Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Barbara Cubic

Committee Member

James Paulson

Committee Member

Ninoska Perterson

Committee Member

Stacie Otey-Scott

Committee Member

Stephen Wohlgemuth


In recent decades, bariatric surgery has become an increasingly popular intervention for the treatment of morbid obesity. Bariatric surgery leads to substantial improvements in physical health (e.g., weight loss, increased life expectancy) and psychological health (e.g., body image, quality of life). After bariatric surgery, many patients undergo subsequent surgical procedures to remove excess skin (“body contouring”), which are also associated with positive medical and psychological outcomes.

The present study sought to expand upon existing research into the psychosocial outcomes of bariatric surgery, investigate correlates of patients’ desire for body contouring, and determine whether presurgical motivations were associated with postsurgical outcomes. Seventy-nine adult postoperative bariatric patients completed a computer-based survey containing measures of body image (Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire [MBSRQ]), quality of life (Impact of Weight on Quality of Life Questionnaire-Lite [IWQOL-Lite]), body image quality of life (Body Image Quality of Life Inventory [BIQLI]), desire for body contouring surgery, and presurgical motivations.

A hierarchical multiple regression found that weight loss was associated with improvements in body image and quality of life – but not body image quality of life. Although most patients reported dissatisfaction with their abdominal region after surgery, a linear regression failed to identify a relationship between patients’ body dissatisfaction and their desire for body contouring surgery. However, a paired-samples t-test found that patients were significantly more likely to express an interest in body contouring surgery if finances were not a factor, suggesting that the cost of these procedures may be prohibitive to many. Finally, content coding of patients’ self-reported motivations found that health-related reasons were the most commonly cited reason for pursuing bariatric surgery, identified by more than half of participants. Despite predictions, an independent samples t-test found that patients who identified appearance-related reasons for pursuing bariatric surgery did not differ on measures of body image. Subsequent independent samples t-tests failed to identify any association between presurgical motivations and postsurgical weight loss.

Although limitations of this study included its small sample size and single-site methodology, its results serve to validate existing research while expanding upon the understudied topics of body contouring and presurgical motivations.


The VIRGINIA CONSORTIUM PROGRAM IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY is a joint program of Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University.


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