Downside to Weight Loss

Reporter: Graeme Butler

Karen says “I just had to eat it just consumed my thought, I got to a point where I was just so big it was actually hard for me to walk down to my mail box and get the mail” This is Karen Wright at her heaviest - 107 kilos. Karen had been fighting the battle of the bulge and losing. “I have tried every diet all the major ones that are advertised I tried medication the xenical and nothing basically worked nothing could change my mindset to put me on a goal to lose weight so this was the last resort“

That last resort was stomach banding - radical surgery with even more radical results... just over a year and 42 kilograms later Karen is a new woman. “I really can't remember my stomach being that big but it was and what about the other pants show us those ones these ones I did wear when I went into the hospital to have the lap band and they were very tight on me and the back you can see how gig the area is for the bottom and my bottom filled out that whole area“

But Karen has been left with an unexpected problem, just like these baggy clothes she has baggy skin, a hang over from the massive weight loss, “I've been exercising a lot building up muscle tone and this skin just wasn't going anywhere the more weight I lost becoming more evident” and regardless of how much Karen exercises the skin will never contract, While she looks slim on the outside - her clothes are hiding a common problem for anyone losing large amounts of weight. Plastic surgeon Patrick Briggs, “when you put massive weight loss with a little bit of aging the skin doesn't just take up like it would when we our teens or early twenties”

The only way for Karen to get back to a tighter body is surgery. It's a big procedure with an even bigger price tag, more than $10,000. Almost none of the operation is covered by health insurance, private or public. Karen believes that should change, “just so much better for your psyche for your mental well being and this yeah I have to have it removed because of that“Patrick Briggs says “the problem at the moment is that we're seeing a world wide epidemic of obesity and in fact in the obesity stakes Australia is probably number two behind the united states“

It's Karen's final check before the life changing surgery. Patrick Briggs has to mark out the skin to be removed during the operation. “It's a bit like tailoring really the only difference between tailoring is we don't get a second shot” After a journey of weight loss that's taken more than a year, Karen's day of surgery has finally arrived. The procedure Karen is undergoing is called torpoplasty; she will also have a breast lift. - following the lines already marked out a strip of skin and fat completely circling Karen's middle will be entirely removed. This type of procedure is still relatively new.

Its' a delicate procedure that could take plastic surgeon Patrick Briggs anything up to 8 hours to complete when he's done Karen will have had almost 2 kilograms of excess skin removed. The recovery period in hospital is just a few days, It might not be life saving surgery but it is truly life changing - five weeks after the operation Karen is pretty much fully recovered and loving it. “I feel fantastic absolutely fantastic“

A new body means a new wardrobe - The only reminder of the surgery is the scar that now rings Karen's stomach - but its' a trade-off Karen says she's more than happy to make. “Honestly I feel like I have to get the phone number for the Vatican to say that a miracle has been performed I didn't expect anything this good, I feel really proud of how my body is now and honestly the scars don't bother me I just feel really good I feel really glad I can fit into these clothes“