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Weight-Loss Surgery and Body Image

After your weight-loss surgery, you’ll be slimmer, sexier and more confident – right? Your body will be transformed and so will you – right? Surgery, after all, is the answer to all your problems – isn’t it?

We wish it were that simple. Weight-loss surgery achieves a great deal. It can improve your insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels and cardiovascular health. It can relieve joint pain and sleep apnea and boost your fertility. And it definitely helps you lose weight and keep it off.

But it can take longer for weight-loss surgery to change your body image.

What Is Body Image?

Body image refers to how you see your body and how that makes you feel. It’s not to do with how your body actually is, but rather how it seems to you and the thoughts you have about yourself as a result.

A healthy body image means that you feel comfortable in your own skin and know that there’s far more to you than your appearance. While you may care about your appearance, you don’t think it defines you. A healthy body image means you’re likely to enjoy better mental health.

A negative body image means that you dislike your body, keep trying to change it, and think your looks define your value as a person. You may be more likely to suffer from eating disorders and depression.

While we all have our bad days, sustained negative thoughts and feelings about your body are known as body dysmorphia, a mental health condition that may require treatment.

Your body image is linked to your weight but that’s not the full story. If you’re obese, you’re more likely to have a negative body image but women who are a healthy weight and women who are underweight can all struggle with liking their bodies.

Your body image is also affected by your self-esteem, your body shape, and the impossible standards of beauty that you see all over your social media feed and on TV.>

How Weight Loss Affects Body Image

Losing weight affects your weight. It doesn’t necessarily change your body image. A negative self-image can prove hard to shift.

You might still perceive yourself as overweight, even though you no longer are. One study of overweight Caucasian teenage girls who shed the excess kilos found that they still saw themselves as too heavy.

That sense of being somehow ‘not good enough’ may still be there too. Sometimes we latch onto something tangible like losing weight as the solution to that problem. But it may not be. The deeper emotional vulnerabilities and the habitual negative thoughts we have about ourselves are still there. Your relationship with your body is complex and it is often linked to bigger issues.

How to Love Your Body After Weight Loss

So, how do you learn to love your body? You could try:

  • Celebrating it: Whatever its size or shape, your body is amazing. It’s strong and capable – heck, it may even have brought new life into the world, possibly more than once. Your body lets you savour food, make love, hug your family and laugh until you cry. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing and you wouldn’t be here without it.
  • Getting help: Where do they come from? Those feelings of unworthiness, the need for approval, the negative self-talk? Maybe it’s time to talk to a psychologist about that so you can learn healthier patterns.
  • Listing the things you like: It may feel odd but write down what you like about yourself. Maybe it’s your smile, your eyes, your sense of humour or your compassionate nature. Finding the things you like about yourself brings some balance and stops you only focusing on what you perceive is wrong.
  • Turning the criticism outward, not inward: Stop criticising your body and start criticising the advertising images and slogans that make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Nurturing the true you: You have many opportunities to enjoy life, especially if you have reached a healthy weight and have more energy and capacity. Do the things that bring you joy, whether that’s travelling, sky-diving or quilting.
  • Join a support group: Talking to other people who are adjusting to their new body size can help you adapt.

Healthy weight loss is a good goal, with many benefits for your wellbeing but a healthy body image takes more than being a healthy weight. You can learn to love your body after weight-loss surgery and gain the confidence to enjoy your new lease of life.

We Appraoch Things Differently

Because of our wholistic approach to weight loss surgery, we provide both professional and peer support throughout your weight loss journey. To find out out how it works and how it could help you,  contact us today for a free, no obligation appointment with our Perioperative Nurse, Shirley Lockie, to get started.

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