Rape victim finds healing in extreme weight loss

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Rape victim finds healing through weight loss
Madison Wilner said undergoing bariatric weight loss surgery changed her life.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- "I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm going to die.'"

Weight and appearance can be a big deal for many women.

Madison Wilner said she just didn't care what she looked like because she was a victim in hiding.

After enduring the trauma of rape and sexual abuse at just 12 years old, Madison said she began a battle with weight and depression that spiraled out of control for 10 years.

"I was 283 pounds and I was dying," the 26-year-old Madison said.

BEFORE AND AFTER: Madison Wilner's dramatic weight loss

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Food became a coping mechanism for Madison when she was 16. She said eating helped her deal with the intense shame she felt after what happened to her at a late night party.

Madison said in the midst of her dramatic weight gain, she also suffered an identity crisis.

"I can't shop at a normal store anymore," Madison remembered. "I'm not like everybody else. I can't go buy a cute outfit. And then it became a health issue."

Three years ago, her doctor diagnosed her with polycystic ovarian syndrome, caused by her obesity.

Thrust into a sudden health crisis, Madison had to make a decision: fight or face more severe consequences.

"I had to forgive," Madison said, "You have to be ready to heal. It's a food addiction, and it's what helped get me through the hardest times and helped me to mend."

A family friend who wanted to help offered to pay for Madison's bariatric weight loss surgery.

"When you can slip on jeans, it'll be the craziest feeling..."

Madison Wilner explains what part of excess skin removal surgery concerns her the most, as her mom looks on.

Within a few short weeks, she was scheduled to go under the knife.

Madison said she lost 130 pounds in all since 2014.

In June, she will undergo surgery again, this time to remove excess skin to achieve the body she wants.

Caring for Madison is board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Rukmini Rednam, of Houston Plastic Craniofacial & Sinus Surgery.

She gave Eyewitness News a look inside the Katy Freeway facility where she performs excess skin removal surgery.

Dr. Rednam said the procedure is truly life changing for people like Madison who have achieved extreme weight loss.

During our visit, Dr. Rednam also emphasized the importance of emotional and physical support before, during and after these surgeries.

RELATED: 7 things you need to know about excess skin removal surgery

If you want to remove loose skin, it pays to do your research, plastic surgeon Dr. Rukmini Rednam said.

"You're stronger with others," Dr. Rednam said. "When you're going through things together with somebody else, it just helps ground you and really helps you realize you're not alone."

Madison confessed she should have taken the prescribed mental and emotional help before her weight loss surgery, but did seek out therapy and other support resources afterwards.

Fortunately for Madison, her family was also there to back her up, including her mom.

"If you really want to do something, you can do it," Sharon Abercia said. "This young lady made her decision, and the journey has been incredible."

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