According to Heidi, her personality really didn’t change much as the Sacramento native pursued weight loss and, later, plastic surgery, ultimately transforming her body and her life. “I’ve always been a pretty outgoing, happy person,” she says, “it’s just that now my outside matches my inside. I’m like the butterfly that’s come out of the cocoon.”
Childhood Sticks and Stones
Heidi’s childhood was positive and normal for the most part. She is blessed with a loving family and an athletic spirit. Soccer is her game, and as a youngster she played it whenever possible. “I was probably the biggest kid on most of my teams” she reflects, “thanks to my large-framed German ancestors. But I wasn’t fat and I didn’t think much about weight loss.”
Her teammates did tend to tease her about her size, though, and Heidi relates that being the target of regular taunting at a young age can have a big impact on your self esteem. “It really sticks with you,” she says. But even into her high school years, when her weight started to creep up, she didn’t really think she had a problem. She continued to play a lot of soccer in high school, and she said, “I convinced myself if I could be that active I couldn’t really be getting too overweight.”
The Freshman 40
Heidi left Sacramento and headed north to attend Chico State University. That’s when her weight really began to balloon. “They talk about the ‘freshman 20,'” she laughs, explaining that it’s common for students to gain 20 pounds during their first year at college with newfound freedom driving their eating habits. “I gained more than 40.”
Away from home and somewhat unsure of herself, Heidi saw her weight rise and fall with the ups and downs of some of her relationships around that time. When she met her husband her weight was down to about 160, but it wasn’t destined to last. At graduation time she was up to about 200, on her wedding day she weighed around 270, and she still had a few more pounds to gain to reach her peak weight.
Heidi, before her vertical sleeve gastrectomy in 2004.
After losing the weight and post-bariatric body contouring.
It’s at this point in her story Heidi brings up the difficult topic of relationships and obesity. The fact is, she points out, some men just prefer being with, in her own frank terms, “a fat girl.” She believes they get something they need out of it. “They’re more secure or feel better about themselves in some way.”
In Heidi’s case, her marriage provided the setting for her weight to finally tip the scales at 299 pounds. Her normally quiet father finally spoke the words her whole family wanted Heidi to hear, “We’re worried about you and your health.” Heidi made what she viewed as the difficult but necessary decision to have bariatric surgery. By that point she realized it would put a huge strain on her relationship, but she also knew her health and well-being were more important.
Ultimately, Heidi’s marriage did not survive. After a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in 2004 removed 90 percent of her stomach and the pounds began to drop away, Heidi and her husband grew steadily apart. Making the decision to end the marriage was difficult, yet Heidi knew her case was not unusual. “Something like half of all weight loss patients’ marriages end up in divorce,” she said. “As one person works hard to get the life they’ve always wanted, sometimes the other gets left behind.”
Two years after bariatric surgery, Heidi had lost an amazing 150 pounds. She had accomplished her goal and she felt her weight was stable. Furthermore, she knew her skin had done what little rebounding it could do on its own.
Heidi began seeking a body contouring plastic surgeon in Sacramento. She wanted to start work on her breasts first. Having gained and lost weight before, Heidi was experienced with expanding and shrinking breasts. “Breast tissue is always the first to go,” she says, “and I wanted my breasts back.”
Her first consult with a Sacramento plastic surgeon was disappointing, as was her second. Heidi performed research and went to the appointments equipped with ideas, questions and photos. “Neither one gave me more than 10 minutes,” she remembers. She happened across Dr. Kaufman’s name by accident and scheduled a meeting with him. Expecting similar treatment, she took nothing with her. To Heidi’s surprise, Dr. Kaufman gave her plenty of time, listened to her and gave his own honest assessment. Heidi had found her surgeon and her breast augmentation was scheduled.
The Finishing Touches
Patient and doctor turned out to be such a great fit for each other that Heidi went to work for the Sacramento plastic surgeon soon after her breast augmentation. As a receptionist, she has had a positive impact on several areas of the practice, paying special attention to helping the weight loss patients whenever possible.
In January of 2007, Heidi decided it was time to help herself out with the remaining procedure she needed, a torsoplasty or body lift. Dr. Kaufman removed a band of saggy skin around her midsection, tightening the abdominal muscles. “I finally got rid of the muffin top!” Heidi exclaims, referring to the roll of skin nearly every bariatric surgery patient sports over the top of their pants.
Heidi goes on to confirm the other benefits of post weight loss body lift surgery. It truly has an amazing effect on the thighs and butt as well as the midsection, she explains. “The little folds under my butt cheeks are gone.” She also relates how Dr. Kaufman did a little strategic liposuction here and there, especially around her rear. He got rid of the fat cells in places she didn’t want them, ensuring that if she gains a pound or 2 it should be in the right places.
You Deserve What You Give Yourself
If you get the chance to meet Heidi today, you will know instantly that weight loss and post-bariatric body contouring have helped the Sacramento girl live her dream life. “My experience has helped me realize you deserve what you give yourself. I work out and I’m playing soccer again. I found someone who makes me feel like a queen. My outside doesn’t hold me back any more.”
Over the past 3 years, Heidi has seen some strange things occur within her circle of friends and acquaintances. For instance, oddly enough, she found some people who have undergone massive weight loss refuse to associate with those who are still heavy. “It’s a little strange,” says Heidi. She says that for her, even though she finds her “before” photos startling now, “It’s not easy to forget what it was like to be fat.” Dr. Kaufman reports that Heidi keeps what she calls her “fat book” of photos close by at her desk at work, just in case.
Weathering all this change, outside and in, Heidi has some good relationship advice for others pursuing weight loss in Sacramento. She says:
- Be prepared that some of your friendships may suffer; just realize you’ll find out who your true friends are
- Get counseling if you’re in a pre-weight loss marriage or relationship you want to hang onto
- Speak up in your friendships and relationships and say what you feel; don’t worry about what others may be doing or thinking
One More Tip: See Dr. Kaufman
Heidi also recommends that, no matter where they live, other weight loss patients should meet her Sacramento plastic surgeon. She has noticed that a larger and larger portion of Dr. Kaufman’s practice is devoted to post-bariatric plastic surgery, and patients come to see him from across the U.S. and even from other countries. Heidi says Dr. Kaufman get as much out of working with his Sacramento weight loss patients as they do from working with him. “This kind of plastic surgery is such an art form to him,” she says. “He considers it a challenge to help patients feel good about their bodies. The personal rewards he feels from the work are his payoff.”
*Testimonials reflect the personal opinions of actual patients and are not meant as a guarantee of results. Your experience and results may vary.