05 November 2008

Imagine going to extreme lengths to shift our excess pounds, only to end up with a body that looks even worse than it did to begin with. Unfortunately thats the reality for a lot of women, especially with the rising popularity of gastric bands, says cosmetic surgeon Dr Riccardo Frati. Were seeing a big increase in clients who have lost a lot of weight and been left with loose skin. Theres suddenly a demand for post-obesity surgery that will make their skin fit their new, slimmer figure.What happens? This shrink-wrap surgery is most commonly performed on the tummy, where many post-diet women are left with an ugly apron of flesh. This is corrected by cutting away the excess tissue and knitting the stretched abdominal muscles back together, says Dr Frati. Before going under the knife, shrink-wrap candidates are advised to wait at least 3-6 months after hitting their target weight to see how their skin settles down and give them a little time to save up the 5,800-plus bill, of course. SHRINK-WRAP CASE STUDY After losing more the 4st, Michelle Gudgeon from Cleveland had 7lb of loose tissue cut away to give her a slim new shape. Turning to look at myself sideways in the changing room, I cringed. Id lost 41/2 st through diet and exercise, yet my body looked worse than it had when I was fat. An ugly flap of loose skin hung down from my belly button, ruining the look of everything I tried on. Im going home, I said to my husband Richard as I stomped out of the shop. Im not trying any ore clothes. Everything looks awful because of my tummy. Richard had always told me not to worry about my apron of skin, that I looked great to him. But this time he could see just how much it was getting to me. If it really upsets you this much, lets see what we can do about it, he said. After looking on the internet, I booked a consultation at The Harley Medical Group. Youve actually got a small waist, the nurse explained. Youll get a fantastic result once all that skins gone. Once Id looked at other patients; before and after photos, I was so elated I booked in right away. The fist thing I did when I came round from the operation was to reach down for my tummy and it was flat I couldnt believe it. The consultant told me hed cut away 7lb of tissue. I was dosed up on painkillers, so it didnt hurt much, but it was difficult moving about because of having all my stomach muscles stitched back together. For the first week I hobbled round like an old lady. But it was all worth it when I went back to have my dressing changed and I saw my new stomach for the first time. Wow! My body had been totally redesigned. Even the scar didnt look anything like as bad as youd expect, because all the stitches were on the inside. Outside, there was just a neat line running from hip to hip, which was hidden by my underwear. Having the operation has transformed my life. In the past Id cove up with baggy clothes, and if I was having my photo taken Id position myself behind other people so nobody could see my bulging tummy. Now I cant stop taking sideways looks at myself in windows. Ive bought a whole new wardrobe of lovely fitted clothes, and I can easily slip into a 12 where a 14 was too tight before. Since having the surgery, Ive set up my own business and my new body makes me feel so confident when Im meeting clients. Having cosmetic surgery was expensive, but it was worth every penny Ill never look back.