RealSelf asks Dr. Stoker about Meredith’s upcoming body lift surgery after losing 159 lbs on the June 4th episode.
On last week’s Extreme Weight Loss we met Meredith — a young woman from Niagara Falls who felt so strongly about meeting her goal weight of 155 lbs that she tattooed it across her stomach with the words, “Believe It, Be It”.
And with trainer Chris Powell’s help, hundreds of miles of running and a marathon -– Meredith did just that. At her final reveal, she stepped on the scale (in a glittering cobalt gown and a huge smile) and hit 155 exactly on the nose.
So, now that her cosmetic surgeon, LA-based Dr. David Stoker, has deemed she’s ready for the surgery (to remove excess hanging skin and tighten her tummy) –- Meredith can also wave goodbye to the unwanted black ink that adorns her belly.
Will Meredith’s total body lift remove that entire tattoo? And, are there other ways (besides a newly svelte appearance) that a body lift can change a patient’s life? Dr. Stoker answers these burning questions below.
RealSelf: Will Meredith awaken from her body lift with her tattoo completely removed?
Dr. Stoker: Her tattoo is on her lower abdomen. When I do an extended abdominoplasty on a patient who has lost more than 100 pounds -– I would remove all of the skin on the lower abdomen…. everything from the belly button to the pubic area and more. And so, that tattoo, will definitely be removed as a part of the skin removal surgery. We’ll probably remove at least four square feet from her midsection.
RealSelf: We know Meredith is an avid runner. Can you describe how removing the excess skin will make it easier (and more enjoyable) for Meredith to do what she loves?
Dr. Stoker: What we find with massive weight loss is that the [hanging] skin can inhibit a person’s ability to exercise. The breasts and skin bounce when they run -– and it [leads to] chafing and bleeding. The skin also tends to get rashes and breakdown from the chafing — there’s a lot of skin on skin moisture and rubbing.
And, socially it can be embarrassing when skin is flapping – it’s humiliating for [extreme weight loss patients] and they just want it off.
You can also imagine if you’re in pain and chafing to the point of bleeding — you might be at risk to [not exercise], regress and gain weight. What we find, actually, is when patients know they are at the end of their weight loss road and I can help them improve their appearance and rid them of loose skin -– it’s a powerful motivating factor.
RealSelf: What areas are typically targeted with total body lift after weight loss like Meredith’s?
Dr. Stoker: It’s similar to a mommy makeover but super-sized. Each person is different –- and it’s dependent on their [physical condition], their desires and budget. But, typically it would involve the abdomen, pubic area, waist, breasts and arms… and later it may involve the thighs, face and the neck.
RealSelf: A pubic lift? Can you describe exactly why this area would need to be lifted and the post-op effect?
Dr. Stoker: For women, it’s when a lot of sagging [occurs] in the mons pubis area where the pubic hair would be. It can happen to moms with multiple pregnancies and it can certainly happen after extreme weight loss.
And for guys, it may be even a more sensitive [issue], as the base of the penis is fixed to bone and doesn’t get any longer as a person gains weight. So, if [a man] has loose skin hanging in their pubic region -– it can make the penis look like it’s non-existent.
So [this sort of surgery] can make a huge difference in the patient’s physical appearance, psychological [well-being] and their functionality.
RealSelf: You also mentioned lifting the face and the neck in a total body lift. Meredith didn’t seem to need this procedure as she looked picture perfect in her final reveal — so who is the facial surgery most appropriate for?
Dr. Stoker: On Extreme Weight Loss, most of the candidates are on the young side and have good skin elasticity in their faces and don’t need facial surgery. But for someone who is in their 40’s or 50’s – [extreme weight loss] can make them appear 20 years older than they actually are.
You may have heard (or realized) that overweight people tend to have few wrinkles as everything is stretched tight. But, when you remove the fat -– either the skin snaps back (as it might in a 20 year old) — or if [a person] has inadequate elasticity [you might see] a “turkey neck”, jowls or prominent nasolabial folds.
[This surgery] can be a very nice improvement in a middle-aged or older patient who loses a lot of weight.
Do YOU have questions about a surgical body lift? Ask them on RealSelf here.
Did YOU watch Extreme Weight Loss? What did YOU think abou Meredith’s journey? Tweet us @RealSelf to share your thoughts!
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