Excess Skin

I have a severe hatred of my body, I really hate it and I don't like any body looking at it.

It takes a great deal of courage to do what Sheryl Praetz is doing - revealing the private and shocking aftermath of dramatic weight loss - excess skin folds and folds of it.

It's the look that really upsets me more than anything yeah it's just not a pretty sight.

Sheryl's weight loss has been extraordinary - after gastric banding she's shed more than 100 kilograms - she's half her weight - but she's now trapped in skin two sizes too big - she wants to warn others

Look, I whole heartedly believe people yeah you do need to lose weight but by the same token I think the government should step in and help with the after effects because there is after effects it's not just lose the weight and wow here I am, it just doesn't work that way.

Sheryl was intending to undergo surgery to remove the excess skin - but the quotes for surgery have left her stunned.

Sheryl what did you think when you got these quotes?

Well, first quote I got I sat down and cried I thought there's no way I'd ever be able to afford anything like this so. How much was it? The first quote was just on $30,000 and the second quote $34,000.

And that's just the surgery - add hospital costs - anaesthetist bill and medications - its' likely to hit $40,000 and almost none of it is covered.

It's just unbelievable you would be better off fat - I would I definitely would I think sometimes why did I do it why did I go through four years of hard slogging work getting the weight off just to be left with this.

These are issues that really need to be looked at from Canberra and from Medicare itself.

Perth Plastic surgeon Patrick Briggs hasn't examined Sheryl but says the high cost of surgery generally reflects the complex and time -consuming nature of the procedure.

If you're looking at something like a body lift or what we call a torso plasty you can be looking at 7 8 or even 9 hours on the table and that's only one procedure.

Patrick Briggs says the government has been caught dragging it's feet... and needs to ease the burden on patients like Sheryl.

This type of surgery has really only been around for about 4 or 5 years so of course the numbers of cases are increasing dramatically, so this is all new to all of us and i think probably the federal government is behind the ball on this one.

Sheryl has always battled obesity - and it has affected her health - a disrupted menstrual cycle even led to her having an entire pregnancy without ever knowing.

I carried that child for 9 months jumped on a bus at 7 months and went to the eastern states came back and delivered this child thinking I had stomach cramps went to the doctors no you're in labour.

Being over weight runs in Sheryl's family - her daughter Nicole has also undergone the same gastric banding surgery. These photos as a bridesmaid were a wake-up call.

The biggest I got to was around my sisters wedding and I was 138 kilos I think at one state and even at my 21st I look back at the photos and I was huge I was massive.

I can't believe this is the skirt you gave me and it's too big for me now I can't believe I actually used to wear that yeah I can nearly fold the sucker in half I think.

Makes me sick every time I look at it looks like a curtain yep I hang it over the window it's just mad I think three of us could get in that one.

Nicole has been lucky enough not to suffer the same excess skin problems as her mum.

I think I'm so young my skin has sort of sprung back pretty good but just it's my stomach all the skin is overhanging and that sort of I've tried weights and stomach push ups and stuff like that it won't seem to stretch back.

Surgery to remove excess skin is mostly considered cosmetic - Sheryl says it's an insult to people like herself who are left to suffer the mental and physical problems of carrying kilos and kilos of stretched skin with no way of paying for it to be removed

The first quote that I actually got back I sat down and cried because I knew there's no way in god's earth could I afford to pay out 34,000 to have this surgery done - that must be awful was it ? it was and it's played on my mind I get quite depressed about it at times but probably it's like everything else in life you've got to learn to live with it and I'm finding this harder to live with than I actually did living with my excess weight.

Apart from the health reasons - Sheryl admits there's another reason she'd like to get rid of the skin - just for one day.

I want to get married next year and I don't want to look like the great monster with the skin hanging everywhere because it's very one's dream to wear a beautiful wedding gown and that's just not in my sights at the moment.

Do you feel ripped off? I do very much so I feel I've been totally and utterly ripped off when you look and the government is only going to pay a couple of thousand dollars of a 34,000 bill for God's sake.