Debbie Takes on the World Again
You'd never know it if you met Debbie now – the busy, career-minded woman laughs easily and looks great. But it wasn't long ago that the 52 year old U.S. Postal Service employee was inactive, unhappy, and lacking confidence. This was four years ago, and Debbie weighed 278 pounds.
25 Pounds a Year
Unlike many obese people who have weight issues all their lives, Debbie didn't really become overweight until she was well into adulthood. The pounds started to pile on with her two pregnancies, then she fell into a pattern of steady gain. "My doctor was having a fit-she said, 'You're gaining 25 pounds a year!'" Debbie remembers. The effects were cumulative; the more Debbie weighed the more sedentary she became.
Debbie was feeling increasingly uncomfortable and unhappy about her situation. She loves to travel, and on a trip with a friend to the Czech Republic, Debbie recalls, "I knew I was taking my last flight." The plane trip was hard on her, especially as the altitude caused her ankles to swell dramatically. And during her stay, she remembers, "I just couldn't get around very well."
By this time, Debbie's daughter was 13 and her son was 11. "I felt sad that they had never known me thin," she says. She had high blood pressure and was borderline diabetic. She was ready for change.
Before Debbie lost 140 pounds, and Debbie's new shape today.
Taking the Plunge
Debbie points out that four years ago bariatric surgery was still relatively uncommon. But she met two women who had lost a significant amount of weight through gastric bypass and was immediately interested in the procedure. She found a group of surgeons in the Central Valley who offer gastric bypass and decided to move forward.
As part of her overall program, Debbie attended various group meetings sponsored by her physicians. She remembers hearing Dr. Thomas McNemar speak at one of those sessions. "I really liked him," she says. "He said, 'When you're ready, come see me' and I never forgot him. His personality seemed calming and peaceful."
Weight Loss, Skin Gain
Debbie's gastric bypass was very successful. She experienced a period of adjustment, and learned gastric bypass should be viewed as a tool, not a quick fix. Back then, there weren't as many support resources to help post-surgical patients as there are today. Nevertheless, this time she lost weight steadily and after about a year she was down almost 140 pounds.
But as the weight melted away, some excess skin remained. Debbie remembered that one of the bariatric patients she had met had prepared her for this to some extent. She also remembered Dr. McNemar, and she arranged a consultation with him to discuss post bariatric plastic surgery to improve her body contour.
"I love all those medical shows," Debbie confesses, "especially Dr. 90210. I wanted to have everything done at once!" Dr. McNemar was much more cautious than that, Debbie found out. "He said, 'I can do two things at a time, what's most important to you?'" she recalls.
First Things First
No question about it, Debbie wanted breast surgery. "There was really nothing left," she says. "I literally had to pull them up and put them into a bra, but I was just pulling up skin." She opted for a breast lift and augmentation with saline implants. At the same time, Debbie chose to have a tummy tuck.
Recovery from that first surgery took a bit of time, Debbie says. She had a pain pump for both her abdomen and breasts, due to the reconstructive nature of the breast surgery. As she tells it she had, "One uncomfortable week." And she had to take off work a few weeks due to the lifting her job requires. "But he removed about four pounds of extra skin from my tummy," she says. "It was completely worthwhile."
Next Things Next
About a year later, Debbie decided to take care of, as she describes it, "A saggy face and a chicken neck." She says, "My mom has pretty good skin, and I guess I do too. Even in my 50's I think I might have felt ok about my face if I hadn't had the weight gain." She went back to Dr. McNemar and planned facelift surgery with him. Recalling what he said about doing two procedures at a time, she also decided to have breast surgery again. Over time, she had come to the conclusion that she wanted to go a little bigger. She asked Dr. McNemar to replace her implants and bring her up to a size D.
This second surgery involved a much easier recovery, Debbie remembers. As she tells it, facial plastic surgery after weight loss isn't very painful, and breast implant replacement is fairly easy as well. This time she was back to work pretty quickly, feeling like a new woman.
After all the changes she has been through, Debbie now weighs what she did in high school. She remembers seeing one of her regular doctors for the first time in a while recently and says, "He was in shock!" She reports she has much more energy and even enjoys going to clubs with the kids. Not only that, she's traveling again and happy to be doing it.
Debbie also says her transformation sparked her career to take off. "I can wear nice suits, and I look and feel more professional." Her newfound confidence led her to apply for promotions as she was no longer afraid to interview. She rapidly rose to not only serve as Postmaster for a Northern California town, but to be elected California State President of the National Association of Postal Supervisors as well.
She remembers her experience with Dr. McNemar fondly. "He always took his time with me, I never felt rushed," she says. "Dr. McNemar is so nice, so kind. He was kind to my family too when they were at the hospital. He kept my mom up to date." She describes her relationship with him as very pleasant and positive. When she would see him for follow up appointments, "He always asked me about my boyfriends," she laughs.
To say that Debbie enjoys her new life is a complete understatement. She's happy to be more active with her teenagers and to be advancing in her career. And she finds pleasure in simply fitting into a nice pair of jeans. Today she says, "This is the real me."
Before & After Photo Gallery
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