Nico Garcia (perhaps better known by his drag persona, Kiki Fierce) recently came to a peak in his weight loss journey with the decision to undergo an extended tummy tuck surgery with muscle repair in addition to liposuction with Renuvion. However, in live streams that combine makeup tutorials with real talk about mental health, Nico emphasizes that surgery is not a shortcut to getting (and maintaining) the body you want. For him, it’s an act of love for the confident performer he has always been on the inside.

More than a weight loss journey

Nico grew up in the suburbs of Chicago near Orland Park, and though he had a great home life, school was very rough. He turned to food for comfort, and at one point in high school, he weighed over 300 lbs. During this time, Nico was developing a love for musical theater, which he went on to study in college. 

He credits Tyra Banks and America’s Next Top Model as the initial spark of inspiration to start losing weight; during a TV marathon, he saw the season 4 cast’s trip to Africa and instantly “fell in love.” Nico’s first attempts at weight loss with one fad diet after another turned into years of yo-yoing. He tried supplements, shakes, drops, you name it, but always ended up gaining weight back, and could tell that it was taking a toll on his body. 

One thing that Nico wants to set the record straight on is the misconception that just because you are bigger or overweight that you must not love yourself. “I tell people it’s not that I didn’t love myself,” he explains, “It’s that I loved myself enough to make the change. I loved myself enough to realize that what I was doing down the line wasn’t going to be healthy.”

In fact, feeling disconnected from personal trainers who were athletic and fit from a young age is what drove Nico to pursue his ACE certification and is pursuing becoming a trainer himself. Nico has firsthand experience with the exhaustion of going to the gym six days a week, putting in work for months and years, and still not seeing results. He’s also very familiar with the “gymtimidation” that super-fit trainers may never experience, and he’s passionate about helping clients not only reach their fitness goals but work through the mental blocks that are holding them back. 

Putting In the Werk

A second burst of inspiration got Nico on track to finally maintain the intense combination of old-fashioned healthy eating and exercise in order to lose 100 lbs—and, to keep it off. He and some friends decided they were going to plan a trip to Punta Cana for his birthday, and he thought to himself, “I want to go on that beach the way I envision who I am.” Nico started this final leg of his journey at 244 lbs and got all the way down to 184 before gaining back a little muscle weight from all the lifting he was doing. 

When Nico went to his first consultation with a cosmetic surgeon in California, he was hoping that liposuction with Renuvion might be enough to achieve the body he had been working towards for years. He was devastated to find out that he would need a tummy tuck, and a second opinion confirmed it. “It was my biggest fear that he was going to tell me it was going to be surgery and I did not want it,” Nico said. The first doctor had told Nico he would need to get down to 15% body fat in order to have the surgery, which isn’t sustainable for most people who aren’t committed to the bodybuilding lifestyle. But after coming so far, Nico was absolutely determined to do whatever it would take. He entered a period of intense dieting and went to the gym almost every day, which sometimes resulted in cravings. He would binge eat from time to time because he was working so hard and still not reaching his goal.

The Last Stretch

Nico found Concierge Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery after one of his friends had come to us for liposuction and Renuvion. He had done a lot of research in the Chicago area and wasn’t impressed with any of the options — until he saw his friend’s results. At the time of his consultation with us, Nico was still working on getting down to the 15% body fat that the doctor in California recommended. He wasn’t quite there, but since he had sustained a healthy weight for such a long period of time, Dr. Epstein was confident to move forward with surgery. This had Nico nearly convinced—but he had (quite) a few more questions.

Ultimately, he says, “I chose Dr. Epstein because he was just real. He was straight to the point, this is what you can expect.” Dr. Epstein and the staff addressed every question and concern Nico had with very calm energy and no pressure to make his body look a certain way. After the conversations he had had with other doctors, it was a relief just being told to “maintain it” and not worry too much about the “after” picture.

The wait in-between the initial consultation and surgery was stressful; Nico lost his job and changed insurance providers, but he collaborated with some friends to host virtual fundraisers, booked lots of drag shows and traveled to Texas, Wisconsin and Oklahoma to perform. On one hand, Nico was very determined and busy doing whatever it took to make the surgery happen. But on the other hand, he kept thinking of what might go wrong—building up “a long list of irrational fears,” and thought about canceling a few times. He says, “The biggest one was what happens if I get this and I’m still not happy?” Nico leaned on his parents and friends for moral support and held onto his hope that everything would work out for the best.

Nico kept himself so busy raising money for the surgery that he couldn’t get to the gym consistently and actually injured himself during a drag show in Wisconsin. He showed up for surgery in crutches, but that was not going to stop him!

Recovery and Life Ahead

Nico came out of surgery asking “Do I have an hourglass?” and was pleased to find out that Dr. Epstein had taken his time creating the shape Nico was looking for—the procedure took about 90 minutes longer than expected. Nico reflects, “Dr. Epstein was a perfectionist that day.” 

The first week of recovery was tough, and coughing fits from spring allergies made it even more painful. (Take Nico’s advice and keep cough drops on hand, just in case!) It took about five weeks after the surgery to really get used to the results, but at week six, he was “100% in love” and “could not stop looking at it.” Full recovery can be anywhere from six to eight months for most people, and though the swelling is still going down, Nico can’t wait to get to the beach and start performing at full tilt again. 

“Yes, I gained confidence, but it’s a different type of confidence,” Nico explains. “It’s like I have been projected into this whole new realm of loving what I see that I’ve never had before.” All this aside, Nico is living proof that we can still love ourselves and our bodies even if there are things we want to change. More than that, we are motivated to make those changes because of our self-love. 

His advice for those just starting out on their own weight loss journey? Don’t fall for fad diets and don’t make your diet so restrictive that you revert to binge eating. You don’t need to stick to any specific diet, especially if someone is trying to sell it to you. One thing he does recommend to burn fat faster is lifting weights and choosing the StairMaster over the treadmill. 

Last, he reminds us that people are always going to have an opinion. But if you’re going to stop working toward your dreams and your destiny because of the opinions, you’re never going to get anywhere. “So who cares?”

Many people don’t realize that plastic surgery does take time to recover from but if you trust the process and follow Dr. Epstein’s guidelines for recovery, you will love the new you! Nico is not completely healed from his surgery just yet but stay tuned for his final before/after shots later this fall. For now, check out how far he has come!

Nico’s journey from high school until the day before the surgery

Day before surgery and 5-days post surgery

Until Kiki Fierce can grace the stage again, she is sharing her recovery journey and going live on Facebook. Follow her for the looks and stick around for inspiring conversations about self-image, depression, suicide prevention and more than a little fun.

Have you, too, worked hard to get to a healthy weight but need a little extra help to lose excess skin and fat? You are not alone! Call us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Epstein and discover how your body confidence can transform.

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