Reality TV Plastic Surgery
updated 09/14/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/14/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Of all the work she had done on The Swan in 2004, Lay really cared only about "the free boobs." But her 36D implants never came out quite right; Lay went on to have two corrective surgeries (arranged by the show's producers) to fix issues including built-up scar tissue. Even today, Lay, 30, says one of her breasts "sits lower than the other," but she's still thrilled with her new body. Thanks to twice-daily weight-lifting workouts post-Swan, Lay's now a personal trainer in Puyallup, Wash., who competes in figure competitions. Of her TV experience, she says, "I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't gone through that."
Kacie Searcy Bower (right) & James Bower
Appearing on Extreme Makeover in 2004 "was a very scary experience," recalls Kacie Bower. "You're changing your appearance; you don't know how things will turn out." Helping her through this anxiety was fellow contestant James Bower: The couple met the first day of filming, and by show's end he had proposed. But after three years of marriage and two kids, "we didn't really have much left," she says. Today Kacie, 27, is a single mother raising three children (the youngest with her boyfriend) in Corona, Calif. Meanwhile James, 29, is an insurance investigator in Orange County, Calif., who has a 20-month-old with his second wife, Lauren, and no regrets. "The experience let me know there's a whole lot out there. I just have to find it," he says. "I have three beautiful kids, and I never thought that would happen for me." And while James nixes more surgery, Kacie remains open. "I've had my kids since the show," she says, "so maybe I'll have a tummy tuck."
Even though gastric-bypass surgery had taken Johnson from 296 lbs. to 180 lbs. in 2006, it wasn't until two years later—after having her excess skin removed on TV by Dr. 90210 plastic surgeon Linda Li—that she could put on a bikini. "I'd never had a two-piece on before!" she says. Since then Johnson, 29, now 163 lbs., has chalked up a few other new experiences, like dating ("I was always the girl people said had a great personality. Beyond that, they wouldn't date me," she says) and joining a motorcycle club called True Passion. "I feel sexy and confident on a bike," she says. So much so that even though her surgeries left "scars on my arms," Johnson—who is working on a law and business degree in Norfolk, Va.—doesn't try to hide them. "My scars don't stop me from putting on a short-sleeved shirt; they don't stop me from being fashionable," she says. "I'm happy with my body. I'm happy with my life."