Conceptualization of body image in the bariatric surgery patient

Julie A. Varns, Anne F. Fish, J. Christopher Eagon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Bariatric (weight loss) surgery is more popular than ever. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery in 2016 reported that 216,000 bariatric procedures were performed in the United States. Bariatric surgery has major physiological benefits; its use is expected to increase globally. However, patients may not anticipate the profound impact that rapid and massive weight loss may have on their body image after bariatric surgery. The construct of body image in this population needs to be explicated to facilitate continued research regarding this increasingly prevalent healthcare procedure. This article describes the formulation of a model of relevant concepts and dimensions within the construct of body image in the bariatric surgery patient. In the process of creating the model, we identified many factors influencing body image in patients before and after bariatric surgery, summarized eight measures, and developed a new definition based on prior work. Theoretical considerations are discussed. The long-term objective of this model building approach is to encourage researchers and clinicians to test the feasibility of systematic clinical measurement of body image at office visits before as well as multiple times after bariatric surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Nursing Research
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Body image
  • Severe obesity


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