considered the surgery — and subsequent adjustments that needed to be made — as part of a team effort.
Each couple described ways in which the partners supported and helped the patients care for themselves, including offering assistance in helping the patient stay on track with the new routine.
“All of the couples felt their post-operative success was due to a joint effort on the part of both members of the couple,” said Pories.
For Pories, the importance placed on couples’ shared experiences of the surgery raises questions about how patients without active support systems manage to take care of themselves after the surgery.
Several other themes also emerged during the interviews. Partners highlighted the adjustment that was needed to adapt to the patient’s significant weight loss. The couples also had more energy, and needed to adjust to new ways of eating.
On an emotional level, the couples reported more positive moods and greater self-esteem. They also reported having greater intimacy and affection, and being better able to resolve conflict. Sexual intimacy was also improved and, in many cases, became more enjoyable.
The researchers believe that a better understanding of how bariatric surgery impacts the dynamics of a couple’s relationship could help physicians, nurses, and social workers to support patients and their partners more effectively.
Source: Obesity Surgery