Body Image as We Change (and an Update on Me)

As I have been recovering from my facial plastic surgery, I have been thinking a lot about body image.  Part of that has been realizing how much I still don’t “see” me as normal weight.  And, in fact, not only do I not see my as normal weight, somehow I still in many subtle ways still thing of me as being over 200 pounds instead of in the 140s.

Logically, of course, I know I’ve lost weight.  But, I still have difficult in going to the correct sizing in a store.  I will wonder if I should pick the size 14 or 16 pants to try on when really I should be debating between 10 or 12.  I guess that it some progress.  I no longer consider the size 20 pants.

The other day I was ordering some Jess n Jane T-shirts from Amazon (I adore them).  I really agonized over whether I should order the large or maybe the extra-large.  I had bought my daughter one in a small so I had some idea as to how the sizing ran.  I finally bowed to logic and ordered a medium.  But, right up until the moment I put it on, I was worried about returning it.

And, it isn’t just close.  I came across a book about losing weight the other day and briefly considered buying it.  But, I don’t actually need to lose weight, at least not more than a very few pounds to be “ideal” instead of just normal.  But, for years, I have pored over every book or article about weight loss.   The fact that Kitty is overweight and needs to work on losing weight has just been part of who I am.  It is disconcerting at times to realize that how I internally see myself doesn’t necessarily reflect reality.  When I see a picture of me at 200 pounds, I don’t exactly like that picture, but it is what I expect to see.  When I see I picture of me taken recently in the 140s, it looks good…but doesn’t yet match my mental picture.

I’ve thought about this a lot as I recover from facial plastic surgery.  I was aware of the whole body image thing that many go through losing weight.  I try to consciously be aware of it.  But, I don’t think I had thought about this with regard to my facial surgery.  I mean yes, I wanted to have that turkey neck gone, but it is also part of me that I have become used to.

When I consulted with my plastic surgeon, one of the things we discussed was whether I wanted to have a temporal brow lift.  I knew for sure I was was having a quad (both upper and lower eyelids) blepheroplasty and that I would have my cholesterol deposits excised.  But, another option was to lift the outer part of the brow.  My middle brow was fine, but a temporal brow lift could open up my brows a bit more. I had a lot of loose skin on my lids that had only become much worse with weight now.  The blepharoplasty would help with that.  But, my brow had always been, in my view, a little low and hooded.  I hadn’t liked it in my 20s, let alone now.

Anyway, in discussing the option of the brow lift, the surgeon said he thought it would help with the things I was concerned with, but some people might not like it.  Why?  It would change the brow enough that it might change the actual appearance in the area.  In general, with facial surgery like I am having the goal is not to change the underlying appearance.  You still look like you, just minus the turkey neck or loose eye skin or whatever.  Doing the brow lift might cause me to look a little different in that area.  I was OK with that, since I never liked that brow area anyway.

During my recovery, though, it has been disconcerting that for about 10 days I literally haven’t recognized myself in the mirror.  That is basically from the swelling.  A combination of a brow lift and blepheroplasty results in swelling, lots and lots of swelling.  For the first few days after surgery, I could not open my left eye at all and could only see a tiny slit out of my right now.  And, I had a lot of facial swelling.

After several days and lots of icing of the eyes, much of that swelling has gone away.  That was good.  I still have quite a bit of swelling there and the incisions haven’t yet flattened out, but it is so much better than it was.  It was that point, though, that I realized I had a lot of swelling in the lower face.  There were a few days there where my eyes looked pretty good in terms of swelling, but I still didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.  That was a really odd feeling.

I still have a long way to go before the swelling is gone.  It takes months for it to all go away.  And, I still can’t wear makeup.  I actually ended up with less bruising than many.  I have some bruising on the side of my face, but not nearly as much on the face as I expected.

At some point I will post some of my early recovery pictures, but I will probably wait until I am a bit farther along.  I finally realized today that, even with a lot of swelling still existing and not all of my sutures out yet, I can recognize myself.  So I will post a couple of pictures.  Again, these are pictures of me with no makeup and with a lot of swelling still present.  I have 2 sets of pictures.  In each of them, the photo on the left was taken before surgery.

5-20 Comparison Side

The photo on the left shows my much hated turkey neck. On the photo on the right, I particularly like the fact that I no longer have the turkey neck.  Note that I do still have a lot of swelling in the lower jaw and neck.  You can see the bruises that still exist on  the side of my face and neck.

I post this next set of pictures to give some idea of the roller coaster that recovery has already been.  I still have a long way to go in terms of reducing swelling and bruising, but today I finally recognize myself in the mirror.

5-20 Quad

The upper left photo was pre-surgery, no makeup. The other right was the day after surgery.  I could see nothing except a tiny slit of vision from my right eye.

The bottom left was 4 days after  surgery.  The red splotch on my forehead is from a reaction to adhesive used during surgery. If you look closely you can see the sutures on my eyelids.  The puffiness underneath my eyes is part of all that swelling. I didn’t totally realize it at the time but I also still had a lot of lower face swelling.

The picture on the bottom right was taken today with no makeup.  I do still have my facial bruising, but a lot of the swelling around my eyes has gone away.  My external incisions on my eyelids have come out, but I still have swelling so those incisions haven’t flattened out yet. I still have a lot of lower facial swelling.  I can feel it when I touch my face.  But, it is much better than it was.  Given that I am 11 days past surgery and with all that I had done I am happy with the progress.

But, I also realize that in terms of body image I will not only need to continue to adjust to my size, but will work on adjusting to the differences in my face.


  1. says

    I totally feel you on the weight image issues. It’s still hard for me to not wander into the large or extra-large area, either.

    Thank you for posting the pictures! I have been very curious about your surgery, and I appreciate you being so open about it. Keep taking it easy and heal safely!
    Stephanie Hawkins recently posted…Fudge,  Cookies and a Five-Course mealMy Profile

  2. Laurie says

    I have struggled with body image too. I found that after my tummy tuck and thigh lift I did finally feel smaller but I didn’t identify in my head with the smaller body. Four years later I’m once again losing a regain of almost 50 pounds and I’m struggling to know what size I really am.

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