Ask the Navigator: What kind of impact will weight loss surgery have on my social life and my relationships?

Rachel Newmyer, RN

Dear Navigator,

What kind of impact will weight loss surgery have on my social life and my relationships?

I thought about this question for a few days and was torn in my response. Though I am sure most bariatric surgical practices would love to tell their patients that all social outcomes will be positive, that’s not always the case.

I remember the first time I was faced with a difficult social reaction to a post-surgery patient. She had been very successful with her weight loss and had lost almost half of her total body weight. During her previous appointments, she had always excited about her success, but on this particular day she was standing in my office in tears. She had been invited to go to lunch with some of her close friends. Instead of the normal “how is your week going?” kind of conversation, she was told that “we don’t feel like we can hang out with you anymore, we don’t feel comfortable eating around you,” and “you really don’t fit into our group.”

At the time, I remember feeling helpless and unsure of what to tell her. Though it seemed silly, this was real. Her social life and relationships were changing because she was healthier and had lost weight. My motherly instinct wanted to tell her that she didn’t need these kinds of friends, but instead I stayed silent, held her hand and tried to affirm her in whatever way I could. From that day on, I vowed to make sure all patients were educated, ready and aware that there will be changes, even social ones post-surgery.

For most people food and drinks are their means of socializing. The relationship with food will change after surgery, and therefore, the relationships around food will change as well. Though you can’t determine others reactions, you get to decide what kind of impact it has on you. Decide today how you will handle it. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions, and if you know that your social life revolves around eating, then work on finding other ways to socialize. Prepare yourself for the changes, be ready for the opinions of others, but don’t let this alter your focus. Your goal is to be healthier and live longer. Don’t let someone’s comment that you don’t belong, that you don’t fit in, derail your goal. Choose today to be a success, and you will!

Rachel Newmyer RN
Bariatric Patient Navigator

If you have any questions for Rachel, email them to