Why York mum Allison Watson paid £20,000 for a new body
11:36am Thursday 21st July 2011
YORK mum-of-two and super slimmer Allison Watson has treated herself to a £20,000 new body – and says it’s worth every penny.
the civil servant, who has struggled with her weight for more than 20 years, went under the surgeon’s knife in a series of “body contouring” operations to create her size 10-12 figure.
Now enjoying a new lease of life, the 44-year-old is busy shopping for clothes, taking salsa lessons and jetting off on holiday by herself.
Allison, who is single and lives in Wigginton, said: “My confidence is a lot bigger now – I know I look a hell of a lot better than I used to do.”
In the past ten months she has undergone three operations to remove excess skin from her abdomen, upper arms and thighs – the result of rapid weight loss after Allison had a gastric bypass four years ago.
At 5ft 4in, weighing 24 stone and wearing a dress size 30, Allison was classed as obese and qualified for the dramatic stomach-stapling operation on the NHS.
the surgery reduced her stomach to the size of an egg allowing her to eat only tiny amounts of food.
although she was delighted with her weight loss, she felt down about the flabby skin that hung to her newly shrunken frame.
she knew the NHS would not pay for the excess skin to be removed because it was considered a cosmetic procedure, so Allison dug into her savings and splurged £15,000 on three separate operations to reshape her body.
In the past ten months she has had an abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” where three kilos of skin were removed from her stomach, followed by an arm and thigh lift, where loose-hanging skin was sculpted from her upper arms and inner thighs.
she has been left with scars, but says they are worth it. she now plans to have a breast lift in October, at a further cost of £6,000.
Allison now weighs 11-and-a half stone and wears a clothes size 10-12. she has also joined a gym and is getting fit.
“I have probably added ten years to my life,” she says.
MAXINE GORDON meets the York mum with the new 20,000 body
CHOCOLATES and crisps were her weakness – and her comfort.
As the weight on piled on, Allison Watson took solace in snacks – wolfing up to three packets of crisps and three chocolate bars a day on top of her meals.
the weight gain began during her first pregnancy. “My husband was in the armed forces and we were posted to Berlin. I had stopped smoking, was bored and lonely – and it was a combination of all those things,” explains Allison, now 44.
Four years after the birth of her daughter Gemma, now 24, Allison had a son, Stephen – and kept piling on the pounds.
she tried dieting and programmes such as Weight Watchers, with little success.
By the time of Gemma’s 18th birthday, Allison, only 5ft 4in, weighed 24 stone, wore a dress size 28-30 and a 58DD bra.
Her daughter’s coming of age was a turning point for Allison, a civil servant from York.
“At Gemma’s birthday party I realised I had been struggling with my weight for 18 years,” she said.
the final straw came when she struggled to fit into an airplane seat on a flight to Gran Canaria. “It was a tight squeeze just getting on the plane.”
In desperation, Allison went to see her local GP, who referred her for a gastric bypass.
“They told me they would staple my stomach until it was the size of an egg and told me if I overate it would make me vomit,” explains Allison.
After the surgery, Allison found she could only eat two ice-cubes in size of pureed food. she was surprised that her huge appetite had disappeared.
“I remember asking the surgeon, did you do something to my brain? it feels like I’ve got switched off,” says Allison. “But what had happened was that I was getting signals from my stomach telling me that I was full and I was taking notice of that.”
Back home, the pounds quickly fell away, with Allison losing up to a stone and a half a month.
it should have been a happy time, but Allison got the blues about another problem – excess skin.
“I had a curtain of skin below my privates that looked awful and wasn’t moving,” she begins. “My underarms had crepey skin hanging from them and my thighs were the same.
“My boobs were left like sacks of air; there was nothing there, no substance.
“I had all this excess skin and it was quite depressing.
“I knew being that big that I would have excess skin, but didn’t expect it on my thighs and arms.
“I became very self-conscious. I looked okay in clothes, but when I got undressed I didn’t like it.”
Four years after her bariatric surgery, she decided to do something about it – and booked into a private clinic through Harley Medical Group last September to have the excess skin removed.
she spent morethan £15,000 over a period of six months. she underwent an abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck”, where three kilos of skin were removed from her abdomen, followed by removal of sagging skin from her thighs and upper arms.
Luckily Allison had savings to pay for the procedures because she knew that they were not ordinarily available on the NHS.
Allison is so thrilled with the results that she’s booked in for a breast lift in October, at a cost of £6,000.
she has also spent £3,200 having her teeth straightened and invested in a course of Botox.
So is she becoming addicted to surgery?
“No,” she insists. “I knew I would have to have these operations. I will never have a supermodel’s body, but I am comfortable with what I have and that’s more important than looking young and really sexy.”
the operations and treatments have given Allison a real confidence boost – and a new lease of life. she has shed half her body weight and now wears a size 10-12, and can show off her new figure in 30-waist jeans.
Her marriage broke down two years ago and she is enjoying her new single life. last year she went on holiday alone for the first time, to Zante.
last Christmas she travelled to the Gambia by herself – and loved it so much she’s been back three times since.
she has joined a gym and is taking up salsa classes. “If you are going to spend 20 grand on a new body, you need to maintain it,” says Allison.
she has a whole new wardrobe of clothes with 50 pairs of shoes – and counting.
“I am having fun and enjoying my life,” she says. “I am also fitter and have probably added ten years to my life.”
For people who think she has taken the easy way out, she has this answer. “One in a hundred people die during gastric-band surgery. It’s a very, very big decision for someone to make. People say you are cheating, but are you really cheating when you get those odds?”
Needless to say, Allison is delighted with the end result. “I have lost 13 stone and am half the woman I once was.”
should the NHS pay for ‘tummy tuck’ ops?
LEADING weight-loss organisation Slimming World today called on the NHS to consider funding tummy tuck procedures for people who have lost weight through diet and exercise.
a spokesperson said: “Many of our members lose huge amounts of weight – it’s common for people to lose ten stone or more. and, as increasing numbers of people lose weight, the problem of excess skin resulting from dramatic weight losses is becoming a bigger issue that deserves attention.
“We often hear from our successful members that, despite having lost enormous amounts of weight and maintained their weight loss over a period of years, their efforts to have excess skin removed are met with little support. Excess skin can affect their self-esteem and mental well-being.
“It seems only fair that where people have made long-term, sustainable behavioural changes themselves and maintained their weight loss for a significant period of time without any intervention or cost to the NHS, that this should be taken into account when considering their application to have excess skin removed. the further potential savings to the NHS from reducing their chances of developing future obesity-related health problems should also be considered.”
Dr Brian McGregor, Acomb GP and former chairman of the local medical committee, said: “At the moment these procedures are considered cosmetic procedures and are not funded. I think most doctors support that because of the funding position within North Yorkshire.”
Exceptions could be made, he said, for patients suffering from problems such as infections or ulceration of the skin, but each case would be judged on its own merit.
Dr McGregor said patients were made aware of the after-effects of bariatric surgery. “People having gastric bypass surgery are informed they will not get cosmetic procedures on the NHS.”
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<a href="http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/9152006.Why_York_mum_paid___20_000_for_a_new_body/tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/9152006.Why_York_mum_paid___20_000_for_a_new_body/Thu, 21 Jul 2011 10:44:22 GMT 00:00″>Why York mum Allison Watson paid £20,000 for a new body (From York Press)