Two years after losing 180 pounds, my loose skin still haunts me
Speaking of Adro Sarnelli who won "The Biggest Loser Australia" last year, did you see this article about him and the struggle he has had dealing with all the excess, loose skin on his body following his 130-pound weight loss?
I previously blogged about his decision to have an abdominoplasty done, better known as a "tummy tuck." But now he wants to get rid of the rest of his hanging skin at an eye-popping cost of $20,000 plus recovery time off from work.
Here's why Adro decided to do this:
"It was just really disappointing to think that I lost [all that weight] and that I still had the same body that I had when I was fat," he said. "I'm actually left with a whole lot of extra skin which, in my own mind, it sort of leaves me unfinished. I have man boobs and that's something I really hate and would love to get rid of. I also have a really saggy apron area around my tummy."
So with the help of a plastic surgeon and many hours of body sculpting which includes not just a tummy tuck but also a buttock lift, a thigh lift, as well as skin removal from his chest, back, and arms, Adro will soon have a body that will LOOK like that fabulous weight loss success that he was in 2006. Everyone else has seen how good he looks, so now it's time for him to see it for himself.
The payoff was when he got to look at himself in the mirror for the first time after having "heaps" of his loose skin removed for good.
"I actually got to stand up and have a shower so I looked in the mirror and I was actually able to look down," Adro proudly exclaimed.
Now he says he feels "unreal" on the inside and out.
I couldn't be happier for Adro because I know EXACTLY how he feels. I'm right there in the same predicament, too. It's been over two years now since I lost the majority of my 190 pounds and my loose skin problem hasn't gotten any better as everyone claimed it would if you would "just give it some time." In fact, it looks like the problem has gotten even worse! MUCH WORSE!
Many of my new readers who have discovered my blog in the past few weeks have e-mailed me asking about whether I have loose skin and want to know what I am doing to handle it. In fact, here's one of those e-mails:
I thought I would send you an email regarding weight loss and the dreaded loose skin afterwards. After skin removal surgery, people seem to be very happy with the results. Have you had this surgery? Is loose skin really inevitable when you are very overweight? How do you limit loose skin? Does losing too fast encourage loose skin?
I'd love to know if you have ever written a blog about it. It's very discouraging losing all that weight only to be left with a whole lot of skin and where you have to stay covered up.
Well, as a matter of fact I HAVE blogged about this subject before--SEVERAL times actually. Here are a just a handful of those posts for you to check out:
- "Indiana Reporter Left Hanging After Weight Loss, Too"
- "Dealing With Excess, Loose Skin After Weight Loss"
- "Is There Loose Skin After Atkins Weight Loss?"
So many of you have e-mailed me with your support and well wishes that I can do something about my hanging, loose skin after reading about me blog about it and in the final chapter of my book. You have encouraged me to not get discouraged or ever give up on my dream of getting the skin removal surgery done and I haven't. I KNOW it's gonna happen one of these days.
Let me just say one thing that absolutely needs to be heard loud and clear to anyone who is overweight or obese and is worried about having loose skin afterwards. Don't let this issue stop you from making the best decision of your life to lose weight and get healthy. Sure, the loose skin can be an eyesore, but it's a whole heckuva lot better than the enormous pain of being fat. There's just no comparison!
I really don't know why this issue gets people so worked up about losing weight, but it does. Some of the most popular Google searches people who are desiring weight loss put into the search engine is "loose skin after weight loss" or "how do you firm up excess skin." I'm fascinated that people worry about such things when they should be focused on getting their physical health in order first.
At the same time, if I get one more person sending me this link to check out, then I think I'll have to run in front of an 18-wheeler on the interstate! Just for the record, I don't believe much of what this guy has to say, so don't bother telling me about it okay. With all due respect, I certainly acknowledge that there is a possibility that what I think is loose skin may be excess fat that I need to lose, but I don't care at this point. I just want the skin GONE!
I'm still eating low-carb since this has become my permanent way of life and my body fat percentage has continued to drop down from over half when I used to weigh 410 pounds. I've even made reducing my body fat one of my goals for 2007. Nevertheless, now that I'm 220 pounds, I want to LOOK like I am 220 pounds. The fact is I don't like what I see every single time I look in that mirror.
Wanna see what I'm talking about for yourself? I'll warn you, it's pretty disgusting to look at and you would probably think I was showing you a picture of a fat man's body. But, no, this is me.
Shirtless on the beach looking like THIS? Not a chance!
Can you see what I'm facing here? It's incredibly frustrating because as much as I want to truly celebrate my enormous weight loss success, I can't jump for joy when I still look and feel like I'm obese! I often joke with my wife Christine playfully jiggling my former 62-inch waist that has now shrunk down to a 38-inch waist in front of her like some circus freak show. But I don't feel sexy for her and I so much in my heart want to.
It's not just my stomach, though. Look at what's "hanging" from my inner thighs. EWWWW!
There's so much skin in my thighs that they get rubbed raw
When I asked my doctor to take a look at this loose skin issue in my stomach and inner thighs, he told me quite bluntly (which I appreciated!) that the elasticity is too far gone at this point to firm up and tighten from my very large weight loss. He wrote a letter to my insurance company, but they refused to pay for it. The only remedy at this point is to live with it or get the surgery done at my own expense.
Those are my ONLY choices at this point. For now, I'll just have to learn to live with it and move on with my life (which I have). But if ever there was a dream that you wished would come true for you, that's how I feel about getting this surgery. I'm hopeful it will happen to give me that "closure" Adro was talking about.
As for those questions my reader had about the loose skin issue, here's what I think about each one of them:
Have you had this surgery?
No, but I desperately want to.
Is loose skin really inevitable when you are very overweight?
I don't think it's necessarily inevitable just because you are overweight or obese. But if you are like me and the other yo-yo dieters who have gone up and down expanding and contracting the skin so many times, I do think there is a point of no return where it is impossible to expect the skin to be firm short of surgery.
How do you limit loose skin?
Don't get fat to begin with! LOL! I know, that's probably too late for most people, but it's true. That'll DEFINITELY keep it from happening, though.
Does losing too fast encourage loose skin?
Some people have the thought that losing slower will somehow keep the skin from getting loose. But Kimmer from the Kimkins diet, who had a tummy tuck and bosom lift following her 200-pound low-carb weight loss, said in her interview with me that stretch marks are emergency skin and no matter how fast or slow you lose, the "skin isn't going anywhere" and that "losing slowly is no advantage."
She added, "It's exactly like having a skin tight skirt, adding a 2" panel of fabric and expecting the extra fabric to disappear the next time you wash the skirt. Just ain't happening!" I agree with Kimmer because the skin has nowhere else to go but droop down. :(
So now it's January 2007, three years after I began the most lifechanging experience of my entire life. It's like writing an entire book from start to finish, but then not having it published. You have done all that work and maybe even shared it with those around you. But you won't feel right until it is finished and ready for the public to see.
That's how I feel about my loose skin. I've poured many days, weeks, and months into becoming who am I am today these past few years. I'm very proud of what I have been able to do and appreciate all the compliments and adoration that has been given to me. But it's time to send this book to be published and that means getting the excess skin removed.
It won't be today, probably not tomorrow either. But it will happen.