now what?

So here I am, two years out past weight loss surgery, and the time has come to call it. This is the size I am: 134 to 138 pounds (rather more when I eat oats), a size 4/6, kind of floppy (but firming up). Smallish, petite-ish. Narrow shoulders, wide ribcage, completely clumsy, utterly unathletic. A generally perky A cup. Soft stomach, with extra skin that hangs down. Short legs, pretty good legs, but also, hello inner thighs and extra skin. I still dislike my knees. Here I am, and here is my body, and now there are decisions to be made. Where the hell do I go from here?

I am supposed to start thinking about plastic surgery now. You’re supposed to wait a year, minimum–they prefer two years. At two years out it is the time when, if you’ve been daydreaming about giant boobs, to start figuring out how you’re going to pay for those giant boobs, that tummy tuck, that entire lower-body lift that leaves you crisscrossed in scars like Frankenstein’s monster but as firm and taut as a big, bass drum. Only scarier.

If I put off buying a car right now, I could go get myself an ass like an eighteen year old, if I wanted. With hundreds of thousands of dollars I could desperately pursue the erasure of the entire history of my body, delete all the evidence of ever having been fat, frantically pound Ctrl-Z, Ctrl-Z, beg a doctor to fix me and make me as close to totally perfect as I can get with a lot of money and a lot of surgery. Scars don’t count–scars are the end result of surgery. And wouldn’t I rather carry the end result of surgery than the end result of obesity?



You look at the weight loss surgery forums, some journals, some patient
testimonies, notes on group email lists, and you see that some people
don’t consider themselves done with the Weight Loss Surgery Experience
until they’ve gotten all their plastic surgery done with. They suffer
through the weight loss and all that time their surgeons make them wait
before they are declared stable and all the time it takes to save up
money or get approved for financing, because the big gong that
announces the end of the race, the ribbon breaking, the happy ending
before the credits roll doesn’t happen until they can unwrap the
bandages from their full-body nip and tuck and go pose for a swimsuit
catalog.

And then, some people need to do it–they are waiting patiently for the
moment when they can finally get rid of the excess skin that plagues
them, causes back aches, hernias, rashes, painful strains because all
that skin without fat to support it and fill it out is skin that hangs
and pulls and makes life hell. Those are the people waitiing patiently
for their medical procedure, not their transformation into a swan. But
without all the excess skin, maybe they can enjoy the advantages that
having lost all that weight affords. Maybe they can have some quality
time with the pros without being dragged down by the cons.

Most people probably fall somewhere in between. I fall somewhere in
between. I don’t have disfiguring, sore-making skin; I am not sure I
want plastic surgery at all. It’s surgery; the word plastic seems
chillingly apropos. But I fantasize about having a flat belly, you
know. I have never had one. I’ve had hate affairs with just about every
quarter inch of my skin for most of my life, but my belly is the part I
always go back to–it’s the part that I have never quite reconciled,
that I always cover and hide, that my eyes will always be drawn to in the mirror and in pictures, with an urge
to eradicate rising up in my breast. I could eradicate it–with a lot
of money and a painful surgery with a great deal of recovery time.

I could have magnificent breasts–there are doctors doing amazing
things with implants, nowadays. They could take all the skin of my
lower body, haul it up like a pair of pants and tie it off in a knot.
They could clip my wings so that I won’t ever fly again! But I also
won’t be waving bye-bye with my triceps. They can do astonishing things
with science, treat our bodies like clay, make us how we want to  be.
Except for the scars. And the fact that plastic surgery isn’t exactly a
precise science. Or the safest thing in the world. And do I really want
to go messing around with my body more? Hasn’t it fucked with my head
enough, losing so much weight that even the topography of my face has
changed?

I shouldn’t go messing around, any more. I feel like I
shouldn’t keep tampering, like I was lucky enough to get through one
major surgery without a heart attack and with good results–what are
the chances that I will manage another successful surgery, with
equally, generally satisfing results? But maybe–maybe? Maybe.

All this to say–I don’t know where I’m going, from here. Give me two more years, please.

2 Replies to “now what?”

  1. Whatever you decide is ok. You are allowed to have surgery or not. Wanting to get rid of excess skin or wanting to have larger breasts is ok. It doesn’t make you a bad person. That said, if you’ve had enough surgery that your face skin is pulled so tight that your eyes are on the side of your head like a fish, it is probably time to stop.

  2. Hi Anne – I just caught up with this post.

    Having cosmetic (sounds better than “plastic”!) surgery after losing weight was the best thing I ever did for myself – second to losing the weight in the first place, of course. I’ve had a lower body lift (extended tummy tuck and butt lift) plus a boob lift and a bit of lipo on my thighs and knees. The scarring on my lower body isn’t too bad – it looks a bit like the pink marks left on your skin after you take off a g-string (that’s what I like to think anyway!). Anyway, it looks a hell of a lot better than the droopy belly and saggy butt left after the weight loss.

    Another issue you may want to consider is that if you carried a lot of weight in your belly, like I did, your abs may have separated. It’s called an abdominal diastis and also occurs sometimes during pregnancy. I had an abdominal repair when I had my tummy tuck (ie the surgeon sewed my abs back together) and suddenly the lower back pain which had plagued me disappeared. For that alone, the surgery was worth it.

    As Jenn sensibly pointed out, whatever you decide is OK, but I thought I’d share my perspective.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

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