Trish: Well hello, everybody. I’m here today on the Transforming Body Show, and I’m really excited to be talking to Gina, who has recently had some surgery after she’s had a massive weight loss. I’m going to ask Gina to share her story with us because she’s got a fantastic story. So welcome, Gina.
Gina: Thank you. Hello, everyone.
Trish: Yes. Yay. I’m so happy. I’ve been dying to speak to you for ages.
Gina: I know.
Trish: Gina, start us off at the beginning. Have you been chubby all your life or you just put on weight at a certain time?
Gina: Yeah. I’ve been chubby all my life. Weight’s gone up and down. I can’t tell you how many times I have lost 50 kilos and gained them back. I had a bit of a health scare and I thought, “Okay, I need something that’s gonna help me control my weight loss. I need something that’s gonna control my portions,” so I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery. And that helped tremendously with controlling portions and that. But the aftermath of that, of course, is a lot of excess skin, and I started to do a bit of research and see some surgeons out there, and I had a few consultations.
Trish: Before we go into that, what was your heaviest weight?
Gina: I was 128 kilos.
Trish: Wow. Not far off me. I was 120. And how tall are you, Gina?
Gina: I’m 167 centimetres.
Trish: Wow. Okay. That’s not so much height for the weight, is it? So about 128 kilos. What’s your lowest weight been? What’s your weight now? What’s your “happy weight”?
Gina: My happy weight is about 73. I’m really happy there.
Gina: But I did get as low as 71, and then fluctuated a bit. Your body kind of does a kind of, “I don’t know, am I happy here? Am I happy there?” So I’m really happy around 73 kilos.
Trish: And how long have you kept that weight off before you started your plastic surgery journey?
Gina: About two years.
Trish: Wow. Oh you’re good. You’re so patient, because I would just want to do it straight away, but I know you can change a lot in those two years really, can’t you?
Gina: Yes. Absolutely. And you want your body to be happy. You want to feel comfortable that you can maintain a certain weight. I was very realistic with the whole thing. I never wanted to be a size two after being a size 26 for so long. So I’m quite happy to feel just good in my own skin, feel good about my body.
Trish: Fantastic. Well I have actually seen a couple of photos so I know how banging hot you look. But let’s share it with everyone else. Tell me, so you decided to go and have some skin removal, and I know you’ve had a couple of different procedures and it wasn’t just a one step process.
Can you talk us through first of all how you found your surgeon? I know that you went to see Dr. Justin Perron in Brisbane, and I know you’re really happy. So talk us through that. How did you decide, because there’s so many choices out there. How does someone pick who the right surgeon for them is? Or sorry, how did you pick who the right surgeon for you was?
Gina: I asked people who have had surgery or who knows of anyone who’s had surgery. I joined groups such as yours that women are, “Hey, I went here, and look at this.” I looked at before and afters. I just really did my research through other peoples experiences, and seeing photos and seeing who was happy and who wasn’t, all of that. Then I chose three, and I went on some consultations. And I even was thinking, “Should I go to Thailand?” Should I do this? It took a while. I think the research part was about six months, because I really wanted to make sure that I picked someone who I felt comfortable. You’re vulnerable. You are completely giving yourself up to someone. So you really have to click with the person that you choose.
Trish: And you’ve got to trust your own decision. Because if you go in half-hearted or sort of like unsure or whatever, and once you’ve had a chance to see three or four, you know who the right person for you is. Or that’s what I think anyway.
Gina: I think that 100%, I think that. And it wasn’t that anyone else was awful or they didn’t know what they were doing. It’s just something I felt a gut feeling that, “Okay. This is the one for me,” and that was Dr. Perron. He was the one for me. He was personable, he’s just really beautiful. He made me feel comfortable. I just stripped right then and there, and he was professional and just really lovely. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. He was very patient. He answered all my questions, and then he addressed every concern that I had about my body, and what steps we should take to get to where I wanted to be. So from that first consultation, that was it for me. I’d chosen my surgeon.
Because I don’t know, do you get a tummy tuck, do you get a body lift? There’s so many different things, and everyone’s body is so different. I didn’t want to really lose my curves. I didn’t want to lose my butt. I wanted to keep some of my meat that I … you know. He understood what I wanted as an individual, and he decided that a lower body lift would be the best way for me to go.
That circumferential 360 all the way around your body, pretty much your excess skin gets picked up like a pair of pants, and the skin gets chopped off and you’re sewn back together, and you’re left with this flat lovely stomach, and the skin from the side of your thighs gets pulled up, and from your bottom gets pulled up.
At the same time, I was a bit brave, because I just wanted to get multiple procedures done at the same time because I wanted to just do what I could do, and that’s it. Just get it done. So at the same time, I had a breast lift and breast augmentation, because of course, with excess skin and all that, I had fried eggs.
Trish: I like that, fried eggs.
Gina: That was the first journey. As well as a thigh lift. So I had three procedures.
Trish: All of that at once? So the lower body lift, the breast and the thigh lift, all in one procedure.
Trish: Whoa. That just freaks me out. It’s not something I could ever do because it’s very much a personal choice. I’m very much one procedure at a time person.
Gina: I think that was due to the surgeon. He’s just so confident. He didn’t think, “Oh, how am I gonna …” He was confident about it and I just felt like, “Yeah, he’ll be able to do that.” I was in surgery for nearly 10 hours.
Trish: Wow. That’s a marathon.
Gina: For him. The poor guy.
Trish: I know, I know. Okay, so your surgery was 10 hours long. You must have felt like you got run over by a bus by the time you woke up. Actually probably not when you woke up, but just shortly afterwards, because you would have still been on some heavy duty drugs I would think.
Gina: Heavy duty drugs. But pretty much, yep. You feel like you get hit by a truck. But that’s what the journey is about. I was realistic. I knew. I was expecting that I would be in pain. I was expecting that there would be discomfort. I was expecting that I would have to walk hunched over. I was expecting that the garments were going to be tight and that I was going to be swollen. So I expected all that, and I was happy to go through it all to get out to the other side.
Trish: Sure. And tell me, how long were you in hospital for?
Gina: I was in hospital for four nights.
Trish: Wow. That’s not very much at all. I mean it is a lot, but not for-
Gina: I didn’t think so, for the surgery that I had. They had me up and walking the next day, showering the next day. I felt like I could. I was moving slowly, but I was able to do it.
Trish: I don’t know if this is too personal, but how old are you, Gina?
Gina: I just turned 50 in October.
Trish: I’m so impressed, because I’m 54 and I’ve always thought, “Oh, cause I’m older I could never have more than one procedure,” and all that. The thought of it even just freaks me out. But I admire people that can do it because it’s true, do it all in one bang if you can, even though it’s not me. But, okay.
So you left hospital after four days. After that, what was it like? You obviously took some time off work, of course. How long did you take off work?
Gina: I took off work longer than I thought, because I do heavy duties. I’m a disability support worker so I need to support other people, lift them up and support them. I wasn’t able to feel comfortable doing that until about six to eight weeks. But if I had an office job or something a little less manual than I do, I certainly think I would have been back to work within four to six weeks.
Trish: Yeah, right. When you were recovering at home, because I know that like you get the post-op blues. Well most people get the post-op blues.
Gina: You do, I did. As positive as I am and was, I did get a bit of blues. Yeah.
Trish: It’s normal. Everyone gets it with any procedure, whether it’s … Sorry, I’ve had it with every single procedure, whether it be cosmetic or non-cosmetic. You just get the post-op blues for some reason. Do you know what day that kicked in and how you got over it? Or it just kind of disappeared?
Gina: It kicked in I guess about, it was a month in. After four weeks I started to feel like, “Oh, what did I do?” You questioned it, “Why did I do this? Was it worth it? I’m already going to be 50.” I went through the whole thing. And then you see your body changing, and then I started to say, “Gina, we knew what this journey was. Look at how you’re changing. You did this for yourself. You deserve this.” And I just talked myself up again. I talked myself up and I said, “We’ve been wanting to do this, and look what you’ve done, and you’re brave.” I just kind of was a cheerleader for myself.
Trish: Good on you. I know it’s not easy. It’s not easy like people think, “Oh yeah, you had the operation. It’s all fine.” It’s not. Like the decision to have it is probably the easiest part. Then the hard part comes, and then the recovery and whatnot. But what about support? What sort of support did you have at home, because I know that that’s what a lot of people struggle with. Like they might be young moms. I know at 50 you’re obviously not a young mom, but … or you could be.
Gina: I could be.
Trish: Who knows?
Gina: I could be. I have a 13 year old son, and he was really helpful. I also have a great partner who, he helped me in the shower and he helped me with the bandages, and lifting. He was a big help. So support is important. It really is. If you can get support, it’s great. But if I had to do it on my own, I would have done it, but just slowly. You just have to care for yourself and not worry about the cleaning. If you have to be on your own, don’t worry about the little stuff. You’ll get to that at some point in time. You just worry about you.
Trish: Yeah. So that was your first surgery. And how long ago did you have that?
Gina: That was in April of last year.
Trish: So April, 2017.
Trish: Okay. So 10 months down the track, how have you recovered from that surgery? Because I know you’ve had more surgeries since then, which we’ll talk about now. But that part of your journey.
Gina: Full recovery. Went back to work. I was actually driving after a week of that big surgery that I had. I was able to drive.
Trish: I don’t think that’s even legal.
Gina: I know. Don’t tell anyone.
Trish: Okay. My lips are sealed.
Gina: But, yes. I was able to do that. Again, just with care and just being careful, and listening to your body. If you feel like you can’t do anymore, I had to stop. And if I felt like I could do more, I did a bit more.
Trish: Yep. So probably the secret source is listen to your body, hey.
Gina: Right. That’s right.
Trish: And so tell me, so you had that one nine months ago now. So that was your first stage. What was the next phase of surgery for you?
Gina: The next phase was getting my arms done, so the excess skin on my arms. And then I had a thigh revision. I have super big legs, which I don’t expect them to be perfect. We did another, got rid of some more of that excess skin on the thighs. Now the arms are done. So I’ve had much head to toe.
Trish: It’s like a dressmaking model where you’ve just totally been … It’s a true nip and tuck, isn’t it?
Gina: Absolutely. Absolutely. And the main thing is that at some point you have to love who you are and your body. Because really, you could snowball and just continue to, “Oh, I don’t want this,” and pick at this. It’s horrible what we do to ourselves sometimes. We just don’t see the beauty that we are, and we just want to keep nipping and tucking and nipping and tucking. I mean when I look at where I’ve come from to what I am now, it’s tremendous. So when I start to think, “Oh, I still look fat,” or I’m this, or I’m that. I just think, “Oh, stop it.”
Trish: Yeah. It’s really hard to sort of be, when you’ve been fat most of your life, and I can say this because that’s been myself, it’s really hard to be happy wherever you’re at. Even like I speak to women all the time, and I think they look fantastic, and they’re like, “Oh no. I’ve still got the fatness around here.” You’ve always got to remember where you’ve come from.
Gina: That’s right.
Trish: And how far you’ve been of abusing your body. You’re never going to look like that size 10, 50 year old who has always eaten healthy and lived a healthy life. You’re just never going to look like that. It’s about having realistic expectations, I think.
Gina: Yes. You have to have realistic expectations. Absolutely.
Trish: How long did you wait between your first mega set of operations before your last thigh revision and arm lift, or brachioplasty?
Gina: That was just done not even a week ago, so I just had the arms and thigh revision on the 19th of this month.
Trish: Okay. But I think when you waited nine months, is it nine months?
Gina: Yeah, pretty much.
Trish: Yeah. Eight to nine months. So you’re fully recovered from the first after eight months, and then you went and had your arms and thigh revision done.
Gina: Yeah. Because the body changes so much, and it will continue to change. It takes a year or two to fully heal from this surgery and to get the body that you’ve journeyed to get. So the body changes a lot. At one point, I thought, “I’m gonna have to get a butt lift, because I have no butt left.” After a few months, it started to fill in shape again, and I thought, “No, I don’t need a butt lift. I’m good.”
Trish: That’s exactly what happened to me. I had a revision tummy tuck, and my butt seems to have just automatically lifted. I’m like, “What the hell happened?”
Gina: Yes. So you have to be patient. And you have to give your body time to heal and to get, I don’t know, positioned to where it’s happy. And you’re exercising. If you’re exercising as well, you don’t know what changes are going to happen, so you really [inaudible 00:19:30] patient.
Trish: How long after the first phase of operations was it? Because are you a gym junkie?
Gina: I’m not a junkie. My job is very active because I’m out in the community with people going places, lifting them up, helping them, and all of that. So my job is very active. I do things like walking and weightlifting, and I do little free trials of YOGA. When things come up, I’m, “Hey, there’s a free trial. Okay, I’ll do that.”
Trish: I love it. I’ll spend a million dollars on your body, get your free yoga. I love that.
Trish: Good on you. Obviously you’re not doing anything at the moment, but before you had your last surgery, obviously you wanted to get yourself really healthy before your arm op, so what were you kind of doing? What was your weekly exercise regime like?
Gina: I keep it really simple, so three to four days a week of walking. Then I’d like to get my weights in. I would do arms for one day and lower body for two days. That’s pretty much what I do.
Trish: How freaked out are you with your arms at the moment, because I presume you’re all strapped up, aren’t you?
Gina: Yes, yes.
Trish: What do they look like?
Gina: Well, they are swollen at the moment. My fingers are like sausages.
Trish: Oh, yes.
Gina: My forearms are like Popeye. But it’s good. It’s going to be great.
Trish: Are you doing anything post-op? Has Dr. Perron suggested anything post operatively like any vitamins or herbs? Is there anything that you can do to kind of reduce that swelling, or you just got to sit it out?
Gina: You elevate your arms. Elevate wherever the swelling is. So I do that, but just from my own kind of research, and wanting to be natural about healing, pineapple really helps.
Trish: What? Eating it?
Trish: Okay. I thought you said putting it on there.
Gina: Yeah. So I make my green smoothie with a bit more pineapple in there than I normally would. The bromelain in the pineapple helps to heal the body, heal the skin. I do my own kind of thing. The pain, I just kind of manage with over the counter stuff.
Trish: Okay. So one week post-op, your thigh revision and your arm lift, you’re off the heavy duty pain killers?
Gina: Yes. Yeah.
Trish: That’s great. Because I don’t know if-
Gina: So just me, and the other stuff, it just wrecks my belly and I feel nauseous, and outer space somewhere. I just don’t like how I feel, and if I can-
Trish: It’s funny, I do believe that the quicker … I don’t know if I’m right or wrong, because some people just can’t get off them that soon, but the sooner you can get off, the faster your body can actually heal, because otherwise it kind of masks that. I don’t know. That’s just my own personal theory. From experience.
Gina: We’re all different, and some people really need that pain to get them through, and that’s great too. I like to get off of it as soon as I can, and start to really feel … I don’t want to miss anything. Am I feeling something? Did I tear anything? Did I-
Trish: Yeah, true. I tend to linger on with the heavy duty pain killers. But anyway, that’s my issue. All right. So you’re one week post-op. At the moment, you’re just home, you’re relaxing. How long have you got off work? How long do you think you’re going to be off work?
Gina: I’m thinking about four weeks, because it’s both arms and legs. Then we’ll see from there. Because again, I do have to lift. A job I have to be able to lift, so if there’s any breakdown of wounds or incisions, I may have to extend that. But I would say, if there’s light duties for me to do, I would be back in four weeks.
Trish: Wow. That’s great. That’s really good. Really. Have you taken time off without pay, or are you on holidays? Because it’s like that’s a lot of time in that year. It’s like you missed out on your holidays, but you’ve-
Gina: Well, that’s what is the sacrifice you make. That’s right. Yeah.
Gina: It’s an investment in yourself.
Gina: That’s what I’ve done. So once I’m back to work, then I’ll make up that time eventually.
Trish: Of course, of course. And this is your forever body. The next question, because I know how addictive it can be to try and get, wanting to, “Oh, is that little bit better?” Or to be perfect, achieve perfection. Have you got any plans for anything else, or you reckon you’re done?
Gina: I feel I’m done with the body, but now I’m kind of thinking, I’m looking at this thread lifting. Have you seen that?
Trish: I’ve had it.
Trish: Yep. I’ve had it. I was just about to do a story on it. So, yeah.
Gina: Oh, I’m so into it, because you know my face is slowly sliding down, and it’s not horrible or anything. I don’t feel I need a full facelift, but I do need a lift. That’s what I’m looking at next. So I can’t wait to hear.
Trish: I’ll have to put some photos up and see what you think. You’re right though. With weight loss, they say as well, it’s either your body or your face. Which one are you going to pick? When you lose weight, you do naturally just look … I think, when I put on weight, my face looks younger. When I lose weight, my face looks a bit more drawn and it doesn’t have as much fat in it, basically. So you’re going to, of course, look older.
Trish: Which is okay. I don’t mind looking older, I just want to be healthy.
Gina: And you want to look good like a good older.
Gina: It’s okay to look older, you know. I want to look good older.
Trish: Exactly. I don’t mind looking older, but I still want to look 10 years younger. Yeah.
Gina: I need the body to match this vibrant personality.
Trish: Exactly. Exactly. What do they say, 30 is the new 50?
Gina: That’s right.
Trish: Totally. I agree 100%.
Gina: I want to be a poster child for that.
Trish: So tell me, in your journey, if there’s something that you could say, someone who’s considering having the same thing, if there’s three things you could tell them to either be prepared or what to look out for or something to keep their spirits up, what would they be? What would like your number one takeaway be for someone going through the same thing?
Gina: It is to remember that you are investing in yourself and love yourself through the whole journey, and through the tears and the pain, and the discomfort and whatever you’re feeling. Just remember why you’ve chosen this journey, and that you’re doing it for yourself, and that you want to feel better, and it’s all about you. Give yourself this time in your life to let things be about you, because especially as women, we sacrifice so much for others. Let this be your time for you.
Trish: Yes. That’s so true. That’s so true. Have you got another takeaway for us at all? You’ve kind of included it all in one I think.
Gina: My biggest takeaway, yeah. And just again, as I said, trust your body. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling like you can’t move at the moment, then stop. Always listen to your body. That’s really important. And questions or concerns, don’t feel shy about ringing your surgeon’s office and keeping the lines of communication open, and using the groups such as yours that there’s lots of wonderful, helpful people there who are happy who have been through it too.
Trish: I love that group.
Gina: Oh my gosh.-
Trish: There’s so many people that just want to help, you know? You don’t find them out there that often, but there’s so many women out there that just want to help.
Gina: Yeah. Absolutely. And I’m one of them, so reach out. Reach out.
Gina: … to other women and other people who’ve had it done. And share your concerns. We all get through it together.
Trish: Fantastic. And just one last thing before you go. Is there anything that you wish that you’d had access to or had known about or that … Actually what I’m trying to get at is, I know for a fact, every time I go to hospital, I’ve never got the right clothing. I’m like, “Oh my god. I wish I’d brought this, I wish I’d brought that.” Is there anything that you think someone who’s going through the surgery should actually know or be aware of or get ready or have with them when they go?
Gina: For me, it was like I should have brought less, because I’d rather just use the hospital gowns. You’re oozing and weeping and whatever, and people want to bring these cute jammies and stuff. You’re going to mess those up. Don’t do it people. Just wear the hospital gown.
Trish: Wear the hospital gown.
Trish: That makes sense too. That makes so much sense.
Gina: I think something a lot of people liked using after thigh lifts was a Shewee.
Trish: Oh yes, I’ve got one of those. I took one. I used it once. For when I travelled overseas, they used just one of those little. Yeah. You just put it over your … va-jay-jay, and then you just pee like normal.
Gina: Yeah. And that helps because toilet seats are quite low, and after you’ve had a thigh lift, it can be painful to … and you feel like, “Oh gosh, am I going to split the incisions?” And rather than go through that anxiety, that can be helpful. Lots of pillows. Pillows are important because you’re either propping up to sleep on your back or you’re elevating your arms, or your legs. So lots of pillows and cushions. And yeah, that’s about it.
Trish: That’s true, actually. I totally agree with the pillow thing because I usually take my … I’ve got a U-pillow, which actually I bought it when I had my breast reduction, and that thing is my lifeline. I use it all the time now. So a U-pillow is a godsend, no doubt about it.
Gina: Absolutely. I have two.
Trish: That’s fantastic. And Gina, are you happy to share photos with us so that all of the lovely ladies out there can check them out and see? We’ll hide your face, of course, because we don’t want people bumping up to you saying, “Oh my god, are you Gina?”
Gina: Absolutely. Very happy to do that. As soon as I get the tape off of the arms, I’ll share those as well. I’m quite happy to share.
Trish: That would be amazing. That would be amazing.
Gina: You have those photos, don’t you?
Trish: I think, yeah. I think you authorised us to get some, and yeah. Or maybe I saw them on the group, I don’t know. But I know that I’ve seen your photos, I’ve gone, “Holy frigging moly.”
Gina: Yeah. It’s completely … it’s wow.
Trish: Yeah. Fantastic. Well thank you so much for your time today, Gina. It’s been so, so helpful.
Gina: Yes, thank you. I’m sorry it took as long as it did.
Trish: It was worth it, it was worth it. So worth it.
Gina: … so much.
Trish: All right. So is there anyone out there who’s thinking of having a surgery or wants to have a chat or wants a little bit more, just think a little bit more insight in how to choose surgeons, want to know about Dr. Perron or any other doctor as well, just drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you’re not a member of our closed Facebook group, just ask to be sent a link. You’ve got a couple of questions to answer. It’s a girls only treehouse at this point, because it’s a lot of photos that people don’t want seen. But thank you so much, Gina.
Gina: Thank you.
Trish: Alright, lovely. Thank you.
Gina: Okay, bye.