Man loses half his body

July 10, 2008 8:50:27 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 weight, and received an unusual award. Four years ago, Scott Segal was 512 pounds.

The Richboro man knew he desperately needed to lose weight. 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 said.

But now even Scott's friends can't believe his transformation.

He has dropped more than 300 pounds. "People that haven't seen me in a while, they find it hard, till I tell them who I am."

Scott lost the weight by changing his diet, and hitting the gym. He had lost weight before, but he gained it back. He also gained diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. So this time he was needed to work off the weight for good. "I've been going five days a week since then."

But, as Scott's weight fell, a new problem arose - excess skin. Living with excess skin can cause rashes and irritation. Plus it makes it hard to move. "They're basically living in clothing that is five times too big for their frame," said Dr. Robert Skalicky of Diversified Specialties Institute.

In Scott's case, he was carrying 35 pounds of spare skin. A body lift to get rid of the excess skin used to be considered "cosmetic," so insurance didn't cover it.

Gradually, that's changing.

Scott's health insurer paid for the work around his abdomen but not anywhere else.

So plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Skalicky's practice and hospital picked up the tab. "It's been $50,000 worth of surgery that's been no cost to me."

"We didn't want him to be left with a negative impression of himself after he's accomplished so much," Dr. Skalicky said.

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

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

Scott is now 310 pounds lighter. "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."

Body lift surgery does have a higher risk of complications, and some patients report numbness in areas where excess skin was removed. But, because their weight is lower, their overall health is better.

In Scott's case, his diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems are gone.