Body image is the way someone perceives their appearance. This perception can greatly affect that personís life. A person who has to face change in their body due to an amputation or facial disfigurement can feel great deal of stress and unhappiness. Adjusting to life after surgery for colostomy or mastectomy or any surgery that changes the appearance of their body can be a great stressor.

For many the changing physical appearance caused by aging, e.g. wrinkles, hearing aids, reduction in structure, through diseases such as osteoarthritis, and loss muscle tone can cause the older person to feel unattractive. For the adolescent body image is extremely important, and for many teenagers the way others perceive their appearance is of utmost importance, spending a lot of time working at improving their image and perceived imperfections.

Cultural values and the society one lives in affects the way a person perceives their body image. Western society values slim, attractive young people, with the normal aging process being considered something to be feared and concerned about. However in some other cultures the aged are looked up to and very much honored.

During my time at Swedish I did not have a patient with obvious body image problems. So for this subject I am going to discuss a patient who has had a lower limb amputation. It is very obvious that this man will suffer grief from this loss and his body image will be greatly affected, especially at first. As a second quarter nursing student I would give the pt the opportunity to discuss his feelings about his appearance. I would also discuss with him that it is normal for him to be feeling grief, but that with time, as with any grieving process this should reduce. I would also ask him if he would like to talk with others who have lost a limb (perhaps someone who has moved on and is now wearing a prosthesis). I would also discuss with his family how it is important for them to promote his independence when possible.