It has officially been two years since I underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (aka weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery) on July 17, 2015.
It honestly does not feel like it has been that long. My first year I spent learning to eat right and change bad habits. This past year I took a different focus. My time has been spent on two things: maintenance and excess skin. What do I mean by this?
There are a few common misconceptions surrounding WLS, including the idea that you can eat whatever you want and lose weight. Weight loss surgery is a lifetime commitment and requires that you eat right and exercise regularly. It is not the answer to weight loss but instead, it is a tool to guide you in your efforts to live a healthier lifestyle.
With that said, when I decided to get surgery, I was really concerned about returning to old/bad habits. So, this past year I have spent my time trying to maintain my eating habits while also focusing on strengthening my body (especially now that all of my health concerns are gone). From running my first half marathon to working out regularly, I try to remain active at least 3x/week. Additionally, I have noticed my body can tolerate a lot more food like junk food (I love me some Doritos) and larger portions of fried foods. So, I try to watch what I eat/how much I eat. I do not deprive myself but I focus on striking a balance.
With my weight loss (close to 140 pounds) … came excess skin. Even with working out to tone by body there is only so much one can do to tighten the skin. At a certain point, excess skin is inevitable. For me, I have/had excess skin on my arms, breasts, thighs and stomach. To be honest, I am fine with the excess skin on my arms and thighs but the excess skin on my stomach and breasts took a toll on me emotionally this past year. I used to get rashes on my stomach since the skin rolled over. I had prescription powders and creams to help and even wore Spanx to help with the issue but deep down, I was feeling really unsure of myself. I have always loved my body but for the first time, I was afraid to wear certain clothing and even be naked in front of my boyfriend.
So, I decided to start seeing different plastic surgeons to learn more about the procedure/recovery and to see if insurance would cover the procedure. After many struggles in Chicago, a surgeon named Dr. Neil Tanna in New York came to my rescue. With his support and with fundraising/saving, on February 20, 2017, I had the excess skin removed from my stomach and the skin tightened (surgery: penniculectomy and abdominoplasty). My grandmother flew to New York and stayed with me during my entire 2+ week stay before I could safely fly home to fully recovery.
I have spent the past few months recovering and I am now starting to enjoy this new found confidence and body I have. I can run now without my skin flapping and getting rashes. I can wear a size medium underwear instead of having to wear a size XL just to cover the skin. Clothes actually fit me how they should. I must say I am truly happy. I am still deciding whether or not to get my breasts done (purely cosmetic and to just simply better my personal standard of living). Until that time comes, I plan on enjoying myself to the fullest.
These past two years have been life changing. I would not change anything at all. I like to put “Before and During” when I post about myself because I feel as though “Before and After” doesn’t accurately showcase my lifestyle change. I am and will always be a work in progress. My work is not done and I plan to live the healthiest and happiest life I can, taking it one day at at time. Here is to many more years of self-love, self-care and happiness.