A single father who once tipped the scales at 831lbs has undergone skin removal surgery after losing a whopping 571lbs in five years by following a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Rafael, 46, from Blue Island, Illinois, managed to get his weight down to 260lbs, but his dramatic weight loss left him plagued with heavy excess skin that hung from his arms, chest, stomach, and thighs.
‘My excess skin reminds me of a tub of diluted lard. I describe my skin as a bag of Jell-O. This skin is just freakishly disgusting, and I can’t do this anymore,’ he explained on Wednesday night’s episode of the TLC documentary series Skin Tight.
Journey: Rafael, 46, from Blue Island, Illinois, was left with sagging excess skin on his arms, chest, stomach, and legs after losing a whopping 571lbs
Transformation: The single dad began the process of having his excess skin removed from his 260lb frame. Rafael is pictured after his surgeries (right)
Struggling with obesity: At his heaviest, Rafael weighed 831lbs and could barely get out of bed
Rafael said he watched his muscle develop when he first started to lose weight, but the more weight he lost, the more his skin would sag.
‘It’s like Beauty and the Beast,’ he said. ‘The beauty is my muscles and the beast is my sagging skin.’
Looking back on his childhood, Rafael described how food was always a big part of his family. He and his sister loved dinnertime, and they would often go to the store and buy whatever snacks they wanted to gorge on.
As his weight increased, his parents started calling him a ‘fat pig’ in Spanish, but he kept getting bigger and bigger. By the time he was a sophomore in high school, he weighed 300lbs and his health began to suffer.
Rafael developed sleep apnea and lymphedema, and he admitted he couldn’t stand up for more than 15 minutes at a time. He weighed 600lbs when he became a single dad, and the more weight he gained, the less he could do for his daughter, Kenethia.
Looking back: Rafael (right) said food was always a big part of his family, and he started gaining weight at an early age
Out of control: When his daughter, Kenethia, was born, he weighed 600lbs and was still gaining
Tough times: The dad said he hit rock bottom when his mother had to intervene and start doing day-to-day chores for him — including wiping him
Determined: Rafael started eating as healthy as he could, and he began doing sit-ups and leg lifts in his bed until he built up his strength to start lifting weights
Then and wow: Rafael’s hard work and determination helped him lose 400lbs in two years
‘I was just depressed. My business was in debt. I had a bad breakup, and I just couldn’t get my eating under control,’ he explained.
The dad said he hit rock bottom when his mother had to intervene and start doing day-to-day chores for him — including wiping him.
When Rafael went to the hospital, he learned that he weighed 831lbs, and he knew he needed to get his weight under control.
‘I couldn’t afford weight loss surgery, but I knew I couldn’t go on like this because I could die at any day,’ he said.
Rafael started eating as healthy as he could. He downloaded a calorie-counting app and began using a food scale to weigh his portions.
Side effect: Although Rafael was able to get his weight under control, he was left with sagging excess skin all over his body
Making changes: Rafael was sick of living with his excess skin, and after consulting with surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, he was approved for skin removal surgery
Getting there: So far, Rafael (pictured after surgery) has had a brachioplasty, a chest lift, and bilateral thigh lift
Hard to handle: Before he went under the knife, Rafael was able to grab the sagging skin on his inner thighs
Looking good: Rafael was thrilled with the appearance of his legs after surgery (pictured)
At his heaviest he could hardly walk, so Rafael started doing sit-ups and leg lifts in his bed until he built up his strength.
He lost 400lbs in just two years, and he continued to shed weight until he hit 260lbs. Although he was proud of his accomplishments, he struggled with his excess skin.
‘I feel like the whole world is looking at me and laughing,’ he said.
The dad stressed that his daughter has been incredibly supportive, but he admitted that he thinks his appearance embarrasses her a bit.
Rafael was sick of living with his excess skin, and after consulting with surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, he was approved for skin removal surgery. However, he required several different operations.
Hiding his progress: Rafael also struggled with the heavy flesh that hung from his arms
Impressed: The dad happily flexed his muscles after having the excess skin removed for his arms
Progress: Rafael still needs to have the excess skin around his waist and stomach removed, as well as knee replacement surgery. At the end of the episode, he was in physical therapy
During his first surgery, he had a brachioplasty and a chest lift. A month later he underwent a bilateral thigh lift. In total, he had close to 15lbs of skin removed.
Rafael still needs to have the excess skin around his waist and stomach removed, as well as knee replacement surgery.
However, he needs to wait several months between the procedures to give his body time to recover and to undergo physical therapy.
Although he still has a long way to go, Rafael was already thrilled with his new look, and at the end of the episode, he was proudly showing off his toned arms.
‘I knew that this process was always going to be an uphill battle, but I know in the end it’s going to be worth it — it’s worth it now,’ he said.