Background

The stigma of the disease of obesity has shown to contribute to patients’ poor self-esteem regarding their body-image. There are few studies exploring the differences in perceived obesity related stigma (ORS) and body esteem in preoperative versus postoperative bariatric surgical patients. This study aims to elucidate contributing factors that mitigate the harm of stigma in this population.

Methods

Batteries of validated questionnaires focusing on perception of ORS and body esteem were administered to 104 patients who underwent bariatric surgery. These surveys were obtained preoperatively and postoperatively at 3, 6, and 12 months intervals of follow-up. The questionnaire scoring was compared for improvement, and concomitant factors were analyzed for a potential effect on magnitude of improvement.

Results

Our study found significant improvement in perception of ORS and body esteem post-surgery. When considering the magnitude of body esteem improvement, BMI difference pre-op vs post-op contributed with a coefficient of 0.686 (P=0.022). Peri-operative antidepressant use correlated to the largest magnitude of improvement with a coefficient of 8.545 (P=0.035) compared to those not taking antidepressants. 69% of the patients in this study were on psychiatric medications and 57% of the psychiatric medications used were antidepressants. There were no significant differences among socio-demographic factors such as age, gender, race, type of surgery, use of anxiolytics/hypnotics, or stimulants.

Conclusions

Patient perception of ORS and body esteem improves after bariatric surgery. Antidepressant use in patients who undergo bariatric surgery were more likely to demonstrate a greater magnitude of improvement in body-esteem compared to those not on antidepressants.