Living with loose skin affects self-esteem


By Mike Thomas, Scene Editor

Insecurities are left in the dark by a lot of people, and the last thing we want is to have that anxiety come into light.

Every day I walk around this campus hiding something. For those who do not know me, I had bariatric surgery in 2011 because I weighed more than 600 pounds. However, getting most of the weight off through surgery came with repercussions. My body looks like a shriveled up version of the Michelin Tire Man.

Human skin is amazing because of how far it can stretch — almost like a balloon. When a balloon gets inflated, it never returns to its original shape when it gets deflated. My body is like a deflated balloon and the only way to fix it is  reconstructive surgery.

The main concern is since this type of surgery does not fall under the bariatric category, my medical coverage would not cover the surgery because it is cosmetic. The only way my insurance will cover it is if this excessive skin gets infected.

Insurance companies should cover reconstructive skin surgery because the whole point of my operation was to not only be healthy, but to feel like a normal person.

When it comes the term “bat wings,” it can mean a lot of things. Bat Wings for a postoperative bariatric patient is having excessive skin on your triceps area.  I always wear long sleeve shirts and hoodies to cover my arms and body.

I remember coming into work at Peet’s Coffee and Tea on a hot day and I decided to wear a short sleeve shirt. During the middle of my shift, I was chatting it up with a customer after I rung him up. As I was handing him his change, he looked at my upper arms in disgust. I was already feeling uncomfortable with my bat wings being exposed on my way to work — his reaction didn’t help.

Even though his reaction was childish, I realized that these deformed parts of my body are symbolic to what I have been through. His reaction to my extra skin did not really bother me that much because he was ignorant to my situation.

The ironic part about my current situation is that I look at my body in the mirror with disgust, but in a playful way.

Most people will say if you would work out the extra skin will go away. Working out is difficult when the skin in the way. All it does is increase the intensity of the exercise. And no matter how much I work out, my body still looks like a deflated balloon.

Principal researcher at Auburn University’s kinesiology laboratory Michelle Olson said, “Forget what you’ve heard about any specific exercise method or program being able to ‘pull the muscle to the skin’ – it’s just not possible. It would be nice, but exercise cannot cause the skin to pull into the muscle and shrink or tighten up.”

Surprisingly, Dr. Olsen said your skin has muscles. But its sole function is to produce goose bumps when you are cold and are unable to permanently tighten skin.

The loose skin on me covers the progress that I achieved. It is disheartening to still see the same flabby body parts after years of working out. Body image plays a huge part in a person’s self-esteem.

At the end, I am thankful for the duodenal switch because it helped me get to where I am today. I would be either dead or have become handicapped lying in bed all day without this surgery. But no one should suffer the wrath of bariatric surgery for a long time.