Procedure renews mom's self esteem just prior to transplant surgery


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist Erin Coker

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 1 at 10:28 AM

AUSTIN -- The number of women getting tummy tucks has grown 85% from 2000 to 2010. Those statistics are from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. However sometimes the procedure is not about just trying to recapture a youthful appearance.

As 36-year-old Kathy Flores stands on a box and talks with board certified plastic surgeon Rocco Piazza, she can't contain her smile.

Nineteen years ago Flores delivered twins via C-section in Mexico. A serious infection resulted in a second surgery, which severely damaged her abdominal muscles and left her disfigured.

"I don't like to look at myself in the mirror," said Kathy. "I feel sometimes uncomfortable."

She lived with that low self esteem until two years ago. Aside from her husband, she hid her disfigurement from everyone -- even the twins she delivered nearly two decades ago.

"Then when I saw those before and after pictures, I was shocked," said Ana Flores, Kathy's daughter.  "She never showed me her stomach. I was like, 'Wow! That's not you.'"

Even Piazza -- whom Kathy had known for 12 years -- was unaware of her deformity until she came to him for advice in 2010.

"I was blown away by the deformity of her abdomen and the multiple scars," said Piazza.  "A picture is worth a thousand words. It really was quite shocking to see the appearance of her abdomen."  

Less than a month after her tummy tuck and the new-found confidence that came with it, Kathy's world was shaken again. She learned her twins, Ana and Juan, had a congenital kidney defect. Both required a transplant to stay alive.

"I know now-a-days you are put on a list," said Ana. "That could be four to five years down the road maybe more, and people can die for that."  

Neither twin had to wait, because their parents were a perfect match. Kathy's husband donated a kidney to Juan. Kathy donated one to Ana.  

"I really can't explain it with words," said Ana. "I feel like I owe her my life now."

Now the family of four lives on four kidneys and the bond that comes with it.

For more information on who may be a good candidate for tummy tucks and other mommy makeover procedures -- click here