Body Image Disturbance After Weight Loss Surgery

By Laura DeAndrade, MSN, ANP-BC

Everyone has different perceptions of what they will look like after weight loss surgery. For most, it’s thinking about the thinnest time of your adult or teenage life. Many people assume that losing weight is the best way to boost an already suffering body image. The truth is many who undergo a massive amount of weight loss, still face body dissatisfaction. An important step in embracing your new lifestyle is developing a healthy body image.

With every significant weight loss, there will be loose skin, at least to some degree. Your initial perception likely will not match the end result is, which is a difficult challenge many people face. While body image issues affect women more than men, the issue can be harmful if left untreated. A negative body image can lead to depression, anger and frustration, resulting in a downward spiral of poor eating and weight gain.

Following significant weight loss, patients are able to decrease or even stop multiple medications such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol. With this drastic change, you can expect a reduction in overall back and joint pain. This is the true goal of weight loss surgery and the ultimate determination of success after weight loss. Therefore, the most important factor in weight loss is achieving a healthier lifestyle. Remember, there are no research articles are being written about what percentage of women were able to fit into their size 8 jeans or wear a bikini comfortably after weight loss surgery. Constantly bombarding yourself with negative statements about your appearance is only going to impede your weight loss efforts. Try to spend less time critiquing aspects of your body and compliment yourself on how far you’ve already come.

Here are some ways you can help yourself develop a healthy body image following your massive weight loss after surgery:

Positive Self Talk– Praise yourself for your accomplishments and enjoy the increased ability of your new healthier body. Buy new clothes, do a dance class or anything that was a real challenge before weight loss. All these things can help you adjust to the new you.

Find ways to love yourself– Do not avoid mirrors or your own reflection. Face who you are and find things you love about yourself. Find positive affirmations that you can repeat to yourself when negative thoughts enter your head.

Journaling– Write down how you feel when you are feeling down about yourself. Was there a certain circumstance that made you feel vulnerable. Discussing these with a trained professional can help you to find ways to properly deal with these issues in the future.

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