By withheld from England
As most people know weight loss is often difficult and full of emotional and physical struggles. When you are 9 stone overweight, weight loss turns into a battle which you need to fight if you want to live a healthy life, both physically and mentally.
Ever since I can remember, I was a chubby child – luckily I had a great circle of friends through both primary and secondary school which meant I never really faced teasing (which wouldn’t have been helped by the fact I had braces and glasses!). The odd remark from a child at school was considered ‘normal’ to me. Overall I had a happy childhood. The weight however increased year by year. By 18 I was 125 Kg (19 ½ stones). I had gained a place at university. It was now it hit me I needed to lose weight.
The next 3 years were a journey. A journey which included re-educating myself about food, re-training my mind about nutrition, and the need for exercise and sport. I actually started enjoying being healthy and exercising. I didn’t turn into a gym or food ‘freak’- I realised early on the importance of having a realistic eating pattern- one which had ‘treats’ but in moderation.
I lost 8 ½ stones of weight and at the age of 21 weighed 11 stones. Taking into account my height I was now a healthy BMI and weight. I had a surge of energy and confidence. Going out socialising was now more fun. Shopping for clothes was a totally different experience. It was now enjoyable, not a ‘necessity’.
One problem. Loose skin.
I was now burdened by loose skin which had lost its elasticity, especially around my stomach area. Crinkled skin which was literally weighing me down. It meant I was always self-conscious. Trying to hide it by clothes which were slightly baggy. Always leaving my shirt untucked/out of my trousers. Even silly things like never taking my blazer off when wearing a suit because of the bulge. People would comment ‘you have lost so much weight’…‘you’re slim’. But I didn’t feel slim.
Being a medical care professional, I totally understand the important of informed consent. Understanding the risks, benefits and the true extent of any surgical procedure. It was from the age of 25-29 that I was researching about procedures to try and rid me of this bulge. I looked at liposuction and tummy tucks. At first the idea of tummy tuck scared me- it was a big operation and one that wasn’t to be taken lightly. It was at 29 that I decided to book multiple consultations with surgeons in both London and Birmingham. The consultations differed. Some were clearly more concerned about making sure they got me ‘booked’ for surgery. When you leave the clinic you feel like you were just a procedure to be booked.
The Westbourne Centre was different. My consultation was about ME. The procedure was secondary. We discussed my concerns, my wants; but most importantly we discussed realistic expectations. The consultation was informal but at the same time informative. Risks and benefits were discussed. All options were discussed, including the fact that having no treatment was also an option. It is important to remember that tummy tuck or any cosmetic procedure is not ‘essential’ to life. It is a very personal choice which you need to weigh and balance in your own life, together with your expectations. Mr Nishikawa gave me time, in fact insisted I had time. I thought the decision through, met other surgeons, weighed my options and then made a decision.
The decision was made. I had booked myself for a tummy tuck in August 2014. I booked it under sedation. Almost all surgeons in the UK book this procedure under a general anaesthetic. Having worked in hospital and in theatre I knew the aftermath of a general anaesthetic. General anaesthetics are extremely safe, but with any procedure they aren’t without risk. But it’s the side effects afterwards- nausea, sore throat and just general malaise. I didn’t want that. Plus I’m a bit of a control freak. I didn’t like the idea of totally losing control. And that was the difference with local anaesthetic and sedation. It seemed as if I was in control throughout the procedure.
The sedation is a weird sensation. It is like being merry after a couple glasses of wine, yet being aware of your surroundings. I remember the staff in theatre talking to me during surgery, and me speaking with the anaesthetist. Even communicating with Mr Nishikawa once or twice. But the most alarming thing was I wasn’t in pain. Tummy tuck is a big procedure. You are essentially having masses of skin removed. It was meant to be painful, but I felt nothing. I don’t remember a lot from the surgery. Maybe 30-45 minutes. I remember when it finished. I felt cold (a common side effect) and then was transferred to recovery. The nice thing was I was welcomed by staff that I had met in the morning and seen in theatre- it makes it personal. I know that it isn’t possible to do this (level of care) in large NHS hospitals, but it really does help. Within 10 minutes I was eating and drinking. A tuna sandwich. I remember that. Mr Nishikawa came round, and he was commenting how the surgery was a success. I had done it. 4 years of research. The goal was achieved.
I was home the same day. Stayed with friends in Birmingham for the first 3 days and then home to parents after that. The night of the procedure I had a call from the surgery to make sure everything was OK, which it was. I was taking the painkillers as prescribed. Pain? Yes there was discomfort, but nothing like what I was expecting. There was a tightness and it was difficult to walk. I was topped over to make sure there was not much strain on the stiches. But I managed to get sleep. Slept on a recliner sofa. I think that’s almost a requirement so there is not too much stress on the stitches.
The next day I went to the clinic to get my dressings checked and changed. Everything was going great. It was time to go back to London. The next 4 weeks I was at home with parents. I had time off work so was lucky, but I only needed 2 weeks. Day by day I was walking more, standing up straighter. The swelling was decreasing slowly but surely. 2 weeks later I was walking straight and back to normal. No gym or vigorous exercise. That didn’t come for 6 weeks.
My life changed. I felt more confident. I could wear fitted tops and everyone was commenting on how flat and toned my stomach appeared. It’s true, removing the excess skin allowed me to appreciate that actually I did have abs. Now I am at the gym toning those abs and core.
The scar. This is an important consideration. The scar runs from hip to hip. It is inevitable and you will have it. 6 months on this is a faint line. And I know this will improve as time goes on. How much does it bother me? 2/10 at the most. I knew I was going to have a scar, what I didn’t know was that it was going to improve at the rate it is! I also had my tummy button repositioned. This is healing very well, and looks ‘normal’ not a slouchy ‘stooped down button’ – those that have one will understand!
It was a life changing moment. I know it sounds cliché, but I would honestly go back and do it al over again. The decision to have this surgery and have it at The Westbourne Centre was one that has changed me for the better.
Thanks to all.