An Okotoks woman’s four-year weight loss journey has been marred by a critical roadblock.

Georgina Biss has lost 200 pounds in the last four years through disciplined diet and exercise.

Early on in the process, she consulted with a doctor to see what her options were.

“I ended up going to my daily doctor to discuss other options. At that time, I knew I’d lost 50-60 pounds. I did a physical and was weighed again and at that point, I weighed 330 pounds. There are options to do things like the bariatric clinic through AHS, where, if you do get approved, they’ll give you a weight loss surgery like gastric bypass or a sleeve,” says Biss.

Her doctor applied for her twice, but she was denied, according to Biss, because her weight wasn’t directly causing her health problems, and she didn’t have a condition like diabetes or heart disease.

Biss’ best option, she thought, was to do it herself.

She started visiting the gym regularly and joined Weight Watchers, at one point winning a national body transformation challenge.

Over several years she managed to drop 200 pounds, all while juggling family life with her four kids.

“I literally worked my butt off. I had a baby last year. My daughter’s 18 months and I took a bit of a break to have a baby but as soon as she was born, I think she was three weeks old, and I was back at the gym… Every day you have to choose what you’re going to do to get there. There’s no easy way out on it.”

Biss feels that her rejection for a gastric bypass is a blessing in disguise, as it led to a major lifestyle change that she feels has had a much better impact in the long term than surgery would have.

Despite that, she’s now having to live with something that’s preventing her from fully embracing the freedom her weight loss should have provided her.

Biss’ weight loss has left her with 15-20 pounds of excess skin around her abdominal area and back.

Her close friend Kathy Carter says this excess skin is causing her more health problems than her prior weight had.

“She gets sores underneath that skin, they get all infected, it’s actually causing problems with her back, it’s just really uncomfortable for her.”

It’s also caused her mental anguish.

“It makes life difficult, it’s painful, there’s a lot of exercises I can’t do because it bruises. My lower back is always hurt because it’s heavy. I have to tuck it away, that sounds so gross. I just went to Orlando and the whole time I was there I had to wear a compression shirt under a tank top,” says Biss.

“I’ve been asked ‘you should teach classes,’ or ‘you should train.’ I don’t feel confident enough, I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am, but I think I feel worse about my body and how I look now than I did when I was 400 pounds.”

After consulting with several doctors, she’s been informed AHS wouldn’t be able to cover surgery to have the skin removed as it would be considered cosmetic.

She says AHS has said they can cover a basic panniculectomy for the front of her stomach, which she feels wouldn’t solve the problem.

“Basically, they’ll pull the skin out and cut it off. Well, a surgery like that for somebody who’s lost as much weight as I have, you’re going to end up kind of bothered. The surgeon that I went to see, she said ‘you’ll still have the skin folds on your back, you won’t have a belly button, and you’ll still have skin hanging over here,’ so it doesn’t really solve the problem.”

She’s been quoted between $20,000-30,000 from doctors who could perform surgery to remove it entirely, with months-long wait times for surgeries on the lower end of the price scale.

With many bariatric providing options for skin removal, Biss can’t help but feel like she’s been cheated, and maybe would have been better off gaining weight to qualify for surgery in the first place.

“I’m not looking for the perfect body, I just put on a pair of pants and not have to tuck it in or to do a mountain climber and not pull my back.”

Carter has started a GoFundMe page for Biss in hopes of easing the financial strain the surgery would present.