When you’ve spent nearly a decade weighing 300 pounds, tolerating the cruel taunts of strangers and being told your health is at risk, it’s natural to believe that losing half your weight might make life a little easier. One woman from England, however, has found her troubles haven’t gone away — they’ve merely taken the new shape of saggy, excess skin.
“I see rolls from everywhere. It even hangs from under my armpits. My boobs are like deflated balloons with water in the end, and I look disgusting,” 34-year-old Michelle Cooper said. “It’s like a loose saggy apron of nasty haggard old skin, there are creases and folds everywhere.”
Cooper’s dramatic weight loss from about 300 pounds to under 170 pounds is the result of gastric sleeve surgery covered by England’s National Health Service. In addition to declining health — she suffered from sciatica and high blood pressure, and was pre-diabetic — Cooper was motivated to get the surgery due to nasty comments from complete strangers and numerous failed attempts to lose weight through dieting and pills.
Although she’s happy to have lost the weight, the excess skin has left her feeling less attractive — and prone to infections in the folds and creases.
“I feel ugly in a different way. When I look in the mirror every morning I see the horrid excess skin and have bad smelling infections, it’s very depressing,” she said. “When an infection breaks out it’s horrible. The skin is red raw, you feel constantly dirty no matter how many times you wash, and it smells to high heavens.”
Perhaps the most upsetting aspect of her infections is how it has affected her closeness with her partner. Ironically, she blames her initial weight gain on getting content in their relationship, and now the weight loss is coming between them.
“It’s difficult being intimate with my partner because of the infections I get. I just turn away from him because I don’t feel attractive,” she explained. “”It’s terrible. I tell my partner not to come near me because I feel so insecure about my rashes.”
Unfortunately, despite the health risk posed by the infections, National Health Service has denied her request to cover skin removal surgery.
“I was told by my doctor that if I had the weight loss surgery, I could also have the skin removal too,” Cooper said. “I took his word for that but was rejected.”
So Cooper is now fundraising through GoFundMe to pay out-of-pocket for the skin-removal surgery, which she believes will restore her confidence and stop the frequent infections.
But ultimately, no matter what happens, Cooper knows her husband will work through her challenges with her.
“While I can’t stand my appearance, my husband loves and stood by me even when I was a size 26. Anyone else may have run for the hills, but all he wants is to make me happy.”