Background: To date, research on bodily changes following bariatric surgery has focused predominantly on women, leaving the long-term experience of men relatively unexplored. In this paper, we draw on interviews with men who have undergone an irreversible gastric bypass procedure to explore their bodily changes more than 4 years post-surgery. We apply a phenomenological framework that draws on Leder’s perspectives on the “disappearing” and “dys-appearing” body, combined with a gender-sensitive lens that draws on Connell’s theory of hegemonic masculinity and Robertson’s conceptions of embodied masculinity.
Findings: Our principal finding was that the men negotiated their bodily changes following bariatric surgery in profoundly ambivalent ways. Although they enthusiastically praised the surgery for improving their health, self-esteem, and social functioning, they also emphasized their efforts to cope with post-surgical side effects and life-threatening complications. Our analysis elaborates on their efforts to adjust to and come to terms with these changes, focusing on episodes of hypoglycemia, severe pain and internal herniation, and the significance of physical activity and exercise.
Conclusions: Our findings point to the need to acknowledge men’s ways of making sense of profound and ongoing bodily changes following bariatric surgery and how these negotiations are closely intertwined with masculine ideals of embodiment and social value.
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