November 16, 2017

Weight Loss Wednesday: Did Skin Removal Surgery Live Up to My Expectations?

Yesterday (well, Tuesday, since I'm posting this a day late!) marked the six-year anniversary of my lower body lift (excess skin removal after weight loss). If you're not familiar, and want to read more, here is a page with all the info and posts where I documented the process. In June, I posted an update with new photos and all that, so I won't get into that again now (here is the link to that post).

Instead, I thought I would share about the things that changed as well as the things that didn't change after having the surgery. Before going into something this huge, we obviously have expectations. So, did the surgery live up to mine?





Cosmetic Expectations     

I would like to say that the main reason I wanted the surgery was entirely because of the problems that come along with loose skin (rashes, inconveniently having to "tuck" your skin into your clothes, etc.). But honestly, my main motivation for the surgery was to feel better about how my skin looked.

Being overweight my whole life, I had never had a flat stomach; and even after I was in really good shape, I had a large drape of skin covering my tight-under-there-somewhere abdomen. I hated the way it looked; and even though I knew I'd have a scar, and my stretch marks were still going to be visible, I just wanted to get rid of the skin.

After the surgery, my abdomen looks pretty flat (when my weight is at goal). The skin is still slightly loose, but the only way to correct that would have been to have a vertical incision down my midline, and I knew I didn't want that.


The lower body lift doesn't do anything to fix the inner thighs, which is why I have so much loose skin there (it's worse than it looks in the photo). But I knew going into the surgery that my thighs wouldn't change, so I won't even get into that here.

One other thing that hadn't crossed my mind before surgery was that I might look asymmetrical after the surgery. I had a lower body lift, but I didn't have an upper body lift. So, I still have lots of loose skin up there--my arms, of course, but also underneath my armpits and across my back. My upper body looks a little bigger than my lower body now. And the sizes might be a little off, too. I wear size 4 jeans, but typically a size 6 on top.

Overall, though, I am thrilled with the results! I don't feel comfortable enough to bare my belly in public (I still have stretch marks and loose skin in other areas). One of the expectations that I had hoped for was to be able to wear a bikini in public. I actually did do this when we went to Punta Cana. I wasn't even at my goal weight at the time! But I adjusted and I felt proud. But my body hasn't seen a bikini since--maybe I'll do it again one day, when I'm feeling brave. Or in a whole other country where I know no one. (Here is the post about my bikini wearing experience).



Comfort Expectations     

The secondary reason I wanted the surgery was because the excess skin was very uncomfortable. I had to tuck it into my pants, and then it made my pants look weird in front. And running? Ugh. Running with excess skin on my abdomen can only be described like running without a bra--can you imagine running with boobs just flapping everywhere? (Haha! That visual...)

Because of this, I had to wear very tight spandex bottoms--either capris or running tights. The spandex held everything tight against me, so it wouldn't bounce (kind of like a sports bra, only for my abdomen). The spandex wasn't very attractive with my skin crammed in there, so a lot of times, I would wear something else over it. And that was hot in the summer!

You can see in this picture all of the skin in front that I had to squeeze in there, from hip to hip.


Speaking of summer, getting sweaty when loose skin compacted in spandex is basically a rash waiting to happen. I did get rashes both under the "apron" of skin as well as in my belly button. I actually used Destin (baby rash cream!) to make it feel better. The surgery resolved this entire problem. I can wear whatever I'd like to run in, except for shorts--see the "Clothing Expectations" below.

My expectations were high as far as comfort goes. I just wanted to stop getting rashes, stop feeling the skin bounce around when running, and stop having to tuck my skin into my clothes. The only reason I give this 4.5 out of 5 starts is the minor downside to the comfort factor: I still have areas of numbness, particularly on my hips. My abdomen feels fine, back and butt feel good. It's just the outer part of my hips that feel mildly numb. A small trade-off, though, in comparison.



Clothing Expectations     

The lower body lift is just to remove the excess skin from the abdomen and backside. Because I wasn't having the excess skin on my legs removed, my expectations were only for that of my hips, butt, and thighs.

(If you picture the surgeon cutting an incision all the way around your mid-abdomen, and another circumferential incision on your very low abdomen, you would be left with a belt of skin in the middle. The surgeon removes that belt, and then pulls the top skin down and the bottom skin up until they meet together, and that's where the incisions are glued together.)

Side Note: I knew I still wouldn't be able to wear shorts after this surgery. My expectations were solely for the abdomen. Shorts have always been a problem for me. When I was obese, my thighs rubbed together so much that I would chafe very easily. When I lost the weight, I was left with lots of loose skin on my legs, particularly on my upper inner thighs.

Even if the cosmetic part of my loose thigh skin didn't bother me, running (or even walking) in shorts is extremely uncomfortable! My thigh skin bounces all over the place (again, think of running without a bra). So, shorts are not an option for me. I can wear longer shorts (about knee length) or capris, but nothing much shorter than that. (I chose not to have the thigh surgery for a few reasons, but who knows?--possibly in the future)

After my lower body lift surgery, when getting dressed I still have to do a little adjusting in the thigh area. Usually, when jeans fit my thighs, they are too big in the waist. And when they fit my waist, they are too small in the thighs. I've found that when I wear low-rise pants, I am constantly tugging at them to stay up, even though the hips and waist are fine. So, now I prefer mid-rise pants.

These jeans were the first I wanted to wear after surgery. I LOVED them, but it was hard to tuck my skin in there, so I had a big muffin top. Same with the shirt--I couldn't wear it without my loose skin showing. I was thrilled when I could wear these!



(I actually just learned a technique for taking in the waist of jeans just slightly, so I'm going to practice on a few pairs and hopefully that will help solve it as well.)

I mention this so that others are aware that their clothes may fit differently afterward, even if it's not directly related to the part that is operated on (like my thighs). My thighs are now what give me problems picking out pants, especially low-rise jeans.

Still, though, every time I put on a pair of jeans, feel kind of amazed that I don't have to tuck my abdomen in, or have problems with it spilling out. Even when I was 253 pounds, I was always trying to move things around in my clothes to be more comfortable. My jeans button and zip nicely now! I am grateful for the surgery every time I put on a pair of jeans.

A lot of people ask me if my clothing sized changed. Interestingly (or not), my size was the same. I just didn't have to squeeze the loose skin in there ;)

Clothing expectations were met, except for the one thing that I hadn't thought of, which I explained above. I didn't realize the loose skin in my thighs would make it difficult to find jeans that fit well once I got rid of the loose abdomen skin. So, 4 out of 5 stars.



Sexy Time Expectations     

(Mom, skip this part, if you're reading--haha). This aspect of surgery was never even on my radar for expectations. Jerry has always thought I look beautiful and hot and I wasn't concerned about anything in this department. But things changed!

Before surgery, I never ever ever felt sexy in lingerie. I either had fat everywhere or loose skin everywhere, and I resented it. Even though Jerry would have loved for me to wear cute lingerie, I just didn't want to because I felt uncomfortable with all of the abdominal skin.

After surgery, I went out and bought something sexy from Victoria's Secret, and I felt amazing in it! I wasn't self conscious at all. I bought probably 6-8 more outfits over the years, and I love how they can change my mood and make me feel confident and, well, sexy.

The best I ever felt was when I did my boudoir photo shoot. I can't even describe how boosting that was for myself self-confidence! I didn't want my pictures photoshopped to make me looking thinner or remove my stretch marks, or anything like that; so the photographer just posed me in very flattering ways. And I was amazed at how good they turned out! (I wasn't even at my goal weight--I think I weighed 140 on this day). Here is one of my favorites:

Photo by the amazing Catherine Kellie in Birmingham, MI

If I hadn't had the surgery, I never would have considered getting a boudoir shoot. BUT, having had one, I still highly recommend that most women get a boudoir shoot, no matter their size, shape, age, scars, stretch marks, etc. The photographers use little tricks to pose us in ways that are most flattering for us as individuals. If you look closely, you can see the stretch marks on my abdomen, but the color of the photo keeps them from being very prominent. This pose would not have made me feel nearly as good if I had done this prior to my surgery.

Now I'm straying from the point, like I tend to do!

I think the biggest thing that the surgery helped out as far as a sexual way is that I just feel a million times more confident. I know there are women who rock sexy outfits when they are overweight, but I just didn't have the confidence for that.

And Jerry's "sexy time" rating?     Hahaha! Of course.


And the big question.... would I have had the surgery again if I could go back in time. YES. A thousand times, YES.

So there you have it! I am overall a very, very happy girl with the results of my surgery. I think I had pretty realistic expectations going into it. I had maintained my 100+ pound weight loss for a year, and my surgeon knew I'd have fantastic results.

She said a lot of women go in when they are still overweight, hoping that the surgery will make them thin. It doesn't work that way. Being at a goal/target weight for a year is ideal for the best results. (I have several posts dedicated to discussing the whole lower body lift surgery process, start to finish, so you can check it out if you are thinking about having the surgery.)

Anyone else have the surgery, and want to share how it went? Or other skin removal procedures? Did everything go according to your expectations?



ETA: Oops, I forgot to post my Wednesday Weigh-in!


Still maintaining :)


13 comments:

  1. I am at the 1 year mark from have a fleur de lis tummy tuck & an arm lift. I debated procedures because I had been heavy all over & all of my skin was loose. This worked out best for me financially & time off work & seemed the best "bang for my buck". I have to say that I LOVE my results and would do it again 1000 times over. No more tucking in my tummy & crying when I have to wear t-shirts. My only issue is that I really hoped this would be a fix all & I would magically love my new body completely. It has been hard taking in the fact that my short stature & boxy frame did not give me the hour glass figure I thought I would have. I still have back fat & love handles and still struggle with my thighs. I am trying to make peace with my body where it is at and be proud of the hard work I put in to get this far & I finally feel like my body is starting to show that. I have had to try and let go of the idea of a "perfect" body. It has defiantly given me more confidence & self acceptance.

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    1. Ha, from another Melissa, I know what you mean. I'm not overweight by any means, but I have no hips and no "hour glass". I feel like all the fat I have is around my middle so my torso looks like a sausage! Ha. I'm so jealous of women like Katie with some hips! I don't mean that in a bad way for Katie...just wish I did, too.

      Katie, you look amazing! I laughed out loud at the section "sexy time expectations". Thanks for being so honest.

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    2. Hahaha, Melissa #2, I really don't have hips! I usually describe my shape like a banana or cucumber rather than apple or pear (or hourglass). ;)

      Melissa #1, I completely understand that feeling. I have accepted that my body is never going to be close to perfect, especially as I get older. But my most bothersome part was my abdomen, and that alone made me so much happier about my body. Are you happy with your arms? I thought of doing that, too, because my arms carry a LOT of excess skin. It's hard to find shirts that fit well because of it. I'm glad that you are enjoying your surgery results!

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  2. Nice follow up post! I lost 150 pounds 15 years ago, and decided about 6 years ago to have the lower body lift. It was in googling info about that when I found your site, and decided to also give running a try. (I also live in MI, but I'm in my 50's and live in a hilly area, which makes running extra fun) You were my inspiration for running and doing my first 5k. And now, I am planning on coaching my granddaughter's 3rd grade Girls on the Run program. You are absolutely right that you should be at/near goal weight and have been able to maintain it for at least a year before surgery. I also have numb areas, but it has never really bothered me. The surgery was MUCH easier than anticipated. I was sleeping in my own bed from day one and could shower, etc on my own as well. The healthier you are before the surgery will definitely help you for after surgery.
    Ironically, I was just searching last week for your post about the photo shoot, as I thought I am (finally) ready to maybe do it - after reading your positive review a couple of years ago. Now, my only hesitation is that it's a 4 hour drive (one way).
    Thanks for all of your transparency here in your posts - be it weight loss, mental illness, loss of a dear friend, finances, etc. It all has been a source of encouragement for me for many years. :)

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    1. Jennie, that is so cool you found my blog after searching for info on body lifts! The whole reason I wrote all the posts was because I couldn't find ANYTHING like that online--I wanted real pictures with a journal-like documentation of the day to day about the surgery. Thanks for sharing about your experience! I agree, the recovery is so much easier when you're in shape. My doctor told me that my recovery would be much easier than the horror stories I was reading online, haha. And it was! I had a couple of days where my abs were SO SO sore, but I showered and slept in my own bed from day one as well. I followed my surgeon's instructions right to the letter, and I think that helped, too.

      You should TOTALLY get the boudoir shoot! A friend of mine is coming to visit soon, and she is going to have a session. I'm so excited for her! Don't sweat the drive--just plan a little trip out of it, and spend a night in Detroit (if you haven't been there in the last few years, you should go--it's a fantastic city! They've done a lot to it). Or, you could even stay in Bloomfield Hills, where the studio is. Bloomfield Hills is very nice!

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  3. I love this post. The photo shoot is an inspiring goal. Yay Katie!

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    1. The photo shoot was one of the best things I've ever done for myself! Thank you :)

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  4. I love this post! Your boudoir picture is just wow! So beautiful!! I'm so glad to hear how many years later you have no regrets over your surgery. You look great!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Amanda! I am usually pretty modest when it comes to how I look, but even I had to admit that I look pretty damn good in my boudoir pics ;)

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  5. Hi Katie! Loved your post (as always!)! I sent you a sort of time sensitive email today and was hoping you would have a chance to check it out and get back with me. Any help is appreciated!!

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    1. Thanks! It's hard sometimes, especially when it comes to things I'm insecure about (like my loose skin); but, I love that I always see I'm not the only one in pretty much any circumstance :)

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)