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Objective To understand the process by which an obese woman decides to have bariatric surgery. Method A qualitative survey with a social phenomenology approach, carried out in 2012, with 12 women, using the phenomenological interview. Results A woman bases the decision to have the surgery on: the inappropriateness of her eating habits; a physical appearance that is incompatible with an appearance that is standardized by society; the social prejudice that she has to live with; the limitationsdoi:10.1590/s0080-623420140000700002 pmid:25626494 fatcat:jey5fxjzxjefho3iov4tylohqu