How a 'Can-Do' Attitude May Help (and Hurt) Healing After a Body Lift

Varci Vartanian on 20 Aug 2013 at 9:00am

Dr. Stoker explains why being a "go-getter" is an asset (and maybe even a drawback) when it comes to speedy healing.

On last week's Extreme Weight Loss, we were introduced to Mike Epstein, a 50 year-old father (and one-time body builder) from Voorhees, New Jersey. Mike, who weighs in at 417 pounds, seizes the opportunity to become a healthier man -- and embarks on a year-long journey of diet and exercise with trainer Chris Powell

And even through tense moments (including more than a few rounds in the ring with heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield) --  Mike's positive can-do attitude never fails. He loses half of his body weight in 12 short months and reclaims his muscle-bound past after a body lift with LA plastic surgeon Dr. David Stoker. Which got us thinking... how important is keeping yourself in a positive space after surgery? We caught up with Dr. Stoker to find out.

RealSelf: We know that cardiac patients have better surgical outcomes if they maintain a positive attitude about their recovery.  Does the same hold true for skin removal surgery after massive weight loss?

Dr. Stoker: It is certainly true that going in with a positive attitude make little bumps in the [post-op] road seem like nothing -- [patients like Mike] focus on the big picture and the profound positive improvement that [they've] worked so hard for. Mike is an inspirational guy. He’s got the greatest attitude about life and is the ideal patient for me during these types of procedures.

RealSelf: Did Mike come across any other challenges in his surgical course? We were concerned that he "failed" his medical exam before boot camp due to a suspected heart issue... although he was eventually cleared for Chris's rigorous exercise regimen.

Dr. Stoker: We do really through medical workups [before surgery]. We do full workups, even on young patients – because of the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in the obese population.  In someone that is older with hypertension as well -– it’s a definite real risk, but there are a couple of great things that Mike had in his favor. 

Mike was working out between 4-8 hours per day – all year long – so [that sort of exercise regimen] is really more a stress than the surgery.  We’re smooth with our anesthesia and we don’t loose a lot of blood – so it’s really not taxing for him.  Knowing he had that type of "stress test" done to him every day for a year, in additional to getting cleared by the cardiologist, I felt very confident in proceeding with the surgery.

RealSelf:  Were there any other roadblocks for Mike on his surgical journey?

Dr. Stoker: When someone is such a hardworking guy, and inspires the trainers, nutritionists, his family, doctors and the medical team -- it's really nice. But one of the hardest things he had to do was break all those habits he had of working out so hard. I know that he did it with a smile on his face, but it was a definite challenge to let his body heal for a few weeks without returning to exercise. After about 3 weeks, you can start doing light exercise. But it's 6 weeks when you can return to full exercise.

Do YOU have questions about a body lift or tummy tuck? Ask them on here on RealSelf.

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