Besides the number on the scale, changes in the way your clothing fits is an excellent way to measure your progress. If you do weigh yourself regularly after bariatric surgery, you will notice that there will be periods of time where you are losing weight consistently, and periods of time where it may seem like the scale is “stuck” for a couple of weeks. Do not get discouraged, this is normal and happens to everyone! When this happens, pay attention to the way your clothes are fitting you as your body composition can change even if the scale is not moving. Unfortunately we can’t control which areas of our body we lose weight from, but that would be nice, right?
Thinking about shopping for new clothing may bring up negative emotions for you if you have had struggles in the past. You can look forward to a more enjoyable experience in the future as you may no longer need to shop only at plus size stores or departments that can have limited styles. You may no longer need to order custom sizes or pay extra to have things tailored to fit properly. You will no longer need to hide behind oversized clothing and it will be easier for you to find things that flatter your body and make you feel confident!
It can be tempting to run out to the store after losing weight in the beginning to go shopping and try on sizes that you haven’t been able to fit in before. However, you don’t want to waste money on clothes that may not be the right size for you in a couple months as you continue to lose weight! Consignment or thrift stores can be a great place to go to find some temporary clothing as you are between sizes without breaking the bank! Another plus of thrift shopping is that many thrift stores are non-profits and benefit organizations like the SPCA, churches, food banks, homeless shelters, etc. Now you have a place you can donate your clothing that no longer fits, too.
Other Shopping Tips Post-Surgery
- Only buy things that fit you at the present moment, don’t buy things that are too small that you hope you will fit in soon.
- Get a couple neutral pants and shirts that you can mix and match together that is appropriate for the current season that you can get a lot of wear out of.
- Try to purchase clothing that is made out of material that has some stretch to it if possible, that way you can get more wear out of it as you continue losing weight and it won’t look baggy, sloppy, or over-sized.
- See if you have any old clothing hiding in the back of your closet that are in smaller sizes first before going out and buying new things that you may only wear temporarily.
- If you develop loose skin as a result of losing weight, give shapewear a try! (Guys, it’s not just for ladies). Excess skin can be uncomfortable or can make people feel self-conscious; shapewear can help smooth lines and improve the fit and look of clothing.
Reconstructive Surgery After Weight Loss
The amount of loose skin that a patient may have after bariatric surgery depends on many factors including:
- Amount of weight lost
- Rate of weight lost
- Exercise habits
- Smoking status
It is recommended to wait at least 18 months after bariatric surgery to have skin removal to fully recover and give your body time to achieve weight maintenance. Surgery for removal of excess skin is sometimes covered by health insurance for reasons such as excess moisture, infection, irritation, mobility limitations, and hygiene issues. Removing excess skin can dramatically enhance your daily comfort and self-confidence, make exercise easier/more comfortable, and improve the way clothing fits.
This type of procedure should only be performed by a highly experienced, qualified surgeon with training in body contouring procedures. It takes anywhere between 2-5 hours for the surgery, depending on the amount and location of excess skin. In general, lifting weights, exercising, or working a physically active job may be off limits for 6+ weeks after surgery depending on the physician’s instructions. It is a very invasive surgery with a long recovery time.
Over time you will learn to love and accept your new body and be proud of how far you have come. When you lose a large amount of weight relatively quickly, it can take time for your body to keep up with all the changes. Don’t let the loose skin detract from the fact that you have improved your body composition and overall health. Focus on all the positive changes that have come along with losing weight. Skin removal surgery is not for everyone. Ask your doctor for further information and recommendations.