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Shannon'sVSG

Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Weight Loss Surgery

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In keeping with the idea that the more information weight loss surgery recipients amass regarding their their Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy procedure, the more informed they become regarding ways to prevent, and if need be, confront and combat subsequent conditions that may arise as a direct result of WLS, I have chosen a topic that we are all aware of, but know very little about. That topic is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

The definition of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) as outlined by the medical website Mayoclinic.org states that it is a “mental disorder characterized by the obsessive idea that some aspect of one's own body part or appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix their dysmorphic part on their person.”

By its definition this does not in any way insinuate that those who have body image issues are in some way living with a mental disorder. Rather it is simply stating that body dysmorphic disorder is recognized by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., as well as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as being such, and this blog post is merely serving as a tool for one to recognize what it means to have severe body image deficiencies.

Having cleared that up…

Body dysmorphia disorder usually develops in adolescence at a time when people are generally most sensitive about their appearance. It is recognized by many as being a hidden disorder because those who live with this problem are more often too ashamed to reveal their main problem.

Although BDD often occurs in people with other mental health disorders such as major depression and anxiety, and further supports a biological basis for the disorder, this does not lend itself to be misunderstood as the onset of a symptom or a greater problem. Certain factors seem influence the development of or trigger BDD include which include but are not limited to: the experience of traumatic events or emotional conflict during childhood, having blood relatives with body dysmorphic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, negative impacting life experiences, certain personality traits such as perfectionistic tendencies, and rapid or extreme weight loss.

Recent studies have placed approximately 2% of the population as having been diagnosed with, or currently struggling with body dysmorphic disorder. While it is more commonly seen in adolescents and young people, it can affect anyone at any age and at any time.

Some signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:

• Being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can't be seen or appears minor
• Strong belief that you have a defect in your appearance that makes you ugly or deformed
• Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way or mock you
• Engaging in behaviors aimed at fixing or hiding the perceived flaw that are difficult to resist or control, such as frequently checking the mirror, grooming or skin picking
• Attempting to hide perceived flaws with styling, makeup or clothes
• Constantly comparing your appearance with others
• Always seeking reassurance about your appearance from others
• Having perfectionist tendencies
• Seeking frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
• Avoiding social situations
• Being so preoccupied with appearance that it causes major distress or problems in your social life, work, school or other areas of functioning

You may obsess over one or more parts of your body. The feature that you focus on may change over time. The most common features people obsess about include:

• Face, such as nose, complexion, wrinkles, acne and other blemishes
• Hair, such as appearance, thinning and baldness
• Skin and vein appearance
• Breast size
• Muscle size and tone
• Genitalia

While I understand that these are recognized signs and symptoms, the reality of a WLS recipient is that we experience many of these signs and symptoms. This DOES NOT mean we (the WLS/VSG community as a whole) are facing a lifetime of mental illness. Rather it serves as an informative tool and a reminder that obsessive compulsive behavior can lead to worsening problems much like what has been mentioned here.

In summary…we are all beautiful individuals. And as we thrive and flourish and become the new and improved versions of ourselves, we will not find a need to obsess over things like excess skin or thinning hair. Our WLS/VSG has been beneficial in our weight loss, but it is not the defining factor in our lives. We are. We have the final say in the decisions we make, the lives we lead, and the love we share for one another.

Be strong. And as I like to tell folks…YOU GOT THIS!

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Comments

  1. Christie13's Avatar
    I had issues with thinking I was fat when I was young and very thin. It all started because my brother was a dick head and always teasing me about it. I was a whopping 94 lbs. My brother would say shit like "You know why she has a "guess" (the brand) on her jeans pocket? For guess how wide her ass is." It screwed me up psychologically and I began to see myself as fat when clearly I wasn't. This lead to years of bulimia. Not a pretty thing at all. So I can totally relate to this.
    Ironically, I have at times seen myself as too thin since being sleeved. I kind of go back and forth between thinking I am too thin and thinking I need to lose a couple more pounds. It is crazy. But I have told myself that as long as I am being healthy and maintaining I am not going to actively attempt to change my weight since I am in a healthy BMI range. I do not want to fall into bad habits.
  2. Shannon'sVSG's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Christie13
    I had issues with thinking I was fat when I was young and very thin. It all started because my brother was a dick head and always teasing me about it. I was a whopping 94 lbs. My brother would say shit like "You know why she has a "guess" (the brand) on her jeans pocket? For guess how wide her ass is." It screwed me up psychologically and I began to see myself as fat when clearly I wasn't. This lead to years of bulimia. Not a pretty thing at all. So I can totally relate to this.
    Ironically, I have at times seen myself as too thin since being sleeved. I kind of go back and forth between thinking I am too thin and thinking I need to lose a couple more pounds. It is crazy. But I have told myself that as long as I am being healthy and maintaining I am not going to actively attempt to change my weight since I am in a healthy BMI range. I do not want to fall into bad habits.
    Hey there Chrsitie13!

    (((WOW!)))

    Thank you for sharing your story. Very impactful, insightful, and much appreciated.

    I never ceases to amaze me the lengths individuals go to in an effort to tear the ones they love down. As you may have read in recent post about my past, the single most impactful moment for me was when I was told I am a "pig" and then was spat on by my own mother - who by the way was herself, obese. But I digress...

    You are aware of how I currently view myself, and as such, I thought when I read through it all that this information was pertinent to not myself but to those out there who are currently struggling with similar issues.

    Being sleeved can be a blessing, but it can also be a double-edged blade. In other words, there is good and bad in this procedure, but it is how you connect with and treat yourself and said procedure that ultimately makes the difference.

    Have a great day!
  3. Stacey03's Avatar
    I was picked on as a kid for being a bit heavier than others even though I was super fit. Like Russian athlete stylee fit. I think it is such a shame that 'thiness' is an ultimate goal. Fit, strong and healthy is a much better goal for me. Oh to have the wisdom of your older years in your younger years. Wouldn't that be great!!!
  4. Shannon'sVSG's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey03
    I was picked on as a kid for being a bit heavier than others even though I was super fit. Like Russian athlete stylee fit. I think it is such a shame that 'thiness' is an ultimate goal. Fit, strong and healthy is a much better goal for me. Oh to have the wisdom of your older years in your younger years. Wouldn't that be great!!!
    Hi Edie!

    It never ceases to amazing, the lengths some people will go to to make another's life a living hell. And for what? So they can, in some sadistic way feel good about themselves?

    I think the reality is that these individuals do these things to feel better about their own insecurities. It is a way of masking their own problems, or a means of venting the pent up frustrations they feel about their own lives.

    It's pathetic, really. But I digress...

    I agree. If we had even the slightest indication of the knowledge we would amass over the course of adulthood, things would be entirely different in childhood. But I think what we experience as children is a beacon of light that guides the way to who we will eventually become.