Becoming a normal guy: Men making sense of long-term bodily changes following bariatric surgery

Karen Synne Groven, Paul Michael Galdas, Kari Nyheim Solbraekke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To date, research on bodily changes following bariatric surgery has focused predominantly on women, leaving the long-term experience of men relatively unexplored. In this paper, we draw on interviews with men who have undergone an irreversible gastric bypass procedure to explore their bodily changes more than 4 years post-surgery. We apply a phenomenological
framework that draws on Leder’s perspectives on the ‘‘disappearing’’ and ‘‘dys-appearing’’ body, combined with a gender-sensitive lens that draws on Connell’s theory of hegemonic masculinity and Robertson’s conceptions of embodied masculinity.

Findings: Our principal finding was that the men negotiated their bodily changes following bariatric surgery in profoundly ambivalent ways. Although they enthusiastically praised the surgery for improving their health, self-esteem, and social functioning, they also emphasized their efforts to cope with post-surgical side effects and life-threatening complications. Our analysis elaborates
on their efforts to adjust to and come to terms with these changes, focusing on episodes of hypoglycemia, severe pain and internal herniation, and the significance of physical activity and exercise.

Conclusions: Our findings point to the need to acknowledge men’s ways of making sense of profound and ongoing bodily changes following bariatric surgery and how these negotiations are closely intertwined with masculine ideals of embodiment and social value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2015

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