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The painful reality of going under the knife

Sunday, October 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:04 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I’ve been obsessed lately with all of the makeover shows. I love to watch messy rooms magically become havens of calm. I’m enthralled when a team of workers comes to a home that is nearly uninhabitable and in three days puts up walls, lays wood flooring and decorates with tennis balls and bamboo poles.

But it’s the body makeovers that really have me fascinated. Last year my husband and I watched a new show on TV titled “The Swan.” Each week two “ugly” women (called ducklings) were chosen for a makeover. Then one of the two was selected to participate in a “beauty” pageant to become the Swan. These women were suctioned, tucked and lifted. New breasts were implanted. Their faces were lasered, and their teeth were whitened or veneered. My husband was visibly shaken by all of the surgical procedures.

“Would you go through all that?” he asked.

“You bet your bippy I would and did!” I replied.

I guess he has forgotten about my makeovers. About 20 years ago I had two of the procedures that they hype on these makeover shows.

I’ve had a nose job and although it was for a deviated nasal septum, I didn’t mind that they took out the bump on the ridge and narrowed my nostrils. Recovery from that procedure was a little uncomfortable. I had two black eyes for two weeks, but it was worth being able to breathe easier and have a straighter snout.

The other procedure was purely elective. When I was in my late 30s, I opted to have liposuction and a tummy tuck.

At the time I was overweight (what else is new?) but my biggest problem was my stomach. It was so stretched out of shape from carrying babies that my belly sagged like a deflated balloon. And I had stretch marks that looked like railway tracks.

I read about this awesome new surgery in some magazine. Before putting my belly to the knife, I asked for referrals. The three women I spoke to said it was the best thing they had ever done, so I took the plunge.

I remember being marked up like a Picasso painting and then having an IV inserted into my hand. Then nothing.

When I woke up, I was in terrible pain (they don’t show this part on the makeover shows).

I was told that the surgeon had taken out 10 pounds of fat, eight inches of skin and had fashioned a brand new navel because my old one had to be sacrificed with the skin. Obviously with that much dermis gone and edges sewn back together, I couldn’t stand straight. I hobbled to the bathroom and back to bed like an 80-year-old with a hump.

I was bedridden for nearly two weeks (they make you think these women are back in the gym it two days), and I had to wear a girdle that went from my waist to my knees for six weeks. I had to wait almost eight months to see the final result (the makeovers “reveal” at three months).

I will say that looking back it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And although I continue to struggle with my weight, I can’t imagine how big I’d be right now if I hadn’t had a few million fat cells removed.

After the suck and tuck procedure, I’ve pretty much left my body alone except for repairs. Now that I’m in my 50s, I’m wondering about doing something with my face. These makeover shows talk about a brow lift but the patients are left with a permanent amazed look. I hate needles, so Botox is out. I’ve watched the medical channel where they have done complete face lifts showing every bit of the blood and gore. One surgeon actually peeled down a woman’s face to her chin. I don’t think I’m ready for something that extreme. I thought about having the fat liposuctioned from the bags under my eyes, cheeks and chins, but I joined Weight Watchers instead.

I’ll admit that I’m still very vain, but right now I’d rather tighten my face with lotions, hide lines with potions and create a mask with makeup than go under the knife in the near future. Maybe one day they’ll come up with a pill that turns back time. Until then I’ll try to age gracefully.

If you have a comment or know of a cheap painless procedure that will make me permanently thin and youthful, please e-mail me at jdh@socket.net


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