I had Liposuction. Here’s why.

TW: weight gain and loss, dieting, weight loss surgery.

2020 was the year I went wild with cosmetic things. I started using acids and whatnot on my face (good decision). I got my teeth whitened (very painful). I also had liposuction.

Why did I do it? Well, as so many people who have undergone hormonal treatments will know, the weight stacks on, and it doesn’t necessarily unstack when you stop. My weight gain started after a hormonal injection backfired and my pain spiked along with my dress size. Following that, I moved to the Depo-Provera shot, which didn’t do a whole lot for me on average (sometimes it worked brilliantly, sometimes it had no effect at all), and didn’t exactly slow my weight gain.

When I finally stopped getting the injections, the weight continued to come. I ate as well as I could, although cooking and meal prep was hard due to pain. Similarly, I was active whenever possible, but constant bouts of pain and illness made getting into a proper exercise schedule impossible. Whatever I was capable of doing, it wasn’t enough to successfully combat what the hormones were doing. It was as if my body thought some Frostpunk-style winter apocalypse was incoming, and it needed to shore up my fat reserves to ensure that I survived the coming terrors. Had that been the case, I’m sure I would have been appreciative. As this is pre-apocalypse Australia, I was not.

I want to be clear about a couple of things here. First, I support people having plastic surgery for any reason they want (leaving aside the issue of Bond villains trying to destroy the world). Second, I am not anti-fat. Third, I am pro body positivity.

With that in mind, let me explain why I chose surgery when it became clear that the normal methods were not working.

I don’t see my scars or my extra weight or my hormonal acne as a badge of courage or a testament to what I have been through. I’m not saying others can’t – whatever empowers you, friend – but I don’t. I would be just as brave and strong without them. Instead, they are visual reminders of the daily impacts endometriosis has had on my life. It has taken my freedom to be spontaneous and do things I love, my ability to live pain-free, and negatively impacted my career. With the weight gain, it meant I couldn’t wear the clothes I owned and loved. It took away a body that was familiar, and that I liked the shape of, and gave me a body that was strange and uncomfortable. I didn’t enjoy the sensation of my thighs rubbing together when I walked, or my tummy rolling when I sat down. I felt heavy, physically and emotionally. When I opened the wardrobe and could only wear a fraction of what was in it, I felt hopeless. When I looked in the mirror, I saw endometriosis looking back at me.

I love women in all their bodies. I don’t think beauty is determined by size or shape, and I don’t think beauty is the most important thing. But I didn’t love my body that way, and I didn’t feel beautiful. I felt sick – not because of the fat, but because of the endo.

To be extra clear: I wasn’t actually fat when I chose to get liposuction, and I don’t think fatness (or any other size or shape of human body) is inherently bad. It wasn’t my size that was bothering me. I’d gone from a very slim size 8 (prior to diagnosis) to a slim size 10, to a perfectly average size 12-14 by the time I had lipo. For context, I’m 178cm tall. My frame could carry another few dress sizes before people would start to view me as fat, I think. That wasn’t relevant to my thought process. It was the changes in my body, combined with the reasons for them, that had me so upset. The actual size and shape was not the issue.

So, left in a situation where my body was making me sad, but I couldn’t do anything about it, I chose to seek help. The doctor I saw was great (I went through Cosmos Clinic, and I will write more about my experiences in my next post). He was realistic about what we could achieve, and talked me through my options. We considered Cool Sculpting, which freezes away stubborn fat, but I wanted to lose more than Cool Sculpting would allow, and I wanted to lose it faster. I may still consider it for my arms, which I did not have liposuctioned, and which I don’t feel the same kind of heavy, anxious depression about.

I left the appointment with hope, and it made me sure – I wanted to go ahead with it. I wanted my body to change.

And I did.

In my next post, I will write about my experiences of liposuction – what the operation was like, what the recovery was like, and the thing I’m sure readers are most curious about: my results.

Note: I am very open to people commenting on this article. However, if your comment is to tell me that I’m lazy for not being able to lose weight, or that I wasn’t trying hard enough, or that I took the easy way out, I encourage you to consider whether the time making your comment could be better spent doing almost anything else. Similarly, if you want to tell me that my decision regarding my own personal body makes me a fat-shamer or a bad feminist, you have fundamentally misunderstood the post and my reasoning, and I encourage you to read it again.

Secondary Conditions: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

I’ve written a lot about endometriosis.  I’ve also written about some of the “side-effects ” people with endo often suffer, such as back pain, digestive issues, and gastritis.  Now I want to write a little series on other chronic conditions that often appear alongside endometriosis.  Today, it’s polycystic ovarian syndrome, aka PCOS.

What is PCOS? Well, it’s a condition whereby the ovaries become enlarged and prone to cysts. Tiny little follicles grow on the ovaries, containing partially formed eggs that rarely grow to maturity or become fertile. The body produces too much insulin and androgen (a male hormone).

PCOS can cause weight gain, excessive hair growth on the body, hair loss on the scalp, depression, sleep apnea, acne, pain, infertility , increased likelihood of diabetes, and irregular periods.  It’s a nasty disease and the side effects (wrongly) carry a lot of social stigma.

Like adeno and endo, no one is really 100% sure what causes PCOS. It does appear to run in families and is more likely to effect women who are overweight, but neither of these is a guarantee of getting it, nor are slender people with no family history automatically exempt. What we do know is estimates suggest it could effect as many as 20% of people with ovaries of reproductive age, and often goes undiagnosed.

As with any disease where weight increase is both a symptom and increases the risk of either contracting the disease or exacerbating the symptoms, doctors will urge sufferers to make healthy lifestyle choices, particularly around diet and exercise. Not for a moment will I pretend this is a bad idea.  Sufferers can achieve significant relief from symptoms with only a small amount of weight loss (which sounds a lot easier than it is when your own body is fighting you every step of the way).  However, I do urge people not to allow doctors to attribute everything to their weight and offer no other assistance. Hormonal treatments can also be an important part of dealing with PCOS, both to block and to raise different hormones.

It’s also a good idea to have a mental health professional as part of your treating team. Dealing with difficult symptoms that our society wrongly but consistently perceives as “gross” or symbolic of laziness is hard enough. Dealing with a disease that also can cause depression is an extra battle you shouldn’t have to fight alone.

Before you can start to be effectively treated, however, you need to be diagnosed. There is no 100% guaranteed method of diagnosis. Scans may show cysts on your ovaries, but you can have ovarian cysts without having PCOS. Likewise, you can have PCOS but not have anything visible on scans. You can also have blood tests that will look at hormone levels in your blood to see what, if anything, is elevated.  Like endo, though, it can just be a lot of guesswork and diagnoses are often based purely of reported symptoms.

Endometriosis and PCOS, unfortunately, often travel in packs, and it is relatively common to have both.  However, plenty of people only deal with one or the other.  I’m lucky enough not to have had to deal with PCOS. I have friends, acquaintances and possibly family members with it, and their experiences have ranged from annoying to devastating. Have any of my readers experienced PCOS? What was your path to diagnosis?  If anyone wants to write a guest post about how PCOS really feels on a day to day basis, I’d love to publish it.