Body Dysmorphia After Bariatric Surgery

Body dysmorphia after bariatric surgery is a common and distressing experience for bariatric patients. Many may not have realized their true size going into the surgery, while others may feel too large despite successful weight loss. The condition is characterized by excessive concern about perceived flaws with their body. Individuals who experience body dysmorphia after bariatric surgery may hyper-fixate on one aspect of their body or several. Usually, these flaws are minor or may not be noticeable to other people until the person draws their attention to them. To put it simply, people with body dysmorphia do not see an accurate reflection of their true appearance in the mirror.

What Causes Body Dysmorphia After Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric patients’ bodies go through many changes during rapid weight loss. Some may develop loose skin, which can damage their self-esteem and contribute to an incorrect assessment of their appearance. Many continue to believe they are larger than they are because their brain hasn’t caught up yet with the significant changes. Compliments can be a surprising trigger for body dysmorphia after bariatric surgery. Friends and family can see the changes happening to the patient’s body through an undistorted lens. Compliments about their weight loss can make them uncomfortable, as they believe they are unworthy of the praise.

How to Cope with Body Dysmorphia After Bariatric Surgery

It takes time for the brain to accept how weight loss changes the body. Bariatric patients can become stuck in a cycle of negative self-thoughts without realizing how poorly they’re treating themselves. Changing the mind is essential to long-term weight loss success. It influences how bariatric patients feel about themselves and their relationship with food.

Reaching out to bariatric groups on social media can allow the patient to learn of other people’s experiences with weight loss surgery, which can show them they’re not alone. Other bariatric patients are also more likely to understand and empathize with the struggle of body dysmorphia. Another critical change bariatric patients can make is ceasing all comparisons of themselves to other people. Weight loss is rarely linear, and everyone has unique challenges and triumphs.

When to Seek Medical Help

It’s not altogether abnormal for a bariatric patient to worry about certain parts of their appearance as their body changes. However, true body dysmorphia disorder (BDD) can become obsessive. Patients who find themselves constantly worrying or beating themselves up about some aspect of their body may be suffering from BDD. They often spend a lot of time looking in mirrors or avoiding them altogether.

Eventually, the negative perception of their appearance can consume their thoughts and interfere with everyday life. Sometimes, outside help is necessary to help retrain the brain to accept the changes as real and positive. A talk therapist can help guide people through their weight loss journey. Support groups are also a great option to share experiences and see how others overcame their struggles.

Are you considering bariatric surgery? Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your weight loss journey and address any concerns you may have.


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