Bariatric surgery patients have a higher probability of experiencing relationship changes post-surgery, including getting married, separating from their partner or getting divorced, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
The new findings are published in the journal JAMA Surgery.
Previously, the research team looked at the medical benefits of bariatric surgery, but in the new study, they wanted to investigate how other more personal aspects of a patient’s life may also change post-surgery.
Prior research has shown that bariatric surgery often leads to an improved quality of life and that individuals tend to become more socially active after the surgery all of which could make it easier to find a partner after surgery.
In the current study, the researchers did indeed find that individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery are more likely to find a new partner or to get married compared with non-surgery control subjects. They also found an association between the degree of weight loss and the possibility of finding a partner.
They also found that separations and divorces are slightly more common after bariatric surgery. The underlying reasons for this are unclear, but in some cases the new lifestyle adopted by a person after surgery may lead to partners drifting apart. Another possibility is that the improved self-confidence and self-image that often occurs after bariatric surgery may empower individuals to finally leave an unhealthy relationship.
Although more research is required to better understand the reasons behind this observed increase in relationship breakdowns, it is still important for healthcare providers to be aware of these potential relationship changes after surgery, so they can offer relevant information and support to patients.
Of course, it is important to emphasize that bariatric surgery does not automatically lead to a dysfunctional relationship. In fact, prior research has found that most relationships are strengthened or are unchanged.
This is also supported by the new findings showing that the majority of individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery remain in the same relationship, many years after the surgery, said Dr. Per-Arne Svensson, associate professor at Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg.
The current study involved two large Swedish cohorts of bariatric surgery: the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study and the Scandinavian Obesity Surgery registry.
In the SOS study, the researchers analyzed self-reported relationship status (including marriages and cohabitation) in approximately 2,000 individuals who had undergone bariatric surgery and compared these findings with approximately 2,000 control persons with obesity.
In the Scandinavian Obesity Surgery registry, the researchers compared the frequencies of legal marriages and divorces of around 29,000 individuals who had undergone bariatric surgery to those of matched control individuals from the general population.
Source: University of Gothenburg