“By the time I celebrated my 2-year weight loss surgery anniversary, I was hiking, zip-lining and enjoying trips to Las Vegas. I was grateful for my improved health and renewed life after losing nearly 200 pounds. As appreciative as I was for my dramatic weight loss, the extra skin around my stomach, arms, and legs was really bothering me.
When I had gastric bypass surgery in the summer of 2010, I set a goal weight for myself. I knew then, losing that much weight would leave a lot of excess skin. In the beginning, it didn’t bother me too much. As a teacher of young students, I was thrilled to be able to move around the classroom more easily and keep up with the kids. I wore support garments to hold in the extra skin, and for a while that seemed to be working all right. Eventually it became difficult to find tops and pants that fit me well. I developed painful rashes between the folds of skin. At times I still felt like I weighed 340 pounds because of all the excess skin.
I decided it was time to research plastic surgery. After plenty of time online, I learned I would probably need an abdominoplasty, brachioplasty, and thighplasty. My next step was finding a surgeon. I received recommendations from physicians, friends, and read multiple online reviews. I scheduled consultations and met with many plastic surgeons before choosing my doctor, who spent well over an hour with me explaining what each procedure would entail as well as what to expect during the recovery process. Instead of an abdominoplasty, which removes and tightens the skin around the stomach, my surgeon recommended a circumferential body lift. This procedure removes excess skin from the stomach, sides, and butt. If I had opted for the abdominoplasty, I would have been left with a flat stomach but a shelf of skin on my sides and behind.
I scheduled the procedure for summertime since I would need at least four weeks to recover. I am a teacher so this plan fit my schedule perfectly. The surgery went well, however it was much more painful than the gastric bypass. Excess skin and fat were removed, and the muscles were sewn tighter. I am blessed my sister took care of me after the surgery because it is very difficult to move around and do basic things.
As my recovery progressed, I decided to pursue my second plastic surgery, brachioplasty. In this procedure, the excess skin from my arms would be removed. My surgeon told me to expect about three weeks for recovery, so I scheduled the procedure to take place over winter break. Different from the circumferential body lift, this procedure took place in a surgery center and I was home by the end of the day. The pain was less after this surgery, and I knew what to anticipate in terms of recovery and pain management.
I heartily recommend plastic surgery after major weight loss, especially for those who are troubled with skin rashes and for those who don’t feel or see the entire impact of their weight loss because they are focused on the excess skin. People should research procedures and surgeons carefully, just as they did before weight loss surgery.
I’ve been asked how I feel about the surgical scars. I tell people I don’t mind them because I would rather have the scars instead of the excess skin. The plastic surgeries have made a huge difference in my life. The rashes are gone, and my clothes fit great, even without Spanx! I feel even more confident than I did before. Saying goodbye to the excess skin felt like I was truly saying goodbye to the 340-pound Angie. Now I feel like my weight on the scale matches my body’s appearance. I am so much happier now that the extra skin is gone and I’m looking forward to wearing a bikini to the beach this summer. I’ve never worn a bikini!”
Angie’s Original Success Story
“Because I’ve been very overweight all my life, it’s hard to tell you what activities I had to give up due to obesity, because there are so many things I never really did. WILL I FIT IN THE SEAT? This was my constant panic at amusement parks, movie theaters, airplanes, restaurant booths, and Dodger stadium. I was outgrowing the clothes at plus-size stores. No jewelry would fit me. I never ran or jumped rope. I started dieting when I was 18, and continued until I had weight loss surgery. From Weight Watchers, to Herbal Life, to Atkins, Curves, various weight loss pills, and more gyms than I care to count. I even hired a personal trainer. Like so many, I did lose weight on all of these diets, but it never stayed off. The minute I stopped the diet, the pounds quickly piled back on, and then some.
By the age of 20 I had sleep apnea, pain in my legs, feet, and back. My cholesterol was creeping up higher and higher, and I suffered from GERD at least twice a week. My love for children led me to put these difficulties aside and become a kindergarten teacher. But still I couldn’t get away from the impact my weight had on my life. To sit on the floor with my students was impossible. To exercise with them was unthinkable. There was absolutely not one area of my life where I felt truly fulfilled, and my family and friends could see it.
In 2007, my mom sent me a newspaper clipping for a weight loss surgery lecture. I was interested, but my insurance company did not authorize me to pursue it. But in 2010 they did, and I was referred to Dr. John Yadegar. I met Dr. Yadegar in March, 2010. He took the time to explain all the procedures to me- the pros & cons, and how each surgery could work for me in MY situation. I felt like he really cared as he took at least an hour to go over everything with me. After the consultation I knew I wanted to have weight loss surgery and I knew I wanted Dr. Yadegar to do it.
I had the Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in July, 2010. I was nervous, having never had major surgery before, but the nurses made me feel very comfortable. Dr. Yadegar said the procedure went well. I woke up in the recovery room with pain, but it lessened each day. Although I had some nausea from the pain medicine, I was up and walking the evening of my surgery. The nurses were so supportive and encouraging, telling me how great I was doing. And each time I got up to walk, I could go a little further and the pain was less and less. I went home after two nights and after a two-week recuperation, I felt much better.
Two weeks after surgery and 14 pounds lighter, I visited the Getty Center and enjoyed a beautiful day. Two weeks after that I went to Disneyland! I did get tired, but with each outing my energy increased. My health was improving quickly as my cholesterol normalized, my sleep apnea was resolved, my joints were pain-free, and the heartburn was gone. I would recommend weight loss surgery to anyone who takes it seriously. I say this because it is a big decision to make a life-long commitment to a new way of eating and exercising, and you can’t go back to your old ways.
Once I decided to have weight loss surgery, my family, friends and coworkers were all so supportive and helpful. My coworkers only brought healthy snacks to work instead of the traditional donuts, cookies, and chips. My mom and dad were wonderful, and my sister Leila became my rock. I embraced my new lifestyle prior to surgery and lost 70 pounds before I even went into the operating room. Leila joined me and also lost 70 pounds.
My life has completely changed and I have a new outlook on the future. I can run, jump, climb stairs and dance, which I love! My coworkers say I am no longer out of breath when I walk the halls at school, and I can keep up with my students. I love to shop, and now it’s at regular stores that all have my size! I have always liked the Harajuku Lovers brand, but I could only buy their shoes & bags. Now I am wearing their clothes and it is so much fun! I go to the movie theater now, sit in booths at restaurants, ride rollercoasters at amusement parks, and enjoy a day at Dodger stadium without embarrassment. Those closest to me say I am so much happier now, you were always smiling but there was a sadness in your eyes. Now, at 155 pounds, when I smile it’s a genuine outward expression of how I REALLY feel inside, happy.”