Those of us who have gone through massive weight loss know it’s a huge journey, but losing the weight is only part of it. Raquel then underwent a Lower Body Lift and Thigh Lift with Dr Simon Overstall in Melbourne and is super happy with her results. She looks truly amazing – make sure you scroll down to check out her before and after photos.
Trish: Hey listeners, so we’re here today once again and we’re having one of my favourite topics which is the weight loss patient topic of course because true to my heart because I am a weight loss patient myself and today I’m going to be talking to the beautiful Raquel who I actually met on one of our Facebook groups. And Raquel’s had an amazing transformation. She’s had a lower body lift and a thigh lift as well which I’d forgotten about until today with specialist plastic surgeon Dr Simon Overstall who’s based in Cabrini … sorry in Malvern at Cabrini … yeah in Cabrini Malvern in Melbourne.
So we’re gonna have a bit of a chat today had she’s gonna give us the full rundown of what her experience was like. So welcome Raquel.
Raquel: Thanks Trish.
Trish: So nice to have you on here today. Thank you so much for taking the time.
Raquel: Any time. Thanks for having me.
Trish: My pleasure. So tell us … flirts of all you must’ve lost weight so were you chubby for most of your life or you just put on weight or what made you come to the decision to lose weight first of all?
Raquel: Okay, so I had bariatric surgery in September of 2016 with Paul Burton also at Cabrini in Malvern. So I’m 165 centimetres tall. I was 165 kilo’s.
Trish: Wow. So that’s like five foot three and I don’t even know what it is in pounds but that’s a lot of kilo’s.
Raquel: Yeah it is a lot of kilo’s so we see … had the bariatric surgery, lost quite a bit of weight. I was 83 kilo’s when I went in for surgery for my lower body lift and thigh lift. They took seven kilo’s of skin and two litres of fluids so quite a bit.
Trish: That’s a lot of excess stuff to be carrying around hey?
Trish: So how long ago was your surgery?
Raquel: It was just 13 days ago.
Trish: So you are fully in recovery mode now.
Raquel: Totally in recovery mode so happy to answer any questions that you’ve got about the process.
Trish: Oh awesome because usually we get people before they’re going or three months after. You kind of forget. So tell us … we won’t even worry about why you decided to have it but let’s go from day one. So when you woke up from surgery, what did you feel like? How long was the surgery and what did you feel like when you woke up?
Raquel: Okay, so I was in for I think about eight hours. I woke up at about nine PM. So I went in at 10:30 AM and I personally woke up at about 9:30 PM in recovery. I had lost a little bit of blood so they gave me a unit of blood on the night. So I remember that and then ai woke up in great spirits. The nurses were fantastic. The let my fiance come and see me as well. They don’t normally do that in recovery so it was really nice to say hello and next thing I know I’m back asleep, woke up in the ward with my mum and sister and my partner. And that was about 10:30 at night so it was really nice that they let them stay. The next morning I woke up and it was like … I was in the best spirits. Simon was there. He’s a great surgeon, absolute magician.he came in, I was so happy to see him. Was a little bit dizzy, a little bit nauseous, didn’t really wanna eat. I’ve heard a couple of other patients have woken up, really wanna to eat. I actually lost my appetite for a couple of days.
But I woke up in great spirits. I did need a little bit more blood and after that is when I really started to feel better so day one was great. Day two wasn’t so great. I felt really tired and just not happy and that’s when they gave me the other two units of blood but after that blood I was back to me again within a few hours.
Trish: Okay so basically the first day was … I mean it was good but you obviously must’ve needed a little bit of something extra so they gave you another two … when you say two units. Is that like a litre?
Raquel: I don’t know if it’s a litre but I know it’s a bag.
Trish: Okay, okay.
Raquel: My haemoglobin was extremely low so they, normally they would sit you up and get you up out of bed. I did try and sit up on day two but I was so dizzy and that’s when they checked my blood and said, “Hmm, Ma’am we’ll give you another day.” And then on day three I was like, “Can I sit up now?” I was keen to stand up and after they gave me the blood, after a couple of hours there was no pain. They were brilliant with the pain management. Just a little bit of discomfort if you move. You know you’ve got stitches around the front, stitches around the back but yeah no, absolutely no pain which is something that I really wanna reiterate to anyone who’s scared. I was really scared of being in pain when I woke up and there was none.
Trish: Wow, did you have the pain pump or they just managed your pain from the beginning and it worked, kind of held you through?
Raquel: I don’t believe Simon’s team like to give the pump buttons. They are quite good in managing with other ways I think. I had Oxycontin for the first couple of says and then it was Endone I’ve still currently got Endone but I don’t need it so I’m just on, I think it’s [inaudible 00:05:49] if I need it and Panadol and Neurofen but the second week [inaudible 00:05:57] nearly two weeks I don’t actually need that much pain relief.
Trish: Yeah right, so what does it feel like when you … ’cause I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to have stitches around the front, stitches round back. How are you lying down? Where’s your … are you touching any surfaces with your scar? What have they provided with that? Or what do you have to do for yourself? And are you home yet?
Raquel: Yes, I came home on the seventh day. I guess while you’re laying in hospital you’re not really moving so you don’t really feel much. Around the belt where the …oh I also had a Fleur De Lis tummy tuck as well. So as part of my lower body lift I’ve also got the stitches down the front. I forgot to add that in. So he’s taken a triangle from the front ’cause there was so much skin. But around the back, around the actual belt where the stitches are I actually don’t have much feeling at all to be honest. It’s quite a weird sensation. I can scratch but I don’t feel it on the surface as if I was to scratch my thigh. But I can feel it sort of deeper. It’s got quite a bizarre feeling but no, no pain when you’re laying down. It’s only if you need to sit up so the first few days sitting up and standing there’s a little bit of tightness and a little bit of pressure but not pain per se.
Trish: Yeah, right so have you got like a … have they covered you in … like have you got a tape or are you using any creams or… what’s covering your line?
Raquel: So I’ve actually got a little bit of a mix at the moment because … so once I showered I was covered a tape called Mefix which is like a white waterproof tape. Got internal stitches as well as some external stitches so I did pop open so I’ve got some external stitches on the back. That’s got a micropore tape over the top which is like a waterproof skin colour tape and then I’ve got some white Mefix from that first week in hospital. So as that falls off I cover that with the micropore tape. So I’m at a little bit of a mix at the moment. The only creams I’m using is moisturiser. It’s amazing how dry my skin is around the surgery areas. Like my legs, my belly. But I’m also wearing a compression garment and that’s for six weeks. So I just like to keep nice and moisturised but no other creams.
Trish: Okay, so he’s only said to wear a compression garment for six weeks?
Raquel: Six weeks at this stage.
Trish: Wow, ’cause I thought it was a bout 12 but I suppose everyone’s different hey? I bet you can’t … you won’t be able to wait to get it off at six weeks, let alone 2 weeks.
Raquel: You do get used to it. While I was … as the swelling comes down it’s actually becoming more and more comfortable. A friend of mine had a similar surgery and she didn’t actually wanna take her garment off after the time. She was so used to having that tight fit but it’d be interesting to see where we’re at, at that time.
Trish: I can imagine. And how does it feel with all that skin gone? ‘Cause I see lots of photos but that photo of you just pulling up your skin as if it’s a separate … ’cause it was almost a separate entity from you, wasn’t it? Even, even … although it was attached to you, you could tell it didn’t belong there because it was just so much of it.
Raquel: Yeah, that’s right. Look I have to say already my confidence has just skyrocketed. I’ve been able to buy clothes, sorry, obviously with losing so much weight I got myself down to a chubby sort of weight. I do cross fit so I’m quite fit. I’ve got quite a bit of muscle definition under all of that skin so it’s nice … [inaudible 00:10:04] now there’s a bit of swelling but it’s nice to be able to see … I look down, I can see the top of my legs. I’ve literally never been able to see the tops of my legs amongst other things of course. Obviously they may be kids listening to this but to be able to look down and see something that I’ve never actually seen ’cause I’ve always been big, it’s just amazing. I can’t wait for the swelling to go down and see what I really look like under all of this.
Trish: And did he say how long it takes for the swelling to do down? ’cause I’ve heard so many different stories and I think it’s different for everyone as well but you got any idea how long? It’s gonna take ages for the swelling to go down isn’t it?
Raquel: It is, one thing that they don’t tell you is fluid retention and how your body will deal with that so I was actually standing in Rebel Sport yesterday looking at some new clothes and all of a sudden I could feel like a hot trickling liquid down my leg. I’m like, “I’m not peeing myself.” And I’d actually busted some fluid. I didn’t feel anything, it didn’t hurt but because I am so swollen it found a path out. I’ve contacted Simon he said, “Look that is normal just cover it up.” It’s just a clear liquid. Nothing scary, it doesn’t hurt but when I do see him next week he’s gonna drain some fluid out so everyone’s different. He has said that the swelling for everyone is different. Just walk a little bit, not too much. Don’t be over-active but just make sure that you do get a little bit of movement in to help your body with dealing with that extra fluid.
Trish: Okay, okay. So yeah you’re right everyone’s different and it’s gonna take a different amount of time for the swelling to go down but looking … I only saw that one after photo of you. When did you take that? The on that you posted on our group, was that like-
Raquel: I took it on the day so-
Trish: My god are you serious?
Trish: That’s amazing that you were even standing up on the day, I don’t know I just can’t even-
Raquel: I took it one the day I posted. So yeah, the day I posted on the group I was just so excited so I did add the … there was a third photo I think that I added with my belly button showing. Because the tape actually fell off I took the opportunity to take a photo so that’s not actually my real belly button by the way.
Yeah, he wasn’t able to save my real belly button because the cord was too long so I’m 33, I’ve literally been obese since I was about in kindergarten so maybe four or five? My family are all quite large on both sides so my sister was able to lose 50 kilo’s just through diet and exercise. I’d yo-yo’d for so many years and I was at the stage where I was 165 kilo’s, I was diabetic, high blood pressure. I was sick. A friend of mine told me about bariatric surgery, went for plunge and I’m so glad I did. So if anyone’s actually considering. If they’re at that stage where they want to do something, go for it.
Trish: Yeah totally and how did you … how long did it take for you to lost that weight ’cause you’ve obviously gone from 165 kilo’s to what?
Raquel: About 82.
Raquel: Yeah, once the swelling goes down I should be around the 73, 74 maybe even 75 marketing.
Trish: Wow, wow.
Raquel: Yeah, which would be amazing.
Trish: And so tell me what about … ’cause I know that as a bariatric patient sometimes you’re not getting all the nutrients that you need so I know you need to take vitamins and all that sort of stuff but how … sometimes a lot of the bariatric patients have a real problem with wound healing or the wound closing over anything like that so are you taking any vitamins or anything to stop that? Are you making sure you’re getting enough food and nutrients and stuff like that?
Raquel: So look, I’m very fussy in what I eat. I generally eat a ketogenic diet which is extremely low carb, high fat and moderate protein. Now it’s not recommended for everybody but I tend to put on weight very quickly with carbs so I’ve changed my diet to make sure that I’m eating a lot of greens. Greens, smoothies, fruits and vegetables just while I’m in the recovery phase. Since my plastic surgery I haven’t actually been able to tolerate my vitamins. They’ve made me wanna throw up when I have them so I’m just trying to eat as balanced as I can, eat a rainbow every day and that’s off the back of a nutritionist’s advice. She basically said, “Look, if you can’t tolerate the vitamins make sure that you’re getting your vitamins from your food. Even if it means green smoothies. “Which I’m not the biggest fan of but to get those extra greens and iron and that sort of thing in-
Trish: Yeah especially if you’re prone to low iron which sometimes us former chubbers can be prone to low iron. I don’t know what it is, it’s just one of those things. Not everyone I know of course.
Raquel: I’m one of them absolutely.
Trish: Me too.
Raquel: It’s hard to get it back up so can you take iron supplements? I’m curious to know.
Trish: No, I hate that … I just don’t like that metal taste.
Trish: But I do make sure that I eat … I used to be vegetarian-
Trish: But I thought, ” I need to eat meat.” because I need to … I tend to have low blood pressure as well so I find that eating meat and … not a lot but just making sure that I eat meat and I get my iron from my food because yeah, I hate the iron supp … I just can’t. They make me feel sick.
Raquel: Yeah, they really do and I’ve experienced that. I was fine, I had some issues straight after my bariatric surgery but after about maybe nine, ten months I was able to take vitamins but since the plastic surgery I’ve actually found the restrictions come back, maybe it’s the garment I’m wearing but the original tight belly feeling from the bariatric … I had a gastric sleeve so I’m actually eating a lot less which is quite bizarre.
Trish: You wanna make sure you’re getting all your nutrients now. Especially for your wound healing you know?
Raquel: Yeah, which is why I’m having the smoothies. I sort of force them down slowly. It takes quite a while to drink it but maybe about 45 minutes to get it in.
Trish: Yeah, right.
Raquel: For a nice tall glass so it’s maybe about, maybe … I think the glass is under 400 mil, it’s quite a large drinking glass. But yeah there’s banana … so half a banana, orange, spinach, coconut water, Psyllium husk which is vital for fibre. But yeah, quite a bit of spinach and kale or whatever greens. If I can I pop parsley in there as well ’cause that’s quite high in a lot of nutrients but I can’t do that every day.
Trish: No totally. And you know what? I think you can actually buy a liquid multi-vitamin if you wanna go hunting it down. ‘Cause they’ve got them at some of the health shops and they’re really easy to tolerate.
Raquel: Oka, that’s really good to know. Thank you.
Trish: Yeah, so I want to ask you, so you had a thigh lift as well?
Trish: Can I ask you was that at the same time?
Raquel: It was at the same time yes.
Trish: Whoa. That’s huge. I always … it freaks me out when I hear people … the body lift on its own freaks me out enough and then to have the thigh lift at the same time. So where are your incisions? How did he cut your thighs?
Raquel: So with my body shape my thighs are from the groyne area down just at my knee level and then I’ve also got incisions just on the outside of my thighs so I did actually ask him, “So why do I have these ones on my hip bone.” Or maybe just under my hip bone, I can’t feel my hips at the moment. I’m like, “Why do I have them. ” And he said, “Well look as I was doing your thigh lift.” There was also a bit of lypo in there as well. “As I was doing it your skin puckered up.” And I gave him full permission to do whatever he needed to do to give me the best result. So I’ve got some small incisions just on the side where he’s re-tightened everything up to … so from the groyne down to the knee and then on the outside of my hips and then for the tummy I’ve got from just under my bra line down to the groyne area and then from hip to hip all the way around.
Trish: Yeah, right so you’ve got a few places where you’ve got a T-Junction hey? So it’s your belly-
Trish: But not the top. So the top of your thigh, so it’s gone from your inner knee right up to the top of thigh. Have you got anything cut across there or it just got pulled sideways? Lik you know where you undy line is on your leg, is there anything there?
Raquel: Yes there is.
Trish: So you got a few T’s in sections as well.
Raquel: Yes. I do.
Trish: And you sound like you… oh sorry, sorry what was that?
Raquel: It’s not as bad as it sounds really.
Trish: No I’m just saying ’cause 13 days post-op with all of those T incisions you sound like your doing amazing. Okay, you sound like you’re doing amazing, I’m so impressed.
Raquel: Been shopping and all sorts of things. Part from I guess the little fluid leak yesterday/ it’s actually been really good to be up and about it. They teach you … I’ve heard previous interviews where people have had physio and things like that. That wasn’t required without a muscle repair so they do teach you how to stand up and sit down and be careful while you’re in hospital and the nurses are great for all of that and they had they say, “Look, when you can, walk.” And I think getting up and walking through hospital was the most important thing ’cause once you’ve got the confidence to move you can keep moving and then you know when you’re tired to sit done and rest. I just wish my house would clean itself.
Trish: You might need to get yourself a cleaner for a couple of hours love.
Raquel: no, my fiance is fully capable of doing it so he’s actually gone back to work today so I had someone with me for two weeks. So he was with me for the week in hospital and then a week at home. It’s actually my first day home alone. My mum dropped in for a coffee this morning but yeah look obviously you can’t bend over and things like that but I’ve got a little grabby-thingy so if I do need to pick something up off the floor I’ve got that there.
Trish: Oh yeah, that’s that little tongs kind of thing with the handle.
Raquel: Yeah, yeah.
Trish: So you’re at home. So tell me roughly what your day is. So you wake up and of course your just lying down so the first thing you do, you get up, go to the toilet?
Raquel: Yes and then so with my shower and getting changed because I can’t bend over I still do need a little bit of help getting dressed. I’m sure if I really needed to I could use the tongs to help me get dressed but my partner is able to help with that. I guess then got up, have had my shower, got ready. Had breakfast and then had a coffee with my mum, I’ve got some food on the stove. You can do things and then go sit down, have a rest but I feel quite good. I think having a level of fitness before you get the surgery will make a big difference as well. So even if you’re just walking every day before you get something done at least your body will be able to recover a little bit better.
Trish: Yeah and I think that’s real testament to you as well because that’s not to say that people who don’t look after themselves really well have a … not everyone has a good recovery if you know what I mean but you’re a testament as well in the fact the you’re really fit going into it, really fit going out. Has he said how long before you … are you desperate to get back to exercise? Or you’re not even thinking about it? Or has he said how long before you can get back to doing stuff? Or like, when are you gonna start? Just basically getting up doing a few things, going and lying down. Getting up, doing a few things, going and lying down and it goes on like that pretty much all day?
Raquel: Yeah, pretty much. Every day I can do a little bit more. There’s been days where I’ve needed pain relief. I would wake up really sore or really stiff or just not sleep very well but I guess as the days have been progressing I’ve been getting stronger and better and being able to do a little bit more thing. I feel a little of it’s confidence too. Once you’ve done something once … I was really scared to sit down. I’ve got … I don’t know what you’d call ’em but they’re like a seat aid for the couch and I’ve got one for the toilet as well.
Trish: Okay so it does help you to sit down.
Raquel: Yeah, so trying to stand up without using those… trying to sit down just on the chair I think once you’ve done it once you’re confident to try it again or it sit somewhere else.
Trish: Oka, and so can I ask you how long did Simon say before you can go back to … are you working? Can you go …
Raquel: Yes, I work in a bank. I’ve taken six weeks off work. I think he said, even for exercise, six weeks you should be able to walk and do a lot of things but for the cross fit and the heavy lifting he wants me wait at least eight weeks just in case. So-
Trish: That doesn’t even seem that long. Eight weeks, that’s still really quick.
Raquel: Yeah look, and I guess as well this is all subject to how you recover. These are just guidelines, everyone required different, something may come up. I’ve split my back stitches twice. Once was in hospital where I went to the toilet without asking for a nurse and I didn’t realise that I needed a little bit of an extra [inaudible 00:24:53] I didn’t even feel it happen to be honest but yeah, I think one really important thing is listen to your nurses, don’t do too much too quick. It’s not a marathon, take your time because I didn’t and yeah, I split my back so just make sure that you do listen to the nurses because they do know better than you.
Trish: That’s sounds a bit freaky. So you split your stitches at the back form not getting the help that you needed. You just wanted to be a bit more independent. Thought, “I’m okay, I’m okay.”
Raquel: “I’m fine, I’m fine. I don’t need the help. I don’t wanna bother anyone.” And by doing that I ended up having … so I had the option, I could either go back into theatre and I said, “No, you can just pop in a local and stitch it up.” It was only a couple of stitches across the back and it’s more just to reinforce. So the way Simon explained it is they wanna make you as tight as possible and give you the result that you want but look obviously there’s a fine line between how much they can take off and how much you still need to be able to move and do your bit and pieces but my biggest advice is just follow the instructions. Don’t try an be hero because you [inaudible 00:26:15]
Trish: Yeah, totally. So do you feel like … I can only imagine ’cause I’ve never had that surgery but do you feel shorter? I know that when you’re hunched over and you had a tummy tuck you feel shorter ’cause you’re bent over but I’m just thinking when it’s all around, do you feel shorter? ‘Cause you’re feeling so stretched or do you feel taller?
Raquel: That’s a really good question. I am still hunched over. I’m standing up quite as straight but not as straight as I’d like it but when I look down and see how … ’cause I had such a massive stomach.
Trish: I know, no offence but when I saw your pictures I was like, “Oh my God.” That’s why I had to reach out to you ’cause I thought, “Oh my god they’re gonna be so good to share for people like.” ’cause people think, “Aww, yeah. Why would anyone want plastic surgery.” But it’s not … plastic surgery’s not always about vanity, it’s about function and the thing is you’ve lost that weight. You’ve done so much for yourself.why not finish it off.
Raquel: I can’t believe how long my legs are. It sounds quite vain but my legs come all the way up to … I can’t explain it. It’s just when you’ve had that much skin and it’s gone … like I’ve said I’ve actually never been able to belly button, I’ve never been able to see my lady parts. So my hips. It’s even … it’s just mobility wise obviously I’m still recovering but just … I can get around differently. I can wear clothes differently. I’ve been able to shop on ladies shops and I’m wearing a bright unicorn jumper that I picked up for 10 bucks. It’s just little things that I would never been able to do without the surgery I’ve been able to do and I feel like I can actually really start living my life ’cause as a 32 or 33 … 32. 32-year old I’m still young enough to have fun and things like that and wear what I want. Literally whatever I want and that is just … I can’t explain how great that it.
Trish: Yeah, and so tell me. Do you … I know you don’t have children, you’ve got a couple of cats.
Trish: But do you plan on having children?
Raquel: I absolutely do. So when I did-
Trish: So what did he say about that?
Raquel: So I had heard in the past you had to wait two years and he said, “Absolutely not. Once you’re healed, so six weeks from your surgery date, you can start trying.” Look ’cause I was quite concerned obviously after 35 they say things diminish and that would be around the time where I would be planning. So yeah, it’s good to know that anytime after … well after the next six weeks I can start trying. Yeah, we’ll see how it goes.
Trish: And what did he say about, after you decide to have kids, what happens? Does the skin just keep stretching?
Raquel: It does. I was actually quite impressed with that as well. I’ve still got quite a bit of loose skin on my upper back, not a lot but a bit. So I think that’s gonna give a little bit of leniency as well but he does say that your skin will still stretch for a pregnancy which I found absolutely fascinating. So just make sure that you heal up first.and then yeah, the body does amazing things.
Trish: That’s amazing ’cause I don’t know why I never ever knew that question because I just thought, you know like … I don’t know. I don’t know why I didn’t know the answer to that question. It’s just something that I’ve never even thought about, well I had thought about it before but I thought, “Aww, who knows what happened.” So it just keeps stretching forever.
Raquel: Yeah, it’s a good question though, a really good question.
Trish: Yeah, oh not this has been so interesting. So you’re 12 days post-op now. You sound like you’re in amazing spirits ’cause I know people who are months and months out of the same surgery and not … finding recovery really, really difficult. So you’ve been very, very lucky as well as obviously doing all the right things but even sometimes you do the right things and things don’t go right as well but well don you.
Raquel: Thank you.
Trish: Oh, my pleasure.
Raquel: I’ve got to say thank you so much for sharing that with us today Raquel. I look forward to maybe doing another story with you later on when you’re six months down the track, fully recovered. Got pregnant maybe or something like that.
Trish: I’d love to, love to. Thank you Trish.
Raquel: That’d be awesome. Well thank you so much.
Trish: It’s been a pleasure.
Raquel: So listeners if you’re out there, if you wanna find out about Dr Overstall you can drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or have a look and yeah, if you’re thinking about it there’s a really good success story for you to have a listen to. 13 days post op and she sounds like that, I can’t believe it. Considering she had a lower body lift and a thigh lift and I can’t wait to put these photos up because you are just gonna be … they’re gonna blow your mind. Thank you so much Raquel. Have a great day.
Trish: You too Trish. Thank you. Bye.