Am I Nuts for Wanting Liposuction?

Dear GoodTherapy.org,

I’ve been overweight my entire life. I’m now in my 30s and in the “obese” category, and I hate feeling like fat holds me back from having the fun I deserve. I’ve spent too much time disliking my appearance—and myself—and I don’t want to waste another second on self-hatred, diet trends, or even the “clean eating and exercise” route I’ve tried and failed so many times.

So, I think I’ve made the decision to have liposuction. The problem is, I’m finding ZERO support from my family and friends. These are the people who have tried to tell me, “We love you just the way you are,” and, “You have a beautiful soul,” and, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” for years. I’m ready to see what they see, but all they talk about are the risks and possible negative outcomes.

For me, all those risks are worth the rewards: looking in the mirror and liking what I see, getting to start a new life with new health and new habits, and letting my outside reflect what I’ve felt on the inside for decades. But I can’t do this alone. I know it’s a journey—the preparation and the aftermath—and I need my few and precious loved ones to get behind me on this. But do you think they’re right? Do the risks outweigh the rewards? If this is the right path for me, how can I get my family and friends on board? —Larger Than Life

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Dear Larger Than Life,

I can’t tell you if this is the right path for you or not. I do know that how you feel about your choice is ultimately what matters. Your loved ones are trying to be supportive and are worried about the risks of surgery. That is understandable. I imagine that if you make the decision to go through with it, you will find they ultimately support you.

What I hear your friends and family trying to communicate to you, however, is that how they feel about you isn’t connected to your outward appearance and they wish you felt the same. Self-acceptance and self-love rarely come from external changes. It may be that liposuction will give you the fresh start you are seeking, though please consult with medical professionals about what you can realistically expect. It may also be, however, that you might undergo the surgery and still struggle with your feelings of self-doubt or self-criticism. There are many incidents of people changing externally, only to still find fault with what they see in the mirror. The problem area shifts, and the message “I will be happy when …” also shifts to focus on a new “issue.”

There is nothing intrinsically wrong about seeking surgical methods to enhance your appearance. If you have consulted with a doctor and the health benefits outweigh the risks, by all means follow your heart. Just don’t expect the physical changes to dramatically transform how you feel about yourself.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong about seeking surgical methods to enhance your appearance. If you have consulted with a doctor and the health benefits outweigh the risks, by all means follow your heart. Just don’t expect the physical changes to dramatically transform how you feel about yourself.

You mention all the routes you’ve tried and failed. The most effective lasting physical changes generally result from small, sustainable lifestyle changes. Liposuction might produce a dramatic result, but sustaining that result may require a shift in habits. To best set yourself up for success, I encourage you to enlist the support of professionals, medical and mental health, who can work with you through the decision making process as well as support you through any mind-set changes you might need to address. The new life, new health, and new habits you seek won’t magically appear following surgery. It won’t be a clean slate. Making sure your expectations are realistic is an essential piece of the outcome of your choice. Making sure you have prepared yourself for those new habits will be important.

Often beliefs we hold about ourselves hold us back more than actual physical limitations. Before you embark on any major change, surgical or otherwise, consulting with counselors and physicians may help you identify whether physical or emotional factors, or both, have been preventing you from living the new healthy life you seek.

Best of luck,

Erika

Erika Myers
Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
  • 4 comments
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  • Janey

    Janey

    September 30th, 2016 at 12:43 PM

    But you can’t do this to lose a significant amount of weight can you?

  • Petra

    Petra

    October 4th, 2016 at 1:40 PM

    I guess that I have several thoughts on this whole issue. I would like to have this done too but I know that I have some work to do on my own before this would even be a possibility. I am not even sure that if you have a lot of weight to lose that any doctor is going to suggest to you that it is a good idea and a good way to achieve your goals. My other thought is that if you don’t like yourself now then there is no operation out there large or small that is going to change that. This is something that you have to come to terms with on the inside.

  • Gerald

    Gerald

    October 6th, 2016 at 9:16 AM

    Why is it so important to you to have friends and family agree with your choice? You are an adult, you are the one who has to deal with the consequences, not them

  • logan

    logan

    October 10th, 2016 at 10:27 AM

    As long as you have done the research and feel that it is the right choice for you then I would say that you are an educated adult and you are making a decision based on what you believe is right for you. It does not have anything to do with what anyone else may think, and it shouldn’t. This is a very serious surgery believe it or not and if you and your doctor have talked and believe that this is the best course to take, than I would say that you have to do the right thing for you always. Don’t worry about what other people say.

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