The skin is the largest organ of the human body. Many people think it’s the liver, if they gander a guess at all, but that’s only the largest internal organ. The skin reportedly has a surface area of 1.5-2.0 square meters, but I wonder how much space mine takes up.
People are more curious about the state of my skin than if I was the spokeswoman for Neutrogena. Yet it seems to be a taboo subject to bring up and if someone does ask they usually tack on the qualifier that I don’t have to talk about it if it’s too personal. I don’t consider it that personal of a question, any more so than if I were to come up and ask “How are your kidneys today? Still filtering waste products? Good to hear!” I’ve lost the weight more slowly than weight loss surgery patients do, so people are particularly interested to hear if I’m getting better results. Those patients usually end up getting plastic surgery to remove excess skin.
So yes, my skin is getting looser. Not as loose as a whore in Vegas, but about as loose as a drunken sorority girl who’s thinking of dancing on the coffee table because she totally loves that song the DJ is playing. Skin looseness is a weird phenomena that I suspect you have to see to understand. Go google some images if you want, because I’m not about to post any pictures of mine. I’m modest and have gone to great lengths never to have to shower in a group (hello, summer school gym class), so I’m not about to post pictures of my gut flab on the Internets for all eternity.
The analogy I’ve used in the past is to think of my body as its fattest as a ziplock bag filled with water. It’s squishy, but it’s firm. Now drain half the water without letting any air in. The bag is still squishy, but it flops around easily. That’s how the loose skin is. It’s not just skin either. Skin is only several millimeters thick at the most, like how it is on your eyelids or between your fingers. There is fat tissue attached beneath my extra skin.
The way the skin looks depends on how gravity is draping it. Standing up it all flows downward and doesn’t look that bad. My thighs are getting kind of saggy and that flab of gut known as the pannus is still there, though considerably smaller than it has ever been before. My upper arms look like someone cut the sleeve pattern for my skin about 4 sizes too big. I don’t really know if my breasts are saggy in comparison to other women’s. I have never had the opportunity to touch another woman’s boob and if presented with such an opportunity I would most likely turn it down. I think they look good, what remains of them.
The skin is most noticeable when I am in a plank position during my Pilates routine when I’m wearing only my sweat pants and a sports bra. The skin dangles down towards my mat like a hammock draped from my breastbone to my pubic bone. If I were actually able to do a full push up, I suspect it might touch the ground on the descent.
The weird thing is that so far the extra skin doesn’t bother me. Mostly I am just fascinated by it, not disgusted, as if I had developed a new ability like wiggling my earlobes. I’ve seen pictures of people who have much worse skin problems than I do. My skin is in incredibly good condition for someone who’s lost almost 200 pounds. I’m young, I’ve never smoked, and never tanned, so it’s retained a lot of elasticity. My doctor keeps telling me it will tighten up even more, but I don’t really believe her. I was never under any illusions that I would score the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition when this was all done. I had low expectations, so I’m not disappointed that I’m not going to be wearing a bikini to the pool with these wrinkly thighs.
I’m more concerned with function than form. My body can do so many cool things now. I can squat down and back up without grabbing wildly for the kitchen counter or the nearest coffee table to heave me back up. I can point my leg out straight from my body at a right angle. I can bend my knees up to my chest and wrap my arms around them easily. My body is awesome! I don’t mind the loose skin. I used to drive an Oldsmobile that had been dented by a dumb woman jabbering on her cell phone as she pulled out of a parking space. Her insurance company paid me $700 to get it repaired, but I just pocketed the money and kept driving the car. I thought the dent nicely distracted from the small rust stain developing near the gas tank. It still ran fine, so I didn’t see any need to spend the money on an aesthetic problem.
Will I ever get plastic surgery to remove the extra skin? I don’t know. I have read accounts by other people about their tummy tucks and it sounds like it’d be less painful to book a three month stay with the Spanish Inquisition in their Iron Maiden bedroom suite. The term “tummy tuck” makes it sound like a very simple procedure. You can easily tuck in hospital corners when you make your bed or tuck your shirt into your pants. Do not be fooled. You evidently spend the first two weeks lying on the couch in pain, eating painkillers like M&M’s. It’s at least another month or two before you’re walking around like anything approaching normal or you’re able to pick objects up off the floor. It can be up to 6 months before all the swelling comes down. You can’t really exercise for awhile, so I would be bound to lose some of the fitness and flexibility that I so value.
I think it will depend on whatever my body ends up looking like and how much that bothers me. If it annoys me enough to submit myself to the horrors of voluntary plastic surgery, I might do it. The cost of surgery would be a factor too. Right now I am leaning towards no. The only people who see me naked are me, my doctor, and any potential suitors. The skin doesn’t bother me, my doctor doesn’t seem concerned about it, and anyone who gets in my bedroom and decides they don’t like what they see is an asshole and deserves to be kicked to the curb anyway.
The funny thing is, the loose skin is fun to play with. It’s warm like bread dough and can be rolled around. It feels nice. There’s a line from the film Pulp Fiction that seems very appropriate, “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same.”
ETA: I wrote an entry a year later updating the status of my skin.