Excess skin – if you’re a loser

Posted on March 23rd, 2010 by Michelle

There are things they don’t tell you about losing weight, like you will probably have to scoot the driver’s seat closer to the gas pedal now that you don’t have that big ol’ cushion to sit on.  Or that you still have “fat days,” when you feel bloated and heavy.  Or that no matter how many *&^%$# crunches you do, your six-pack abs will not show without surgery to remove the extra skin.

When I lost 35 pounds five years ago, I didn’t know any of those things.  Granted, 35 pounds isn’t even going to put me in the top 100 on “The Biggest Loser,” but it was still significant enough to be nearly 20 percent of my body weight, and I wanted my six-pack, dammit. I knew my abs were under there, but eventually I realized that after a decade of extra weight and popping out a couple of babies, that skin wasn’t going to snap back in place.

You can lose weight, but you can’t lose the skin without help as “The Doctors” told Season 8 Biggest Loser Danny Cahill.  And that can be done through tummy tucks, breast lifts, arm lifts, thigh lifts and the more extreme body lifts (upper: breast, chest and middle back; lower: abdomen, buttocks and thighs).

According to emedicinehealth.com, a patient may require from 1 to 6 of the procedures to achieve his or her desired look.  It also lists the pros and cons of the body lift procedures: “Advantages of body lifts include improved skin quality, long-lasting results, smoother natural contours, and better control of results. Disadvantages of body lifts include more complex surgery (requiring more expertise), longer operating time, long scars, longer recovery after surgery, and increased cost.”

Although losing weight is a significant health-care issue, getting rid of the skin that’s left over is not. At that point, procedures are usually cosmetic, so odds are, insurance is not going to cover them. Surgery is going to be expensive (think beyond $10K) and, well, it’s major surgery. For the body lifts or multiple procedures, recovery time is significant: 1-3 nights in the hospital and then months before you can get back to regular activity.  Your body also has to be well enough to handle the surgeries in the first place, maintaining a stable weight and not suffering any of the health issues that sometimes accompany significant weight loss, such as nutritional deficiencies (low folate, B-12 and/or iron).

In fact, considering all you’d have to go through to get rid of the extra skin once you’ve lost a lot of weight, that might be incentive to stay trim in the first place.  Print before and after pictures and details about the surgery on those Twinkie packages. That could be an effective deterrent.

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