Michigan resident Vincent Welch committed to weight loss surgery in 2007. At his heaviest, Vincent weighed 500 pounds, and ate four to five full meals a day.
Before surgery, Vincent attended an orientation session at the hospital. His weight loss specialist suggested he bring along his wife Michelle, because bariatric surgery tends to impact the entire family; especially in marriages and romantic relationships.
At the time, Vincent didn’t realize the true significance of his decision to have bariatric surgery.
He told the Detroit Free Press, “One of the first things they tell you, in the first hour of orientation, is that the divorce rate for bariatric patients is really high. It kind of caught us by surprise.”
Surprised they were indeed, but divorce after weight loss surgery has remained a hot topic of conversation amongst patients and their families for years now. Many weight loss surgery websites consider it a common post-op complication.
Along with information on obesity, cost of weight loss surgery, body contouring plastic surgery options and recovery, informational websites about weight loss surgery often have a section especially dedicated to coping with emotional changes after surgery.
Associate professor of psychology in psychiatry and surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, David Sarwer, is an expert on the subject, and offered some insight to the Detroit Free Press:
“In general, we know after bariatric surgery, that people tend to feel much better about themselves. Not only do we see health improvements, we see decreases in depressive health symptoms. We see improvement in self-esteem and increase in quality of life and body image. Intuitively, we would think if one partner is feeling better, that would only help the marriage. But what we have found is that weight and weight loss can actually play a more complicated role in a marriage or romantic relationship."
Michelle Welch understands this all too well. At the time of her husband’s surgery, she too was struggling with obesity, weighing in at about 350 pounds.
She said, “I was freaking out. Here’s what happens. One person in a marriage gets the surgery. They lose weight. They start looking good. And the other one either gets jealous, or the other one doesn’t want to be married to them anymore. I was scared of losing him.”
Vincent said the only time their marriage was tested was when he started to weigh less than Michelle. Although she was proud of Vincent, it was easy to become jealous, and for many couples, this is the beginning of the end.
Medical experts claim that every situation is different, but usually, a lot of conflict occurs when one person has the surgery and the other doesn’t.
After Vincent’s surgery, Michelle saw amazing changes in her husband, both physical and psychological. Although their relationship remained strong, Michelle started to consider weight loss surgery for the sake of her own health.
In 2010, Michelle underwent surgery and has lost 133 pounds so far. “My knees are thanking me big time,” she said.
According to research done by the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, families who have weight loss surgery together tend to lose more weight than those who go it alone.
Today, the Welch family couldn’t be happier or healthier. Together, they have lost a total of 431 pounds, and the weight continues to come off.
About their marriage, Vincent said, “It’s even better than it used to be. We love each other no more, no less. We had a solid foundation going in. It got tested a few times, but we came through with flying colors.”
Michelle couldn’t agree with her husband more. “Because we both did it, it made our marriage 10 times stronger.”
Weight loss surgery brings immense changes for patients and their loved ones. Procedures like gastric bypass, gastric balloon and gastric band surgery are accompanied by major physical and emotional transformations.
Because weight loss surgery is so life changing, many hospitals and bariatric surgery groups offer support for patients, spouses, and family members.
Patients who are considering weight loss surgery must think about much more than achieving a thinner figure, but doctors agree, the end result is well worth it.
To learn more about weight loss surgery options, find a weight loss specialist in your area.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.