A pasta lover has been left with loose skin like a ‘deflated airbag’ after losing more than half his body weight.
Christopher DeLorenzo, 40, from Phillipsburg in New Jersey, USA, weighed a whopping 29 stone (407lbs) after years of eating large pasta portions and high calorie meals.
He suffered with persistent bloating that left some people saying he looked pregnant and was cruelly bullied for his weight problem.
As a last resort, Christopher had gastric sleeve surgery to remove 80% of his stomach, which drastically reduced the amount of food he could consume, nearly three years ago.
During the £14,000 ($19K) surgery, it was discovered he had celiac disease, where the body cannot digest gluten – which was found in his favourite foods of pasta, pizza and other carb based meals.
Since the weight loss surgery, switching to a gluten free diet and regularly exercising, he’s lost more than 15 stone (154lbs) and went from wearing 6XL tops to a slim line medium fit.
His drastic weight loss left him with extreme excess skin that he says makes him look like a “deflated airbag” and now he’s desperately fundraising for surgery.
Christopher, a retail worker, said: “The loose skin reminds me of a deflated airbag in a car, the skin on my chest does not line up properly and the skin presses down towards my genitalia.
“All the excess skin makes my butt droop too, which is really demotivating as I’ve worked very hard yet still all my skin hangs.
“I reckon I have around 30lbs worth of excess skin, I go to the gym a lot to try to tone it up but I know now that I need to have surgery to help get rid of it.
“Before, I used to be a 58″ waist at my largest and now if my excess skin was removed I’d easily fit into a 34”.
“I’m almost positive gluten was the cause for a lot of my weight gain, I’m not saying I was perfect diet wise but if I ate a regular meal with gluten in it I could pack on 20lbs in a month.
“Even while trying to diet in the past with chicken salads I could put on eight pounds because of my salad dressing which had gluten in it.
“I just couldn’t understand how salad was making me heavier, but it was the gluten, whenever I eat it I bloat, I get like the size if a balloon and the weight lingers for a long time.
“When I look back now I can see how huge I was, it looked like I’d eaten all of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
“Last time I knowingly ate gluten, I woke up 6lbs heavier – I looked like I was pregnant, not only that, but the weight took a week and a half to lose too.
“Once I was diagnosed with celiac disease a lot of things made sense to me, like why I was bloated all the time and I believe I was confusing stomach irritation for being hungry in the past.
“Before I could easily eat three massive plates of Chinese food, lots of water and two desserts and still be hungry, it could have easily been 4,000 calories in one sitting.
“I’ve had to make sure there’s no gluten in my diet now, it was hard at first because there are so many ingredients I had to avoid like rye, wheat, barley, malt and all the derivatives but now I’m starting to understand it more.”
Christopher’s battle with weight started at an early age, he consumed large portions and by the age of 12 was weighing 17st 8 (250lb) – despite going on countless diets he failed to keep the weight off.
Despite talking to his doctors about digestive issues and persistent bloating, it was written off as overeating – decades later he’d be diagnosed with celiac disease.
Christopher added: “My grandparents were Italian so I grew up eating lots of pasta, I weighed 250lb in sixth grade, all I would do was eat, eat, eat always pasta and pizza, my stomach was like an endless pit.
“My digestive system was terrible before weight loss surgery – I was forever complaining to doctors that there was something wrong but I was told that I was eating too much.
“Now I believe I can attribute a lot of the problems I was having to my body reacting badly to gluten.”
In January this year, he dropped to his lowest weight of 15st 12 (225lb) for his 6ft 8 frame and after a small weight gain has been battling to lose more weight.
He’s hoping to get plastic surgery to remove the excess skin on his stomach, back and chest, after struggling to tone his body despite attending the gym up to six times a week.
Christopher said: “I stand in the mirror looking at myself and pull at my excess skin, I can’t wait for it to be gone.
“I look really thin but I’ve still got so much excess skin that it makes it really tough and despite exercising constantly it’s not help, I can’t wait for the end to be in site.”