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.