- Abby Lee Miller, 56, is a dance coach, a reality TV personality, and a cancer survivor. She recently opened up about a surgery she had to remove excess skin.
- Miller pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud in 2017 and was sentenced to a year in prison. Over the months she spent behind bars, she lost 127 pounds, leaving behind significant excess skin.
- Miller has been mostly confined to a wheelchair since doctors removed a cancerous tumor attached to her spine, but her surgery has left her feeling much more comfortable and mobile.
The reality TV personality has lived many lives. In 2017, Miller pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud and was sentenced to a year in prison. During the months she spent behind bars, Miller lost 127 pounds, leaving her with significant excess skin. She gave an exclusive interview Inside Edition regarding her surgery to remove the excess skin.Read More
Since doctors operated on a cancerous tumor attached to Miller’s spine, she has used a wheel chair to move. This made exercise an unrealistic option for trying to reduce excess skin. “I’m sedentary,” she said. “I am in the wheelchair day in and day out. It’s hard to do cardio.”
Miller was operated on by plastic surgeon Dr. Saul Lahijani in Beverly Hills. “We’re going to take off all this excess skin,” he told her. “You can wear your shirts more comfortably.”
Miller spoke with Inside Edition on the day her operation was scheduled. “I’m really worried. I’m nervous,” she said. The Dance Moms coach ultimately removed about 16 inches by three inches of skin. After four hours in the operating room, Miller reappeared with her arms all wrapped up to help with swelling.
When you’re looking for a plastic surgeon, it’s important to advocate for yourself, speak openly, and ask the hard questions.
Seven weeks later, Inside Edition reconnected with Miller, who said that she was thrilled with the success of the surgery. The swelling had not completely gone away, but she was already feeling more comfortable in her own skin. “This is a shirt that fits now,” she said. “It was hanging in my closet forever.”
Abby Lee Miller’s Cancer Battle
Burkitt, which is rare (making up 1% to 2% of all lymphomas), typically starts in the abdomen, where it forms a large tumor. It can spread rapidly to the brain and spinal fluid. According to Lymphoma Research Foundation, this fast-growing form of cancer may affect the jaw, central nervous system, bowel, kidneys, ovaries, or other organs, and may spread to the central nervous system.
SurvivorNetTV Presents: Embrace Your Body, an episode from our original series SN & You showing cancer survivors on their journeys to feel comfortable and beautiful in their own bodies.
Miller, who was living in a halfway house in Long Beach, Calif., at the time, began experiencing pain. She had just been released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Victorville, Calif., where she served nearly a year-long sentence after pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud in June 2016.
Experiencing pain she had never felt before, Miller went to a local urgent care clinic, tests were done, but she was sent home, undiagnosed. Because her jaw hurt, she went to a dentist who “did an ice cube check on every tooth and said there’s nothing wrong with your teeth,” she tells SurvivorNet. But the pain persisted.
Miller wound up at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where she was discharged after three days in “worse pain than I went in with.” Her medical team suggested she go to a pain management clinic.
Several days later, Abby Lee Miller returned to the hospital, barely able to move her arms, legs or jaw, and underwent emergency surgery. Her doctor “went to my spinal cord and meticulously pulled a slime, a tar-like substance, away from the spinal cord,” she says. It was complications she suffered during this surgery that have bound her to an electric wheelchair.
In May 2019, it was determined that Miller was cancer-free and she began making good progress in her recovery. As of April 2021, she still has PET scans every three months to check for any recurrence.
She attends regular physical therapy sessions to build her strength back, but recently faced yet another obstacle as a result of a second spinal surgery she had in October 2020. The procedure caused two vertebrae fractures; she went through a third spinal surgery in November 2020 to rectify it.
Now, she says, “I can walk a couple steps with the walker, but I’m not where I was before September 30 (of 2020).”
Contributing: Sydney Schaefer