My Plastic Surgery Consultation

Last week, I had a consultation with a plastic surgeon. I’d been thinking about scheduling such an appointment for about a year. After losing over 160 pounds, I have a lot of excess skin in my gut, and I’ve been curious to learn what can be done about it. I’ve done some internet research here and there, but it’s not the same as meeting with an expert and getting information as it pertains to my body and my situation.

Let me be clear: I’m not gung-ho about getting any work done. The idea of going under the knife scares me. But I’m curious by nature and fully subscribe to the “knowledge is power” school of thought, so I knew it couldn’t hurt to meet with a doctor and learn as much as I can. My friend Amy happens to work for a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, and she offered to help set me up with a consultation. I took her up on her offer.

The doctor I met with – I’m changing his name to Dr. Grant for the sake of this post – was very friendly, very knowledgeable, and very credentialed. He’s board-certified and is the Chief of Plastic Surgery at a very prominent local hospital. My friend Tavi came along for support, and before we got there, we wrote out a full page of questions we wanted to ask.

Dr. Grant was very straightforward when I asked about excess skin removal. “You don’t want an excess skin removal. I can do an excess skin removal, but you aren’t going to be happy with it, and you’re not going to be happy with me, and then no one’s happy.” He recommended a full abdominoplasty – better known as a tummy tuck – with the reasoning that while excess skin can be removed, it won’t result in my stomach lying flat. If I wanted my stomach to lie flat, than I would have to address the underlying pockets, rolls and bulges of fat (and I have many, and they’re pronounced). Dr. Grant also recommended some chest liposuction to get that area flatter.

He’s right, with regards to what I would want the end result to be. I wouldn’t risk going through a major operation unless I would feel more confident afterwards. Right now, I don’t feel comfortable without my shirt on, so if an operation doesn’t change that, than what’s the point?

Dr. Grant showed me tons of before and after pictures of tummy tucks he’s performed, and walked me through what the operation would entail. If you’re squeamish, I suggest you skip the next paragraph.

After putting me under general anesthesia, Dr. Grant would make an incision along the front of me, from hip bone to hip bone, along my bikini line (on me, that incision would be about 18 inches long). He’d also make a smaller incision around my navel, preserving it. Then, he would pull my skin all the way up to the base of my rib cage, exposing my abdominal muscles underneath. He would insert a vertical row of permanent stitches along the center of my abdominals, pulling them together (my excess weight caused them to spread). Then he would measure up from the incision 6 or 8 inches, and cut a second incision parallel to the first one, and remove everything (all skin and fat) from in between. Then he would pull my skin back down, and stitch me back up. He’d punch a hole through the skin, and stitch my navel back into place, so I’d still have a belly button in the right spot. He’d do the chest liposuction next, and that would involve small incisions underneath my nipples.

I’M DONE WITH THE SURGERY DETAILS – Come back to me!

The specifics of the surgery fascinate me – Dr. Grant showed me pictures, mid-operation, so I have visuals for all the steps I described above – but it’s also downright terrifying. All told, I’d be under anesthesia for 6 hours – that’s a quarter of a day! In addition to anesthesia risks, there are risks of infection and blood clots. And while it has nothing to do with anything, I realized a few days after the consultation that the incision he’d make is the same incision a velociraptor would make to kill and eat me, according to an early scene in Jurassic Park (“so, you know, try to show a little respect”).

The surgery is also incredibly enticing. I’m still trying to lose weight, but even with additional weight loss, my skin isn’t going to lie flat, and it might not ever. My current body shape makes it tough to shop for pants and wear clothes that are tucked in – minor issues, certainly, but issues that might not get rectified by diet or exercise.

It’s been a week since the consultation and I’m still processing all the information. If I choose to move forward with an operation, I’d meet with two other doctors to get a second and third opinion. I also don’t know when I’d have the operation. It doesn’t sit right in my head to undergo an operation when I’m not at my goal weight – I’ve been trying for well over a year now to get to 220 pounds, and I’ll still 18 pounds away – so I’d probably wanna really push myself to bust through my plateau and lose those final 18 pounds. There’s also a part of me that thinks I’d be cheating if I lost any weight surgically after coming so far on my own. I recognize this line of thinking as unreasonable, but I think it all the same.

I’ve talked to a lot of family and close friends about what I learned in the consultation, and I’ve gotten some thoughtful feedback. I’m curious what you think – so make use of comments section of you have something to share!

Ultimately, I’m extremely proud that I’m in a position where decisions like this one are even a possibility. None of this would be on the radar if I never lost the weight to begin with. I’ve lost 160 pounds, and kept it off for a year, and, in Dr. Grant’s words, I’m an “excellent candidate” for an abdominoplasty. Whether I get an operation or not, those are words that I won’t soon forget.

Keep it up, David.

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35 Responses to My Plastic Surgery Consultation

  1. Sylvia Hall says:

    David, no one should fault you for wanting to look your best. You have accomplished so much and encourged us all. When I lose the weight I plan to lose, I will be contemplating the same thing at some point. It is a personal decision and is in no way letting anyone down. You are entitled to your decision and I for one applaud all your hard work.
    Sylvia

  2. Bookbody says:

    When you chose your goal weight, what was it based on? I’m guessing (like most of us) you chose based on what experts and the BMI and so forth say will be a healthy weight for someone your age and height and build.

    But those recommendations don’t take excess skin into account. If you didn’t adjust for excess skin on your own, it’s probable that some significant amount of those “final 18 pounds” is skin. And you’re not going to lose that without surgery.

    Just something to consider regarding your plateau and “cheating” by losing the last of the weight through surgery.

    • David says:

      My goal weight is actually about 14 pounds HIGHER than the upper end of the BMI range for someone of my height. Men that are 6’4″ are considered “healthy” (according to BMI) if they weigh 155-207. Of course, BMI doesn’t acknowledge muscle weight and doesn’t account for different body types (I know guys that are my height and weigh 160 – they’re all arms and legs and super skinny, they look like giraffes) – I know I’ll probably never ever weigh in the “healthy” range – so 220 was a number that seemed doable. I’ve never weighed so little in my adult life, so my goal is based on finding a weight that is maintainable and feels good. Perhaps if I get to 220 I’ll see if I can lose more. We’ll see. I just don’t know.

  3. This is an issue I’ve been thinking about too. Granted, I’m not nearly as close to goal weight as you are, but it’s still something that’s on my mind. Going under the knife for ANY reason scares the ca-ca out of me too, David.

    But my midsection is a complete disaster, and all the cardio, weight training, & crunches in the world won’t make it flat either.

    I’m very curious about what your final decision will be. Never say never, is something I’ve had to learn the hard way.

  4. Sheilah Lowe says:

    At this stage, there is nothing that you could do that would be considered “cheating”. You’ve got to do whatever it takes to feel comfortable in your skin, forgive the pun!! Keep it up, David!

  5. erintakescontrol says:

    Thanks for the squeamish warning! I don’t feel like barfing today. 🙂 Having the surgery isn’t selfish, and I don’t look at it as cheating. If you will look and feel better, if it propels you FORWARD, then do it.

  6. Adam B says:

    Did the Dr. say how much the removed portion would weigh?

    Based on what you describe being removed, I bet it’s 10-20lbs right there. I don’t think that’s cheating at all.

    • David says:

      He predicted it would only be about 5 pounds or so. “You’d think it’d be a lot more, but it’s not” were his exact words. I saw pictures of removed skin sitting on a table in an operating room – they looked just like swordfish steaks. Sorry for the gross mental image. 🙂

  7. Jenny Dahl says:

    I’m with Bookbody. That excess skin and fat isn’t going to go away on its own – I know ’cause I’ve already got enough droopy, floppy flags of skin around my belly and under each arm to make a fine boat sail!

    Make your decision based on what YOU want and feel comfortable with; but it’s my considered opinion that in this battle – and it IS a battle – there’s no such thing as cheating. If the gods didn’t want us to have access, they wouldn’t have helped us develop plastic surgery. All is fair in love and war!

  8. Sandra says:

    Dear David, I recently had bariatric surgery. My stomach pouch was reduced to the size of a banana. Everyday is a challenge. I have lost a lot of weight. My belly will not go flat with diet and exercise alone. I too will be consulting a plastic surgeon about repairing my abdomen. I know you will make the right decision. You are so young and deserve to enjoy the hard work that has lead you to consider this surgery. Go for it!

  9. Michelle says:

    I don’t think it is cheating either and if it helps you get to a shape that makes you feel more comfortable, it is worth considering. I’d love to have a tummy tuck after having 4 kids but I’m not any where near my goal weight. You’ll make the best decision for you….

  10. Leslie says:

    Please do get a couple more consultations. I too, had an appointment with Dr. Grant (I think the same one! and I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped to be, actually he didn’t even SHOW up… I met with his staff, after flying to his office from Northern California)… anyway, I had a breast reduction and haven’t looked back since -if you do it, you will be pleased and be able to move forward in ways you never imagined! Go for it David!

    • David says:

      Hmmm. I wonder if we met with the same doctor. Comments like this are exactly why I changed his name in my post. Glad to hear your experience, ultimately was a good one! -D

      • Leslie says:

        Well if your Dr. Grant is the one that is famous for “laser bra” procedure, then my Dr. Grant is the same as yours. 🙂

        Plastic surgery gets bad press all the time, for folks being vain and whatever, but sometimes, like my case and I believe yours, and many others it is a huge life-saver. Confidence in our bodies is important to mental health 🙂 You’ve worked to earn this one.

      • David says:

        My guy isn’t actually named Dr. Grant. Like I said in the post, I changed his name. 🙂 So, not the same guy.

  11. girlgonecommando says:

    Great post! I agree that you should get more consultations. I also agree it is a huge decision, and any medically unnecessary surgery is scary – but I think if it makes you feel more confident it’s probably worthwhile! Then again, devil’s advocate says, dying on the table for a medically unnecessary surgery isn’t worthwhile, so it’s all a matter of choice? I can’t think of a plastic surgery that I would CURRENTLY lay my life on the line for, but the key word here is currently. Things might change if I age badly, have a life even that ruins my boobies, or I lose/gain a huge amount of weight. So yes, I can see every angle, and I hope you find the best one for you. I’ll be here cheering you on if you go for it, and here supporting you if you never do 🙂

  12. You know I have your back, whatever you choose to do with your front. ❤

  13. Laura says:

    As many have said its a very personal decision. A couple years ago I had a consultation for a total body lift. Then I had to go and gain weight back. I didn’t have the body lift at the time because I couldn’t afford it. I think if I had been able to have the lift it would have helped me psychologically maintain my lower weight. I have no proof – but I def feel like it would have been positive. One of the semi-regulars in class at Slimmons is just back exercising after having had a tummy tuck – if she is there the next time you are I will introduce you.

    As others have said – we got your back (and some of us want the same thing when we are at our goal weight too)

  14. It sounds as if you are “doing it right” meaning approaching this decision with care, planning and thoughtful consideration. It is very much a personal choice, but this here cowboy would do it in a heartbeat if I had the money. Cheers!

  15. Aly says:

    I got my TT done 3 weeks ago and I tell you that the worse part of the whole thing it’s the drain tubes the Drs keep for a couple of weeks… But even after 3 weeks my stomach is SUPER flat and still numb!… And I’m thrilled with the results!!..

    • David says:

      I didn’t hear a thing about drain tubes… something to ask at my next consultation! Thanks for the heads up. So glad to hear that you’re thrilled with what was done – thanks for the comment!

  16. If it would make you feel more confident, I would definately do it…..The skin that will be removed has weight also. Having the surgery may help you lose more weight. You will see a loss after the surgery…….Good luck with your decision,

  17. fergukj says:

    When I had my TT (after losing 165 lbs) the doctor removed an amazing 6 pounds of excess skin from my stomach! I bet that you have at least 6 pounds. I am so thankful for the decision that I made to have it done. Your feels are typical of most people considering this surgery, and by typical, I mean that they are the same ones that I had. 🙂
    I worried about being selfish, vain, dying on the table, not loving my results, it costing too much, what if I gain back my weight, etc. Nearly a year post-op, I can say that it was the right decision for me. You have to make the right decision for you.

    • David says:

      Thank you for speaking up! I appreciate hearing from people who have had the operation, and I’m so glad to hear that it all went so well for you! And thank you for validating my concerns – I appreciate that as well! -D

  18. Kelly Bo-Belly says:

    I know when I get to my goal weight, I’m going for a consultation. You didn’t get this far, working as hard as you have, to not feel REALLY good about yourself, right?! (I know you feel good about your loss, but, I know for me…naked…I am not happy about what I see in the mirror.) Take time, mull it over, get a second and third opinion, mull it over a little more, then do what is best for YOU! We’ll support you!

  19. Anna says:

    Well David its scary I know I would be scared to. I love your idea of waiting until your goal weight. But I do have 1 question How much weight will you loose with the excess removal? I think that you have done an amazing job on your own and you should be proud. Whatever you decide I know you will make an educated decision and have lots of friends and family for support

  20. Jo says:

    WTG David!!! I’m still dreaming about MY goal weight… I want to lose 125 pounds. I’m down 25 pounds – it was 40 pounds but I’ve been slacking lately… ((sigh)) Believe it or not, this issue (excess skin everywhere) is the main reason I have procrastinated with my weight loss. But after reading a few of these posts, I may just have gotten back on track again! Thanks for caring. (& sharing) 🙂 XOX

  21. Forget it says:

    Well, I had left a heartfelt response to this post, and I now see that it’s gone. Thanks man. That makes me feel pretty lousy.

    • David says:

      Hey man,
      I’m not sure what to tell you. I never delete messages, and I just checked my trash and spam folders for anything that shouldn’t be in there, and came up empty-handed. Perhaps there was an error when the comment was transmitted or perhaps you left it via another method, like Facebook or Twitter? Whatever happened, I’m sorry I didn’t get to read your initial comment, especially since it sounds like you put a lot of thought into it. If you’d like, shoot me a note at keepitupdavid@gmail.com and I can apologize personally. -David

  22. Jane says:

    FANTASTIC! I have had the unfortunate luck to have been there and done that and then had some bad knees, depression with the knee pain and re gained weight :(. I commend you on your weight loss!! Go ahead and have the surgery and celebrate your victory and move forward with your new body.

    Yes, with most bodylifts and abdominoplasty/tummy tuck surgeries there are drains… a small price to pay for losing the excess skin and attached fat.

    Once again, good luck and I wish you nothing but the best!!

    Jane @lifeisbetterfit

  23. Desi says:

    I haven’t read your other comments so I hope I’m not repeating others. As I’ve watched your progress and looked at your pictures I’ve thought, (even in the pictures you posted right before this plastic surgery post) that it’s possible you’ve lost all of the weight and you are actually at your goal weight beneath the excess skin that is covered by your clothing. I’ve known a lot of people to lose a lot of pounds when the excess skin is removed. I can relate to not wanting a surgery, with all of the work you’ve done it would be very beneficial. I believe that if you get the surgeries you discussed with your doctor you will be very pleased with the results! Keep it up David!

  24. sean says:

    This is something I worry about alot…..I still have a bit of weight to loose but being really overweight all my life leads me to think I’ll have a excessive skin. This article here is pretty encouraging tho > http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-get-rid-of-excess-skin-after-major-weight-loss/#axzz22lJHlog9

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