Imagine finally loosing a lot of weight and having something close to the body you have always wanted, only to find that you are still literally uncomfortable in your own skin. Dramatic weight loss from gastric bypass surgery can leave behind loads of leftover skin, a new and embarrassing reminder of your old body. Well a procedure called a total body lift removes that excess skin in one extensive surgery. Recently we followed someone who tried it. Melissa Janci’s weight gain began in college after trying everything to trim down, she decided to take a dramatic step, gastric bypass surgery. Melissa lost 120 pounds, went from size 26 to a size 4, and felt like a new woman. Physically I can do a lot more. I could exercise, I could walk without getting out of breath. But the transformation that should have given Melissa self-confidence and a new lease on life instead left her self-conscious with a new problem. Where you lose weight you have a lot of extra skin that kind of hangs.
Melissa decided to see Dr. Dennis Hurwitz, one of the few plastic surgeons who performs a total body lift to tuck and snip away unwanted skin all over the body. They have to be healthy and lost most of the weight they need to lose and highly motivated. The surgery can take eight hours. The patients get three layers of stitches, risk infections, and blood clots, and face up to two months of recuperation. Melissa says for her the benefits far outweigh the risks. To just stand up straighter and be more confident, I just feel heavy all around. Melissa Janci had that surgery two weeks ago. Patricia Snider had her total body lift a year ago. Dr. Dennis Hurwitz is their plastic surgeon and author of the “Total Body Lift”. Good morning to all of you. Good Morning. How are you feeling first of all? I feel good actually. Two weeks after this extensive surgery, soreness, what about numbness, anything like that? The first couple of days were bad, were rough. I have done with that. When did you turn the corner? After, I would say, the first three days when I could get up out of bed, walk around, and start to feel a lot better. We saw some footage and by the way I think you were very brave to allow us to shoot that footage. What were the areas of your body in terms of excess skin that bothered you the most. Definitely the stomach area. Right in your stomach, arms. Yeah, arms. You know, definitely you have the flabby patch under your arms, legs, you have that little small bags on the side, that is all gone now. Doctor, I know you are happy with the way Melissa did in surgery. How is she doing in recovery? She is exceptional. Truly a courageous young woman to come here and talk to you and talk to us about her experience. The operation took about seven hours and we were able to do everything from her breasts down to her thighs. I was reading about this and the first question that came to mind is why one long surgery and why not do this piecemeal over a longer period of time. It is possible to do a piecemeal and at times we do, but for smaller, younger, energetic patients, we can do it all at once because I have a team of surgeons working with me, an excellent hospital at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, so we can do it. You lost about a 120 pounds after gastric bypass surgery. Trish, you lost about 160-165 pounds. Correct. How discouraging was it for you when you lost all that weight, you thought okay it is the new me and you looked in the mirror and saw this old skin. Right. It is terrible. You go through this whole process and I never even considered doing that before. You get to a point where you lose all this weight and then what you are left with is a little disappointing. You know, you have extra skin, you cannot fit in your clothing, you know, so decide you have to do something about it. So you had this body lift a year ago. When you look at yourself naked now, how does your opinion of what you see change or how has it changed compared to what you saw a year ago. It is a 100 percent different. You feel the transformation from the heavier you, 160 pounds ago, to now is complete. I do. I am perfectly happy with the way I am. It is an amazing difference from where, I mean the sizes I went down just from after the body lift here to now. It is amazing. What about scarring. You know, when you do this many surgeries over the size of the body, where do you hide these scars? It is very important to make these scars as inconspicuous as possible. Because that can affect their body image also if they look in the mirror. No question about it. So we try to hide them in the bikini line, hide them for woman in the brassiere line and fleet them under the arms. Gastric bypass surgery can be pricey. Add to that now the cost of this total body lift, which is about what? That might be somewhere between $40000 and $50000 to get this completely done. Well, so it is important to tell patients who are lining up for gastric bypass surgery that they may want to consider this cost on top of that if they really want to be in an emotional place after these surgeries, where they want to be. When you are having the gastric bypass, all you think is, I just want to lose the weight, I just want to lose the weight. You don’t realize you lost the weight and now you are still feeling uncomfortable and this is the choice. I was warned. I mean they did tell you that this is going to put, put that a reminder saying one step at a time. Yeah. You know, I was not thinking, “Oh, you know I have to go get plastic surgery after this.” It was not even a consideration. They did warn you but you decided that you are going to take care one thing at a time. And with you Melissa, you are two weeks out of surgery, so you can see some of the results right now. Very encouraged by what you are seeing. Oh ya. I can wait till it is all healed and better. Good luck to you. Melissa thanks. Trish, thank you very much, and doctor thank you as well. Your welcome. And we are back in a moment. This is Today on NBC.