Warning: This article contains graphic images that may disturb some readers.
A reality television star has spoken candidly about the painful reconstructive surgeries she has undergone in an attempt to correct a "botched" tummy tuck, which accidentally removed her belly button.
Larissa Dos Santos Lima, who appeared on the US reality television shows 90 Day Fiancé and 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After, revealed to her 629,000 followers on Instagram over the weekend that her belly button had been "removed and disposed of" without her consent during the cosmetic surgery last year.
A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that is used to firm and reduce the size of the abdomen. The surgery involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen; typically most of the skin between the pubic hair and belly button. The skin above the belly button is then lifted up so it can be stretched to close the wound. The belly button is left attached to the muscles of the abdominal wall and stitched back in its original position.
According to Christchurch-based plastic surgeon Dr Jesse Kenton-Smith, most people who would benefit from abdominoplasty have loose skin around their belly either due to pregnancy or significant weight loss. The approximate total cost of an abdominoplasty is typically between $15,000 and $18,000.
Sharing a series of graphic photos of her scarred and scabbed stomach to Instagram on Sunday, Lima claimed she has since undergone three "very painful" surgeries in a bid to create a new belly button after her original navel was "removed" without her knowledge.
"First botched procedure: my belly button," Lima captioned the images.
"When I got abdominoplasty, my belly button was removed and disposed [of] without my consent. I did three very painful revisions to create a [new] belly button.
"Unfortunately, it was never fixed.
"My friend @nmbrowsandlashes tried many times [to] improve the appearance through treatments, like fibroblast… my belly button isn't possible to be made [sic]."
The photos shared to her profile showed four images of her belly button during various stages of its reconstruction post-abdominoplasty, including one where the wound appears to be infected.
In an initial post to her profile on Saturday, the 35-year-old announced she was taking "the first step in slowly opening up" about the "botched" procedure and its complications, more than a year after the surgery was initially performed.
"Like so many other people in this situation, I've been scared and embarrassed to speak out. It's been over a year now since I've been botched. I did not want to speak of this before, but I'm tired of being silent in my sadness with nowhere to go to fix the problem," she wrote, citing Canadian fashion model Linda Evangelista as a source of inspiration.
The supermodel, 57, has recently returned to modelling for the first time since undergoing a procedure she said disfigured her face.
Lima, who has become a popular creator on the content subscription service OnlyFans, accompanied the text with a photo of an IV drip in her arm as she laid in a hospital bed.
Fans of the reality television star have since applauded her decision to speak out about the often unseen complications of cosmetic surgery, praising her open and honest approach.
"Thank you for sharing. I know this is probably super hard for you but I appreciate knowing the truth behind these procedures and I'm sure others do as well," one wrote, with a second adding: "Thank you for sharing for awareness - not many do but it's very helpful for those who experience the same."
Originally from Brazil, Lima appeared on the sixth season of 90 Day Fiancé, during which she relocated to the US to be with former flame Colt Johnson. They eventually divorced in April 2019.
On the series' spin-off, 90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After, she appeared on the show with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Eric Nichols.
According to plastic surgeon Dr Kenton-Smith, an abdominoplasty is particularly risky if the patient is a smoker. Although it's rare, there is a risk of returning to theatre on the same day of the operation due to bleeding, as well as small risks of infection or some skin loss on the abdominal wall.