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Skin removal surgery: After losing 312 pounds, woman talks about excess skin

After shedding so much weight, Lexi Reed experienced a lot of pain. The excess skin hanging from her body was making life much harder.
/ Source: TODAY

On New Year’s Day 2016, Lexi Reed and her husband, Danny, made a resolution to lose weight. At the time, Lexi weighed 485 pounds, and her size was holding her back. Over two years later, Lexi has dropped 312 pounds with diet and exercise — and completely transformed her life.

Although she is in a much happier place today, after she reached her goal weight, she started experiencing a different problem: crippling neck and jaw pain.

“I tried to explain to the doctors that something was wrong with me, but they couldn't give me answers,” Reed told TODAY via email. “I stayed silent a long time, hoping the pain would just go away, but it never did.”

As she and Danny stood looking in the mirror one day, he lifted the excess skin hanging on her body. Suddenly, the pain diminished.

“I didn't understand why I felt okay in the morning … not realizing as my skin hung throughout the day and as I worked out (it hurt more),” she said. “I found out that skin does cause many problems and I wasn't alone.”

Though Reed felt better wearing restrictive sports bras and getting daily massages, she knew those weren't solutions weren't long-term.

Lexi Reed's husband Danny held up her loose skin and the pain she was experiencing lessened.
Lexi Reed's husband Danny held up her loose skin and the pain she was experiencing lessened.

She reached out to Dr. Joseph Michaels, a Washington, D.C.-based plastic surgeon who specializes in skin removal surgery. After several examinations, he recommended three to four skin removal surgeries to help. Reed's first surgery took place on Halloween.

“I am just trying to get through this first one,” she said. “I am terrified of needles, never had surgery or even stayed in a hospital ... However, I’m more nervous of the damage I’m doing to my body every single day by carrying around this extra skin.”

Reed said her insurance does not cover skin removal, so she has to pay out of pocket for her surgeries.

“It’s expensive but I refuse to keep living like this,” she said.

Reed has been sharing the process on social media, including appointments with her doctor and videos of her excess skin.

“It's hard to be so open on the Internet especially when you've never shared that part of you with anyone before. However, again, I knew if it helped one person — even if everyone else didn't want to see the raw part of weight loss — that it was worth it,” she explained.

Since her surgery, Reed has documented her recovery on Instagram as she continues educating people about skin removal surgery. She had what plastic surgeons refer to as a "360-degree body lift," an incision around her entire body to take off skin from her hips, butt and stomach, and that is making it hard for her to walk. She is still swollen and has drains removing fluid from her incision.

“I’ve been in pain the last few days — more than in my entire life,” she wrote on Instagram. “I am slowly able to use the bathroom on my own and getting better at walking daily.”

Reed hopes that her experience will help others understand weight loss and inspire them to consider healthy life choices.

“It's not about the weight you lose, but the life that you gain,” she said. “I may have a lot of loose skin and not have the perfect body, but I was 485 pounds and on my deathbed. I would much rather have more loose skin than go back to the life that I was living before.”

For more weight-loss inspiration, check out our My Weight-Loss Journey page. Interested in changing your habits? Sign up for our Start TODAY newsletter for extra support.