The Skin Job: Taking the plunge

I will admit, this is one of those introspective posts, where I deep dive into my thoughts about big life decisions and changes.

On Friday, I had my consultation with my Surgeon and we discussed the ideal plan for me and the surgery. We spoke about the procedure, it will be a modified Circumferential Lipectomy (Also knows as:  Body lift , Belt Lipectomy, and more) , the modified aspect of it is that I will not have the 360 incision, it will be closer to 310 degrees.

The surgery will take 4.5-5 hours and I will be in the Hospital for 2 days. Afterwards, I will be taken care of at home for a few days, and then have a few weeks off to recuperate. With my job changes and such, this makes for a perfect time to have this done, and the timeline works well for me.

The surgeon said that my skin was in good shape despite losing all the weight. He said the immortal words “What areas of your body are you concerned about.” and we talked about the areas of my concern. For me, they were the my belly, and the FUPA. The discussion was good, and frank, and from everything he said, it sounds like this will be a relatively routine surgery.

The surgeon was not of the “Nip/Tuck” world, and he was very good and professional. I was worried about any comments about shape and size or “the ideal” and pushing that… but there wasn’t any of it. he looked at me and offered what he felt was needed, and it always felt more like what I wanted rather what he thought I needed. It was good.

At the end of the Consultation, I felt really strong and excited about the procedure, and was pretty confident.

Then the thinking began.

Over the weekend, I have vacillated between excitement, dread, being terrified, and questioning if this is right for me.

The excitement comes from the Journey. The work I have put in over the last 15 months has culminated to this. By being diligent, working hard, being mindful, this procedure is the capstone of a lot of work and dedication to a new lifestyle and a new body.

My dread comes in the form of the procedure itself. It feels invasive, it feels major, and the recovery is not in days or a week like before, but weeks, and over a month. I dread the recovery time and the pain and the feeling incompetent.

Terrified. This is a big one. I worry about how I will look. The scars, the way I will feel. Will my skin feel the same? Will I feel odd? will the scars be so blatantly obvious? What if there is complications? The new shape of me… will I get used to it? Is is something I will start slavishly push?

And is this for me? Yes… deep down I know this is the last step in what I have worked for. I question because of my fear, I question because it is not “vital surgery.” It is something that swirls in my mind over and over.

This morning, I was speaking to my Husband about this. The way he framed it was in terms of this not being a separate procedure to the Bariatric surgery I had 15 months ago. He sees this as the Surgery at the other side of things. With that perspective, it feels a bit better. It is something that I have worked towards, but is still incomplete. I have changed, and my skin is apart of that change. And while the old stereotypes towards “plastic surgery” bang on in my mind, I have begun to learn to retrain myself and remind myself that This is a part of bariatric life, and to embrace it.

And so I am.

Still freaks me out a bit though.

Tomorrow, we will hopefully set a date for the surgery, and from there I will gear up for the next step!

 

The Skin Job: An Introduction

Last week, I got an email from my Doctor overseeing my Bariatric Surgery informing me that I have been referred to a plastic surgeon for my loose skin.

*blink blink*

In my last meeting with the doctor, we talked about having surgery to get rid of the excess skin, and while I have always thought about the process, there was a disconnect between talking, planning, and then it actually happening. So when I got the letter last week, I was surprised.

Yesterday, I got the call from the Plastic Surgeon, and I am scheduled for my consultation next week with a view to having the surgery in late June.

The technical term for what I am likely having is an Abdominoplasty. With that, I will also have some remedial liposuction to help “even things out.” Next week I will go for an examination, and then map out what are my options. From there, they will give me an estimate (like for a car) on how much it will cost. Then, of course, is the actual surgery and recovery.

I will admit that I am not completely ready for the surgery. For 15 months I have talked about having it done, but there was not real “emotion” behind it. It was something theoretical, something for the future. When the future is now 4-6 weeks away, it puts a whole new spin on things.

So what do I do? I search the internet of course!

Now searching for Plastic Surgery pictures and videos online is a rather harrowing experience. First, if you have any body issues, you will be confronted with it immediately. You see tons of shapes and bodies that do not fit the norm that you see online. You also see the ravages of surgery directly afterward, and later, the recovery one or two years on.

Further, when it comes to male plastic surgery, you get a lot of interesting things being fed to you. For example, one Plastic Surgery website in Arizona described the Male Tummy Tuck as such (Emphasis Mine):

“The goal of a male tummy tuck is to create a masculine and athletic abdomen and waist area. The incisions for a male tummy tuck are comparable to that of a regular abdominoplasty. The other components of the procedure are designed, however, to create a more square and athletic waist as opposed to a more hour-glass shape that many women desire.”

Some word choices aside, I found the path of appealing to the opposite sex doing nothing for me… surprising. But the language and the imagery is pretty typical. “You are doing this to become desirable again.”

However, the website does make me ask why I want this skin surgery, why this change? Why now? Is it just vanity that I want a firmer body? Is it a “good job” for the work I have done? Is it frivolous and childish to want this? Do I want this?

All of these thoughts rush through my mind as I prepare for the possible surgery.

So, let’s unpack the why a bit.

For years I have not been happy with my body. From the weight, to how I look, and how I perceive myself, I have struggled. For much of it, it was primarily my weight. I didn’t like how clothes fit on me, I did not like how they felt. I focus so much on the number, and if that number was good, then I would be happy.

Each time I would lose weight, I would see the loose skin, like my oversized clothes, it felt like a progression, but also a safety net. And each time, as I regained the weight, my skin would fit me. During 2016 and leading up to the surgery, my body was starting to tell me that it was no longer healthy, and while I wanted to be thinner, I wanted to be healthy a bit more, so that is when surgery came into play.

Now, 15 months later, I have kept the weight off…the longest I have kept the weight off, and the skin is as loose as ever. Each time I see it, it reminds me of my journey, but I feel it is also that security blanket. “You are going to get big again WanderingExPat, so make sure you keep me around” it seems to say to me as I look in the mirror. For all my progress, and all my gains, I worry that I am that eternal fat kid who will ultimately fail.

I still don’t feel “me” in some respects. While I “recognise” myself after the weight loss, and I am happy with my weight, my face, and most of my body, it is my tummy (and the FUPA) that I still struggle with. There are still clothes that should fit me but don’t because of the skin. There are areas of my body that are unflattering because it is just a lot of loose stuff there, and… yes… I want to change my shape a bit.

Is it vain? Self-centered? Egotistical? I look at some of the videos with men talking about Tummy Tucks, The first video was from a guy who… in my opinion was absolutely fine with his midsection, and while I won’t knock him at all for having the surgery, what I saw in him was absolutely nothing in me. The second video was a bit better, and it made me a bit more comfortable about the surgery. I look at pictures and I see the results, and I just worry that mine won’t be as good, or I should lose more weight before I do this… I have a lot of thoughts running through my mind.

I also worry about post-surgery life. How bad will the scars be? how much will actually change? If I gain weight, will I ruin it all?

I will admit, watching these videos ramp up my emotions on every level. From the worry of pain, the emotion of losing the skin. The final portion of this journey… I am nervous and scared. But it is not going to stop me. This is just a new mountain to climb.

I will be the first person I know that has had a male tummy tuck. And while I am sure there are men I know who had had it and have said nothing, it does feel a bit of uncharted territory. I just hope that my story will resonate with others who are struggling to take the plunge.

And don’t worry, I suspect that this will be an ongoing series as I work through this.

Thanks for reading.