Two and a half years ago, Jessica King weighed more than 300 pounds and desperately wanted to lose weight. Like many people, she “yo-yo dieted”—losing 30 or 40 pounds, only to gain it back—which took a psychological and physical toll. The final straw for King came after an embarrassing incident at Six Flags. She and her children stood in line for nearly two hours to go on the Batman ride, only to be turned away when the safety belt wouldn’t fit around her waist. “At that point I knew my weight was not only affecting me, but my kids,” she recalls. “And that was unacceptable to me.”
King had been researching weight-loss surgeries for years—even qualifying for the procedure twice, only to back out. After the Six Flags incident and with much deliberation, King consulted with Dr. J. Stephen Marshall of Peoria Surgical Group about weight-loss surgeries. He recommended she go with a gastric bypass, which reduces the size of the stomach and redirects food from the small intestine to absorb fewer calories. Dr. Marshall performed her surgery on December 6, 2017.
In the following months, King changed her eating habits, switching to a Keto diet, and started exercising at three months post-op. “The misconception with weight loss surgery is that it’s a magic cure, when in reality it’s a tool that helps you learn how to eat correctly for the rest of your life,” she explains. In 15 months, she dropped 190 pounds, but her makeover journey was far from over. The massive weight loss came with another set of problems—excess, sagging skin.
The “Mommy Makeover”
With a new set of challenges to overcome, King consulted with Dr. Babis Rammos, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Illinois Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery who has authored numerous publications and book chapters on topics including facelift, browlift, body contouring and breast reconstruction, and has given national and international presentations on both aesthetic and reconstructive surgery. “We discussed the types of procedures she would need to not only get rid of the extra skin, but lift and augment areas such as her breasts and buttocks,” Dr. Rammos explains. He also advised her of the risks involved in performing multiple procedures in one surgery.
A combination of these procedures, referred to as a “Mommy Makeover,” restores the shape and appearance of a woman’s body after childbearing. Typical operations include breast augmentation, breast lift, buttock augmentation, liposuction, tummy tuck and vaginal rejuvenation. Of course, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution—the surgeries are customized for an individual based on her unique needs.
In King’s case, the biggest hurdle was dealing with the excess skin and what would be left underneath. Dr. Rammos recommended a series of surgeries that would benefit her most in the long term. “Initially Jessica wanted a breast lift, but that would leave her looking disproportionate. She wore a size D bra but had less than an A cup of actual breast tissue; the rest was just skin,” he explains. “I recommended a lift with implants.” To address her stomach area, he proposed the fleur-de-lis tummy tuck, leaving her with a horizontal as well as a vertical incision in order to take away all of her excess abdominal skin.
The last area for the first surgery was her buttocks. “Jessica wanted a fat transfer, often referred to as a ‘Brazilian butt lift,’ to add volume,” Dr. Rammos explains. But having lost so much weight, her body had very minimal fat. “I recommended a ‘purse-string gluteoplasty,’ which would address the extra skin, lift the buttocks, and then I would use her own tissue to create an implant. I made the recommendations, but the decision was completely up to Jessica.”
Recovery and Long-Term Success
King decided to move forward with all the recommended procedures in a single surgery, which took place on July 2, 2019. Dr. Rammos then set clear expectations for what to expect during recovery. “A lot of people are under the impression that you come out of surgery looking and feeling perfect—which is far from reality,” he explains. “Recovery from plastic surgery often involves swelling and bruising, and the long-term results usually aren’t visible until around six months.”
While the surgery was a success, recovery was not easy, King recalls. “The pain was managed very closely by Dr. Rammos, but it was an adjustment having to depend on others for everything.” The biggest hurdle of the entire process, she admits, was more emotional than physical. “Initially, I felt guilty having an elective surgery while being a mother, and I worried what others would think. After recovery those fears quickly went away… I did something for myself that put me in a better space mentally, which is best for myself and my children. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.”
In November, King underwent another surgery to remove excess skin from her arms and thighs, completing her full body makeover. She says she would recommend a Mommy Makeover to any mother who feels bad about her body. “We often lose ourselves in the daily task of taking care of our families, and put ourselves last,” she explains.
King has maintained her post-op results with a healthy diet and regular exercise, which are critical after surgery, notes Dr. Rammos. “I can make a patient’s stomach as flat as possible, but if she gains a large amount of weight after surgery, the skin will just stretch out again. I’m very pleased with [Jessica’s] dedication to her health.”
Since beginning this journey in 2017, King has become a bit of a social media sensation, with more than 54,000 Instagram followers having watched her transformation firsthand. She shares her personal struggles with weight loss and provides recipes for her favorite Keto dishes. “When I get messages from someone losing weight using the tips I have provided, or when they say that my pictures motivate them, it makes me feel great!” she explains.
And while elective surgery can be costly, King believes it’s a worthwhile investment. “As adults, we will financially stretch ourselves thin for a lot of things that are ‘elective,’ such as remodeling our homes, new cars, vacations, hobbies… but investing in our bodies and self-confidence is deemed unnecessary and vain. You should love the reflection you see in the mirror each day—as much as you love the new cabinets in your kitchen! Besides,” she adds, “self-confidence will never go out of style.” PM
Follow King’s weight-loss journey on Instagram @jking2386 and other success stories @DrBabisRammos. Visit illinoiscosmeticandplasticsurgery.com or phone (309) 495-2050 for more information.