September 19, 2016 08:05 AM

After Amy Rhed gave birth to her third child in 2008, she suffered from a severe case of diastasis recti, commonly known as split abs, which left her with a permanent baby bump.

“I felt 8-months pregnant,” Rhed, 43, tells PEOPLE. “Being 8-months pregnant three times, I know what it feels like to be 8-months pregnant. You can only be on your feet for so long, and I was very sad because I couldn’t participate in anything. I would sit on a bench and my kids would do activities with my husband. I couldn’t cook and clean like I wanted to.”

The Brockton, Pennsylvania-based mom-of-three said she met with local doctors and surgeons, none of whom knew how to help her. She sent an email to syndicated daytime series The Doctors about her heartbreaking situation, and she was put in touch with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Zarrabi.

Stage 29 Productions/The Doctors

In order to get the required surgery, Rhed was told she needed to lose 20 lbs., but thanks to her dedication to the gym and the help of a physical therapist, she lost 37 lbs. and was ready for operation.

In an exclusive clip from The Doctors, Zarrabi explains exactly what her surgery entailed.

“We’re repairing the ventral hernia, bringing the muscles back together again, and on top of that we’re doing a tummy tuck on her to remove all that excess skin,” he explains.

Rhed was “excited and nervous” on the day of her surgery.

“I was scared to go across the country to get a major surgery, and leaving my kids was hard on me also,” she says. “But the surgery went better than I expected it to go. I have an incision about 2½-feet long from one hip to the other. I thought, ‘How am I going to walk after this?’ But I did – I walked out of the office.”

Now, five months after surgery, Rhed is feeling back to her old self, and is able to do things she hadn’t been able to do for years.

“It’s been the busiest summer ever,” she says. “My youngest daughter never had a mom that was an active mom, my middle daughter was 4 when my other daughter was born, and my son was 10, so the only one who knew somewhat of an active mom was my son, but he kind of forgot.”

“We were able to do bike rides, and we went horseback riding and swimming,” continues Rhed. “Everything we could possibly do this summer we did.”

Stage 29 Productions/The Doctors

And while Rhed was thrilled to be able to wear a swimsuit again, the best part was being able to get dressed up for her son’s high school graduation.

“The goal for me was to get the weight off and have the surgery done because I really wanted to wear a nice dress for his graduation,” she says, “and I did.”

Stage 29 Productions/The Doctors

See Rhed’s full transformation and how she is doing now by watching The Doctors, Tuesday, September 20.

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