Anyone who’s ever tried to lose even a few pounds knows how hard it is to keep the weight off permanently. But for one man who lost 370 pounds, the weight loss wasn’t the hardest part — it was dealing with the excess skin afterward.
Florida resident Sal Paradiso told WFLA that he was always “bigger,” but that he didn’t know exactly how much he weighed — there weren’t scales large enough to accommodate him, though he says his highest recorded weight was 688.
By the time he was in his early thirties, Paradiso was confined to his home, where he spent the majority of his time thinking about his father, who suffered a fatal heart attack at age 42. “I realized that if I continued down that road, I wasn’t going to make it to 40,” he told WFLA.
So, in 2014, he made a decision: He gave up junk food, went from eating between 5,000 and 10,000 calories per day, took up a high-protein diet, and started walking in his pool. He logged his progress on his Facebook page SalOdyssey and eventually lost 250 pounds. After that, he opted for weight-loss surgery, which took off another 120 pounds.
“I never thought I would be here at 311 pounds lost it seemed so far away when I started,” Paradiso told 10News. “What you’re looking at here is excess skin.”
While insurance covered his weight-loss surgery, which was deemed medically necessary, insurance generally doesn’t cover surgery to have the excess skin removed, because it’s seen as a cosmetic issue — despite the fact that Paradiso suffers from regular irritation, pain, and skin infections, and can barely move or exercise. After consulting with a surgeon who told him that removing the 65-80 pounds of hanging skin would take multiple surgeries and cost upward of $100,000, Paradiso launched a GoFundMe account to raise the money. Currently, he’s raised almost $4,000 of his $100K goal, but he’s not giving up.
“These people who message me continue to push me on days where I’m tired or I just don’t want to go work out,” Paradiso told 10News. “The shell of what’s left is a constant reminder of a place I never want to be at.”