As many of you have seen at this point, this week I was featured on the premiere of TLC’s Skin Tight featuring Lauana and Tim (me). As you could surmise, this is a process that has been a long time coming and due to contractual obligations, I couldn’t talk about it or show any photographs of the surgery until now that my episode has aired.
Long time readers know that loose skin has been an issue that I have struggled with for quite some time. “Will I have loose skin?” remains one of the most common questions I receive from new visitors of the site and my answer is always ‘it depends’ along with a link to the article wherein I discuss mine. Most of the conventional wisdom surrounding loose skin is that it is made worse by rapid weight loss. I lost my first 200 pounds in just over one year so I’m a natural fit. They assumed from my pictures I didn’t have any but here were my secrets:
- Compression shirts and shorts to keep it all in.
- Extremely careful picture selection that did not accentuate the skin.
- Have a face that is sufficiently weird looking as to take focus off my body.Here are the actual photos I sent in to be considered for Skin Tight.
My worst areas in terms of loose skin were in my opinion:
It’s on the show but in my initial consultation with Dr. Kerr and Dr. Bekanich, they prodded all over my body. What you didn’t see on the television show was Dr. Kerr grabbed my chest and complimented all the muscle mass I had accumulated a few times from lifting and told me, “you’re really going to look manly after this.”
It was this moment that made this all real for the first time: I was getting rid of the last thing that reminded me of obese Tim. I immediately broke down and cried as seen here:
Prior to this moment I was terrified: the next morning I was going under the knife. I was foolish enough to go to Austin alone and I knew I would be alone when I woke up too. I thought I was tough enough not to care but I was wrong. Not bringing out a caretaker for the first surgery was one of two things I really regretted.
The moment Dr. Kerr said I’d finally look like a man made me realize the fear and all the pain that would come were worth it.
Surgery, Part 1
Prior to surgery, my surgeons took out permanent markers and drew all over me turning me into a sewing pattern. Some people on Twitter have said they felt this was cruel but it is a necessary practice to help make sure that they cut evenly on both sides (you don’t want to look lopsided after!). Anesthesia was administered and out I went as my surgeons put on their operation music of choice: terrible pop music. The last thing I remember before waking up sliced up was the sounds of Katy Perry telling me I was a Firework.
I don’t remember at all the scene in the television where they showed me my skin but apparently that happened (those drugs arer amazing). My field producer also texted my family that within 5 minutes of waking up I was cracking joke after joke and I had the nurses in stitches right along with me. I also accused the male nurse of stealing my kidneys while they were in there (in jest). At another point I asked if they had any medication to help me forget that I’d just listened to a Katy Perry Pandora station.
Lesson learned: anesthesia kills my inhibitions.
Recovery, Part 1
I spent a night in the hospital for observation due to my lingering sleep apnea and the next morning my caretaker arrived and drove me to the hotel in Austin, Texas where I was scheduled to recover for 14 days before I would be safe to fly home.
One of the biggest things that causes huge amounts of pain after a post weight loss tummy tuck is that most patients have to have their abdominal muscles tightened (they mentioned this with Lauana on the show but not with me). When they opened me up they found that mine had not separated as most people do when they carry significant weight in their mid-section. That meant no tightening for me which is a huge blessing. No other patient on the show was fortunate in this regard that I know of.
I felt so good following the second surgery that the day after surgery I decided that I’d try to not take any of the pain killers they prescribed. That was foolishness and after a few hours, I was in a bad way. At this point, my caretaker called the hospital who told her I was stupid and to make me take some oxycodone and stop trying to be a hero.
From that day forward I took my medicine like a good boy but slowly began to taper off and after a week, I was oxy free.
My mom arrived after a week in Austin. By the time my mom got there, I was already cooking for myself, cleaning up the hotel room daily and living life as normally with a modified shower routine because I couldn’t get my nipples or drain holes wet.
After a week and a half ,I put pressure on everyone to send me home a few days early. The now infamous nipple stitches came off and the drains came out and off I went!
Surgery, Part 2
After a very short recovery from surgery 1, I returned to Austin for my second surgery consult. There was only one problem going into this consultation: now that the skin had been removed from my chest, my upper back looked awful. The back wasn’t in the original plan but my upper body was way more likely to be bare in public than my legs so I went in pushing for this to get done and they agreed that it was needed. Fortunately for me, they said they could also do the legs while they were at it!
Remember in the first surgery where I talked about how much I regretted not bringing a caretaker out? Not bringing out a caretaker for the second surgery was the other thing I really regretted. I’m a slow learner. Anesthesia was administered and off to sleep I went. I think this time it was Ariana Grande as I passed out so a slight improvement in music this time.
Recovery, Part 2
Arms and legs were way different than chest and stomach. With chest and stomach, you can lay down and everything is cool and nothing hurts. But I’m not good at sitting and watching TV. The first surgery, I tried to read at least one book per day during my recovery and got a lot of writing/work in as well. Having your arms sliced open limited use of them. I couldn’t reach at all (something you grow dependent on when your 6’4″) and surgically cut legs meant limited mobility as well. Combine that with a tightened upper back and I felt like a turtle on its shell for the two weeks I was in Austin.
My mom came out for the entire recovery for surgery 2. This time, the recovery was so uncomfortable in the hotel that I started pushing to go home after 7 days and on day 9 I was back home to recover. The pain was worse and I stayed on Oxy for two weeks before getting off of it for good. I still carry the oxy in my bag as if the pain might come back. This surgery was hard on me mentally but thank God I had my mom to slap me out of it when I needed it. I’m normally a very positive person but this one pushed me to my limits (maybe a little past them).
Losing weight has made me a different person in terms of the way I relate to challenges. I used to avoid confrontation and struggle. Today I am far more likely to go through them like the Kool-Aid man facing a brick wall. Having the inability to reach the top shelf or cook for myself or bend over was a complete mind-screw for me. The now infamous nipples, pain or surgery itself were nowhere near as difficult as not being able to take care of myself.
I am so grateful to my mom for taking care of me, not just physically but dealing with what a baby I was during this stage. The cameras largely left me alone for these stages of the recovery but I was not myself for the time I was in Austin following the arms and legs. It was an overwhelming time and I sunk into some depression while trying to overdo it.
The one blessing of this period was that I had to wear compression pants over my legs and so I became acquainted with the joy that is YOGA PANTS. Ladies have had the monopoly of enjoying the absolute delight that is lycra for far too long. I messaged the production company about a potential sponsorship but I’m still waiting for a message (I’M LOOKING AT YOU LULULEMON!).
This isn’t pictured in the show but at one point, my left arm swelled up so badly that I felt like it was going to explode. It was kind of fun having one chubby hand again and seeing the old Tim one last time before we said goodbye forever. I ended up securing some compression garments that helped alleviate the swelling and I was on my way.
My Final Mental Results
A lot of people after hearing about the surgeries have wondered why I moved forward with them since they couldn’t really tell I had loose skin. The show did a great job of showing what I looked like before and after naked but in pictures I could definitely tell with clothes on. Check out the difference in my chest (skin under pecs) and lower stomach. We’ve noticed my face has slimmed out but a lot of that has to do with not working out after surgery and just eating less over the last few months as a result.
Here’s the thing…
they don’t tell you about loose skin surgery: You will almost definitely always have some loose skin. If your goal with loose skin surgery is to look perfect, it’s not going to work. I still have tiny patches of loose skin in areas of my body where they didn’t operate or even near areas where they did. My surgeons are brilliant artists, but there’s no way to get 100% of it without going in for so many procedures that just aren’t justified.
Nevertheless, after the camera crews left my daughters and me at the beach, we stayed behind and I let my bare skin feel the warmth of the sun for the first time in twenty years. It was glorious and a huge moment for me that I was able to enjoy next to the two most important and beautiful girls on earth.
I can’t imagine how many opportunities for warmth and love I let myself miss out on between my years of obesity and loose skin, but those days are OVER.
My Biggest Takeaway
I’m overjoyed but I’m still imperfect. I always will be.
The number one thing I’ve learned from this process is that I’ll always be imperfect and insecurities were the only limits I have left. I’ve learned to love my rough (or loose) edges. The reason I lost the weight was because I decided to love myself for the first time in my life. I wanted to become the absolute best possible version of myself. Surgeries made me even better and I will continue to do things that accomplish even more betterment.
I was in the gym in a squat rack doing Overhead Presses and Romanian Deadlifts yesterday and I stared at myself in the mirror for a few seconds. My chest is high and tight. My stomach is low and flat. I look like a man for the first time in my entire life and I am so proud of how far I’ve come.
It’s tempting to rest on my laurels now or to look at my body and say, “I’m good now.” But the reality is that now I can finally begin to live the life I dreamt of when I started. I can go rock climbing or get a tan or maybe I’ll even try to run again.
I am completely out of excuses for not living.
I can’t blame it on obesity or skin or anything external. If I don’t do something, it’s on me now and I own and love that responsibility.
Skin Tight was the best thing to happen to me since the weight loss. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on the subject in the coming weeks so stay tuned.