Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Plastic Surgery Consult #2

I had my first consult with a surgeon about skin removal a couple of weeks ago and was told that I wasn't suitable for a tummy tuck and I would need a body lift. This was a massive blow because I knew the body lift was a far more serious and expensive surgery. So today I went to see a surgeon who came highly recommended to get information on a body lift.

Anyone not familiar with what a body lift is exactly, here is a photo from a US surgeon's website showing a fantastic before and after result. You can see how it differs from a tummy tuck because the incision goes all the way around the body in order to remove the apron stomach and the side and back fat and skin. I would be thrilled with results half as good as that!

Body lift before & after example
FYI this is not me: image taken from this website

The surgeon I spoke with was great and I would feel completely safe in his hands, so if I decide to go ahead, I will definitely choose him. He specializes in reconstructive surgery after massive weight loss and, by all accounts, he is the expert in the area.

He put me at ease right away when he congratulated me on being able to get my BMI under 30. He said that most patients he sees who had a BMI over 45 (like I did) are unlikely to get their BMI under 30, even with surgery. He didn't mean this in a discouraging way for those of us who have/had high BMI's, he just understands the complexities that come with being morbidly obese. I wish my lap band doctor was this understanding...

The surgeon said that I am an excellent candidate for a body lift and he felt he could get good results for me. The surgery would involve him cutting all the way around me and removing a band of skin that is about 10-15 cms wide. The cut would start on my pubic line and go up over my belly button and then pull down the skin and stitch it together. This would also pull up my bottom and thighs to smooth them out a little bit too. This works better for the outer thighs though and I don't have much (if any) excess skin or fat on my out thighs because I have a body shape like a man! He also body sculpts with liposuction to create a waist and remove any excess fat.

What makes my surgery a bit more complicated is that I not only have the apron stomach and arse shelf to be removed (oh, how attractive that sounds), but I have hanging skin around my middle roll of fat too. Apparently this skin has actually sagged down from my chest and is creating a short torso and long chest appearance. This won't be rectified by a body lift and he will have to do additional surgery to fix this problem. This is called an upper body suspension and is a technique he has pioneered where he attaches mesh to my chest wall and stitches the skin to it to hold it tight and smooth. If he doesn't do this he won't be able to achieve smooth results around my torso.

We spoke about a breast lift and he felt it would be best to wait until after the stomach and chest surgery to see how my breasts finish up. Apparently I don't have droopy boobs (yay!), but it is a matter of seeing how they look after the body lift.

I asked him if I should try and lose more weight before the surgery and he said that it wouldn't make any difference. I was so happy with that answer that I could have kissed him!!! He said my stomach muscles were tight and to just continue doing what I am doing now.

One little piece of information he gave me was to stop taking vitamins. Apparently a lot of them can cause bleeding and other complications so he has a blanket rule of no vitamins before surgery. The funny thing is that I had finally decided to take my vitamins properly in an effort to get more energy. I can't say I am too disappointed because taking vitamins is so annoying...

For those of you who are interested, I'll list some of the information the surgeon gave me below in dot point:

  • Operation will last approximately 5 hours
  • Hospital stay would be 4-5 nights
  • I would need anywhere between 2-6 weeks off work
  • Medical certificate will be given
  • Risks are uncommon
  • All revisions or complications are covered by Medicare 
  • No vigorous activity for 6 weeks
  • No driving for 2-4 weeks
  • 6 weeks before I can take an international flight
  • 6 months before all the swelling will go down completely
  • 12 months for the scar to fully heal
  • Will lose 5-7 kilos of 'tissue' (fat, skin, fluid)

OK, so now the million dollar question... how much will it cost? Unfortunately I don't know yet because they have to put together a special quote for me. All indication I had from my research was that I was up for a minimum of $20,000 out of pocket. If this is the case, I will obviously not be having the surgery because it is an unrealistic amount of money for me to find. The assistant at the surgery said something about a provisional quote of $12,500 plus hospital costs... fingers crossed that the figure is close to this because that doesn't seem as completely impossible. I may not be able to do it this year, but hopefully one day...

Just knowing that the surgery was possible and that it could help me has already made me feel so much better. Today I felt hopeful for the first time in my life that I could have a normal body and stop feeling like I am disfigured-- I truly hope that doesn't offend anyone because this is just the way I feel about myself, no judgement of anyone else.


  1. I have my fingers crossed for you that the price isn't prohibitive, Tully :)
    I can't believe that this sort of surgery is so expensive in this country. I had a knee reco earlier in the year and was only a couple of grand out of pocket - seems crazy that something that can be quite physically debilitating (not unlike a dodgy knee) isn't subsidised....
    Hope the news from the surgeon is positive! :)

  2. Wow, that certainly is great news- hope the cost is achievable! Also amazed at what a difference it makes, from the photo, I guess I haven't really thought about it too much in the past.

  3. Wow, at least you know and will soon have a total on what it will cost. Also gives me something to thnk about, I'm gonna have to start saving now!!!

    Thanks for this, it has been great and good luck. I hope the quote is within reach :o)

  4. That is FABULOUS news mate! I too have everything crossed the quote comes in within your budget. And the surgeon sounds like a good bloke to boot!!!!!!

  5. Thanks so much for this post! I am a Melbourne person and had no idea what sort of money this would cost or what would be involved (need to save a bit more but I have a long way to go before I get there) I dont worry about the loose skin I worry about the cost because I will not go through all this mental and physical anguish to be left with a body that repulses me, and it would, already parts of my body are flabby where they were once full of fat. Again thanks so much, such a helpful post.


Awww thanks so much for the comment!