Bariatric surgery provides sustainable weight loss and increased quality of life for most, but not all patients. To increase the knowledge of this complex patient group and their needs during follow-up, we aimed to describe the essential meaning of bariatric surgery patients' long-term experiences by using a phenomenological lifeworld approach. Eight patients were interviewed between 5 and 7 years after bariatric surgery. Life after bariatric surgery was described as living with tension, ambivalence, and reinforced attention toward one's own body. The tension was related to embodied change and altered relations to the social world. The patients express an ongoing demand for control of health-related habits and practices, and to not lose control over the body again. Surgical weight loss and improved physical function do not necessarily mean changed health-related habits and practices in the long term. Experiencing weight regain is connected with emotional stress, shame, and self-contempt.
Keywords: Giorgi; Merleau-Ponty; embodiment / bodily experiences; lived experience; obesity / overweight; phenomenology; surgery.