Dolores Catania is feeling her best.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey star, 49, recently underwent plastic surgery for a tummy tuck. Opening up to PEOPLE about the experience, she says she had been thinking about the procedure for some time.
"I had lost 25 lbs. from dieting and still wasn't completely comfortable with my body. I found myself still wanting to cover up," she says. "Once I hit my goal weight and I knew that my stomach wouldn't be the way I wanted it to even if I worked out, I knew it was time."
"I'm turning 50 this year," she adds. "And I said, 'This is the year where I'm going to do anything I've thought about or held off on. I'm ready to do it.' And I've thought about a tummy tuck for a while."
After doing extensive research on surgeons in her area, Catania found Dr. Joseph Michaels to perform the procedure. And with the coronavirus pandemic keeping most people at home, she knew she would have the time necessary to recover.
"You're immobile for a good three weeks," she says of the recovery process. "Finding the right doctor and feeling comfortable gives you the confidence to go ahead with it."
"You can't wake up every day feeling unhappy about yourself," she continues. "I'm a big advocate of doing what you need to do in order to love yourself."
While Catania says most people were immediately supportive of her decision to go under the knife, her boyfriend David Principe wasn't on board with the plan.
"I didn't tell him until the night before, because I didn't want him talking me out of it," she says. "He's angry but he will get over it. I know at the end of the day he wants me to be happy and this is what made me happy."
In addition to the tummy tuck, Catania also got liposuction and a fat transfer to add some roundness to her butt. Four weeks out of surgery, the reality star says she's never felt more confident.
"People are already noticing a difference," she says. "I'm still swollen. But the results are amazing already. I'm glad I did it. I have no regrets."