A weight lifted: Body contouring helps give patients a fresh start after major weight loss
Courageous and determined describe Dina Greene, who has undergone a major lifestyle change over the last few years.
Dina works long hours standing on her feet as a surgical nurse at Palos Community Hospital. And when she isn’t at the hospital, the mother of two is taking care of her family at their home in Mokena. Like most moms, she doesn’t often put herself first, but losing weight and reshaping her body was something she had to do for herself.
“My husband loves me no matter what I look like and it’s great to have that unconditional love, but it wasn’t for him,” says Dina. “It was for me and I don’t frequently do things for me. I do them for everybody else.”
Dina’s transformation began in October 2010 when she lost 100 pounds with the aid of gastric bypass surgery. But more than a year after losing the weight, she still couldn’t put the past behind her because she was left with an apron of excess skin in her abdominal area.
While happier with her body than before the weight loss, Dina says “having that extra skin kind of makes you feel sad.” To many, it’s a reminder of what they once were.
In April 2012, she met with Jerry Chow, M.D., and chose to have a circumferential lower body lift and hasn’t looked back. “It’s the end of the journey. If the weight loss is the start, this is the finish line.”
About eight weeks after her lift, she went shopping to celebrate her new body. She once searched the clothing racks for size 18/20, now she proudly wears size 8.
“I no longer have to look for clothes that camouflage a certain area,” she says. “I’m not hiding anymore.”
Regular exercise and healthy eating help keep Dina on the right track for success. “Maintenance is forever. I didn’t do all of these things just to go back to what I was. This is an amazing transformation.”
‘When we look good, we feel good’
“The elastic fibers of the skin are lost with excessive weight gain,” says Dr. Chow, a board-certified plastic surgeon. “Over the last 50 years, abdominoplasty was the gold standard to trim the torso. However, this is no longer sufficient. The traditional tummy tuck with liposuction cannot address major weight-loss issues.”
In a 360-degree body lift, the underlying abdominal muscles are tightened to restore the core. The excess skin and fat is removed circumferentially.
“We are all conscious of our appearance. The small improvements we make (hair, nails, clothes) make us feel more confident. When we look good, we feel good,” says Dr. Chow. “Exercise alone will not restore elasticity to the skin.”
Many body lift patients have lost 50 to 150 pounds and must be at a stable weight for six to12 months before becoming a candidate for the surgery.
In addition to looking better, there also are health benefits to having body lift surgery. The removal of excess skin ultimately improves issues related to diabetes, heart health, depression and low self-esteem.
‘It’s not a cake walk’
While the results of a body lift are visible almost immediately, Dr. Chow cautions his patients to have realistic expectations. “They will not be models or TV stars.”
He also reminds patients this is a major surgery that takes six to seven hours in the operating room and a several-day stay at the hospital. There is pain, long scars and a six-week recovery, but the rewards are worth it for those who make the commitment.
Dina admits she has a high pain threshold and compares the pain to that of giving birth. “Imagine a C-section all the way around. That’s what it’s like. It’s not a cake walk, but it’s tolerable.”
With any surgery, there are risks and possible complications, but the staff at Palos Community Hospital works together to keep the risks to a minimum. If the need arises, Dr. Chow works with general surgeons and gynecologists to repair additional health ailments, including hernias, during the procedure.
“This is a whole team approach,” he says. “Safety is our first priority.”
Dr. Chow’s office is located in Palos Primary Care Center West, 15300 West Avenue, Suite 310, Orland Park. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Chow, please call (708) 349-3388.