Livonia grandmother undergoes skin removal surgery

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A Livonia grandmother was in despair. She could hardly walk and barely ever left her apartment. The problem was very personal and extremely embarrassing.

Despite that, Jeanette Winsten is sharing her story because she wants others to know, she discovered a solution she didn't know existed.

Her surgery day was mid-April at Beaumont Hospital in Troy.

"I'm so thankful you guys are doing it," she said at the time. "I thought I was going to be too old. I can't live like this any longer."

She was in so much pain emotionally and physically, she struggled to walk across the room. The reason? Skin that hung from her abdomen like a heavy apron.

"This is the most severe case I've ever seen," surgeon Danielle Deluca-Pytell said. "Her abdominal excess hangs down to her knees."

Jeanette has been hiding this skin behind closed doors and under loose dresses for years. She got it by giving birth to two sets of twins plus gaining and losing weight which took its toll.

"I just thought it was my fault for being fat and I had to suffer," she said.
But on that day, the suffering stopped. Her skin was marked as plastic surgeons Pytell and Anthony Youn teamed up for skin removal surgery. Jeanette's health made the surgery risky, but Pytell says it was a risk worth taking.

"Her balance was terrible, Pytell said. “The first time I examined her every staff member I had, had to come in and help me."

The surgery took about three hours and in the end, 22 pounds of skin were removed.

"She healed way better than I expected," Pytell said.

One month later, Jeanette is now doing something she hasn't done in years. She’s wearing pants.

It used to be when she stood, Jeanette has skin down to her knees. 

"It was awful," she said. "I don't think I could have lived much longer that way."

Now feeling lighter and stronger, she shows me how she can actually take a few steps without her walker even as her incision is still healing.

It will take months to fully recover, but at 72 this grandma is excited to start this new chapter now that this heavy burden has been lifted.

"It's like a whole new life I can't even compare it," she said.

Jeanette's surgery was covered by insurance because her excess skin was causing so many serious medical problems.

The message from the doctor is remember help is out there - you don't have to suffer in silence.