Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Body of Perfection?

Yesterday, I went to see a plastic surgeon.

After losing about 180 lbs, I'm left with a lot of loose, excess skin. What troubles me the most is the skin around my stomach. Even though I've lost so much weight and can fit into a size 12 pair of jeans (and even accidentally squeezed into a size 10!), I sometimes still feel like I'm 300+ because of my huge stomach. And, it can be difficult when trying on clothes - shirts and dresses that fit over my tummy are loose everywhere else. Mostly, though, it would be nice to be a little more comfortable in my own skin...with less skin. :)

A couple weeks ago, Steve and I were talking about finances and our summer trip and at one point he suggested that I think about getting a tummy tuck. I guess I've mentioned my tummy issues more than I realized and, sweet guy that he is, he said that although he loves how I look, he wants me to be the happiest I can be. If that means getting rid of my excess skin, he was all for it. And, as he pointed out, this summer I'm not taking classes or working and would have plenty of time to recover.

So, yesterday I met with a plastic surgeon. I really liked the doctor and really, really liked that he is in Ogden as opposed to Salt Lake City. It would be so much easier to have the procedure closer to home. With a nurse in the room, I bared my body (with the important bits covered) to the doctor for him to inspect. He was surprised when I told him how much weight I have lost because he's treated a lot of weight loss patients but none that have lost that much. As he inspected my stomach, I mentioned other areas that I dislike (inner thighs, breasts, and upper arms) and he then proceeded to point out other areas that he could tighten up in time (bottom, back, sides, upper abdomen, armpits). I wouldn't have excess skin anywhere, no little pockets of fat, just a few scars that would eventually fade and would be worth acquiring for everything else I'd be losing. Other than the scars, my body would be "perfect" - my thoughts, not his words.

I left the doctor's office with a folder of information; brochures on all the procedures we'd discussed and their prices. I hopped in my car and drove 40 minutes to the Salt Lake airport to pick up my husband (yay!). As I drove, I thought about my body. What would it be like to have a body that was contoured exactly the way it would have been if I had never gained so much weight, if I had always been fit? Amazing!

At some point, I woke up from the fantasy. Do I really need a perfect body? After weighing 350 lbs and then losing 180lbs, will having some excess skin under my armpits really destroy my ability to be happy with my body? I hope not. I look a million times better than I used to (and feel great!) and refuse to let myself be satisfied only with some perception of perfection. Because where will it end if perfection becomes the goal? When I've been cut, stretched, resewn, and made all taut and fat-free, will I find something else about my body to not like? And then what? A nose job? A face lift? Butt implants (because I have the flattest behind known to woman-kind)?

So, I'm going to have the tummy tuck. As mentioned above, it's the area that gives me the most heartache. It's not like I have a tiny little pooch, my bariatric surgeon told me he thinks I have 5-10 lbs of excess skin in that section alone - that's a lot of skin! Afterward, I'll see how I feel, and in time I might have a breast lift or another procedure or two, but I'll definitely still have excess skin in places. My body will never be perfect.

And you know what? That's okay.


Sarah said...

And yet... even if you decided to do the tummy tuck, I think you've got the right perspective, so I think you'd make it through alright... with your head on your shoulders still. That's just my opinion. I've liked you in all forms, so it doesn't matter to me.

But, what does "perfect" mean anyway? I've lived most of my life thinking it means without flaw, but really... in the most important usages of the word... I think it means "wholeness".

Jennifer Shigley said...

It's refreshing to hear what you said about "then what". I have thought about that before. While I haven't considered plastic surgery seriously... I've thought about it and wondered if I'd be proud of my new body. What about the liposuction? Would I be proud of the weight I "lost"? Probably not.

I tend to totally disagree with body modification such as this and in Utah it's way too prevalent. But then everything has its time and its place... and it's crucial to have the right outlook on it (like yours!).

This sounds like a must and a huge pat on the back for all of the weight you lost. That's amazing. This sounds like a great gift to your body and it will help you feel proud (I mean proud in a very good way!) of the weight you lost and even more encouraged to keep up the healthy living! :D

by the way, just found your blog via CJane. Thanks for this awesome post.

Aiketa said...

I guess this is the main problem with plastic surgery... that people never know when to stop and just keep going on with more surgeries.

I think you made a great decision!

crystal b. said...

Way to go losing 180 lbs!!!!! You should definitely get the tuck. I've lost a bunch of weight myself and have a huge hunk of skin that will never go away, unless I get rid of it surgically. It really does make you feel like you are still fat -- even after all that work. So do it and feel good about your huge accomplishment. And like you said -- your body is never going to be perfect, and it will age, so don't get hung up trying to fix it all. :) It's not worth obsessing over everything, but removing a around a kangaroo pouch -- that's major. :)

Good luck to you!!

Catherine Dabels said...

I had a tummy tuck after I lost 75 pounds after my fourth baby. I struggled with the decision. Was I being vain? Was it necessary? Would it change me or make me want more and more and more?

In the end I had one and every time I look at the scar I think two things to myself. One, my body has done amazing things. Four babies, 3 delivered via c-section. And two, it was the right decision for me and my personal esteem. I have never wanted more than that. All i wanted to do was be able to look in the mirror and not see that flap of skin hanging. I have so many body flaws but that one really ate me up inside. I can live with the rest.

And you're right. It is okay not to be perfect. What does that even mean anyway?