Do you think reaching your ideal weight while winning a tub of money would finally solve your body issues? Think again.
NEW YORK, April 16, 2012 — Winners of the maximum-weight-loss reality TV show The Biggest Loser confront a final challenge that is not televised: excess skin. Whenever a person loses over 100 pounds, whether for money or personal satisfaction, the skin can't adjust quickly, if at all. It has been stretched beyond repair.
While a fitness regimen and a healthy diet can tone muscles and vastly improve a person's health, these lifestyle changes do little to shrink skin. As a result, the person is left with excess skin that drops away from the muscle and bone like a sheet drying on the line. Loose skin can appear on the abdomen, arms, legs, and back.
So after the show is over and the winner has cashed the check, there is still work to be done. Several contestants have opted for plastic surgery such as brachioplasty (arm lifts), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), and body lifts. Some female contestants have also had a breast lift with augmentation to boost their confidence in their new bodies.
Season 8's winner, Danny Cahill, set the show's record by losing an amazing 239 pounds. "Everyone wants to know, 'What did you do with all the skin?'" he lamented. "It's still there." After his victory, he eventually had a tummy tuck as well as gynecomastia surgery to reduce the excess skin on his chest.
Even contestants who don't win turn to plastic surgery. Amy Cremen of Season 6 lost 104 pounds, but then found: "I was more uncomfortable in my new skinny body than in my heavy body." She underwent multiple plastic surgery procedures, including a tummy tuck, breast lift with augmentation, and liposuction on her inner and outer thighs. The surgery motivated her to maintain her slimmer self. After healing, Amy was back in the gym, following her new, fit lifestyle.
Shannon Thomas, who lost 117 pounds during Season 7, decided on breast surgery, a tummy tuck, and an arm lift. Losing all that weight left her with "a lot of excess skin and a lot of areas that I wasn't completely happy with," she said. "I've come this far, and I just want to put the icing on the cake." Afterward, she said that her plastic surgery procedures gave her a new beginning.
Shannon's mother, Helen Phillips, lost 140 pounds to be crowned Season 7's champion. After she watched her daughter undergo her surgeries, she decided to do the same. The excess skin, she said, "is a reminder of who I used to be, and I'm not that person anymore." She even decided on a rhinoplasty (a nose job) because "it's something I've wanted." After her procedures, she said, "I just turned 50 … and I feel like I'm 30 again. So really? It looks like 50 truly is the new 30."
These stories highlight a little-known dilemma that only contestants on The Biggest Loser and others who have undergone massive weight loss have had to face. Excess skin is not only unsightly, it is unhygienic and sometimes painful. After the struggle to lose all that weight, it takes plastic surgery to complete the transformation. Luckily, plastic surgeons in New York and elsewhere are skilled in exactly these procedures.
Ask any contestant from The Biggest Loser, and they'll likely tell you that they would gladly trade scars for excess skin any day. For Shannon Thomas, her plastic surgery gave her not just a new beginning, but also a kind of closure. It was, she said, "the best decision I could have made."
About Central Park Plastic Surgery: Scott J. Zevon, MD, FACS, has been featured in New York Magazine as one of the Best Doctors in New York and is listed in the Castle Connolly directory Best Doctors in New York. The Central Park Plastic Surgery offices and AAAASF-accredited ambulatory surgical facility is located at 75 Central Park West, New York, New York 10023. He can be reached by phone at 212-496-6600 or at http://www.drzevon.com.
Media Contact: Mary Monahan, 212-496-6600, http://www.drzevon.com
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