SASKATOON -- Brianna Bowyer, 25, is trying to raise $18,000 for skin-removal surgeries after the province denied coverage for her following her rapid weight loss.

Tired of living overweight, in a body she wasn’t proud of, Brianna Bowyer said she woke up one morning and decided she was going to do everything in power to shed weight, and live a healthier lifestyle.

“I went to my mom and I said ‘I gotta lose the weight. I'm going to lose 140 pounds , I’m going to do it this time,’ and I started that day and I never looked back,” Bowyer said.

At 22-years-old Bowyer said she was nearing the 300-pound mark. Determined not to allow her weight to stand in her way any longer, Bowyer said she kept a strict routine working out four hours a day, eating purely whole foods and living as healthy as she could.

During her weight loss, Bowyer said she consulted with her doctor after she lost the first 50 pounds.

“I already knew with losing weight exactly what was going to happen with my skin, it was something that I was concerned about from day one,” Bowyer said.

She said her doctor told her if she lost the weight, and kept it off for two years, then she would be referred to a plastic surgeon to perform the skin removal and the procedures, abdominoplasty and mastopexy, would be covered under the provincial health plan.

“So I waited and I lost my weight and I continued to wait for my letter and it finally came,” she said.

On Oct. 17, Bowyer showed up to her appointment and quickly found out her skin-removal surgeries would not be covered, at all, by the provincial health plan.

“He told me ‘no coverage.’ No coverage, that’s it. He said that was no longer something that Sask. health does, it is now the requirement that you have to have an infection that requires you to stay in the hospital,” Bowyer said.

“Your skin has to become infected, or bad enough that you are in the hospital and that it’s threatening your life,” she added.

Brianna Bowyer

In an email, the province's health ministry said abdominoplasty is not listed under the Saskatchewan Physician Payment Schedule, therefore the ministry has no authority to make payment for the service. The ministry added cosmetic procedures are not insured under the provincial plan.

The ministry said a procedure that is covered under the provincial plan is abdominal panniculectomy, a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and tissue from the lower abdomen that is insured only when specific medical requirements, such as chronic and recurrent skin conditions, have been met. 

Bowyer said she spends hours every week taking care of her excess skin to ensure no infections would appear.

“I spend hours just showering, cleaning underneath my skin. Every little flap has to be cleaned, has to be dried, has to be lotioned,” she said, adding she’s battled two bacterial infections in her belly-button since the weight loss.

Bowyer learned the skin-removal surgeries would cost her $18,000, plus a six to eight-week recovery time. Her mother, Gloria Bowyer set up a GoFundMe Page to help her daughter pay for the surgeries she needs to return to a normal life. 

“The way it makes me feel is just awful. I wanted to know what it was like to be in a body I wanted and I don’t, I was left with something that I never expected to be this bad,” she said.