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Looking better for Life

November 27, 2006

Thomasville-  Gastric bypass surgery can melt away hundred of pounds. It worked for a Thomasville woman, but it didn't last. Cheryl Walters gained much of the weight back.  She lost it again the old fashioned way, by eating right and exercising.  Cheryl lost more than a 100 pounds, but still felt uncomfortable in her own skin. Now, a body contouring surgery that's gaining popularity has Cheryl looking better for life.

In 1982, Cheryl Walters weighed 328 pounds. Gastric bypass surgery was still relatively new but she decided to give it a try.

"I lost 150 pounds in 6 months and I felt really terrific and I managed to keep the weight off many, many years and then later on I started to gain the weight back," said Cheryl Walters, Weight loss patient. Through exercise and eating right she dropped the weight again and has kept it off, but that created another dilemma.

"As I got older pulling the extra skin from where I had lost all that weight just became a drag, really, and I was hunching over and clothes don't fit," said Walters. Cheryl reached her breaking point and simply wanted to feel better.

"My regular physician took a look at my last examination and he looked at my stomach and all the lose skin and I was having some skin rash problems because of the skin rubbing together and he said okay, that's got to go," said Walters. That's when Cheryl met Dr. Louis Potyondy who was familiar with her problem.

"About four or five years ago we started seeing more and more patients who have lost this weight and essentially that's when this areas of plastic surgery began to grow tenfold along with the number of bypass surgeries which were done," said Dr. Louis D. Potyondy, Plastic Surgery Associates of South Georgia.

Here's what the doctor ordered, a tummy tuck and a breast lift to improve her shape and her self esteem. "With lose overhanging skin, it's very difficult in this hot, humid south Georgia heat and I decided that it was time, I wanted to feel better first," said Cheryl.

The surgery date was set. Because it's a lengthy procedure, the surgery is done at Archbold Memorial Hospital. "Dr. Potyondy marked, sort of like, I felt like a dressmaker's dummy," said Walters.

"There's bruising and swelling that's involved in the surgery, but she'll notice a difference right away," said Potyondy. Dr. Potyondy walks Cheryl through the procedure one last time. "We're going to take out all the excess skin and all the excess fat on the lower part of her belly sort of below the belly button. That's going to be in addition we're going to do a lift on her breasts to try and get her a better shape," said Potyondy.

Cheryl's anesthesia is placed in her I.V. Her sense of humor kicks in about the same time as the anesthesia. "At this point I feel like the Israelis and Palestinians could really work things out," said Cheryl.

Cheryl's then wheeled to the Operating Room for the five hour surgery. Her recovery will begin immediately. After a night in the hospital she's sent home to rest. Just two weeks after the surgery, Cheryl's sore, but healing.

"When you see her she almost looks like a different person, she's very happy, surprisingly she's saying that she can walk better and walk more straight up," said Potyondy. The left over fat and skin are gone. "In Cheryl, that amounts to between 8 and 10 pounds," said Potyondy.

A scar across her lower abdomen will serve as a lifelong souvenir of the experience but worth it, considering her aches and pains are gone. "The back aches and the shoulder aches I was having problems with, they're getting better and people tell me, wow, you really stand up straight, you don't hunch over anymore," said Cheryl.

She went into surgery optimistic.

"I wasn't expecting to come out looking like a glamour girl that wasn't my purpose, although I wanted to look better, who wouldn't," said Cheryl.

For the first time in her life, she's wearing jeans. "I'm 51 years old and I'm wearing my first pair of jeans," exclaimed Walters. The surgery's changed Cheryl's life and she's about to take another big step, she's getting married in March.

"The plans for the wedding dress have changed. I was going to wear something like that was an empire waist to cover that stomach, I feel like my choices are so much more open, I'm waiting for the final swelling to go down, then I'm going to go wedding dress crazy," said Cheryl.

It's a pursuit that Cheryl hopes will lead to longer dances. "Now I'm looking forward to the rest of what's happening. It's been an interesting life to me and now not only is it more interesting, but it's a lot more energetic," said Cheryl. More exercise, and to more adventures and just adding to it. 

The surgery was not covered by Cheryl's insurance. She had to take out a second mortgage on her home to pay for the procedure, but she say's it's worth every penny.

For more information about Plastic Surgery and proceedures like Cheryl's you can contact Dr. Louis Potyondy office in Thomasville at Plastic Surgery Associates of South Georgia, 505 Gordon Ave.  Thomasville, GA 31792.  Their phone number is (229) 228-9900 and their website is at www.PlasticSurgerySouthGeorgia.com.  

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