I’ve written several articles that approach the concept of Body Contouring Surgery after WLS or Massive weight loss from a couple different directions, the emotional journey, the body image issues, the pain involved, I’ve even talked about body functions and genital relocation. This next topic shouldn’t shock you at all.
First, let’s talk a little about sex before plastic surgery…
There is a moment in one of Yvonne McCarthy’s [ Bariatric Girl ] videos when she used to do her show that stuck with me forever when I was a post-op gastric bypass patient looking for information about what the excess skin would be like after my RNY and after my weight loss. She was doing an interview with a gentleman [ WLS Journeys: Guest Ramon Lopez ] that talked about how there was a moment after his weight loss where he heard the sound of clapping during exercise and didn’t realize at first that it was his skin smacking together as he ran. I remembered this story probably more than any other that I had heard pre-op RNY because I knew, it was something I was going to go through later and not a lot of people seemed to discuss the excess skin openly.
I had a very similar moment pre-reconstructive surgery. I was in the middle of a very intimate moment, swinging my hips back and forth and when I realized that my movements were causing my stomach to swing forward and make a skin on skin slapping sound as it swung back. It nearly paralyzed me. Of course, I was reassured that this wasn’t an issue “Stop worrying about noises and just be with me,” but once something like that gets in your head it’s hard to get rid of. This was one of those defining moments for me when it came to skin removal surgery. There were lots of other factors in my decision, just like when I decided to have weight loss surgery to begin with, but this was one of those embarrassing moments that I promised myself I would “fix” so I never had to endure again.
Let’s talk about how my first few surgeries changed my sex life… guess what.. it made it REALLY difficult. My first surgery, I had a lot of swelling complications, I would say that I was easily what we will refer to as “out of commission” for a good 8-10 weeks. There were big changes in my body after that surgery, parts of me that were numb to the touch and it felt strange to have someone touch me there, see that they were touching me and yet not feel it. I had this spot on my upper thighs that was right about the same place the dogs would run up and put their paws on me at when I was sitting down, and to this day, I still have a duller sensation when I am touched there than before. But it took me getting past the complications, pain, and strange feelings my body was experience before I even wanted to be intimate again.
My next surgery in August changed things for me even more. In this surgery, we took the excess skin out of my breasts and did a breast lift which included relocating the nipple and areola. My breasts were so sensitive it was ridiculous. This surgery probably only knocked me out of commission for another six weeks while everything was healing. But my nipples developed hypersensitivity [ Its not Masturbation its exploratory ]and it was like, if you blew on me those darn things got hard and when it happened it wasn’t a “happy” sexy moment, it was painful, sent shivers through me, and felt very awkward. I had to start working on desensitizing them to touch, and to be honest, it never went back to normal. After about six months it got to a point that my nipples could be involved in sexual play again, but in a completely different way than before… suddenly my nipples were one of the most sensitive parts of my body in bed they required a stamp of “Fragile Handle with Care”
When we did my medial thigh lift a few months later in November all bets were off. You have incisions from your knee all the way up to your groin and from that point forward along the crease between your thigh and your girl or boy bits with that sort of thigh lift, and to be blunt, my legs weren’t opening like that for a while. In this case I’d say it took another 6-8 weeks.
The time that you’re “out of commission” isn’t the only big changes though. I noticed a difference in my sex life very quickly after that first surgery. A lot of the skin in my mons area had been removed and my girl parts were re-arranged a little. Suddenly I didn’t like the way things felt at times. Positions I used to like, I wasn’t comfortable in anymore, and at every turn I was saying things like “Gently Please,” or “Slow down please,” or “Please move your hand that feels weird,” when I was being touched in a place that still had numbness, and after three surgeries there were a lot of places I felt numbness. Yeah ok, let’s be blunt, when I was a bigger girl I liked things a little fast and rough, maybe I had more cushion inside ( I’d have to ask some doctors about that theory ) but it changed for me a lot after losing weight and cutting my body and sewing it back together a few times. No more Lady GaGa “If it ain’t rough it isn’t fun.” theology in my bed. It was more like, “I really want to do this please don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me.” There was a lot of me feeling fragile to myself, and even more of me feeling fragile to my partner who was afraid of touching me the wrong way because really, who wants to hurt the person you love in bed unless it’s in a kinky way, right?
Also while we are being blunt and honest, there was a change in what felt good to me in regards to size. Suddenly things felt “bigger” to me than they were before. As a woman we get used to where things fit inside us, we get used to a sensation where a certain place perhaps gets rubbed at a certain angle. Suddenly, that changed for me, it was like moving my mons around moved my insides around or losing all that weight shifted where things were inside me and things were more sensitive, seemed tighter, and less accommodating to my partner. It was a scary transition too. Suddenly you don’t like things the way you used to like them and if you have been with someone for quite a while, that can be an awkward place of “re-learning.”
Let me just also give you this little head’s up my friends. A lot of these reconstructive surgeries to do excess skin removal after massive weight loss are done on parts of your body that are very active during times of intimacy. Your thighs, your mons, your abdomen, your breasts, your arms. Imagine taking a few of those out of commission during your sexual activity for a while. It’s changes things a lot. Now once you get past that here is my tip. Keep in mind as you “return” to sexual activity that the first time good things happen and your muscles all tighten and your body gets rigid… it’s going to hurt in a way that makes you want to roll your eyes in not so great way to deal with the pain. Seriously, it reminded me of losing my virginity, I just sort of laid there gasping going “Why did that hurt so bad?”
I have no idea yet how this last surgery is going to change my sex life. I know that I was released and allowed to have intercourse a lot earlier. ( I had the green light after three weeks ) but that doesn’t mean my body is ready, and I know it isn’t.
After having implants done, I have no nipple sensation at all yet ( They say it will come back eventually ) my breasts are extremely tender, like, they feel like I’ve been punched in them several times and have the sensitive hurt and achy feeling I used to experience when I still menstruated. Since my surgeon re-cut my bikini line and lifted my pubic area quite a bit ( He made that area of my body look AMAZING really ) there is a lot of painful sensitivity in my mons area and until that goes away I know sex isn’t something in which I’ll be remotely interested.
So if I had to add it up, in the past 68 weeks of having reconstructive plastic surgery, there were about 24 weeks of healing time that I simply could NOT be intimate at all and likely another 24 weeks or so of “Not tonight hun my body still feels weird to me,” that I didn’t want to be intimate whether I could or not.
No matter how you spin it, reconstructive plastic surgery after massive weight loss affects your sex life on an epic level. I’m not sure how many people would really tell you that, but you know I will. I’d love to hear the male perspective on this and see if it follows the same experience mind did. Just to end on a note of humor, it’s a darn good thing that sex wasn’t one of my transfer addictions, because if it had been, I would have been in big trouble when I started the WLS Plastics part of my journey.