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Of Skin and Surgery

The very sight of seeing a liposuction procedure is enough to make me never, ever consider having it. Of course, seeing heart surgery freaks me out too, but if I ever needed to have my ticker fixed I doubt I would refuse on the grounds that it looks really gross.

E – Entertainment Television, cable television’s equivalent of a newspaper tabloid, has a show called Dr. 90210 which I stumbled upon during Thanksgiving weekend TV surfing. I don’t eat potatoes anymore, but I still emulate one on the sofa. Dr. 90210 evidently follows the lives of some plastic surgeons in – take a guess – Beverly Hills (zip code 90210). The episode I saw featured two women having work done, one of whom had lost lots of weight via gastric bypass surgery.

This immediately peaked my interest because I have mild worries about how much extra skin I’m going to have flapping around when I get down to my goal weight. I’ve got a lot of advantages on my side, so my usually cynical self is unusually optimistic. I’m 25, meaning my skin is still pretty young and flexible. I don’t smoke and I’ve never tanned, both of which cause skin damage and loss of elasticity. The only disadvantage I’ve got going is that I have been overweight for a long time. The longer your skin has been stretched out, the less likely it is to just spring back.

I’m pretty sure when it’s all said and done I’m going to have skin leftover on my tummy and my upper arms. The question is how much? However I end up, I know it won’t be as bad as the woman on this show. I love that there is always someone somewhere who has it worse than you. I suppose I can take solace in this the next time something shitty happens to me. Every life has a purpose, even if it’s only to serve as an example to others.

I have to give this woman major props for having the guts to let her procedure be televised. They blurred out her naughty bits for FCC decency standards, but wow, her body was in bad shape. Her boobs were basically down to her hips and the skin on her tummy looked like a fanny pack. Thank goodness I don’t have big breasts.

I think she was an extreme example, but I also think TV shows eat this freaky stuff up. During sweeps week another entertainment show Extra always seems to be showing stories on how deformed people look after losing hundreds of pounds. There’s a side show element to it that we humans never seem to outgrow. You used to pay a nickel to see the freak show, but now you can just tune it in on your TV. Hell, that’s what I was doing, right? If only my cable bill was only a nickel.

By far the grossest part of the surgery was the fact that they actually cut off a good size portion of this woman’s belly and then set it down to display how big it was. So there I am, sitting on my couch after a nice Thanksgiving dinner, staring at a woman’s removed pannus sitting on a blue surgical cloth on an operating room floor. Blech! Not the best chaser for a slice of pumpkin pie. While I have at times wished I could just chop off part of my Jell-O jiggler belly, actually seeing it done was unsettling and just felt WRONG, capital letters, extra bold, wrong, even though I know it was necessary for her to look normal again. It was almost like seeing someone dismembered.

The other thing that occurred to me while watching this woman’s surgery is that she really wasn’t thin. This is something I’ve noticed about gastric bypass patients in general. They do lose a lot of weight, but they’re almost never skinny minis either. I also wondered if some of her loose skin problems were caused by the fast rate at which you lose weight after gastric surgery. Hopefully someone like me who is losing it slowly won’t have as much of a problem.

I don’t know whether I’ll have a tummy tuck done when I hit my goal weight. If my skin grosses me out or I become really self-conscious about having an apron of skin on my stomach, I might be able to overcome my fear of surgery to have to removed. But another part of me thinks I might just want to keep it as a battle scar. It’d be a way of saying “Yeah, I was really fat and then I lost lots of weight. Here’s the proof. It’s my flag of victory and it even flaps in the wind!” I haven’t decided yet and either way it’s at least two years away. It’ll be a year (probably more) before I’m at my target weight and you’re supposed to wait another year after that before having any surgery to make sure your skin has stabilized.

However, I guarantee you I will not let anyone televise my surgery. I’m sure Dr. 46202 will be highly disappointed.

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7 Comments

Hilly • November 29, 2005 at 12:12 pm

First of all, I just wanted to say hi :). I found your site through another blogger and really liked it a lot…so I hope you do not mind that I have added you to my links so I can remember to read each day :).

I am a total wierdo in the fact that surgery itself does not freak me out but rather the thought of being knocked out unconscious and never waking up again…I think I have seen wayyy to many movies or something! I’ve often told myself though, that if I got to goal, I would have a little lift and reduction upstairs so we shall see :).

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PastaQueen • November 29, 2005 at 10:43 pm

Hey, the more the merrier! Thanks for the link.

I understand your fear about not waking up after surgery. When I had my gall bladder out I kept thinking “I hope I’m not part of the very small percentage of people who end up dying during this procedure.” If I’m going to beat the odds I’d prefer it be with the lottery.

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Kirsten • November 30, 2005 at 3:49 am

Yes, I find the idea of anaesthetics scary too (fortunately I’ve never had to have anything done, touch wood).

Oh, I am SO glad I didn’t see that programme. I’ve never seen liposuction either. If somebody said “You can have that on your upper arms, and it will be free, and then you can wear sleeveless tops without worrying”, I might say yes, but realistically? Not going to happen.

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kathryn • November 30, 2005 at 3:55 am

The loose skin problems do seem to be a lot more prevalent with people who’ve had WLS. I’d say because of the rapid loss but then I guess to be a candidate for WLS surgery you have to be pretty heavy to start with. Also, maybe people who’ve had WLS surgery have been under the knife once so they have more of a tendency to want to go the whole hog, so to speak.

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kimberly • November 30, 2005 at 9:32 am

I’ve had a few surgeries, one was a day surgery and the other was an operation on my ear when I was a kid. So, I’ve been under before. I’m not scared about that.

I can honestly say that when I lose this weight I am definitely getting surgery to repair the damage. I cannot see myself walking around with aprons of skin draping from my tummy, arms and legs. After losing that amount of weight I want the whole package. I have done the frump look to death. I want to try out what slim and sexy feels like.

I know it is going to cost a bundle to do this, but I have a few years before I reach goal weight, so I am going to start saving now.

But, the fact that you are so full of confidence to not want the surgery says a lot about your self esteem. I guess losing over a 100 pounds will give that to you. I wouldn’t know about that yet. But I am working on it!

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PastaQueen • November 30, 2005 at 10:35 am

I think I’ll just have to wait and see how bad the damage is when I get there. It’s quite possible I’ll look in the mirror and say “Oh my God! I’m the Melted Skin Monster of the Midwest! Cut this off of me now even if you only have a butter knife and chloroform!” We’ll see :)

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kathy • September 16, 2006 at 2:50 pm

i am going to have a tummy tuck in jan 2007 and i am very scared of dying under the anesthia!but i still want the surgery isnt that crazy!!!!

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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