Monday, October 16, 2006

The Skin I'm In

"Mommy, what's that on your legs?"

I turned around in the swimming pool and looked at my daughter's face. It was pinched up in that "eww" look she gives me when I put new food on her plate.

"What?" I looked down at my legs and didn't see anything. Then I moved them back and forth, and I realized what had astounded my child. The loose skin on my legs swirled and flopped around my thighs and calves like ... actually, I don't know anything else like it. I grabbed a pair of my daughter's goggles and proceeded to spend the next several minutes watching this bizarre phenomenon until it began to freak my daughter out and she pleaded with me to stop.

Now I knew before this moment that I had loose skin. Anyone who's lost a considerable amount of weight or has been around someone who has knows about this side-effect. I am remembered on Frances Kuffel's blog as the person who described my upper arms as "tavern hams." But it wasn't until that instance in the pool that I realized just how much of what I thought was remaining fat on my legs -- and my entire body -- was in fact excess skin.

I had very mixed emotions about this revelation. Part of me was impressed that I had been able to lose enough weight to make such a difference. But I had a lot of sadness about the damage I had done to my body -- my poor skin was stretched to such an extreme by the weight I carried around that it's now left looking like a semi-deflated balloon. And it depressed me to realize I could do a million crunches and eat celery sticks for the rest of my life, but it wouldn't do a thing about getting rid of it.

I love watching the Discovery Health Channel, especially when they're dealing with obesity and weight loss, whether it’s through surgery or medically supervised. Sunday night I watched one on plastic surgery; the one woman highlighted had lost 180 pounds after gastric bypass and had serious amounts of loose skin. She underwent a “full body lift,” which is a series of three or more surgeries that remove excess skin from the arms, thighs, and torso. Back in the summer I watched an entire show about one British women’s difficult time with these surgeries, and it scared me to death. But last night’s patient seemed to recover very well and wound up taking off somewhere around 20 pounds of skin.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m very leery of doctors, hospitals and surgery. So for me to consider elective surgery is really something. But when I saw that woman’s tavern hams vanish into … normal looking arms, I must admit I was seriously tempted. The thought of being able to buy any shirt and not worry about my upper arms being strangled in the sleeves was like a dream. My husband, God bless him, is from the camp of “whatever makes you happy, I love you just the way you are.” But even he was impressed with this lady’s results.

The cynic in me wonders, however, how much the show was slanted in a pro-plastic surgery light and really glorified all the cases. I’ve seen other shows about plastic surgery nightmares that had me swearing off going near any surgeon unless my life depended on it. I guess the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

It all comes down to vanity. In the grand scheme of things, how terrible a fate is it if my arms jiggle when I wave hello, or my leg skin swirls around my thighs when I swim? Is it the end of the world if my boobs seem like they’re sliding off my chest? Thanks to the modern marvel of clothing (love those support bras) and living in a cold climate, few people will ever see these things other than me. And if they do, how many will really bother to stop and evaluate my body? Without a doubt I will always be my own harshest judge.

As for now it’s a moot subject until I hit the Onederfuls. When I can reach a weight below 200 pounds that I can maintain without being a miserable human being, then I’ll stop and seriously evaluate the skin I’m in. And if some of it has to go, I have a feeling I know exactly what will go first. Bye-bye, tavern hams!


Lori said...

One of my friends is a physician and she informed me that she plans on plastic surgery down the road. Whether or not, she really does it, is a moot point.

I said to her that if I had plastic surgery, it would be for my arms. I'm the one who remembers your description of your arms.

Vickie said...
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Vickie said...

I have to tell you - I am not a surgery person either.

And we have three kids in private school and very high medical bills (Riley Children's hospital might be naming a new wing in our honor sometime soon . . .)- so no extra money available for years and years.

but I would love to get the stuff under my arms on my chest wall "taken care of".

this would mean - I would be getting a part time job and socking away my money for surgery -for years and years.

I have always thought it was weird that my bra size has stayed so close to the same - I realized as I was reading your blog and typing my own this morning - that it is because of this excess skin - it is in the circumference of my bra measurement (around) and spills into my cup too.

So, I guess on reflection - that getting rid of IT would involve a perking up of my bust too - and that might be getting a little too involved for me. . .

Andrea your pictures are so great - you look very slim - it is hard to believe that you have much more weight to go.