By Mollie Mansfield
A morbidly obese student who dropped half her body weight has claimed her five stone worth of excess skin resembles a ‘melting candle.’
Jessica Bell, 26, weighed 31 stone and eating an entire loaf of bread every day before opting for NHS funded weight loss surgery.
After being fitted with a gastric balloon and sleeve – an operation to restrict the food intake her stomach can hold – Jessica lost 15 stone 4lbs.
But the drastic weight loss has left her with five stone worth of excess skin and she now feels like a ‘melting candle’ every time she looks in the mirror.
Jessica is now saving for her third operation as she is unable to have her excess skin removed by the NHS due to its cosmetic nature.
The health care student, from Northumberland, Newcastle, said: “My excess skin looks like the remnants of a melting candle.
“The excess skin hangs from my stomach, arms and legs, it’s everywhere.
“It makes me feel really self-conscious, and that my surgeries were for nothing as I still look big.
“I was eating a loaf of white bread every when I was at my biggest, I’ve cut it out of my diet completely now.
“I now weigh 15 stone, but I’m sure at least five stone of that is my excess skin.
“Despite reaching a healthy weight, I will never have a healthy BMI because of the skin.
“I’m currently a student so I can’t afford to have it removed – and although I had two procedures through the NHS, they can’t cover this one as it’s cosmetic.”
Jessica first starting gaining weight she was just 13 and spiralled in 2010 – something that left her weighing 31 stone.
But she was too obese for weight loss surgery and was given strict instructions to lose weight.
Thankfully Jessica took their concerns seriously and dropped two and a half stone before her first weight loss surgery in October, 2014.
She added: “I had always been a bigger child, because I comfort ate. My grandparents died at a young age and I didn’t know how to cope with it, so I comfort ate.
“That just carried on through my teens and early twenties, I used to eat to take the pain away, but then would feel guilty so started to guilt eat.
“I never grew out of my habits, when I was younger I used to hide food or secretly eat when I went out with friends, and when I got older I would have more freedom to eat whatever I wanted.
“However when I was told that I could go blind at a size 32, that was the first time it hit home for me, and I knew that I had to lose weight.
“I was diagnosed with intracranial hypertension which meant that, because of my weight, I had too much fluid on the brain that would have caused me to go blind if I didn’t slim down.
“So before getting my gastric balloon I lost two and a half stone to show my dedication, then the balloon allowed me to lose five stone, then I got a gastric sleeve.
“Thanks to my stomach shrinking, and just eating side-plate portion sizes, I was able to lose a further eight stone.”
Despite Jessica having lost over half of her body weight already, she is still striving to slim down even further to feel comfortable in her own skin.
Due to student costs and a poor credit rating, Jessica is unable to rid herself of her excess skin anytime soon.
Jessica added: “I hate my excess skin so much, it makes me feel really unattractive and like all of the work was for nothing.
“I want to be able to dress like a 26-year-old student should be able to dress, but instead even when I went away I was wearing a massive cover up t-shirt and shorts, to hide my excess skin.
“I know that I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I don’t feel as skinny as I should. Instead, I feel uncomfortable – both physically due to chaffing and mentally.”
Four slices of toast with lots of butter.
Two sandwiches filled with butter and meat.
Vegetables, potatoes and meat dinner – with two slices of bread.
Bread, cake bars, crisps, chocolate.
One Weetabix with semi skimmed milk.
Small side salad.
Chicken breast, vegetables, two boiled potatoes.