Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) is considered the 'gold standard' treatment for individuals with 'severe' obesity (NICE, 2014). WLS produces rapid weight loss within the first two years as a result of the reduced size of stomach and reduced absorption of nutrients. Recent research has highlighted that WLS patients must also navigate significant internal and systemic psychosocial changes as they receive greater appreciation and respect as a result of their smaller size (Groven et al., 2013). The aim of the research reported in this thesis was to examine how patients negotiated and understood their own identity in the wake of profound social and physiological change. A critical realist epistemological position was taken in order explore these shifts from an embodied and social power perspective. A qualitative methodology involving nine semi-structured interviews, with nine participants a minimum of two years post-surgery was employed. The interviews were analysed using Thematic Analysis. The analysis focused around three themes concerning post-WLS identity: (1) A Life Worth Risking, (2) Battle of the Body, (3) A Search for Belonging. Participants described the influence of weight-based stigma on their everyday lives prior to surgery, including within close relationships and the health sector. These negative attitudes appeared to be reflected in how participants viewed themselves and treated their body. As a result, post-surgery participants described how their weight loss facilitated renewed confidence, increased personal freedom and appreciation for their body. Relief from weight-based stigma allowed participants to reflect on the impact societal discrimination had had on their lives and encouraged them to challenge these attitudes in others. This thesis discusses implications for further research, practice and policy to support the long-term outcomes of individuals post- WLS.
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