By Annabel Fenwick Elliot as originally published in DailyMail.com
A former alcoholic and emotional eater who lost 390lbs through diet and exercise is finally having the mounds of excess skin removed from his body after more than a year of trying to raise money for the costly surgeries.
On Wednesday night’s episode of TLC reality series Skin Tight, Brian Flemming, 33, from Canton, Michigan, meets with Austin-based cosmetic surgeons Dr. Amy Bekanich and Dr. Mahlon Kerr after getting down to 246lbs and living with more than 30lbs of excess skin for the past two years. “Brian has really done a lot of hard work,” Dr. Kerr explains in a preview clip for the episode. “I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone who has lost 400lbs on their own, and when you lose 400lbs you are going to have a lot of extra skin.”
“He is really just smothered in skin,” Dr. Kerr adds.
To see additional images and watch video on Brian’s story, view the full article on DailyMail.com.
Brian, who has skin hanging from his chest, belly, back, arms, and thighs, created a Go Fund Me page in April 2014 in the hopes of raising enough money for his surgeries. And while he received more than $25,000 in donations, his latest update from 2015 revealed that he grossly underestimated the cost of the procedures and actually needed closer to $50,000.
“I put in so much work to be fit, but the skin is still there, and it really frustrates me,” he says in another clip from the episode. “You know it holds me back and controls my life. I need to have it removed, and I can’t wait to be rid of it.”
Brian says he hopes to one day look in the mirror and see someone who doesn’t have excess skin that is a constant reminder of the decade he spent drinking and abusing his body.
Six years ago, Brian developed severe depression and coped by drinking a fifth of vodka (25 ounces) every night. He gorged on fast-food, consuming a whopping 7,000 calories a day, and in addition to his depression and alcoholism, Brian was also pre-diabetic.
During a doctor’s appointment he stepped on the scale and learned that he weighed 625lbs, however, that didn’t even prompt him to change his life-threatening habits. He admits that he had “given up” on his life, and was “suicidal”.
“My typical fast-food meal was a double cheeseburger with a large pop and large fries,” he wrote on fitness blog Beyond The Miles.
“That usually wasn’t enough, so I would have chicken nuggets with it as well. I also ate Arby’s frequently. Large roast beef sandwich, large curly fries and drink, and a side of mozzarella sticks. I ate fast food every day,” he added.
In the spring of 2012, Brian was playing Draw Something, a Pictionary-inspired app, which randomly matched him with Jackie Eastham, a woman 20 years his senior in London. He began chatting with Jackie, who has myotonic muscular dystrophy, a condition that causes progressive wasting of the muscles.
To manage her condition, Jackie follows an extremely healthy lifestyle, and never takes her well-being for granted. A friendship grew, and Mr Flemming began to confide in her about his weight problems, and about his drinking – a secret he had kept even from his parents.
He was expecting sympathy, and admits he was thrown by what was actually a brutally-honest response.
“She told me that I was wasting my life and that I should be ashamed that I was throwing it away when there are so many people out there who are fighting to stay alive, herself included,” Brian wrote.
On October 13, 2012, he made the decision to quit drinking cold-turkey, without the help of a support group, and to drastically change the rest of his life too. He has been sober ever since.
After three months of eating healthier and being sober, he had lost 100lbs, and within 19 months he had reached his current weight. However, despite his success, Brian feels that the excess skin on his body is prohibiting him from following his dreams, which includes completing an IronMan competition and working as a fitness trainer.
On tonight’s episode of the reality series, Dr. Bekanich and Dr. Kerr plan to remove the skin from his upper body, however, they agree that for his thighs, he will need to see a surgeon who specializes in vascular surgery because of the prominent varicose veins on his lower legs.
For his first surgery, the doctors say that they will attempt remove all the excess skin around his stomach and chest, while they will schedule a second procedure to lift the skin on his back and arms.
“Brian is never going to look the way he might have without all of the weight gain, but he is going to see significant improvement and functionality,” Dr. Bekanich explains.
“Even though the doctors can’t operate on my legs, getting rid of my stomach that is going to be a huge, huge change for me,” Brian adds. “I am nervous. I don’t know what I am going to look like. “I don’t know what it is going to feel like, but I am really looking forward to it.”