Paul Mason once weighed 980 pounds. He came very close to eating himself to death before he turned his life around. Five years ago, he had gastric bypass surgery and since then he has lost about 650 pounds. If all goes as planned, Mason could lose as much as another 100 pounds next week, when surgeons in New York remove the large amount of excess skin that now burdens him.
To give you an idea of how much weight Mason has lost, 650 pounds is the equivalent of what about three men of his height (6 foot 4 inches) should weigh.
The excess skin that Mason has been left with hangs around him. A drape of skin hangs from each of his upper arms and the lose skin around his waist hangs down over his thighs. The loose skin becomes chafed and often becomes infected. It is so cumbersome that Mason cannot walk easily and sometimes uses a wheelchair to get around.
Mason until recently lived in Ipswich, England. Surgeons in England were unwilling to remove the excess skin because they felt that such an extensive operation was too risky. Such a surgery will involve the removal of a lot of tissue using very long incisions.
But two years ago, an article in the New York Times set up a series of improbable events. A woman saw the article and called her daughter, Dr. Jennifer Capla, a plastic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Dr. Capla specializes in removing excess skin on people who have had weight-loss surgery.
Dr. Capla contacted Mason and offered to do the surgery, and waive her fee, if he could get to the United States. Mason has moved to Massachusetts to live with his fiancée. The surgery is expected to take place next week at Lenox Hill. Dr. Capla has never performed a skin removal surgery as extensive as what Mason requires and will be assisted by several other surgeons.