We first came across Maggie on our closed FB group and Maggie’s had a massive weight loss journey and after her procedures with Dr Matthew Peters from Valley Plastic Surgery in Brisbane looks absolutely amazing. She talks to us about her 8 hour operation, her recovery, using her Super to pay for her surgery, and lots of other things. This is a must listen to for any MWL patients.
Trish: Hey listeners, it’s Trish here from Transforming Bodies. Today we’re going to be having a chat with the lovely Maggie. Maggie lives in northern Queensland and she’s been on a massive journey of weight loss and body reconstruction so today we’re going to have a bit of a chat with her about it, how she chose her surgeon, what her experience has been and where she’s going to from now so welcome Maggie.
Maggie: Hi, thanks for having me Trish.
Trish: Thanks so much for joining us today. I don’t know what I pressed before but it wasn’t working but it’s all working now so yay.
Trish: So Maggie, tell us, you’ve had a bit of a journey by the sound of it. You’ve lost a massive amount of weight, in total you’ve lost 80 kilos but tell us a bit about your journey. So you’ve been pretty much big most of your life?
Maggie: I have, I have. I was an overweight child, I turned into an overweight teen and then overweight adult. I tried every diet that I could, that was going and I lost weight, I lost, on three occasions 50 kilos and put it back on with interest every time but the last time it was, I’d just had enough. I’d put on a 140, I’d put on until was 140 kilos back in 2012, 2013 and I was facing at having to lose 60 kilos. I managed to lose 40 kilogrammes through just diet and exercise over two years using My Fitness Pal and I my weight loss just game to a screaming halt. I got really hungry and I thought I was trying to restrict food but I was obviously eating still a lot because my weight just started to go up and up. I was in a very sad spiral.
Trish: Can I ask you how tall are you?
Maggie: I am 175 centimetres.
Trish: Okay, so it’s like about five foot seven or five foot eight, is that right?
Maggie: Five foot nine or so.
Trish: Okay, lucky you, I’d be skinny if I was five foot nine, I wouldn’t really, I wouldn’t really. Basically all in that you lost 80 kilos and of course that left its own problems with excess skin.
Maggie: Yes, absolutely.
Trish: You decided to do down the path of skin removal surgery.
Maggie: Yes, I’ve always, my skin elasticity has always been very poor, genetics and just bad luck really and because of the massive amounts of weight I’ve lost in the past my skin was very much trashed. I’ve always wanted it done, my arms were very bad, my upper body, while very thin had lots of excess skin and my thighs and bottom, I’m the classic pear shape and I’ve got lots of cellulite and I’ve got lots of, lots and lots of excess skin down there. I’ve always wanted it done and struggled a fair bit with the feelings of guilt of paying for plastic surgery and feeling like I was being self indulgent by wanting to get it done but it really has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
Trish: Yeah, it’s one of those things where you sort of, it’s that guilt thing and not being worthy and the fact that you’ve kind of stuffed up your body.
Maggie: There’s always something else you can spend the money on.
Trish: Yeah, that’s right but you know what, the thing is you’re going to have that body for, how old are you Maggie?
Maggie: I’m 50.
Trish: Okay, so you’re going to have that body for, with any luck, 30, 40, maybe even 50 years.
Maggie: God willing.
Trish: Yeah, exactly. Tell me, I know like just talking about those guilt feelings and how much it’s going to cost and paying, all that sort of thing, I know that you, that was impacted by you a little bit more because your husband took time off work to look after you and you were guilty about his annual leave and stuff like that.
Trish: Can you tell us about that and how you got the money for it and things like that because I know your story is a little bit different but it’s also really good for people to know you can achieve those dreams if you want so can you tell us a bit about that.
Maggie: Yeah, it was quite a process. We could have, financially we could have paid, we have savings but I didn’t want to touch them and then my husband really didn’t want to touch them and I felt, would have felt guilty about using that so I decided to do down the route of accessing my SUPER to pay for the surgery. It was a relatively easy process, any government organisations, any government department you have to follow their rules to the letter otherwise you don’t get anything but it took about four to five weeks to access that money and I eventually got it. That eased my feelings of guilt and made my husband feel a bit better about the whole process, that we weren’t actually taking away from our savings.
Trish: First of all, how did you find your surgeon because I know that you said earlier when I spoke to you earlier you got a referral to someone else in Brisbane by your GP and you’d gone, had a look at his website, weren’t happy with things that were written about him so how did you end up finding your ultimate surgeon which was Dr. Matthew Peters?
Maggie: I am a member of your lovely forum, Facebook group and quite a few others as well and just word of mouth really. Somebody posted a glowing report about Dr. Peters and I’m part of the medical profession so, the medical fraternity so I’m a nurse so I asked around and he came back with very, very good reviews, he’s aftercare was very good. He did combined procedures which was very important for me, as you mentioned before I live in North Queensland and he was based in Brisbane.
Trish: You had to travel.
Maggie: Yeah, I didn’t want to be travelling backwards and forwards for one procedure at a time, I wanted the two major procedures done together.
Trish: What you have done?
Maggie: I had a lower body lift or a 360 body lift, also know as a belt lipectomy and had bilateral brachioplasties and I also had a thoracoplasty which are not a standard operation.
Trish: What is that?
Maggie: Because I’ve got a lot of excess skin underneath my arms, I’ve got, I had anyway, when I had a bra on I had just so much excess skin hanging over the side of my bra, it was very unattractive so that’s what Dr. Peters did to address that excess skin there. From the front of my breasts, so half way under my breasts and extending up to underneath my arms and going up to my back, that addressed a lot of the underarm skin as well as the brachioplasty which was extended down into my armpits.
Trish: So you mean like from under your breast like a big cut round to the back, like the back fat.
Maggie: Yeah. It did get a lot of the excess skin there and it also lifted my breasts up a little.
Trish: Right and that’s called a thoracoplasty.
Trish: I’d never even heard of it until I saw it and it was like what?
Maggie: It was a fix that he came up with and it was depending on, it all was to do with how my skin drapes so that was a little work around that he used to address that area.
Trish: So you had your arms done, the side, your side, back boob bit done and the belt lipectomy all in one procedure?
Trish: Holy Moly.
Maggie: Eight hours.
Trish: Eight hours of surgery.
Maggie: Eight hours of surgery.
Trish: Wow, that’s phenomenal because 50’s not old but 50’s not young either, it’s a long procedure.
Maggie: It was very scary and very challenging but I was surprised at my recovery because when I woke up I was in not much pain and then it was continued so you know how we rate pain on scales from zero to 10, zero being no pain, 10 being worst pain you can imagine, my pain was never more than a three or a four during my whole recovery.
Trish: Wow. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong because everybody recovers so differently but when the lead up to having your surgery like were you, like because I just recently watched a surgery last week, it was a six hour massive body kind of surgery as well and I was just like whoa and I’ve spoken to the lady since and her recovery has been quite good too and I’m thinking were you super duper fit and healthy before you went into surgery, what was your prep for it because seriously it’s a massive surgery, there’s got to be something that you’re doing right.
Maggie: Yeah, exercise has been a very important part of my life since my sleeve operation in 2015 and before that as well. I do a little bit of cardio but my main focus has been weight lifting, resistance training which is, it stood me in good stead I’m pretty sure because I had good leg strength, I was up and very mobile almost immediately after the operation and I didn’t need a muscle repair so I didn’t need a rectus abdominal repair. I was very fortunate that way but it’s so important to be fit and to have good strength.
Trish: I think that might actually be the golden ticket for the simple reason that I’d spoke to this woman a week after surgery and a six hour surgery, 360 lithectomy, a Fleur De Lis tummy tuck and a thigh lift all at the same time and then a week later she’s like, “Oh yeah, I’m not in much pain.” And I like a breast reduction and I was practically suicidal for six months you know what I mean?
Trish: Yeah, shocking recovery but I reckon it’s, and she was the same, she’d been to the gym that morning, she’d lost a heap of weight and she was so into her health and fitness and I reckon that’s what, I think it we’re going to have to find the holy grail of how people recover, I reckon that’s got to have something to do with such an important-
Maggie: It is so important, so important.
Trish: I make my feelings known, like the lower body lift scares the hell out of me, to be cut all the way around just scares the hell out of me, it’s not something I could ever have done.
Maggie: It is a big scar, my scar is about a metre long so almost, yeah. All up it’s overly long, include my arms and my underarms. That’s a lot of scarring.
Trish: I wouldn’t care about the scaring, it’s’ just the thought of the actual procedure so it’s so hardcore so more power to you so you must have been extremely fit going into surgery. Tell me a little bit about the after surgery. You came out of surgery, did you feel like you’d been run over by a truck or were you probably still-
Maggie: No, I was fairly, I was very chatty and a little bit high. As soon as I started to feel a little bit of pain they started me on a PCA so a patient controlled dispensing machine which gives you a little bit of pain relief whenever you need it and it allows you to keep on topping your pain. I had that for two days and after that I was just on tablets and I stayed in bed for the first post operative day, the first day when I had my surgery but the next day I got out of bed into a chair. I was only allowed to move from the bed to the chair. I had a shower on day two, that was absolutely wonderful, was the best thing. Then on day two I had a shower, I sat on the chair, I was walking around physio and that is the most important thing that you can do is activity guidelines as per your surgeon and eat well of course, as much as you can.
Trish: How long were you in hospital for?
Maggie: I was in hospital for a total of five days.
Trish: That seems pretty stock standard actually with a lot of, for me, I’d probably be in there for a month because if it was me I’d be like, oh I can’t go.
Maggie: Yeah, I went to the Brisbane private hospital, I’d just like to give a bit of a shout out to the nurses there, they were absolutely marvellous.
Trish: Nurses are amazing, my daughter’s one. I’m just like, you guys rock, I don’t know how you do what you do but well, yeah.
Maggie: I surprised myself with my recovery. I had a little bit of a wound opening on my left hip which is about a centimetre wide but it was only very minor, I kind of managed it myself, this is after I went home. I stayed in Brisbane, I had to stay in Brisbane to see Dr. Peters after for a week.
Trish: I was going to ask you so you stayed in hospital for five days and then you went and stayed in a hotel or something for a few days?
Maggie: Yeah, an Airbnb for another week and I had my last appointment with Dr. Peters, I think I went home on a Saturday, went and had my last appointment with him on Thursday, Thursday or Friday, can’t remember now and then we flew home after that.
Trish: Okay, how long was the flight?
Maggie: Two hours.
Trish: Okay and did you have someone with you?
Maggie: Yeah, my husband, he was a cranky nurse but he made sure I did what I was told because I was a bit, I felt so good that I was in danger of doing a little bit too much but he made sure I didn’t.
Maggie: He kept me on the straight and narrow.
Trish: You’re so lucky to have had him do that as well because not everyone has that luxury, hey?
Maggie: Yeah, he was very concerned, he was very worried. I’ve put him through a lot in the last three years or so but he’s always been supportive and he’s never cared what I look like but it’s been important to me.
Trish: Yeah, of course, you have and that’s what matters, hey? Tell me, I know that you’ve got, so you started off, so you’ve got your arms, your arms are looking really smashing at the moment, you’ve got the back fat done, you’ve got your lower body lift, is there anything else on the cards for you?
Maggie: Yes, my … Look, I’m so happy with the result of my surgery, my surgeon’s done such a good job I’m eternally grateful to him but I had a three month follow up with him a couple of weeks ago and I told him I’m all party up the top and funeral down the bottom because my thighs are one of my biggest problem areas so I’m looking at getting that addressed in July next year, having a medial thigh lift which scares me, it’s big surgery.
Trish: When you say, what thigh lift? Medial?
Maggie: Yeah, medial thigh lift.
Trish: What does that constitute?
Maggie: There’s a cut from a T-junction, the cut’s extended down the middle of your leg, it comes up as a T-junction so there’s potential for wound breakdown there just as much as with a lower body lift and because the area’s inherently dirty it’s at increased risk of getting infection but I think it will be very, very worth it for me because I have a lot of excess skin on the middle part of my upper thighs and functionally it makes me life hard.
Trish: Is he doing lipo with that?
Maggie: He will, yes.
Trish: So he’ll do some lipo, make sure there’s plenty of skin and then go through to the incision. You’re right that that is hardcore surgery because someone likened, actually one of our other doctors likened to having two tummy tucks, like one one each leg because that’s how big the scar is.
Maggie: Yeah, exactly.
Trish: Awesome, so you’re planning on July of next year, you’ll be fully recovered from this surgery by then anyway.
Maggie: Absolutely. I’ve still got a little bit of swelling around my lower abdomen and my, from my lower body lift but he’s going to see what happens with it down the line and may need a small revision at that time as well.
Trish: Yeah, so many months post op are you now?
Maggie: I am, I think I’m four months post op now, the times gone so fast.
Trish: You got to give yourself a year, I know that sounds ridiculous but bits of swelling and stuff like that.
Maggie: Yeah, sometimes it changes all the time.
Trish: Did you actually weigh the skin for you? Do you know how much skin he took away?
Maggie: He did, I asked him, I asked him to take photos for me as well which is something he doesn’t normally do.
Trish: Did you get them?
Maggie: Yes, yes, he sent them, as soon as I was awake he seen me outside the theatre, he took all up 3.2 kilogrammes.
Maggie: Of skin.
Trish: Did that reflect in the scales on you when you-
Maggie: It did, yes. The morning of my operation I was 82.2 kilos and the first time I weighed myself after that I was 79.5 which was not too bad considering they give you lots of fluid and your body’s massively swollen after the operation.
Trish: That’s why I ask because normally no matter how much they remove, normally it doesn’t actually show on the scales that often because your body kind of adjusts to, in some way, shape or form whether it’s tissue or fluid or whatever like it’s not that common that you think oh, they took three kilos of skin, where’s that three kilos but it did [crosstalk 00:19:37]
Maggie: It should reflect on the scales but no.
Trish: After you finished was there any post op rules that you had because I know for fact that some people do have wound breakdown and stuff like that and I know a testament to you is definitely the way you looked after yourself before surgery and obviously, are you back doing any weights or gym stuff yet?
Maggie: Oh, absolutely. Dr. Peters told me that I, I had a graduated return as everybody does, to activity so he said I could walk for exercise about four weeks post op which I hate cardio but I did it anyway because I was just so desperate to go and do something. That was the hardest part of my recovery was not being able to do the exercise that I love.
Trish: Yeah, right.
Maggie: So walked at four weeks. He said I could do aerobics type exercise like classes and stuff at six weeks but no weight lifting for three months just to let everything settle but I’ve been back for about a month now and loving it again, back into a routine.
Trish: Great, so you’re doing weight and you’re four months post op.
Maggie: Yes. I’ve still got about 20 kilos to go on my squat to where I was before the operation but it’s coming back.
Trish: Yeah, that’s amazing. It sounds like you’ve had a phenomenal journey, it really does because I’ve heard some people that haven’t been so long.
Maggie: Mm-hmm (affirmative), I know and it seems to be the people that need a muscle repair that have the hardest time when it comes to lower body lift and tummy tuck but I was very fortunate not to need one.
Trish: Totally. I wonder if that does make a difference, I don’t know because it’s not something that I’ve looked at, the numbers or anything like that so I don’t know.
Maggie: Dr. Peters told me.
Trish: Yeah, right, so interesting. Just one more question, with your post surgery, got back home so you were home about a week and a half your surgery, how long do you reckon it felt, how long was it before your husband could leave and leave you home alone for you to start to look after yourself?
Maggie: He had, I think it was three weeks off, three or four weeks, it was three weeks off because he’s only not been in his role, he’s been in his role not too long so that’s all the leave that he could get and I was fine. My mobility was really good, I was moving quite freely. I couldn’t do any housework or anything of course but I could take care of myself, I could shower myself.
Trish: I would have been saying that too, sorry, I can’t wash dishes, sorry.
Maggie: I still try that too but no, I can’t reach my arms up but no, he helped me getting into my compression garments post op every day.
Trish: Are you out of them now?
Maggie: Absolutely, yeah, after six weeks I was out of my compression garments, fortunately. Dr. Peters likes to tape his wounds for three months post operatively and I haven’t been taping for a month now so that’s all very good.
Trish: That’s great and do you have to go back and see him again?
Maggie: I do, yes, a six month follow up but the, so that will be next year, he wanted January, February but we’ll probably extend that to March next year and then we’re going to discuss the thigh lift and have a look at how my swelling in the front is going and then plan for the next surgery.
Trish: Fantastic. That’s just been so interesting, it’s great to hear that you’ve had such a good result because like I said, it’s not everyone that has that especially when you’ve had such a phenomenal eight hour surgery. You looked after yourself before, you’re obviously looking after yourself afterwards, your nutrition’s gone back to normal and you’re gearing up for your next lot.
Trish: Well done you.
Maggie: I’m looking forward to it.
Trish: Yeah, well done you. Well done, I congratulate you Maggie, you’ve done such a good job and good on you, and yeah, you do deserve it, why not, you’ve done all the hard work for sure. Awesome. Do you mind if we share some of your photos on this post as well?
Maggie: Absolutely not.
Trish: Awesome, that’d be great because I think people would love to see some of your before and afters. I’ve seen them…
Maggie: Everybody likes the transformation photos.
Trish: Oh my God, the transformation photos are the best. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time, I really, really appreciate it because I know you probably-
Maggie: You’re welcome, I always like to be of help. I know what it was like for me beforehand and I wanted to know all the details and look at people’s experiences and their journey so it was so helpful.
Trish: Yeah, and how good are the groups for that, like really, I love our group, I just like, it’s just so, I don’t know, I just love it because it’s true, you’re not speaking to, everyone’s not speaking to me… Yeah, patients are speaking to patients which is really, really nice because they’re the ones that are going to, that know really what you’re going through.
Trish: Unless you’ve had it done you don’t know what people go through.
Trish: You can say what everyone else goes through but when it’s first hand you really know. That’s awesome. Thanks Maggie. I’ll keep a close tab on you next year when you have the next lot done.
Maggie: Absolutely, I’ll be happy to come back.
Trish: Awesome. Thanks Maggie, have a great day.
Maggie: Thanks Trish.
Trish: No worries and listeners if you want to get in touch with Dr. Matthew Peters you can Google him otherwise you can drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you on. Thanks Maggie.