Right now I a 2 days post-op from my tummy tuck...
Right now I a 2 days post-op from my tummy tuck and I'm able to stand up right and move around. After 3 children (10lbs, 9lbs, and 8.5lbs), my abdominal muscles were completely separated and i had a ton of excess skin. I had started working out prior to surgery and spent 2 yrs researching doctors and looking at YouTube videos before finally deciding on the surgery and going with the surgeon i did. I live in NYC but travelled to Elizabeth,NJ to have Dr. Joseph Alkon do the surgery. I would recommend him to anyone interested who lives in NY or NJ. My pain has been well controlled in the hospital and at home and the cost was $6,655.
Day 3 PO
so last night i looked at my tummy with the compression band off for a couple of minutes and thought to myself "what is that flap of skin next to my new belly button?" I kinda got worried that I was compressed too tight in the garment. This afternoon, I wanted to get another look at it because maybe it's the meds that have me thinking something is wrong. Sure enough, it was me. It was't that the garment was too compressed is that there is a significant amount of swelling on the left side of the new BB as apposed to the right, even though there's more fluid coming out of the drain on the right than the left. As of now, its just swelling that's going down. I'm still able to move around pain free and stand up straight. I go back to see him tomorrow and find out how much longer do I wear this compression garment before i transition into another one. I also want to know how much longer do i have to wait until I can go back to the gym.
First post op appointment
This morning I had my first post op appointment with Dr Alkon. He removed the drains from the Q-ball since i had already cut them (the medication finished Wednesday). He was amazed at the considerable difference in my before and what I look like right now, so much so he printed out my before photos he took in the office 2 weeks before surgery. He's pleased with how well i'm healing. I'm a little more swollen on the left side of my new belly button than the right but that is normal. I stated that the only pain i feel is some soreness where the incision is and where the hernia repair is and that's only when I cough. He also said that he did a combination TT/ high tension TT because of how much excess skin there was after the MR, how the skin flapped down over my hips and because i opted not to have lipo. This may eliminate the need for lipo down the line once all the swelling goes away. The drains will stay in and he will remove one of them on Monday. The only bad news is that he said I can't go back to the gym for another 4 weeks (UUGHH!!). He told me to continue what i'm doing and not to overdue it.
Here is the side by side......thanks to little sis
So I took off the binder for a few minutes because i wanted to see if there was any difference in the swelling and to scratch my back. What i've noticed is that on my right side, because the binder kept riding up there, i have more of an indent on that side and it's darker. My husband helped me re-apply the binder in the opposite direction with the velcro on the left side to see if I will fill out there and look a little more uniform. I really think it's the binder that causing that and since the doctor is suppose to remove one of the drains on Monday, I can go into a compression garment instead of this binder. Other than that, still not in any pain. My lower back aches but that is from sleeping on the sofa and the binder. The swelling looks like it's gone down significantly in my stomach.
1 week post op
So I saw my PS today. He removed the drain on the left and......IT DIDN'T HURT AT ALL. I was pleasantly surprised by that. I asked him about the indent and darken line on my right side. He said it was a combination of the binder and the fact that the darken line is actually the back roll i had prior to my TT. He said that it may not go away completely but once all the swelling goes away, it really wouldn't be noticeable. He also suggested that I wear a tank top under the binder for now so that it won't irritate my skin and make the darken section darker and the indent more prominent. He did say that now I can shower like normal people since one drain has been removed. If the other drain has less than 20 ml today and tomorrow, I can have the drain removed on Wednesday. If not, then he'll remove it Monday and then into the compression garment. He also said that the large amount of scar tissue that was removed was a lump in the center, below my old belly button. I finally purchased a dress in a large and it will take some getting used to. I'm so accustom to seeing a belly trying on clothes and now i don't have one.
Last night a friend of mine hit me up on FB and said that she saw some of the photos here on my personal FB page. I told her I posted them there also because some people are not on the private page that we belong to. I'm also a FDNY Paramedic and there is a page for those of us, who are on the the job and are mother trying to get back in shape. I told her that I wasn't ashamed of having this done. There are quite a few women on the job who've had plastic surgery and act like they didn't. There are some who hate on people like us who have, knowing if they had the money to do so, they'd have some too. I told her people are gonna talk because i had a huge belly before and i'm coming back to work with a flat one. I'm not gonna be able to hid it so might as well be up front about it. Plus, the main reason why i'm posting the photos of my progress is for informational purposes, so people know what my journey and my truth is. As far as the haters go, they're gonna hate. What they should do is sit down next to me. They might just like the view. :-D
Learning to love the compression garment
Finally got the last drain out today!! WOOP WOOP! It wasn't the drain that hurt, it was the stitch holding the drain in place. Just like the other drain removal, this one didn't hurt either. He also removed the remaining tape and sterry strips and i was finally put in my compression garment. It has the shoulder straps and goes all the way down to my knees. This sucker feels just as tight as the binder did the first 2 days P.O. I have to go back to see him in one week to remove one or two stitches from my belly button. My doctor is AMAZED at how well I'm doing and how much different i look, even with the swelling. He said he's never had a patient who's recovery has gone as well as mine and who's moving around as well as me. I told him I was surprised too. Here are some pics of me in the compression garment, in the garment with just jeans on and in a tank top and jeans.
Had my follow up with my PS today. He took the stitches out of my belly button. It was crazy looking before he took them out. I've also had some splitting of the scab where the incision was so I have some sterry strips in two spots on my stomach. Still not in any pain from the surgery but i now have a URI/bronchitis which has caused night time coughing fits, so much so that doc gave me a board to wear underneath the compression garment on the left side. I now have soreness and a little more swelling on the left side because of the coughing at night and now we're not sure if i popped a stitch from the hernia repair or if it's muscle strain. I just want this URI to go away.
Got new compression wear and shorts!!!!
Went shopping for some more compression wear today. I found a kiosk in the Kings Plaza mall in Brooklyn that sells them. It's between Aerosoles and Pink. One of these pieces fits but the other one doesn't and will have to be exchanged for a duplicate of the one that does fit. One of the things i did to day, for the first time in 16 yrs, was buy a pair of shorts. Not just any shorts; shorts that actually have a dress size in them. So i walk into Old Navy because i love their tank tops and they were on sale for $4. They had shorts on sale for $8, so I grabbed a pair in a size 14 because i figured they would fit. I also grabbed a pair in a size 12 for laughs, knowing that i'm still swollen. Not only did the 14 fit, with room in the back, but the 12 fit perfectly. I was not only able to put them on, but i was able to zip and button them. I almost cried! So I purchased 2 pair in a 14 for comfort and 1 pair in a 12. Of course i had my compression garment on, so I tried them on again without the garment and they still fit. I gingerly put them on since my hips are sore and my belly button and parts of the incision are still tender. Here are the pictures.
One of the things I've been super paranoid about is how my belly button is healing. I am a type 2 diabetic. My diabetes has been very well managed with medication and diet. I had to get cleared by my endocrinologist before i had the surgery. I just wanted to know if my belly button should look like it does 21 days post op. I know it can take up to 6 months for it to completely heal. I'm just worried since the belly button is one of the few areas where blood flow can easily be cut off. Diabetics are notorious for poor healing but i've been blessed with no surgical complications in the past. I'm using Neosporin and cleaning it twice a day. Am I worrying too much or do I need to go back and see him before my appointment next Monday?
Belly Button....Part 2
I did not realize how popular this site was and how many people know each other. I posted a question about my belly button along with photos and someone passed them on to my surgeon. He had his assistant call and reschedule my Monday appointment to yesterday. I showed him where my concerns lied and he went into detail about what was going on with my belly button and how the hernia was repaired. The heavy duty stitches for the hernia and those used to repair my diastasis recti have caused my umbilical stalk to be pulled in and down, hence the retraction. He stated he's seen this before and that none of his patients needed a revision. He did say that it would take a little longer since I am a diabetic. He wasn't offended that i posted the photos and questions because he realizes how paranoid i am about my belly button. He also stated that the repair of my hernia took a little longer because the other surgeon went behind the blood supply to my belly button. The pain I feel on the left side is where he went to repair the hernia and there are heavy duty stitches there. The other surgeon didn't use mesh because it has an increased chance of infection and in a diabetic, that's not good. He also said that the coughing fit from my cold caused me to pull a muscle and not pop a stitch. All in all, my scar is healing nicely as is my belly button. It's all just a wait and see process.
I know it's been a while since I last updated here but there really hasn't been much to report. I recently gave all my size 14 and 16, x-large and size 14/16 clothes away. This is motivation to never go back to that size again. I finally saw my surgeon who repaired my hernia. He said that I can start working out again, but no heavy weight lifting and no ab work until September. I also saw my PS yesterday for a follow up. He's truly amazed at the dramatic difference from the before photos. My belly button looks really good with no signs of infection. My incision is completely closed and I only have 2 small spots where there is still scabs. He also said that the majority of the swelling has gone down and if I want to start wearing regular underwear, I can. I've worn the garments so much that I'm used to wearing them. He did say that I could go down to a smaller size to get rid of the remaining swelling around my tummy. The 3x garments now feel like regular underwear so I think I'll get a 2x this weekend. He wants to see me again in a month. I've also started working out again. I'm so happy I did this.
I realized that as I posted my progress here, I didn't address the medical benefits that can come from plastic surgery like this. As I've stated in previous posts, I'm a type 2 diabetic. This means my body just doesn't produce enough insulin, although it does produce insulin. For a type 2 diabetic, loosing weight can aid in a person coming off medication, cutting down on medication and/or no longer having to take any medication. I kept track of all my finger sticks and A1C levels before during and after surgery. Prior to surgery, my A1C level was 5.8 which is normal for a diabetic. It means my sugar is well controlled and this reduces the chance of not properly healing from surgery (wound infection). I saw my doctor and endocrinologist 6 weeks after surgery. It is amazing what the removal of 11 lbs of excess skin can do for a diabetic. My A1C level is currently 5.1!!!!!! This is grounds for me to stop taking all my diabetes medication and have it diet-controlled only. Any A1C level below 5.4 is considered non-diabetic. What they chose to do instead was stop one medication and have me continue the other med and have repeat lab work done in 2 months. If my A1C level is still below 5.4, I can come off the last medication and it becomes diet controlled. If you have diabetes as a family history, having a TT may actually be a matter of life or death for many.
Two Month Update
16 Aug 2014
2 months post
I haven't been here in a while. I'm in the process of getting all of my other doctors appointments out of the way because I go back to work on September 2nd. My extended TT scar is completely closed so now I'm using the silicone scar guard to reduce the color and to prevent it from permanently keloiding. My belly button has closed up very nicely. I'm still using the Neosporin twice a day and I also use Cortizone 10 because there are portions of my scar that itch a little. I see Dr Alkon on Monday. I'm so happy I did this. I'm hoping to get the all clear to start my ab routine. As of now, people who see me from the back don't even realize its me. I tried on all of my FDNY uniforms and none of the pants fit. My 38s button up and sag on my hips and the 2 size 40s that I had can be pulled down while still buttoned. I also didn't realize that with the tummy tuck, i'm down 1 to 1.5 inches around my chest. I've gone from being a 38HH to possibly a 34HH or 36HH.
Two Month Post Op Appointment
20 Aug 2014
2 months post
Had another in a series of follow-ups with my plastic surgeon. He said I no longer needed to use Neosporin on my incision and belly button. He wants me to start using the silicone scar guard because the scar has become hypertrophic in some areas. He also states that my belly button is now a little to narrow, meaning my innie is smaller than he would like. He wants me to use the foam ear plugs to gently widen the opening. If that doesn't work, he may have to surgically widen the scar in his office. Other than that, he's very pleased with how I look now and how I've healed. I'm still wearing my compression garments because I like the way they hold me in. He said some patients wear them for up to a year for the same reason.
21 Aug 2014
2 months post
I'm wondering if I should have gotten the lipo along with my tummy tuck? I'm looking at some of the updates from other women and I noticed how much curvier they are with the lipo. I'll wait and see how much more weight I loose and then make a decision at some point if I'll have Dr. Alkon do lipo also. I've already decided he's gonna do my breast reduction (36HH to a 34/36 DD)
22 Aug 2014
2 months post
The comparison is from September 2012. I was only 4 wks pregnant at the time so this is what my stomach was looking like. The other photo is from today (August 21, 2014). I still don't see the slender person everyone sees when they look at me now. I have another post up because now my issue is my breast size. I'm looking to get a reduction from a HH cup to probably D/DD by next summer.
Belly Button Issues
24 Sep 2014
3 months post
Hey ladies. Since the last time I posted, I've gone back to work full duty (i'm a paramedic in NYC). The only issue I've had is my belly button. I tried the suggestion my doctor made of using an ear plug to keep the belly button open but it closed up to the size of a pin hole. That would have been fine but it closed up from the outside and not the inside out. So he was able to reopen it with. Since I had no feeling there in the first place, he didn't have to give me a local to re-open it. I still have no regrets about the surgery and the belly button has been the only hiccup. Other than that, I gotta get back to the gym and really work out. I normally go at 6pm and have a ton of energy but with my work hours being 0700 to 1500 (7am to 3pm) and a 45 minute drive in each direction, I'm exhausted. I'll post the pics of what my belly button looked like before and after he reopened it later on this evening. I hope all is well with every one else.
Same thing, different day
Nothing new to report. My belly button is healing up the way is was supposed to, my scar is getting lighter and lighter and I'm feeling good.
Here are some updated pics that include the scar and my belly button. The white thing that is in my belly button is there to keep it from closing up the way it did last time. I've also included pics of what my belly button currently looks like.
He will never force you into a surgery you are not comfortable with or that you cannot afford. If he thinks you'll have a better result if you loose more weight, he will tell you so and won't allow you to schedule a surgery until you've done so. He does a through physical exam and will answer any questions you have.
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