Paul Mason once held the title of the fattest man in the world — weighing in at nearly 1,000 pounds. Now, the 54-year-old has turned a new leaf: He’s lost 650 pounds and has just undergone surgery to remove the bags of excess skin that remained all over his body.

Mason told CBS Boston that during his heaviest days, it was difficult to face his eating problem. “It was so bad that the thought of one day me walking into the kitchen full of food just horrified, scared me,” he said. “It’s like an alcoholic walking into a bar.”

Thus, in 2010, Mason decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery in England. But even after the surgery, he was left with 100 pounds of skin sagging from his arms, midsection, and legs. Like bad memories, the extra skin clung to him, unwilling to allow him to start a new life.

“It’s like if you had two children attached to your body — one around your leg, the other around your middle,” Mason told CBS News. The extra weight resulted in him having difficulty walking; he instead relies on crutches and a wheelchair.

He turned to Dr. Jennifer Capla from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who agreed to do the skin-removal surgery for free. On Tuesday, Mason went in for the surgery, which could take well over eight or nine hours, and New York Times writer Sarah Lyall live-tweeted progress of the surgery.

Lyall’s latest tweet on Mason notes that after his nine-and-a-half-hour surgery, he is recovering and doing well. Meanwhile, Mason and his fiancée, Rebecca Mountain, are looking forward to living a normal life together where they can experience simple things like walks together.

“We’re just trying to move on,” Mountain, who reached out to Mason after seeing him on TV, told CBS News. “We haven’t gone on walks together. … I think a lot of people take that for granted. … There’s a lot of things that we still have left to experience.”

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