Body image

All of us are concerned about our body image, independent of our gender, age or health condition. Why?

Because a positive body image makes us more confident in ourselves, feel more attractive and makes us feel better overall.

If we are talking about chronic kidney disease, sometimes we could observe that some changes in the body image can occur. This is not so bad, even healthy people could observe body image changes during life, it is very important to know how to deal with them. 
Psychologists have defined body image as „the mental picture that people have of their own bodily functions and body, including associated  external and internal sensations.” *

Let’s talk about possible changes that can occur in case that you are in a chronic dialysis program and what could you do.

In case of haemodialysis therapy, you may notice: 

  • Some skin changes, such as dry skin. If  this is something you have noticed, talk with your nephrologist to find a suitable solution for you, like what body cream you can use, or how much fluid you can drink. 

  • Surgical scars, due to the vascular access: You cannot make it disappear from your arm but you can wear a nice shirt with long sleeves that can easily cover that area. In case of an AV catheter situated at a visible area you can wear a nice scarf that would cover it. In both cases, please talk to your dialysis care team. They can help you find the right way to cover without causing any damage to your access. 

  • Body weight loss or gain, can occur also to any healthy person. Talk to your nephrologist and dietician to agree a diet appropriate to your body needs. We also recommend to discuss with a psychologist in case negative thoughts are coming and you feel anxious or nervous. An effective solution could be easy to find for you. 

To maintain a good self-image, there are some recommendations that may be useful for you: 

  • Keep a good physical shape by taking outdoor walks, enjoying sunny days and meeting friends.

  • Meet and talk with patients who have already overcome the same experience. 

  • Talk to your dialysis care team about your fears and questions. They are your reliable partner to find the right solution for you. 

* Leung DKC. Psychosocial aspects in renal patients. Perit Dial Int. 2003;23(S2):S90–94.