Body Image Challenges after Weight Loss Surgery

Body Image Challenges after Weight Loss SurgeryYou’ve lost weight after having weight loss surgery. That’s a great accomplishment. Yet do you still think you appear as overweight to others? Many successful bariatric surgery patients tell us that they   “ still feel fat” even after they’ve lost 100 pounds or more.  So, it is important to know that you are not alone in these thoughts and feelings.

The fact of the matter is that it takes time for your brain to adjust to the new you. During this adjustment phase, your body image perception in your own mind may be distorted. It is a common aftermath after bariatric surgery. Yet it is an area that you can conquer.

Experts refer to this body image distortion after weight loss as “double vision.” Your brain needs to catch up with the new you as your body image is changing. Because the old perception of yourself is deeply ingrained, it can take some time to reconcile the changes between the new you and the old view of yourself. This can especially be the case when the weight loss has been rapid.

Major and rapid weight loss is a major life change, similar to other major life changes, such as getting married, having a child, moving to a new location, or accepting a new job. All of these take time to adjust to.

How Other People Fit in With Your Body Image Distortion

There can also be a social adjustment that comes with losing weight. Society may relate to you differently when you are heavy than when you are thin. In addition, some people who see that you’ve experienced a significant weight loss over a short period of time may tell you to not to lose any more weight, even if you haven’t met your weight loss goal yet.

Overcoming These Body Image Challenges

The best thing you can do to help reconcile the gap between your perception of your body image and your actual body is to participate in positive self-talk regularly. This is beneficial in helping your mind adjust to the new you.

Next, take action to get to know the new you. Buy new clothes, take up a dance class, go on a bike ride, or even start training for a 5K run.  It is not so important what new activity you do; the point is to experience activities now that were difficult for you to do when you were heavy. Over time, these thoughts, behaviors, and actions will help you adjust to your new body image.

Having a healthy body image mindset is key component to success after weight loss surgery. Just remember that it can take time to adjust, and that’s OK.