Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Leigh A. Ford

Second Advisor

Dr. Autumn Edwards

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Wong


Weight-loss surgery, bariatric surgery, gastric bypass, communication, women

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Adult obesity rates are on the rise in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control (2009) which has led to an increase in obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Weight-loss surgery (WLS) has become accepted as a "cure" for obesity by the medical community. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of obese individuals electing to undergo WLS every year; 82% of these individuals are women (AHRQ, 2007). More women may be electing to undergo these procedures than men due to the pressures women face in American culture to achieve social standards of female beauty and thinness (Kilbourne, 1999; Maine, 1999).

This research study focuses on the emotional journeys often women who elected to undergo WLS. Qualitative interviews were conducted and analyzed using Fraser's (2004) guide to coding narrative transcripts line by line. Specific attention was paid to the emergence of communication and identity themes. The goal of this research study was to answer the questions of how women who have undergone WLS conceptualize their identities and communicate about themselves during three distinct phases of their emotional journeys: pre-WLS, post-WLS, and 18+ months post-WLS.