Theresa’s Story: The Transformation of a Lifetime

Posted by Southern Surgical Arts on Jun 5, 2018 1:17:33 PM

Theresa Dekker spent 20 years wishing her body, her health and her life would get better. The former military veteran says she’d always been fit until 1996, when she was prescribed medication for endometriosis, and instantly gained weight. Pregnancy packed on more pounds and by the summer of 2016, tipping the scale at 241 lbs, Theresa decided she’d had enough. “I woke up and said, ‘That’s it. I’m done’,” she recalls. Immediately she made a plan to transform herself, no matter what it took. “Mentally I always knew it was going to be difficult, but I had to stay focused and not allow myself to quit,” she says. Theresa made eating lean and exercising her top priority. Eventually working up to daily jogs and visits to the gym, her hard work paid off when just three months later, she’d shed an incredible 5o lbs.

As the weight fell off, more and more excess skin was left hanging around and in August 2016, she walked through the doors of Southern Surgical Arts to meet renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Chad Deal, for the first time. Working together, they determined Theresa would need a tummy tuck, lower body lift, breast augmentation, liposuction and body tightening to achieve the body she envisioned. After years of surgical experience with extreme weight loss patients, Dr. Deal knew that eliminating excess, sagging skin was a complicated and lengthy process and even exceptional surgical techniques might leave significant scarring unless the patient is willing to work. “People come in with lofty goals. They want the two-piece bikini back on. I tell them yes, there is a lot we can do with cosmetic surgery, but we are limited. You have to do your part. A lot of patients aren’t willing. Her positivity and tenacity were amazing. She just said ‘Okay what do I need to do?’,” he recalls. “Hit the gym, build up muscle, and that muscle volume will help tighten and fill out your remaining tissue, which means fewer incisions, smaller scars,” he told her.

Theresa had come too far to give up on herself now. “I embraced the challenge. I didn’t mind that surgery would come in phases. It was something positive to keep me going,” she reveals. She pushed herself even harder every day running two miles before work, four miles on her lunch break, weightlifting, even walking up her steep hills at night. “I would continuously walk up and down that hill. I hated that hill,” she laughs.

Meanwhile, Dr. Deal was busy sculpting her body: a tummy tuck and thigh liposuction in September of 2016; scar revision in December 2016; a lower body lift and buttock lift two months later. But when it came time for her breast implant surgery, everything came to a screeching halt. Following SSA’s strict policy requiring pre-surgery breast cancer screenings in patients over 40, Theresa had a mammogram and learned she had a precancerous mass called a papilloma. “It was very shocking,” she remembers, holding back tears. She immediately called Dr. Deal with the news. “It felt like it impacted them as much as it did me. That personal connection helps. They’re not just a facility they are family.

Dr. Deal applauds her commitment to her health. “She didn’t let it get her down, she just said ‘Okay, what do we have to do?’ It’s so important that women be proactive with their health and with breast cancer screenings. It may very well have saved her life.” Dr. Deal worked with her breast surgeon, and following her augmentation procedure, the papilloma was removed, and she was given a clean bill of health. “They truly cared about me and my feelings and always had my best interest in mind,” Theresa says.

Theresa continued her healthy eating habits and quite literally over the next few months worked her tail off; having lost a total of105 pounds in eight months and with even more loose skin, she needed another lower body/buttock lift. “There were a lot of surgeries and I’m going through this process with her and I see how committed she is and I want to do as much as I can for her because it’s really expensive, too,” says Dr. Deal, whose office works with patients on financing to help them meet their goals.

But Theresa wasn’t finished improving herself yet, and as her confidence continued to build, so did her body. “I wanted a new goal, so I took-up body-building, which was something I’d always been interested in. One of the coaches at this old school gym I go to heard me talking and offered to coach me.” It seems there is no challenge Theresa can’t meet and accomplish. Less than two years after her weight loss journey began, she won her first bodybuilding competition on May 19th in Dalton, GA. Walking on stage was a bit nerve-wracking, but winning three awards, including 1st place in the Figure Division, 1st place in The Masters Age 35 And Over and 1st place Overall was a thrill. Yet despite everything she’d been through, it wasn’t until she saw a picture of herself competing that she realized the true extent of her transformation. “It brought tears to my eyes, because I didn’t know what I looked like until I saw that.”

Dr. Deal couldn’t be more proud of his patient’s tenacity, courage, and strength, but most of all taking responsibility for her life and her health to achieve her amazing results. “It was a combination of really innovative technology, good surgical techniques, and not only losing weight but gaining muscle, making sure to have breast cancer screening – everything she did – she did those things on her own. Surgery alone can’t do that for you, and that’s why her story is so powerful.” But beyond the physical, Dr. Deal saw something deeper. “Before, she didn’t have much confidence, but it was incredible to see her afterward, like she was reliving her youth, discovering relationships, excited about life.” As for his star patient, she says she couldn’t have done it without such a dedicated doctor and staff. “They really became a part of me because they knew so much about me. I appreciated how they took the time to care about what I needed, it’s made such a difference in my life.”

True to form, Theresa has already set her sights on a new goal: participating in her first official body-building competition June 9th in Chattanooga, TN and the National Championship in Philadelphia in July. And if the past is any indicator, she’s just getting started. “There was so much I had given up on and now, my life with my daughter, our life together, it’s been so enhanced. I have my life back.”

**The procedures performed during this transformation are as follows**

Tummy Tuck
Lateral Thigh Liposuction
Lower Body Lift
Breast Augmentation
Revision Lower Body Lift

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