What do patients, families and society expect from the bariatric surgeon?

Obes Surg. 1998 Feb;8(1):77-85. doi: 10.1381/096089298765555105.


The expectations of patients, their families and society of the bariatric surgeon are often unrealistic, but for different reasons. The morbidly obese patient often expects 'everything' from bariatric surgery. The patient's family is frequently ambivalent. Society, on the other hand, tends to unrealistically regard the morbidly obese as billboards advertising them as willful deviants whose problems can all be resolved by 'just pushing away from the table'. This invalid stereotype has prompted some to incorrectly regard bariatric surgery as an undeserved reward for individuals who will not control their own behavior. The undeserved intentional deviant status of the morbidly obese causes members of society to harass, mock or otherwise mistreat this subpopulation. Society's harmful, destructive and unjust weight harassment 'fat-ism' has made the morbidly obese modern day moral equivalents of lepers. We conclude that society must be persuaded to accept weight harassment as 'politically incorrect', subject to the same consequences as any other form of bigotry. Once society regards the morbidly obese as victims, not perpetrators, of their nonsurgically curable disease, bariatric surgery results should become held to similar standards as surgery for carcinoma, cardiovascular and other diseases. Until then, the morbidly obese remain the last true bastion of prejudice.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology*
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Professional-Family Relations