I’ve spent nearly 11 years helping people use bariatric weight loss surgery as a tool to lose excess weight and regain health. One of the motivating factors for surgical weight loss is the fast progression of weight reduction for patients, for those who follow the post-op protocol.
Sometimes these rapid physical transformations confuse the brain, which still ‘sees’ you as you were before losing weight. In addition, many people with weight challenges have been told their entire lives that they are too fat, unattractive and even unlovable. It’s understandable they may still believe this, even after losing 50, 100 or even 150 pounds. Their brains have been pre-conditioned to see themselves as huge and unsightly.
If you have had significant weight loss, do you still wear clothing that is far too large for your smaller physique? When you shop, do you naturally head to the largest size in a particular style you like? Do you still worry about the size of the seats, before you accept or decline a movie or show invitation?
If so, let me assure you, there is nothing wrong with you. It’s quite common to experience body distortion challenges throughout the cycle of weight loss. Conversely, during many office visits with new patients, the majority tell me they never truly recognized how large they had become. Can you relate to this? The mind is a powerful thing and as we all know, it can help and it can hinder.
For those who have achieved major weight loss after years at an unhealthy weight, it’s important to recognize that weight loss is a journey which can progress very quickly. And as a result, the brain sometimes needs some time to catch up to all the changes, and there are many.
There is a psychiatric condition called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), where individuals spend many hours daily fixated by an extreme concern about one or more perceived defects in one’s appearance. The individual may experience such overwhelming distress about their perceived defect that they are unable to focus on anything else. If you feel this may describe a condition you are experiencing, or feel you cannot accurately assess your weight loss progression, speak to your health care provider.
Never hesitate to ask for help or guidance. Remember, significant weight loss is a life-transforming journey. Use every resource available to help make your ride as comfortable as possible.
Ayotunde Adeyeri, M.D., FASMBS, is a board-certified and fellowship-trained laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgeon and medical director of the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. The Institute is accredited by the MBSAQIP as a Comprehensive Bariatric Center and provides individualized medical and surgical solutions and support for individuals seeking weight loss, including nutrition and lifestyle counseling. For more information or to attend a free bariatric surgery seminar, call 855-TIME-4-ME.
With locations in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, New Jersey, Raritan Bay Medical Center delivers critical world-class healthcare services care to Monmouth and Middlesex County residents. As providers of first-class healthcare in the areas of stroke, cardiology, cancer, physical rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, pediatric medicine, Raritan Bay Medical Center continues to stay on the forefront of medicine.
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