Body Image: The struggle after bariatric surgery
People of all sizes can struggle with body image. It does not help that we are constantly bombarded with images of what we are supposed to look like. If you are obese, then you are probably familiar with the hurtful looks and comments some people can make. A positive body image is developed early in childhood and its fragility cannot be overstated.
One of the many questions we hear when patients are considering bariatric surgery is about excess skin. For some patients, the thought of excess skin after significant weight loss can be overwhelming. The amount of excess skin that can be expected after bariatric surgery varies greatly and is related to how much weight is lost, the body fat distribution, genetics and age. How fast you lose the weight does not impact how much excess skin you will have.
Although very effective, the surgical removal of excess skin (reconstructive surgery) is rarely covered by health insurance. The probability increases somewhat when the patient is diligent about having multiple health care providers document how the excess skin affects the patient’s health. An example would be stubborn sores in the skin folds that do not heal despite multiple treatments.
Steps you can take towards building a better body image
- Look at your body as the formidable vessel it is: You are healthier and have more energy to enjoy all sorts of activities.
- Understand that it takes a lot longer for the brain to adjust to your new body than to lose weight after the Gastric Bypass or the Sleeve Gastrectomy. In other words, you may not see your body the way others do. Have you ever walked by a store window and not recognized yourself? Give yourself the permission to take time to adjust.
- Stop the negative talk. If all you tell yourself is that you hate how your body looks, then it will saturate your every being. If someone else is making negative comments about your body, stop them and tell them that this is not okay.
- Pick one body part that you like and admire it (a little self-love has never hurt anyone). When you become really good at appreciating that part, add another.
- If you feel that negative body image is letting you into depression, talk to a therapist. There is no reason to go it alone – we all need a little help sometimes.
- Dress your body size. Proper fitting clothing help you see your body in a positive way. Nobody ever says that sweat pants make them feel great about their body. Dress to impress yourself! You are worth it. Bold fashion jewelry or a beautiful shawl can dress up the simplest outfit and make you feel like a million bucks. Don’t have the budget right now to go shopping? Check out the clothes closet and you’ll find beautiful clothing donated by patients at no charge to you.
- Take advantage of the many lines of shape-wear available. Many patients rave about Spanx (also for men) and Slimpressions and found that when their clothing fit better, they felt much better about their body.
- When you look in the mirror, get to know the new person and decide to make this reflection your friend. Take good care of yourself and treat yourself with love and compassion.
To learn more about reconstructive surgery and non-surgical ways to help boost body image, please come meet Drs. Ehrlich and Vasquez and their staff at the open house on May 15th from 5-7 PM, celebrating Ehrlich Bariatrics’ new Office at 2600 Post Road, Southport, CT 06890.
Questions? Ask Kim!
Get A Quick Response
Need help registering for support groups, monthly workshops or bariatric seminars? Unsure of the process or how to begin? We take pride in offering concierge style guidance for all current and potential patients.