I had lost 143 pounds and couldn’t wait to have my abdominoplasty procedure. I had worked hard to change my life and couldn’t wait to have a smooth stomach for the first time in my entire life.

The decision to have bariatric surgery is one of the biggest commitments we will ever make. Once we take the surgical measure as a means to end our morbid obesity, make permanent changes to our life, and fight to arrive at and maintain a healthy goal weight, many of us either need or simply want to complete our transformation with plastic or reconstructive surgery.

It is very important that you are well informed when choosing someone to transform you. Plastic surgery is still surgery and is not to be taken lightly. It’s not as easy as it looks on television where patients go to sleep and in a one hour show have multiple procedures with little or no consequence.

We need to choose a plastic reconstructive surgeon as carefully as we chose our bariatric surgeon. This is not the time to look for a deal or cheapest price as we live with the results forever, and it is sometimes difficult under the best of circumstances to achieve an attractive result given what the surgeon is given to work with. Face it in that we are not bringing the best material to the table. Choice of surgeon is more important than ever as we need someone who understands how to work with what we have in order to create a look that makes us happy. Something like making a silk purse out of a sows ear.

I had my extended abdominoplasty eighteen months after my bariatric surgery. My extended version of abdominoplasty goes around my flanks past my hipbones to take in some of my side skin. I researched, chose my surgeon carefully, and was fortunate that his skilled hand produced as near perfect result as one could hope for.

My best friend thought she chose wisely as well, but her extended abdominoplasty performed by a different surgeon three days after mine went horribly wrong – she quickly developed tissue death called necrosis. Within 72 hours, the area from her belly button down to her incision turned black and opened up into a gaping wound so deep you could see her stomach muscles at the bottom of the hole. It took an exhausting battle with her insurance company for coverage for the damage, a search for a surgeon competent and bold enough to fix another surgeons mess, two surgeries and two years to heal, but she still deals with the emotional scars.

A few years later another friend allowed a retired general surgeon to perform multiple procedures for a negotiated deeply discounted rate. I have never seen such horrible scars – all resulting from what should have been a cosmetically pleasing procedure. The surgeon actually used wire to close her wounds. It sickens me to know that this vulnerable and trusting woman put her faith in this man only to be physically and emotionally damaged beyond repair. This woman cannot hold out her arms to drive a car because of the thick taut scars under her arms and has gynecological implications with similar pulled scars on her thighs.

Know who is doing your surgery – make sure they are board certified in plastic surgery. Make sure they are board certified in plastic surgery. This means that they studied for many years in this exact field – its what they have always done. Plastic surgery is the only specialty where a surgeon from a different field can cross over without certification.

In addition, even when you have chosen a board certified plastic surgeon, it’s important to select someone who is practiced in dealing with the large skin flaps and challenges we present after massive weight loss. This is why some board certified plastic surgeons have created the specialty of Bariatric Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. These specialists are gaining in popularity as they focus on perfecting existing techniques, as well as creating new ones. No one wants to lose 200 or more pounds and then be forced to accept an unattractive outcome for what should be the finishing touch on a new life.

Ask to see photos of the exact procedure you seek. If the surgeon does not or cannot show you photos of your procedure, he is probably not the plastic surgeon for you. An arm lift, thigh lift, or full body lift takes know-how and I would not want to be a first patient for any of these procedures.

After all our hard work, we deserve a beautiful result! I am very particular in regards to making any of my personal medical choices. I know that practice makes perfect and that unless I am in an emergency situation, it only takes a little time and effort to find out which doctor or surgeon is best suited for my medical need.

Remember that you are in charge and do not have to settle for substandard care and you always have choices and options.

 

– Susan Maria Leach

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