A few years ago, major changes started taking place in Amie's life. Some were sudden and unwelcome, others she planned and pursued herself. When you talk to Amie today one thing's clear: life shows no signs of becoming routine for her any time soon.
Amie became a widow at age 50 in the summer of 2004. Her husband developed a serious kidney condition in April and she found herself alone by July. The next month, she underwent bariatric surgery. When asked whether she considered postponing the procedure to allow more time to grieve and adjust, Amie explained that it had been scheduled for a while and she was ready, even anxious, for it to happen. She says, "I figured everything else in my life had changed, I might as well keep it going."
Amie had been fairly slim in her younger years. She started to gain weight in her 20's after her son was born, but really didn't feel she had a problem until her 30's. The triple threat of slowing metabolism, growing portions and a busy life caused Amie's weight to slowly but steadily increase until one day she stepped on the scale and got a shock: she weighed almost 300 pounds.
That experience was enough to send Amie to WeightWatchers® and prompt her to drop about 100 pounds. Though she felt great about that achievement, she just wasn't able to keep the weight off. "It would have required me watching every single thing I put in my mouth," she explains, "and I just couldn't live like that." After three years of "a little bit here, a little bit there," Amie was back up to around 285 and she knew bariatric surgery was the answer for her.
Amie taking on the world with her new weight and new shape.
The Weight Comes Off
Her gastric bypass surgery was a complete success. She had no complications and describes the experience as "textbook." She adjusted well, changed her eating patterns, and lost almost half her weight in about a year. Now down around 150 pounds, Amie says bariatric surgery was "the best thing I ever did. I would do it again in a heartbeat."
Even before all the weight was gone, Amie had areas of her body that, as she puts it, "needed improvement." Her son was born through a C-section, and she was unhappy with the effect on her abdomen. After reaching her weight loss goal, the condition was worse. "I had loose skin everywhere," she says. By now she also needed a breast lift.
The Skin Comes Off
Her bariatric surgeon's office referred Amie to Dr. Thomas McNemar. She also remembers she had heard good things about him through the hospital where she had her procedure. In 2005, she went to see him about post bariatric plastic surgery. She still remembers that first consult. "He has a cute personality," she remarks, explaining, "Dr. McNemar is professional and personable, making it easy to feel comfortable and open up to him."
Amie's first priority was a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty. Dr. McNemar planned a bilateral procedure that would tighten muscles and remove excess skin below and above Amie's belly button. Today Amie says her tummy looks "1000% better."
Amie also told the plastic surgeon she wanted a breast lift. "I had always been busty and assumed there would be plenty left after he removed skin, but he advised me to get implants." Amie is happy she listened to Dr. McNemar. She describes her post-surgery breasts as "36 DDs, now up where they're supposed to be."
Recovery from this dual procedure was uncomfortable for a few days, Amie says, but Dr. McNemar had prepared her thoroughly and she knew what to expect. The pain pump he used for her abdomen and breasts helped. Amie rested for the majority of a week until she could start to get up and out for short periods of time and gradually walk upright again. Unlike another doctor Amie consulted, Dr. McNemar felt comfortable doing two procedures at once. Amie was very glad about that, saying she would rather experience pain once in two places than go through an uncomfortable few days twice.
In 2006, Amie returned to Dr. McNemar for a facelift and brow lift. "You know, when you lose a lot of weight it affects your face too," she remarks. Amie never considered anyone else to perform this second procedure for her. "He did such a great job the first time," Amie says. "The quality of his work is so good. I think Dr. McNemar is an artist-he just works with skin. I knew he was the one to do my face."
Now with tummy, breasts, face and brow rejuvenated, Amie isn't planning any more surgery.yet. If she does, she says, "I would go back to Dr. Mac, even from South Dakota."
South Dakota? Yes. Inviting another big change into her life, Amie is relocating from California's Central Valley to South Dakota. She has a good friend who lives at the foot of the Black Hills, and Amie felt drawn to the area when she visited over the past few years. Unpacking as she tells her story of transformation, Amie says, "I thought I might move here eventually, but as I grew to love the place I realized I wanted to make it happen soon. What was I waiting for?"
For Amie, change is good.
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