A WOMAN who was left with a ‘six pack’ of saggy skin after losing 76kg has bought her first bikini following life-changing surgery.
Kylie Merola, 22, from Cape Coral in Florida in the United States, was so embarrassed of her body that she dreaded appearing before crowds at her graduation ceremony.
She had been overweight since the age of five, which doctors would later discover was partly due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism.
But after being disgusted by her size and fearing others were making fun of her while collecting her high school diploma, Kylie decided to undergo surgery.
In 2014, she had a gastric bypass, which, combined with healthier smaller portions, helped her to lose half her body weight but left her with flabby excess skin.
Humiliated by her body, which she said looked like a “six pack of rolls”, Kylie went under the knife again and had over 12kg of skin cut away from her body.
Now a slender 69kg she’s celebrated her incredible transformation by buying her first bikini ready for summer.
Kylie, a waitress, said: “When I was graduating from high school I was terrified to cross the stage, I didn’t want people’s eyes on me and didn’t want to be the biggest person graduating.
“I knew everyone would be talking about how big I was, my classmates would be laughing at me or making fun, I felt so embarrassed and didn’t want to be seen.
“After that I was determined to do whatever it took to lose weight, I knew if I didn’t take drastic actions I could end up weighing 272kg within a few years”.
“My weight loss surgery was just a tool, from there I had to watch what I ate to make sure I consumed all the nutrients I needed and exercised regularly.
“While I was happy after shedding the weight, no one told me my body would be so disfigured after losing so much weight.
“My body shape went from huge, solid and fat to being smaller but with hanging flabby skin, it looked like pizza dough and was a flap that hung down from my body.
“I used to have a six pack of rolls and the skin on my arms used to jiggle like bat wings.
“Despite going through so much I couldn’t be proud of my weight loss, it was a huge insecurity and stopped me doing everything I’d lost weight to do.”
“When I look at my body now I see a much more proportionate person, I’m much happier than how I was before, sometimes I wake up and think, ‘Wow, that’s me.’”
As a child, Kylie’s family were baffled as to why she was overweight when siblings Ashley and Joey, now 25 and 20, who were fed the same portions were both slender.
Later at the age of 15, doctors would discover Kylie had PCOS, which can lead women to gain excess weight.
Kylie said: “I was always heavier, I would gain weight despite barely eating.
“Doctors used to tell my mum to throw out the TV and get me outside, but that was far from the case I was always outdoors.”
At school, she was bullied for her size and heard cruel comments about her weight.
Kylie added: “People would make comments like ‘thunder thighs’ and say I was ‘four-foot-tall and five-foot-wide’, they thought it was harmless but it was a big deal.
“I was classified as the ‘fat girl’ and people always doubted me, now I feel good about myself and want to keep going, I’ll never revert to who I was before.”
Two years ago, Kylie had a gastrectomy and started eating smaller portions combined with working as a waitress and exercising, which led her to lose an impressive amount of weight.
And last year she underwent a combined tummy tuck, brachioplasty, back lift and a spiral thigh lift to remove the excess 12kg of skin.
Kylie said: “It was a huge weight lifted from my shoulders, so doing anything physical is so simple now.
“I can bend down to tie my shoes without skin overhanging, I can run without my skin flapping and do anything I want without worrying it will get in the way.
“Now I’m toning my body, it has completely changed, my skin used to hang off my body, now there’s barely anything left anymore.”
Kylie is now fundraising for a breast augmentation, after excessive weight gain and skin removal surgery left her with smaller breasts.
“After having my back and arm lift, my chest pulled back and pulled my boobs down and I lost my femininity,” she said.
“It’s a mental transformation, it’s been hard learning to see myself for how I look now but I’m slowly getting there and enjoying every moment of it.”
Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese
Snack: Granola bar or chocolate chip frappé
Lunch: Sandwich or burger
Dessert: Brownies or cheesecake
Breakfast: Egg whites
Lunch: Salad with light dressings or smoothie
Dinner: Grilled chicken, or steak with asparagus or broccoli
Dessert: Greek yoghurt