"I literally cut my size in half"

July 4, 2008 5:59:19 PM PDT
Nearly everyone knows someone struggling with their weight. We have the story of one man who has won a mammoth fight with his.

Scott Segal, of Richboro, Bucks County, says, "People that haven't seen me in a while, they find it hard, till I tell them who I am."

Segal says even long-time acquaintances do a double-take when they see him now.

4 years ago, when he was 37 years old, this is what he looked like - 512 pounds.

His "moment of truth" came when he tried to buy a car.

"Instead of being what I could afford, it was what I was able to fit into," he told Action News.

With diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems, Scott wasn't even a candidate for stomach bypass surgery.

He had lost weight before, but this time, was determined to succeed permanently.

He went on a diet, and dropped 100 pounds, then he hit the gym.

"I've been going 5 days a week since then."

However, as Scott's weight fell, a new problem arose - excess skin, hiding a muscular body underneath.

Dr Rob Skalicky, of Bucks County Plastic Surgery and the Diversified Specialties Hospital, says common spots are, "The abdomen, the chest, the arms, the flanks, and the thighs."

Dr. Skalicky says that as the number of people undergoing stomach bypass surgery has risen, so have the requests for body lifts, to get rid of excess skin.

In his own practice, the number of patients like Scott, has doubled in just 5 years.

Dr. Skalicky says, "Once skin stretches out from weight gain, it loses some of its elasticity."

Scott was practically swimming in 35 pounds of spare skin.

Body lifts used to be considered "cosmetic," so insurance didn't cover them.

Gradually, that's changing.

Scott's health insurer paid for the work around his abdomen, though not elsewhere.

So Dr. Skalicky's practice and hospital decided to waive their fees.

Scott was ecstatic, "It's been 50-thousand dollars worth of surgery that's been no cost to me."

Dr. Skalicky says he & his colleagues wanted to keep Scott on his successful track. "We didn't want him to be left with a negative impression of himself after he's accomplished so much."

Body lifts are done in phases, usually starting with the abdomen.

Then every 3 to 6 months, doctors do other operations on the chest, arms, and legs.

Dr. Skalicky says, "What we like to do is tailor the skin now down to their new frame work."

Scott is proud of the 4-year journey he has taken.

"310 pounds. I took 275 pounds off by myself, and the rest came off with the surgeries When I started the diet, I was a size 72, and now my waist is 36. I've totally cut myself in half.

He says his entire life has turned around.

"I have a much better social life. I'm not afraid to go anywhere. I have a girlfriend now, which I didn't have then," he says.

He offered some advice to others struggling with their weight. "you have to do it yourself. You have to do it with diet and exercise, not surgery."

Bodylift surgery has a higher risk of complications, because of the length of the incisions. And some people report numbness in areas where excess skin has been removed. However, most patients find that because their weight is so much lower, their overall health is much better. In Scott's case, his diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems are gone.