My stomach before the skin removal:
I am as transparent as possible about my weight loss journey, or at least I try to be. My hanging excess skin was something I discussed openly and often as I felt comfortable doing so. After spending years tucking it into my clothes, hiding it, wearing layers and layers of compression...not to mention the days where I could no longer get undressed in front of the mirror because I emotionally could not handle looking at how the skin just hung. It was hard for me. I worked so hard. Obviously people around me saw the work I put in. Not just at the gym but with the healthy eating. They saw my journey as motivating and inspiring....however as good as I felt about what I had accomplished, I just did not feel okay with what I saw in the mirror. Now please...please...do not think that it’s a form of self-hate or that I did not love myself, because well that is far from the truth. I spent years being morbidly obese hating my body, and it is a completely different feeling. It is more a feeling of defeat. Like you killed yourself working for a trophy that you deserved but couldn’t obtain. Sounds crazy I know. To those in the same boat, you get it. To those going through massive weight loss and scared about the excess skin outcome, please realize everyone’s body is different. Everyone’s skin is different. I know people who have lost less pounds but have way more excess skin. Then I see people who have lost more pounds but barely have any excess skin. Let me also say, not everyone who has the excess skin let it affects them emotionally. I know I sure as hell did.
I put off the procedures for a while. Many reasons. Emotionally, financially, physically, etc. Then I realized, if I keep waiting for the perfect time, I would never go through with it. So you know what? Sometimes you just need to let go of all the reasons holding you back and just jump in.
So I Jumped in. I called the plastic surgeon I had done all my research on, and I made an appointment for a consultation.
I chose Dr. Alfred Sofer in Fairfield, CT.
Let me tell you. I did serious research on this Doctor. Not just being fascinated by the before and after pics on the website of his surgery center, but all of the reviews of prior patients, etc. I was truly set on him being my surgeon, but I also had to keep in mind that he may not be the doctor I chose. I may not click with him. I may not like his approach, his staff, his bedside manners, etc. Those are all things I take very serious. I have to click with the doctor. I do not care how good a surgeon is in an operating room if he does not have good bedside manners.
The consultation day came. My mom came with me, because she more than anyone in this world keeps me calm. When we got to the office, the staff was amazing. Friendly, outgoing and attentive. I was shocked at how advanced they were. There was no piles of paperwork. It was all done by Ipad. How cool is that? We then went into a room and I was told to undress so that the surgeon could take a look at the excess skin problem areas and let me know different options. So I took off my clothes, the surgeon came in and I let him know my main concerns about my body and he let me know what I would need to have done procedure wise in order to get rid of the skin. Biggest concerns were my stomach and my arms. That was when I found out, that due to the length of time of each procedure, it would need to be two different surgeries. Now do not get me wrong, I see other surgeons on TV do many procedures all at once. I know people personally who have gone to doctors out of state and had way more done and all at once. I just know that if I did choose this surgeon, this was his approach and I needed to be okay with that. What I realized is that he is very conservative, and I was not going to question it. I respected it. My stomach was going to need liposuction, then an incision around my lower stomach horizontally like a belt, and then very possibly a vertical scar all the way up the middle of my stomach as well. He said right then and there that he was going to do everything he could to avoid the middle vertical scar. I also had almost no chest left. I went from being a size DD before weight loss to being smaller than a B. Not to mention how weird and flat they were looking. If I decided to go through with the skin removal in the abdomen, my skin would be pulled down, making my chest be even smaller. We discussed implants and how they would then cause my body to not look weird once my excess skin was gone. When I think of implants, I think BIG breasts. I did not really realize people get them just to have “something there”. He told me if I did decide to go through with the breast augmentation, that they would be the smallest possible implant for my body frame. He was all about being as conservative as possible. He knew I did not want anything “artificial” looking. I just wanted to look NORMAL. Then, we discussed my arms and back excess skin. Boy oh boy did I work hard on my arms when lifting weights. I had amazing biceps. But as soon as I lifted my arms, there was those bat wings of swinging skin underneath. He said we would need to do two surgeries. One being my stomach and chest, and the other being my arms and back.
Now many people say…”Oh My God, how uncomfortable is it standing there naked in front of a doctor while they pick you apart telling you what is wrong with you?”. So let me set the record straight…it is nothing like that if you find the right doctor. This surgeon did not have me waiting in the room a long time. He came in and was very compassionate, friendly, outgoing, etc. He listened to me tell him about what I have accomplished, he asked me questions about what my concerns were, and he listened. Not just listened with his ears, but you can tell he genuinely listened with the care to help. He answered any and every question I could think of, and did not make me feel like I was “just another patient”. After the physical exam, we went upstairs and sat with Jennifer the surgical coordinator for over an hour and she went over everything. The financials, the procedures, etc…and was just an open book. Not a sales woman trying to sell me on the surgeon like I see on TV. She was personal sweet, and personal. The actualat is what is key. She was relatable. She was real. Those are the things that I picked up on.
After getting all the info, there was no need to “shop around”. I knew in my heart, this was the surgeon I was choosing. I was not buying a car, I was making a life changing decision. I was going to put my future and my body, and even my life in the hands of this doctor.
I called the office shortly after and set up a surgery date for surgery #1. I had my pre-op with my primary care doctor. I then had my pre-op with the plastic surgeon.
The day of my pre- op with the surgeon, he personally spent over an hour with me, and went over every single aspect. When I tell people that, they are in utter shock. No, not an employee but the surgeon himself took the time to go over each consent form explain them and explain each procedure from beginning to end. I had a notebook of questions and he answered every single one with honesty. It was a long appointment, and I left there feeling like I was making the right decision by choosing him. He just had a way of putting my anxious nerves at ease about these procedures. Once I signed my paperwork, that was it.
Once I had everything set, I then started showing my actual excess skin on my social meda accounts to my followers. I finally felt comfortable doing so. I mean, the skin was going to be gone soon anyway, so why not. But it is a whole lot harder than you think. It took a whole lot of guts for me to publicly show what humiliated me. What I had spent so long hiding, I was now going to be showing to people all over the world. But I had to do it. I had to show others the whole truth behind my transformation. I cannot tell you how many people were supportive of this decision. How many people were shocked I was hiding all of that skin. It felt good afterwards. I no longer had anything to hide.
My next blog will be all about my actual 1st surgery itself and the recovery. Stay tuned….