Given that pain and obesity are frequently comorbid health conditions, it is unsurprising that individuals seeking bariatric surgery commonly experience pain. While pain is generally reduced in the short-term after bariatric surgery, there is considerable variability in pain outcomes, and less is known about how unresolved or recurring pain may relate to long-term weight loss and weight loss maintenance. This study evaluated trajectories of change in pain scores through seven years following bariatric surgery and whether higher pain levels related to poorer weight outcomes.


Multiple self-report measures of pain and weight change data were utilized for 1702 adults seeking Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery from the Longitudinal Assessment for Bariatric Surgery (LABS) cohort. A series of linear mixed models examined: 1) changes in pain scores, and 2) concurrent predictive relationships between pain and weight outcomes from pre-surgery through seven years post-surgery.


Overall bodily pain, hip pain, and knee pain initially improved (through two years), deteriorated (from two to five years), and then slightly improved (from five to seven years) following surgery (p's < .001). Greater pain (across multiple measures) also concurrently predicted poorer weight outcomes (e.g., less weight loss and greater weight regain) over time (p's <= .006).


Pain is usually evident in the long-term following bariatric surgery and is associated with suboptimal weight loss and weight regain. Additional research is needed to identify mechanisms underlying this relationship, which may ultimately help develop appropriate pain assessment and treatment strategies that can promote optimal post-surgery outcomes.