Bariatric surgery stigma from the perspective of patients: A scoping review

F.K. Garcia*, B.C. Mulder, E.J. Hazebroek, M.A. Koelen, Esther Veen, K.T. Verkooijen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims: To explore the experiences and consequences of bariatric surgery stigma from the perspective of bariatric surgery patients and to identify knowledge gaps in the literature.
Design: A scoping review.
Data Sources: Studies published between December 2002 and January 2022 were identified from the following databases: PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO and MEDLINE.
Review Methods: We screened 3092 records and included 28 studies. Findings were grouped thematically using the health stigma discrimination framework.
Results: Patients experienced several types of stigmas, including perceived, experienced, anticipated and internalized stigma, related to undergoing bariatric surgery. Patients were confronted with negative comments and judgement from others when they disclosed their decision to have surgery or when they revealed that they had undergone surgery. These experiences led to conflicts in the decision-making process, such as delaying the choice for surgery, seeking surgery abroad or opting out. Patients who internalized stigma often reported feelings of shame and embarrassment for choosing surgery and felt the need for secrecy or selective disclosure. Stigma experiences were influenced by gender and differed between different subgroups of patients.
Conclusion: The stigma surrounding bariatric surgery has detrimental consequences for eligible individuals and bariatric surgery patients. However, the evidence from patients' perspective remains limited. More research into patient's experiences is needed to improve patient care and further educate healthcare professionals. In addition, to better understand the nature and implications of bariatric surgery stigma, future research should be founded on stigma theories and distinguish between the different types of stigmas.
Impact: This scoping review contributes to a better understanding of the implications the stigma surrounding bariatric surgery has for bariatric surgery patients before and after surgery. The knowledge generated by this review can inform improvements in the education and management of people living with obesity and bariatric surgery patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2252-2272
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number6
Early online date28 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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