Plastic Surgery

Today is the Day

By the time you read this, I’m already under way with my plastic surgery since the procedure started at 7:30am today. The surgery is supposed to last for about 4.5 hours, so I should be out of surgery around noon. I’ll stay at the surgical center just until I am stabilized, so will hopefully be getting back to my apartment around 2pm or so.

To be honest, yesterday was a much more emotional day than I was anticipating. I’ve been so incredibly busy in the time leading up to the surgery that I haven’t had too much time to focus on just how big of a deal this surgery is. I’ve stayed pretty calm, cool and collected and had been feeling more impatient and ready than anything, until yesterday. I had a brief breakdown in the late afternoon and realized just how much my nerves were built up.

I am changing the biggest thing that has plagued me and put a huge blanket of insecurity over the person I have become.

The things that are causing me the most anxiety surround the procedure are:

  • That something will go wrong during the procedure
  • That coming out of anesthesia will be rough.
  • The pain during recovery
  • The scar I’ll be left with from hip to hip
  • Having to deal with the surgical drains during recovery
  • Not being able to do things for myself
  • The fatigue and run down feeling I know I’ll be dealing with for weeks
  • The swelling
  • Not recognizing myself in the mirror
  • That I’ll be unhappy with the results

But then I have to remember why I’m doing this. I’ve worked so hard to get myself from where I was to where I am now, and I know that I deserve to feel comfortable in my own skin. The things I’m most looking forward to in the after:

  • not feeling like I’m hiding something under my clothes
  • buying lingerie and not have to pick it out based solely on how well it will keep everything contained
  • actually FEELING sexy
  • not being scared to change in a room of my girlfriends
  • feeling more confident with my shirt off
  • not having to wear spanx to suck it all in under dresses and other clothes
  • being less afraid of form fitting clothes
  • not having to pull up my underwear constantly
  • having less anxiety if i move in a way that makes my shirt accidentally come up
  • having less stretch marks on my stomach
  • feeling like working out will actually produce results, instead of having them hidden under extra skin and fat
  • feeling like my body finally matches how i feel on the inside
  • feeling more confident in myself and my body

And I think those afters will definitely outweigh the inevitably shitty recovery I am going to have to go through to get there. I’ll check back in as soon as I can to let you know how everything went during the procedure and how recovery is going. Feel free to check out my facebook page and twitter because I’ll probably say something quick there before writing a full post here. Thank you so much for all the well wishes.

See you on the flat side!

Pre-Op Appointment

All the posts on this topic are compiled here for easy reference in case you missed any.

So somehow, my surgery is just two weeks from today! I knew when I scheduled it that the time was going to fly by, but I honestly didn’t expect it to go as fast as it has! I’m already into the two week pre-operative time frame, where I have to start taking certain precautions, stop taking certain medications, and focus on a high-protein diet. I can’t believe it’s so close!

Last Thursday, I had my pre-operative appointment at Ruff Plastic Surgery, which was my last appointment at the office before the surgery itself. The appointment was supposed to be about an hour, but it ended up being almost two because I had so many questions and everyone that I met with was so thorough.

The basic purpose of this appointment was to:

  1. Go over all my (many, many) questions
  2. Meet with the nurse and the doctor one more time before surgery day to go over the procedure
  3. Review my current medications (and over the counter supplements) to make sure they were OK to keep taking
  4. Get my pre-op photos taken
  5. Get all my prescriptions for post-surgery
  6. Get my blood work done
  7. Make final payment for the surgery

I got there a few minutes early, and waited in the waiting room with my nerves in full effect with my completed almost-60 page pre-op packet on my lap.

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After a few minutes, I was called back to meet with the nurse, Sharonda, who is amazing. She was the same nurse who was there for my consultation, and will be assisting in the surgery as well as my main point of contact for post-operative care (besides the surgeon himself). I found out during my appointment that she actually had the same procedure done, and that made me feel even more comfortable and confident than I already did.

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She was SO patient with me and didn’t mind addressing each and every one of my million questions, since it had been quite a while since my initial consultation and also because I’d seen two other plastic surgeons between. She went through all my paperwork with me, my list of current medications, and then everything I wanted to talk about. She also told me she will check in with me the Friday before my surgery and provide me with her cell phone number, so I can reach her at any time for questions.

Some of the main questions she addressed for me were:

  • What follow up appointments will I have after surgery? I’ll have an appointment the day after surgery with Dr. Ruff to check for any signs of complication/make sure everything looks good, then 1 week after the surgery I’ll return to the office to get the drains removed, then 2-3 weeks after the surgery I’ll have an appointment with Sharonda to go over scar treatment therapy and check on progress. I’ll have appointments with Dr. Ruff at the 6 week, 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year mark to check on progress and healing. The doctor and nurse will also be on call between those appointments for any questions or concerns that may come up.
  • How long do I have to wait to shower after surgery? Dr. Ruff will give me clearance, but it’s usually after the day-after surgery check in.
  • What type of activity restrictions will I have post surgery? She said it’s expected I’ll be walking outside as soon as day 2 post op, but not for exercise just to move around more than I would in my apartment. She returned to work one week post surgery, and said she was definitely moving a little slower and sitting down more, but she was ok. She said at the 3-4 week mark I should be able to return to some cardio (power walking/jogging), and at the 6 week mark I should be completely cleared for normal activity. This was actually less time than I was expecting to need to take off from these things, so I took it as good news.
  • What type of compression garment will I have and how long do I wear it for? I will wake up in a compression garment and they will also order a second one for me included in the price of surgery. It will be high-waisted all the way up to just under my chest, and then go all the way down to mid-thigh level. I’ll have to wear it 24 hours/day for the first 4 weeks after surgery, and then 12 hours on/12 hours off for the next 2 weeks to get my body ready to not need it. She said she recommends not wearing it during the day, and sleeping in it at night for the 12 hours on/12 hours off part.
  • What should I wear the day of surgery? Yoga pants or sweat pants with a button up or zip up top (nothing that goes over your head). I will wake up from surgery in my compression garment with these clothes back on over it.
  • What should I wear while I’m recovering? This surgery is obviously very traumatic to the body, so I should expect a good amount of swelling after the surgery. She said for the first week or so after surgery, it’s normal not to fit into your fitted clothes from pre-surgery. She recommended wearing a lot of loose fitting dresses (good thing I love these anyway and have several) once I’m heading out into public.

She also went over all my pre-op instructions. The main things I have to do are:

  • Stop taking birth control 2 weeks prior to surgery, as it can effect blood clotting.
  • Stop taking aspirin or ibuprofen 2 weeks before surgery, and only use Tylenol if needed.
  • Wash with an antibacterial soap (they recommend Dial) for one week prior to surgery to reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin as much as possible.
  • Take Arnica tablets (a homeopathic medicine) for one week prior to surgery to help minimize post operative swelling, pain and bruising.
  • No drinking alcohol for one week prior to surgery.
  • Start taking Colace (stool softener) for 2 days prior to surgery, to hopefully combat the side effects of the post-op pain killers.
  • Fill all my prescriptions (antibiotics, anti-nausea, and pain killers) and get my house ready (cleaned, fridge stocked, supplies, etc).

After we went through all the paperwork, my questions, and her instructions, she left the room and I got undressed and back into a gown to get ready for the final exam.

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Dr. Ruff came back in with Sharonda once I was changed and asked me if I had any other questions for him, which of course I did. The main things I asked were:

  • Where exactly will my incision be located? He said it will be hip to hip, and lay very low just above the pubic area. He said if I have a string bikini or low cut underwear I’d like to bring in (which I don’t), I can bring it in on the day of surgery and they can mark me up to have the incisions hidden by that piece of clothing.
  • Where will the drains be located? I’ll have two drains, and they will be located just under the incision line in the pubic area towards either side.
  • What will the incision closure be like? Very precise (I loved that that was his first answer). There will be several layers of dissolvable sutures which will heal from the surface down over time. The surface stitches on the incision will be covered with steri strips (basically clear/white surgical tape) that should stay on for about 2 weeks or until they fall off on their own. After those come off is when I’ll meet with Sharonda again (at the 2-3 week post-op mark) to discuss scar treatment therapy.
  • How much skin/fat does he expect to remove? He won’t know until he gets in there, but if he had to guess he would estimate around 10 pounds (!!).

After going over all the questions, he did an exam and talked about his exact approach with the procedure and the results I should expect. He showed me on my body where I should expect the incision to be and how things will look after surgery. His mannerisms, professionalism, and caring personality made me so sure in my decision to go with Dr. Ruff. He was very thorough and patient, and made me feel SO good about the surgery, his ability and the results I should expect.

After I was done with the Dr. Ruff portion of the program, we got to the super scary part – the pre-op photos.

photo 5

I was completely naked for these, and they were taken from every angle – straight on, from the back, from each side, and at an angle facing each direction. They were taken with the machine pictured above that apparently produces 3D photos that will be up on the big screen (oh joy) during surgery. I was assured these photos would only be shared with the doctor, my nurse, and the surgical team. Phew!

After that, I was taken back into the room where I asked all the questions to get some pre-operative blood work done by Sharonda. Then I asked to see the room where the surgery will be performed, since it’s done onsite at the doctors surgical center rather than in a hospital. The surgical room is very nice, clean, and high-tech, and I was also shown the recovery area where I will be waking up from anesthesia. It was kind of crazy to see the room and know that the next time I’m in there, I will be on the operating table with all my stats up on the patient board (and those glamorous full body shots on display).

After the surgical center tour, I met with Michelle, the surgical coordinator. She and I went over a few final things, and then I made the payment for the surgery and the anesthesia. The anesthesia is a separate fee, and it may actually be higher than what I paid if the surgery needs to go longer than initially anticipated (4.5 hours) but we’ll cross that bridge after surgery. I paid for the bulk of the surgery itself using Care Credit (but the anesthesiologist does not take it), which is a credit service reserved for medical/dental procedures, where certain doctors offices have low or no-rate interest agreements. Dr. Ruff’s office has a 12 month 0% APR agreement, so if I pay off what I charged in 12 months (which is my goal), there will be 0 interest. Basically it’s like a free loan so I can get the surgery done sooner and not have to dip into my savings more than I already am.

After all that, I left the office feeling SO excited and like the surgery is really happening (because, well, it is). It’s crazy to think that the next time I go back there will be at 6:30am on July 29, the day of the surgery itself! I know I’ll experience a rollercoaster of emotions between now and then, but for right now I’m going to enjoy riding high and the excitement and anticipation I feel.

Some other random things of note:

  • I am planning to take 2 weeks off from work, but may return to working from home during the second week if I feel up for it. I’ve shared with my work the truth about what I am doing, and they are very supportive and flexible, which is amazing. I am obviously prioritizing my health here, so if it turns out I need more than 2 weeks I will make that work/possibly work from home for longer.
  • My mom and dad are coming next weekend (two days before surgery) and staying Saturday/Sunday night to help me get ready and spend some QT with me before I go under the knife. My dad is going to stay until I’m out of surgery and back in my apartment, and then my mom is staying with me for the entire week to help take care of me post-surgery. It’s such a blessing she is able to do that for me because I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have with me as I recover (slash anyone else who will put up with me). After my mom leaves, my good friend Kate (who happens to be an ER nurse) is going to step in to help for a couple days and assist me with getting back to Dr. Ruff’s office to get my drains removed, anything else I need help with, and also just to keep me company. And then of course my girlfriends and boyfriend will stop by to check in and help as needed, but that’s the main post-op care situation I have set up.
  • A lot of people recommend getting a recliner or hospital bed to use during recovery from surgery, but I am just going to use my regular bed. I live in a super small apartment so it would be tough to have one of those things added, and the doctor also told me I absolutely don’t need one. I have to sleep with my upper body and legs elevated, so I am getting a reading/husband pillow for my upper body and borrowing a wedge pillow from my mom for under my legs, and will just use lots of pillows around me in bed to make sure I stay in the right position for the first couple days after surgery.
  • The only supplies I need to get for recovery are the reading pillow mentioned above, a shower chair (because apparently taking a shower post surgery feels like running a marathon in terms of exhaustion), Arnica, Tylenol, Colace, and bendy straws (to help with drinking lots of fluids). I plan to thoroughly clean my apartment, have a well stocked fridge with easy protein-heavy snacks and meals, and get lots of magazines/reading material to keep me occupied post surgery outside of the TV.

That Weight Thing

I’m currently in the Amazon Jungle, but wanted to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time!

So, you may have noticed I haven’t mentioned or talked about my weight in a loooong time on here. Fortunately, that’s not because I’ve gone off the deep end and gained everything back.

My goal weight with Weight Watchers was 164, but I found that SO HARD to maintain at my height of 5’8 and I was only able to stay there for a few weeks. I met with my primary care doctor to talk to her about my weight, and she said I should try to maintain between 175-180 to be healthy for my height and with my build, so I reset my goal weight to 177 with Weight Watchers. I know that probably sounds like a lot to some people, but I am not looking to be skinny – I just want to be average and healthy, and not obese. I love food way too much to restrict myself in the way that I would have to to get down to my original goal weight or below.

I almost don’t want to put this in writing for fear of jinxing myself, but for the last several months, I haven’t been counting points and have just been eating intuitively. And you know what? I’ve actually been maintaining in the range my doctor suggested I go for. Though I’ve had to keep trying and being mindful of what I’m eating, I’ve found that my body finally isn’t fighting me anymore.

I’ve had my fair share of pizza, french fries, and chicken wings, but have been very aware of portion sizes and not overdoing it when I’m eating those heavier things. I’ve also focused on eating healthy staples most of the time – fruit, veggies, English muffins, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, eggs, and smoothies. For the first time in what feels like ever, I’ve actually been able to keep nut butter in my house and not have the jar disappear in a day or two. It’s been sort of eye opening trying and learning to trust myself with food again.

So, for a while now, I’d been thinking I should try to get back to 164 before the surgery to get as ideal of results as possible. But, I’ve been looking through a lot of forums and they say you should go into the surgery at your goal weight – and a lot of times its higher than you think it might be. They say you want to pick a weight you can maintain and go into surgery at that weight because then you will get ideal results for a weight you know you can maintain, and where you won’t have to fight against it.

I’ve decided that because of that, I want to focus on working out and getting strong going into the surgery, but NOT losing any more weight because I know where I am right now is something I can maintain for the long-haul. I feel like my body will be best contoured with ideal results at the place I am at now, and I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to get my weight to an arbitrary number that clearly goes against where it wants to be.

Choosing My Plastic Surgeon

Deciding on which plastic surgeon to go with was literally one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my entire life. After deciding that plastic surgery was right for me, I thought it was going to be a breeze to find information on good doctors, and in turn find one that I clicked with and that I thought would give me great care before, during, and after the procedure. But since plastic surgeons are definitely a little less openly discussed than other medical professionals, a lot of the referrals come based on word of mouth or through friends or family who’ve had similar procedures. Since I don’t know anyone personally who’s undergone this or other types of plastic surgery in the area, it made it that much more difficult.

Before the Consultations

The first step for figuring out who to see was mentioning to my regular doctor that I was thinking about getting plastic surgery on my abdomen, and seeing if she had any recommendations of surgeons. She gave me a list of three to check out, one of which I had already been thinking about because I had heard good things and have a friend that works at the office. The other two doctor’s I hadn’t heard of, but I looked them up and was able to find some information online.

I did a ton of research on this procedure before moving forward with scheduling any appointments because I wanted to be as informed as possible going into the consultations. I also came up with a list of questions I wanted to ask based on this research before scheduling anything (which is listed at the bottom of this post). After feeling good about the questions, I went ahead and scheduled consultations with two of the doctors from the list, and a third doctor I found on my own.

Making those initial calls to set up the consultations was such a turning point – I was REALLY taking steps to make this happen! Each office does the consultation costs differently – the first office didn’t charge me at all, the second one charged a $75 nonrefundable fee, and the third held a credit card in case I didn’t show, but also did not charge for the consult. I was able to get in the next week with the first doctor, and then a few weeks later with the second and third.

During the Consultation

Each of the consultations went much the same – it started with filling out some paperwork and then going in the room to wait for the doctor. The doctor would come in with at least one other person (usually a nurse) and speak with me for about 15 – 30 minutes about what I was there for, what my expectations were, and what questions I had. After going through all that, they would leave the room so I could change into a hospital gown with just my undergarments on, and then the doctor and nurse would come back in to do the exam.

hospital gown2

During this time, they would talk about their specific approach for the procedure while doing the exam, and answer any additional questions that came up. Two of the doctors took “before” pictures at this point, and one did not take photos during the consult. After this, they would have me meet with the surgical coordinator to give a cost proposal and talk about the different procedures that were recommended. The surgical coordinator is also who can answer a lot of questions and would put me in touch with former patients or give additional access to before and after photos that may not be on the public website.

Evaluating My Options

Though the processes themselves for the consultations were much the same, there were some stark differences between the three doctors.

To put it lightly, the first doctor blew my socks off. I felt like he really listened to me, completely understood where I was coming from and what my expectations were, and seemed to really care. He also made me feel very comfortable and said “You deserve this”, which is something that has stuck with me since. Everyone I met outside of the doctor, from the receptionist, to the nurse, to the surgical coordinator were also very sweet and made me feel cared for and important. I also liked how nice the office itself was and where it was located because it’s very convenient to where I work and live.

The second doctor… I just hated. He made me feel really bad about my body, seemed very bored and uninterested in me, and couldn’t seem to get out of the room quick enough, even though his reviews were excellent. He was also very cocky, and seemed annoyed by my questions. When I asked him why he said the procedure would take 2 hours instead of the 4.5 hours quoted by the first doctor (and later by the third), he said, “I just don’t go that slow.” Um, ok. I don’t doubt that he is a skilled surgeon, but just wasn’t the right one for me.

I was expecting to go into the third doctor and be sure about my decision to go with doctor #1, so I set the bar pretty low. I felt like since it was my third consultation, I was able to ask really good questions and have him give me answers to why his approach was slightly different from the other two doctors. He said I needed some additional procedures on top of the tummy tuck, but overall I liked him more than I was expecting to. The one thing I didn’t love was that when he asked how I lost the weight (gastric bypass?) and I told him Weight Watchers, he told me how his ex-wife worked for Nutrisystems so he really “got it” and thinks those programs all work really well. I can’t expect people to know Weight Watchers inside and out, BUT I feel like as a medical professional you should know that WW is a little different…

I left the third consultation feeling really excited, but also conflicted since I had two doctors that I liked. I am definitely an emotional and excitable person, so I was beaming coming out of that third consult, but I knew I should wait a few days to really look at the facts to make a decision. I ended up making a pro and con list for both of the doctors and found the first doctor had more pros and less cons. I sent a list of follow up questions to doctor #1 asking for him to clarify a few minor differences in surgical approach.  I also made a phone call to the patient the first doctor had given me, which was a really amazing resource. She was around my age, had also gone through massive weight loss with diet and exercise, and answered every question I had in a lot of detail. After talking with her about her surgical experience, how pleased she was with her results and the office staff as a whole, it really sealed the deal for me to go with the first doctor I saw.

My Surgeon

The surgeon I decided to go with is Dr. Paul Ruff IV from Ruff Plastic Surgery. I got such a great feeling when meeting him, saw many incredible before and after pictures of his work, and felt (and continue to feel) well treated by the entire office staff. The location is also very convenient, but speaking with his former patient was really the icing on the cake for me to feel certain about my decision.

This is the list of questions I went in with and Dr. Ruff’s answers paraphrased in MY words (with a month and half and two additional consultations in between, so take them with a grain of salt).

  • Will there be complications if I want to get pregnant down the road?

No, you can absolutely get pregnant after having a tummy tuck. It’s recommended that if you’re in the middle of having children or plan to get pregnant soon then you wait, but as long as you plan to wait at least 6 months after the surgery you are fine. There is always a chance you might want or need a revision post pregnancy since we can’t predict exactly how your body will respond to pregnancy (just as they can’t with any person) but you definitely will bounce back BETTER than you would if you didn’t have this surgery because the excess skin and fat will be gone.

  • What is the recovery like? How long should I take off from work? How long will I be completely unreachable after the surgery if a work emergency comes up?

Recovery is the most painful 24-72 hours after the surgery, but every person experiences recovery differently. After that, it’s 6 weeks until you’re returning to all your regular activities, but swelling can last for a few months. The scar fades over time and can take 2-3 years to be fully faded. We want you to start moving around as much as possible right away and walking to and from the bathroom from the get-go. You are good to take 1 – 2 weeks off from work after surgery (if you have a desk job), and you can expect to be unreachable for about 3 – 4 days. It’s more that you might not want to be reached than anything, though.

  • How long do I need someone to stay with me 24/7 after the procedure?

At least 2 – 3 days according to Dr. Ruff, but Michelle, the surgical coordinator, said a lot of women are more comfortable with 5 – 7 days of full time assistance.

  • Where will my incision be located exactly? Where will the drains be placed after surgery?

The incision will be located very low from hip to hip. It will go at least as far as the overhang of skin, and usually around 1 inch past that on either side for the best contouring results.

  • Will any other body parts be affected from the tummy tuck?

Your whole body contour and shape will be improved (with the help of some lipo as well), and your inner thighs may be lifted too.

  • At what point can I start exercising again?

Usually light exercise and cardio around 4 weeks post op, and then weight lifting at the 6 week mark. But again, every person is different.

  • Is there any special diet I should be eating before or after the procedure for the best healing possible?

High protein has the best results for healing.

  • Do you think I am a good candidate for this procedure?

You’re an ideal candidate. You are young, healthy, and deserve to be proud of the body that you’ve worked so hard for.

Date Set and Tummy Tuck Resources

So guess what!? The date is set for my tummy tuck surgery! In case you missed it, here’s the post where I discuss my reasons and decision to move forward with plastic surgery.

My pre-op appointment will be July 11, and the surgery itself will be July 29, which is less than 10 weeks away! I feel like this time is going to FLY by (especially since I’m going to Peru for 17 days in between) and I have so much to do to get ready between now and then. I am so excited, but also terrified. This is really happening!

I plan to write more about the consultations and deciding on a surgeon soon, but first I wanted to provide you with the most helpful resources I’ve found while browsing around for information on tummy tucks, which has been my newest hobby as of late. I was really looking for detailed, first hand accounts of what the entire process was like, especially the recovery. It’s funny how some people don’t want to know any of the gory details because they are afraid they might talk themselves out of it, but I want to know EVERYTHING. I had a hard time finding a ton of resources since plastic surgery is such a taboo topic, but here are the ones I found most helpful and refer to often:

  • Runs for Cookies – If you don’t already read Katie’s blog, you should, but she also went through a lower body lift and blogged about the entire process. Her surgery was a bit more extensive than mine will be and also had it after having two children, but there is a lot of good information there and a detailed account of the recovery.
  • PriorFatGirl – Jen is someone who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in real life, and she is as awesome as you’d expect. She went through a tummy tuck as well as have the excess skin on her arms removed, so her procedure was also a bit more extensive than mine will be.
  • MakeupGeek – I found this post very helpful with lots of information about preparing for a tummy tuck and everything leading up to the procedure itself. She also has pretty dramatic results, but I am definitely behind the ball according to her timeline!
  • Tummy Tuck Survival Guide – This is posted on RealSelf.com and has a ton of helpful information about choosing a doctor, and then lots of tips and information about dealing with both the logistical side and emotional side of recovery.
  • RealSelf.com – this is a resource with a LOT of different information, including a Tummy Tuck Forum, Q&As, Before and After Pics, and lots of first hand accounts. It takes a while to dig through all the information, but there is a ton of good stuff there.
  • TummyTuckTales – This woman is hysterical, and gave a refreshing perspective on recovery after undergoing a tummy tuck after having several children and losing a lot of weight. It’s always nice to find a light-hearted account of something so serious, but still dealt with a lot of specifics and the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Funeral for My Fat – This 23 year old, Sharee, had a tummy tuck and thigh lift after losing almost 120 pounds. Wowza. She also has a couple youtube videos on the subject and is super cute.
  • Enough Fluff – 24 year old, Madelynn, who underwent a tummy tuck after shedding 100 pounds.

Am I missing anything from this list? This will be a working post that I can update as I come across new resources, so please let me know if there’s anything out there that I should add. Thanks!

Next Phase of my Journey

For as long as I remember, I’ve been unhappy with my body. As an adolescent, I considered myself too chubby to look cute in the clothes my friends wore, too out of shape keep up with the other kids in gym class, and too unattractive for boys to be interested in me. As I got older, being overweight transitioned into being obese. My already low self esteem got even worse and caused my weight and health to spiral out of control. I could never shop at the same stores as my friends, took what I could get as far as romantic interests were concerned and always sold myself short because I was scared of putting myself out there.

Fast forward to the present, and I’ve completely transformed my life. Besides having lost almost 90 pounds, I’ve found confidence and learned to recognize that I have no reason to underestimate myself and what I can accomplish. I’ve made bold career moves, learned the importance of putting myself first and being an active player in my own life, and have made great strides toward finding balance in my life.

I am extremely proud of myself for how far I’ve come and how much I’ve changed myself, both inside and out. However, there’s still one big thing that is holding me back which is strictly physical, but affects me very much mentally — the extra skin and fat around my abdomen from losing almost 90 pounds.

With clothes on, I look like an average-sized person who is healthy and normal. Without them, you would have a very different impression of my lifestyle. I feel like I’ve worked way too hard to get where I am and still be so uncomfortable in my own skin.

I am self-conscious to the point that thinking about changing in a room full of my girlfriends literally makes me cringe. I am constantly pulling my shirt down for fear of someone getting a glimpse of my stomach. I wear a larger pant size than I’d like to and I shy far away from anything that clings to my body. And, I’m still wearing the same size underwear that I always did, even at 250 pounds.

These issues are things that I’ve been thinking about for a LONG time – pretty much since I hit my goal weight almost 2 years ago. I’ve stayed within the same 10-15 pounds of my goal for the whole time and even when at my goal, my stomach is still very unsightly and a source of extreme anxiety for me.

After hundreds of hours of research and poring over YouTube videos, online forums, blog posts, before and after pictures, and plastic surgeon websites, I’ve decided to move forward with getting plastic surgery on my abdomen to remove the excess skin and fat.

While still in the beginning stages, I’ve had two consultations with plastic surgeons, and have a third set up for next week. The first doctor I saw I loved, but the second one I hated. We’ll see how it goes with the third. This is a major surgery so it will involve a large investment of time, money, and courage. But, in the end, I am confident it will all be worth it.

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