Friends, family, and members of her community know Yolanda Evans as the “Self-Esteem Queen.” The 42-year-old mother of two from Wexford, Pa., mentors girls and young women from ages 14 to 18 about the importance of embracing who you are as a person and expressing yourself creatively, whether that’s through the way you dress or the way you fix your hair.
“It’s about being comfortable with who you are. It ties into one of my biggest passions and that is girl power,” Yolanda says.
One of the messages that Yolanda often gives her mentees is that everyone has the power to change something about themselves that they don’t like. In 2019, she decided to take her own advice.
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“I have two girls, 19 years old and four years old, and throughout motherhood and working, I was on birth control, which made me gain a lot of weight,” she explains. In addition to mentoring, Yolanda works in marketing management for a big retail chain.
“In doing my own research, I also learned that this area has some of the top surgeons for body contouring procedures.”
Intrigued, Yolanda was referred to UPMC bariatric surgeon, Ramesh C. Ramanathan, MD, FRCS, by her UPMC primary care physician.
In May 2019, Yolanda underwent gastric sleeve surgery performed by Dr. Ramanathan.
Gastric sleeve surgery:
Through her gastric sleeve surgery, Yolanda achieved a weight loss of 110 pounds.
Yolanda felt happy with the weight loss, but it also caused an excess of skin that she didn’t like. “You can only mask that kind of thing so much with clothes and girdles,” she says.
As a solution, she decided to undergo a series of body contouring procedures. Dr. Ramanathan referred Yolanda to J. Peter Rubin, MD, chair, UPMC Department of Plastic and Reconstructi
ve Surgery. Dr. Rubin is a leader in the field of body contouring and serves as founder and director of UPMC’s Life After Weight Loss program, a unique program that combines body contouring with lifestyle and nutritional counseling in a supportive environment.
Dr. Rubin also is well known for mastopexies, or breast lifts. This procedure was developed by him at UPMC and is an internationally recognized technique.
Yolanda was especially interested in getting a mastopexy since she did not want to get breast implants. Yolanda’s mother had passed away from breast cancer at 42 years old, so she felt strongly about keeping her body as natural as possible.
“Dr. Rubin is absolutely amazing,” Yolanda says. “He asked really thoughtful questions. As a Black American, my skin is different. He knew about different things related to being a Black American—for example, he checked all of my keloid scars and talked to me about my mother dying of breast cancer.”
In total, Dr. Rubin performed four procedures on Yolanda in two separate surgeries. Her first body contouring surgery came almost a full year after her gastric sleeve surgery. In May 2020, she got a brachioplasty, or arm lift, which removed the excess skin from her upper arms.
UPMC plastic surgeons developed a novel technique to effectively treat HS with a surgery to remove the affected skin. The surgeons then resurface the area with adjacent healthy tissue. This results in skin that is clear of painful bumps and infections.During that first surgery, however, Dr. Rubin did more than just a brachioplasty. From a very young age, Yolanda has suffered from a condition called hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), a chronic skin condition that causes lumps or boils, often near sweat glands where the skin rubs together, such as the armpits or groin.
Yolanda’s HS appeared as large, painful lumps under her armpits. Dr. Rubin removed the lumps and scars caused by the HS after he completed the arm lift, ensuring that Yolanda’s skin would be free of the pain and irritation HS had caused her for so many years.
A couple months later, in September 2020, Yolanda was ready for her second body contouring surgery with Dr. Rubin. During this surgery, she had a mastopexy, an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), as well as abdominal and lower flank liposuction.
The day after her second surgery, Yolanda woke up to her body covered in bandages. When Dr. Rubin and his team came in to change these bandages, Yolanda asked Dr. Rubin to take a picture.
“When he turned that camera around and showed me what my body looked like—I’ll tell you, if I was able to pass out and get back off the floor, I would have done it. I was absolutely blown away. Dr. Rubin removed 12 pounds of skin from my mid-section. I have not had this kind of body since I was in high school, and I don’t even think I looked this good in high school,” Yolanda says.
Yolanda felt beautiful, confident, and back to her regular self. She was also touched to learn that Dr. Rubin had sent some of her breast tissue from the mastopexy to the lab so it could be tested for breast cancer.
“I can’t even begin to make you understand how that made me feel,” she says. “That’s a different level of care, that he would go to that length to make sure I was okay, especially considering my family’s history.”
Yolanda recovered at home with the help of a UPMC home health nurse and was able to return to work after six weeks. In the future, she hopes to train for a 5K with her cousin. In the meantime, she’s grateful for her health and happy with the results of her body contouring procedures.
“I’m a passionate person,” she explains. “And I’m telling you that Dr. Rubin is the real deal. His level of passion comes through in everything he does.”
J. Peter Rubin, MD
Chair, UPMC Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Dr. Rubin is board-certified in plastic surgery and is co-director of the UPMC Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center. He serves as founder and director of UPMC’s Life After Weight Loss Program and is internationally renowned as a leader in the field of body contouring.
He lectures extensively in the United States and throughout the world about contouring surgery and is the lead author of a body contouring medical textbook for plastic surgeons. Dr. Rubin is a past recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the nation’s highest honor for young researchers. Learn more about Dr. Rubin.