Lasting Change – Plastics after Bariatric Surgery
Plastics – Unwrapped
I can hear it now…”What?! Plastic surgery after bariatric surgery? I can’t even get my bariatric surgery approved! Why are we even discussing this?” With childhood obesity being an enormous concern for our society, people being ridiculed into keeping their weight down (sign our petition against these fat-shaming apps), insurance coverage…and lack thereof… for bariatric surgery, WHY are we talking about plastic surgery?
First, you call it what you’d like –
- The generic surgery name – plastic surgery (a.k.a. “plastics” to the in-crowd)
- Something more sensitive to the results received – body contouring
- A tool for putting things back where they ought to be – reconstructive surgery
- Or my new favorite – plastic surgery restoration (I came across it this week in a letter written by a team of Italian doctors in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® journal)
After someone has lost a massive amount of weight very quickly whether it was due to surgery or via another means, the body cannot keep up. Fat cells have shrunk, your insides are settling in, but your skin hangs. Exercise strengthens your heart as it builds and tightens your muscles (yeah!)… and it leaves empty room within your skin.
There’s no pretty way to say it. Things sag. Your stomach skin hangs low and creates folds of skin touching skin. Rashes may develop. Your arms jiggle in a way they were never intended to. It’s amusing at first. Funny even. Your excitement about your restored health and changing appearance shifts for many of us into being self-conscious about our loose skin.
Yes. We’d certainly rather have the loose skin than having it filled with the burden that the excess weight brings. No, we wouldn’t give up the increased energy that we have nor do we have any desire to go back to diabetic, heart, or high blood pressure medicines that once were part of our daily routines.
So yes, we are better off for having had bariatric surgery. We’re thankful for what we’ve earned as our benefits of it and for the doctors and medical team that support it.
But…Is it enough?
Making it to the Super Bowl must be an incredible feeling. But wouldn’t you want to go home with the winner’s ring, bragging rights, and that elusive trip to Disney World? Yeah. We would too.
In today’s world, people want to capture wellness in every dimension. Does relieving the body of its excess weight alone bring bariatric patients to true wellness? Or is it only part of the equation?
Bariatric patients learn to be alert to transfer addictions. We know about food records, protein counting, and the real risk of dehydration. Bariatric patients know to anticipate change. In their dietary needs. In their body shape. And in the reactions that they get from other people. But…until you’ve gone through it, all of the anticipation, concerns, and nervousness about how life will be after surgery are just thoughts. Once you’re in the game, it’s reality.
I’d like you to take a few moments to step into my experience.
You prep for bariatric surgery (and life after surgery) for months. You’ve gone through several ups and downs and the day comes that you’re finally on the table. A pre-surgery patient asked me last week what my first feeling was after the surgery. I told her it was relief. The relief was that I’d gotten through the preparation and insurance hurdles and that I no longer had to be concerned with the ‘what if’s’. I was now in my new reality.
The first month passes and you’re in a euphoria for having dropped 25 pounds so quickly. It feels so good to be lighter and in control. More months pass. More pounds gone. At nine months out, things stabilize with having lost 83 pounds. Life has changed. You look at the many goals you’ve put off until “once I lose weight…” and start to pursue them in earnest.
Imagine your body, as it is right now, with 83 pounds having melted away beneath your skin. How do you feel? What thoughts are going through your mind? What do you look like in the mirror or to someone you love? Is it possible, just possible, that the image you had of yourself once you lost that weight looks vastly different than what you had imagined?
In this blog series, we’ll explore whether plastic surgery after an extreme weight loss should be considered a “cosmetic” surgery. I’ll let you decide.
Your comments, as always, are welcome.
About the Author:
Tammy Farrell, CPC, CPA, CFE, is a professional wellness coach who specializes in working with fellow bariatric patients in Scottsdale Arizona and nationally via phone calls, webinars, and Skype. Tammy’s company, Believe In Action Coaching, provides personalized guidance, group programs, and workshops as well as free monthly support groups, newsletters and resources for her community. As a mom to two young boys, Tammy loves to keep them active and curious about the world around them.
Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the views of the OAC, the National Board of Directors or staff. Information contained in this blog post is not based on scientific research and has not been validated. The OAC does not endorse any merchandise or program mentioned in this blog post.