Posted - September 27, 2012

Phantom Fat

The New You after DS Surgery

The New You after DS Surgery After duodenal switch surgery, you are still you—just new and improved.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and have to take a second before realizing it’s you staring back? This is a dissociative experience that happens quite frequently. We hear our own voice on a recording, see a picture of ourselves online or catch a stray glance while out and about and before we know it we are questioning how well we know ourselves.

For too many of us, these moments of misidentification have come from gaining weight and avoiding the mirror. After getting duodenal switch (DS) surgery, this experience often starts to happen the other way around. As you lose weight, changes can start to happen so fast that before you know it you don’t know yourself anymore—or at the very least don’t recognize yourself.

You: New and Improved

Your body image isn’t going to change as your physical weight changes—especially not if you aren’t emotionally addressing the way you look at yourself. Many people have heightened negative awareness of their bodies. For example, a small blemish on your chin might be barely noticeable to a friend, but it is all you see when you look in the mirror.

This type of heightened negative self-perception is particularly common in women who have lost a significant amount of weight. You’ve dropped several dress sizes and lost 50, 100 or maybe even 150 pounds—but you don’t see yourself any different now than you did when you started. Researchers have dubbed this emotional dissociation “phantom fat.”

Unfortunately, not seeing the progress you’ve made and constantly looking at your body in a negative light can throw off the original, healthy weight loss goals you and Dr. Stewart created. Duodenal switch surgery will help you lose a great deal of weight, but if the weight loss never seems good enough then you could find yourself heading down a road of unhealthy habits and even weight re-gain.

As the weight falls off after duodenal switch surgery, body-image and self-perception don’t always adjust as quickly. After years of being overweight, many people adjust to certain social roles like being the overweight friend who is always up for a bite to eat, or accepting the role of the wallflower at social events. In order to adjust to your new weight you need to take mental and emotional strides to accept your weight loss and embrace your new body as you lose weight.

For tips on how to embrace your new body as you lose weight, continue reading our follow-up article “Embracing the New You.”