Body Image & Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is an increasingly popular treatment for people suffering from morbid obesity.
Surgery promotes a significant weight loss over a short period of time, and supports recovery from physical conditions accompanying obesity, such as type II diabetes and heart disease. Weight loss surgery also increases self-esteem, improves quality of life and increases life span. However, surgery may have an impact on the psychological health of some individuals, affecting particularly their body image perception.
Some people having undergone surgery are able to adjust naturally to their rapid weight loss and new body image, yet others might experience difficulties in accepting their new appearance.
Many times surgery can lead to saggy skin due to extreme weight loss, thus some individuals might continue to experience body dissatisfaction leading to major distress, feelings of anxiety and depression. It is important to prepare a person for the lifetime changes following surgery through counselling and screening.
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Healthily Adjusting Your Body Image After Bariatric Surgery
When skin is stretched to extreme limits, as with morbid obesity, the elastin in the skin breaks down. This means the skin can no longer stretch and then recoil.
Following weight loss surgery, rapid weight loss means the skin can no longer shrink back to its smaller size, leaving jowls of skin hanging on the body. Saggy skin can become a major cause of body image distress. If emotions were originally soothed with food, but food is no longer freely available post-surgery, saggy skin can become a major trigger that may activate new disordered eating behaviours such as the chewing and spitting of food.
Change to someone’s body image can be a complex emotional rollercoaster and the individual may experience psychological struggle due to their rapid weight loss. This is because the way they see themselves – their self-concept – is stuck as seeing them as a fat person. If they still believe they are not good enough, and struggle with low self-worth, this creates a clash between how they see themselves in the mirror and how they believe themselves to be.
Some people also feel very exposed when they lose weight, and at some level they see their size as a barrier between themselves and the world, relationships and ultimately intimacy. Therefore, the joy of weight loss may also bring a whole new mix of existential life problems.
Bariatric Surgery – How Can We Help You?
We have worked with many clients through their weight loss surgery, and supported them through their transformation of mind and body.
We believe specialised psychotherapy, with a team of experts that we have here at WeightMatters, provides the tools for you to maximise the psychological and life-fulfilling benefits of weight loss surgery.
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