15 months later, still happy, but yucky scar - Alabama, AL

I woke up on my 40th birthday with 3 kids, no...

I woke up on my 40th birthday with 3 kids, no husband, and a body I didn't want to see. I worry a lot about the risks, considering that I'm a single mom. I also worry about the risks of not liking my outer-self around my kids. I would post photos, but I can't stand to look at myself with this body pasted on top of the real me.

I'm energetic and always on the go, but I look I've been asleep in a recliner for 10 years. Things started sliding downhill after my first pregnancy when I gained and lost 80 lbs. My babies were 10.5 lbs, 9.5 lbs, and 8.5 lbs and all by c-section. I had my 3rd child at age 37 and I could not bounce back to my prepregnancy look. At that point, the c-section "hangover" couldn't be flattened by any commercial garment.

I'm having a tummy tuck, breast augmentation,and flank lipo, in hopes of making the outer me look more like I feel inside. In a world of people that don't like themselves, I'm really glad that I do like the inner me a lot. I just need to take out my contacts when I get near the mirror.

I'm 7 days away from the carving and fat suckage...

I'm 7 days away from the carving and fat suckage (as though there was a time that fat didn't suck). I worry a lot about the results and whether or not this is a waste of time. That's really irrational, because logically I know that it will turn out nicely. On top of that, though, I keep making up gargantuan tasks that I feel compelled to finish before the surgery. This is particularly stupid considering that my wedding is in late November. I'm sure there are a few tasks related to that which should take priority... But, anyway, I have a driving need to steam clean the carpets and redecorate the den in the next 6 days, in addition to reorganizing my room, my 3 kids' rooms and refencing the backyard. This is like prenatal nesting on steroids.

Oh and I saw my reflection in the window at the...

Oh and I saw my reflection in the window at the school open house last night. Ugh. That was rough. If anything good comes out of this, please let it be the end of this roll of flab that serves as a canopy to my c-section scars. Lovely.

I made a lot of progress on my bs tasks that...

I made a lot of progress on my bs tasks that "must" be done before surgery today. That helped me chill out a lot. I haven't felt this relaxed in ages. My extra zip-front bra, ab binder and silicone scar treatment stuff came today. I ordered from Nouvelle. The prices were fine and the shipping was way fast. I ordered a black zip-front compression bra from Title Nine. I thought a slightly less medical look would be nice, too. It should arrive by Monday. And finally, I ordered a black wrap dress to wear home from my surgery so getting dressed would be easy. I packed my bandaging supplies and daily meds in a shoulder bag to keep by the bed along with my travel bag of essentials like baby wipes, lip balm, hand lotion, glasses, emergency make-up and make-up remover. I need to reset my router and make some other computer arrangements to make sure I have the best wireless signal possible. After that, I'm going to arrange all of the kids clothes into outfits so no one will let them dress themselves like surfing lunberjacks or something crazy. Other than buying groceries, prepping the kitchen, and paying bills, what am I missing?

Tomorrow is the day. Apparently I'm a lot older...

Tomorrow is the day. Apparently I'm a lot older than I thought, because life without ibuprofen sucks. I didn't realize how painful my joints were on a rainy day until I had to go without. At this point, I'd have an appendectomy if I could get some anti-inflammatory drugs.

I was totally unprepared for the level of pain...

I was totally unprepared for the level of pain involved, but am trying to make it through. It does get better by the hour. One of my nipples was not getting proper blood supply so I've had to apply nitroglycerin paste to it every 6 hours. After the first application, there was major improvement. The downside is that the nitro paste gives a major headache, which my Lortabs cannot address any better than the crick in my neck or the massive surgery. I only have one drain, which is good, because two would be doubly gross. I have a tremendous vocabulary, but only 2 very simple words describe the drain for me - gross and yucky. My boobs don't hurt too badly and I believe they may be enormous - 600, round, moderate profile.

Just a quick update, because it's late and the...

Just a quick update, because it's late and the valium is about to kick in (Yea!)I believe I'm 3 days post-op, but I'm not sure as the days are running together. The pain has been incredible, such that I have to question the logic of sending someone home with that much pain. If I'd been coherent enough, I'd probably have shot myself. Either the pain is more manageable or I've learned some new movements to keep me from triggering the worst of it. I had two major setbacks. The night we got home, I propped up in the bed for a little bit and as soon as I started to doze off someone let the dog in the house. She came flying in and landed on my stomach, obviously planning to do the circle until you find a good spot and land maneuver. I screamed out loud and had no control to stop it. That eased up and life moved on. Then, yesterday I was so tired and desparate for sleep that I thought I would try to lay in the bed. It felt like the rapid unravelling of a tube sock and I couldn't get myself back up. Wow. What a bad idea.

The only thing that I have to share that could be...

The only thing that I have to share that could be of real use to anyone is this, so I'm giving it it's own update paragraph. I truly believe that if I had been able to do squats as a regular part of my daily exercise prior to the surgery, I could have spared myself a lot of pain. Additionally, increased upper body strength from something like a rowing motion would have been beneficial, as well. Both of those motions have been key "substitute motions" for tasks that would normally require me to use my torso.

6 days post-op. Implant exchange, lipo to flanks,...

6 days post-op. Implant exchange, lipo to flanks, tummy tuck aimed firt and foremost at getting rid of that creepy roll of flab that hangs over my 3 horizontal c-section scars.

They started cutting at 11:00am and I was herded out the back door at 4:58. I hurt so bad leaving the facility after surgery that I had to ask in a major smart-ass tone, "Do they even practice pain management here?" The first two days were unbearable. I cursed myself for being foolish enough to cause myself so much pain. I was precribed valium and lortab-10 for pain, a Z-pack for antibiotics and promethezine for nausea. The lortabs hardly put a dent in the pain. The valium was nice, but it didn't stop the hurting. I found myself apologizing to my fiance' for asking him to paricipate in something so patently stupid as I had.

On the 3rd day, I felt better. Not well or okay, but definitely better. Each day since then has been an improvement, although my drain got pulled really hard a couple of times and that hurt like crazy. Also, I've developed a low-grade fever, for which I am taking a new round of antibiotics.

Before embarking on the surgery, I decided to set a "satisfaction goal" that I could use to determine if the surgery was a success, because this kind of work requires a lot of art mixed with science to create an end result. And since art is very subjective, I needed something very concrete to let me know where I was. My decision was that if the yucky c-section roll was gone, I would be satisfied. It's gone. Yea!

The nasty stomach pooch is gone. Cool. My breasts are gargantuan (600cc)and they haven't even settled into place yet. I also had a good amount of natural breast tissue to work with. (They are high and we are not using a binder to force them down, but letting them ease down gradually.) I think when they get in place that it will be quite an increase. I told him to release the inner porn star... and, well... he did.

The lipo to the flanks is a mystery to me. Too much swelling to know what's really going on there. My belly-button is creepy to look at. I'll investigate it further next week.

I had help for the day of the surgery and 2 days post-op. After that, I was on my own except for some help driving my youngest child to daycare. I just don't have any family or a large social circle. I'm forever thankful for my fiance's help and am sorry that his job took him away more than he wanted. All-in-all, I do not believe that having more people on hand to help would have eased the pain. They could have toted, fetched, cooked, and done laundry, but not reduced the pain. I now firmly believe that this procedure should be handled in a way that provides more acceptabl pain management, whether that be stronger drugs or a hospital stay to facilitate kick-ass drugs.

The misery did change my opinion of my doctor. While he's no barrel of laughs, he's pleasant and direct. (He may be the life of the party on his own time, just not in my exam room.) When I met with the anesthesiologist, I told him I wanted us to have a code word in the event that things went downhill fast. I suggested "Oh Sh!t!" as an option for our code word, but he didn't go for it. Oh well. Serious. Serious. Serious.

8 days post-op? Not sure. Everything runs together...

8 days post-op? Not sure. Everything runs together when you can't have fun. Seriously, I feel good. I've two separate updates to add today, because they are different in focus and I don't want one of them to get overlooked.

Somewhere around day 2 or 3 I noticed that my boobs are huge. (I said locate my inner porn star and he did.) I think these are the things that other people pay to get rid of. They are 600cc and sub-pectoral. They are still high, but the intention is to let them slowly make their way down. I had a good amount of natural tissue present, too. (I think I'm repeating myself on some of this, but I'm too lazy to read my own previous posts and I was high as a kite when I updated earlier.) I'm good with it. I'm almost 6' tall, so I can add a lot of boob and be okay. Otherwise, I look like a drag queen dressed as a hausfrau. (And just fyi, my fiance' is not a boob man. WTF? Going to have to find some breast appreciation somewhere.)

I looked in the mirror without wanting to vomit around day 4. I'm not real good with gratuitous yuck. If I have to look at something nasty because it is required to help someone, I can do that and move forward. If there's no emergency, I'm a weenie.

Day 7, I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, "Ummm, this is nice." "I like this." You know, that is a really nice thing to be able to think about yourself at age 40, naked in a bathroom with way too many mirrors. (The previous owners were like total swingers or something.) The needlework, of course, is not so pretty and I look forward to it fading in the coming year. Mainly, I just thought it was a nice feeling to like what I saw and still feel like me. I believe that was what I had hoped to purchase.

So, it's day 8 post-op. I'm taking very little pain medicine and totally bogarting the last 1 and 1/2 valium for the possibility that the doctor is thinking about pulling the tape off of me instead of, I don't know, like letting it biodegrade over a few years. I'm also taking Bactrim and prednisolone for a skin infection, cellutis, near the 2 lipo sites. I'm not creating a direct connection between the bacterial infection and the cellulitis, but... The areas that are infected are also those most irritated by the ab binder. The last thing anyone needs is a know-it-all with a bunch of scary stories.

So what sucks? The drain. Or really, the drain site. I only have 1 drain. Because I didn't anyone to stay with me after the 2nd post-op day, I learned to handle the drain pretty well. When I had help, it made me want to barf. Now that I HAVE to do it myself, it's okay. BUT the actual drain site is a nightmare. It's constantly saying to me, "One false move, missy, and you're in for it." I've got more stitches in me than Frankenstein on Project Runway and it's the darn drain that hurts so bad. I've developed some better techniques over the last few days, which I am going to detail in a more practical posting.

Oh, and we're going to have to have a little talk about the belly button when I get the guts to delve into it a little further. Looks good, but what's happening there and do I really want to know?

Stuff to have on hand (and sometimes why): *** A...

Stuff to have on hand (and sometimes why):
*** A recliner, preferably with a lever, rather than the kind that you have to push back, because, uh, you can't push back.
*** Firm throw pillow to place in the back of the recliner, in case you can lean or scoot all the way back. (I used it until the 6th day to prevent having to stretch unnecessarily)
*** A tote bag with stiff handles that don't flop over when you need to get your whatever. I used a very small, straw beach bag, because I could feel for the handles in the dark easily.
*** Gatorade
*** Water
*** Saltines
*** Colace
*** small make-up case to hold only meds that are taken throughout the day
*** medium sized case to hold drain maintenance supplies
*** Q-tips
*** hydrogen peroxide
*** Neosporin
*** small gauze pads
*** extra compression bra (The Nouvelle Inc. 7N style was the cheapest one I bought, but most supportive and comfortable.)
*** extra abdominal binder (I bought a 12" 1-piece wrap, but found it unable to offer the appropriate gradations of support as the one I got from fstubbs.com, model 2005, with 3 bands that could be adjusted individually. Dude. $25 bucks and worth $250. It's my best friend.)
*** soft, but close-fitting camisole, 2 or 3 (This is really simple but saved me from the nightmarish drain-pull over and over again. It works like this. Put on the camisole before any compression garments. I found the Spanx Assets lightweight, medium support top and it is great, considering it's really hot here. I also used one of the Spanx heavier duty compression tops that does not have a built-in bra, because I had one handy. That little bit of support is nice while your getting everything together. The real key is that when you take off all your binders and bras, there still needs to be something to hold the drain. Ah ha! The camisole. You can't forget in the middle of taking the binder off, that your drain is attached to it and almost fall to your knees in indescribable pain when the drain is pulled away from your body by whatever you forgot you had it pinned to. Make sure your panties are not over the drain tube. We'll get to that in a sec.
*** Antimicrobial/antibacterial soap, if you get to shower before drains are out (first aid section in the Target pharmacy area)
*** waterproof first aid tape
*** ID badge lanyard or some other secure, waterproof thing that you can hang around your neck and affix something to
*** remote control organizer of choice that can be reach sitting up or reclining
*** lip balm
*** hand lotion

More detailed issues:
*** Going to the bathroom - less horrifying than the drain, but occurs more often. Make sure you have a toilet that you can get up and down from, because it really bites otherwise. I don't have safety handles on the walls, so I chose to use the bathroom with the narrowest walls surrounding the toilet so I could ease myself up and down by bracing myself against the walls. Back to the darn drain. If you make sure that your panties are not over your drain tube, you can pull them up and down without serious pain and horror. Think about it. If your drain is stitched into your abdomen and the receptacle is pinned to your clothes, there's a really good chance that if you aren't paying attention that you just yanked the drain tube at your stomach when all you wanted to do was pee.

Don't start thinking about Colace after the surgery. Start taking it the day before surgery and every day until your abdomen doesn't hurt anymore. There's no point in suffering any bit more than necessary and you can't really complain about it in polite company. Constipation is no match for water and Colace. You'll definitely be better off.

Now, practical thoughts on the drain: The drain has caused me more pain since the 3rd day post-op than anything else. My charming thoughts on dressing and toileting cover most of it, but, wait, there's more. The first aid tape is great for anchoring the drain tube to that crease between your abdomen and thigh (whaddaya call that place?). It's just like building a little slack so that if the tube does get yanked, it doesn't get yanked very hard. Don't put tape or anything you have to pull on near your surgery sites, because that's not real bright to fool with $10,000 worth of stitches for no good reason.

Before I came up with my final drain management solution, I had a bit of a fashion faux-pas. I have yanked the drain tube so many times that I live in constant fear of doing it again (you can tell, right?). I had a pull-on, stretchy, cotton skirt that I put on, but didn't have any place to put the drain that was downhill of the drain site. Sooooo, I taped it to my leg. My fiance' felt that the silhouette looked a bit like I had a different type of surgery and that men might find it intimidating for me to have this rather firm "thing" hanging down my leg (think donkey here).

That made me really mad, because I'm stuck with the stupid drain and I want to go places, but I want the drain to work very efficiently by being lower than the drain site on my stomach. Don't be frightened here, but my search led me first to thigh holsters for automatic weapons. (Not too hormoney.) Then I started thinking about the neighbors and the school bus driver and how they would react if I started walking around with some commando gun-rig attached to my leg. I thought it might get complicated before I ever got to explain what was really inside.

Oh well, this is getting way too long (has been for a while) so let's cut to the chase. After looking at all of these really good looking guys with their sturdy, thigh holsters, I noticed one of several things they had in common, but only one that is pertinent here. Cargo pants. They all had cargo pants. So what if I anchor the drain a few inches below the site for a little piece of mind and then cut a slit inside the leg pocket of some cargo shorts? Yes, I'd have to be wary of the dreaded drain-yank when going to the bathroom or attempting to moon passersby (not), but I could go out without looking like I'm packing a shotgun or a salami.

I find both of those options preferable to have a bag bloody fluid poking out of my pocket, but to each her own. I shall update on the cargo idea as soon as UPS arrives.

Okay. I'm good. Hope you are, too.

So I got the drain out and am really glad. I had...

So I got the drain out and am really glad. I had hoped that it would lead to a good night's sleep in my bed instead of the chair, but not so fast. Maybe tonight. I'm trying to wear the ab binder as tight as directed, but it's really challenging. I recall that someone had some discussion about stage 2 garments that included some Spanx products, but I have not been able to locate those discussions again. Does anyone have any recommendations for something to help with swelling post tummy tuck?

I've had a couple of blood spots in my bra over...

I've had a couple of blood spots in my bra over the weekend after having a breast lift and augmentation almost 3 weeks ago. I've also developed some apparent bruising in the same breast. I'll call the doctor and doublecheck tomorrow, but has anyone had something similar?

I'm still glad that I had the procedure, but have...

I'm still glad that I had the procedure, but have to admit that I hate the scar. It's so tight that it's uncomfortable. I would really recommend that everyone planninng on this surgery use not only the recommended creams, but use regular massage to break up the scar tissue. I feel like I didn't do enough massage and am paying the price. However, the work still looks great and I am enjoying the feeling of confidence that I get from the lack of c-section junk.
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon

Dr. William Hedden did my surgery. I would use him again in a heartbeat. I feel confident that his work was top quality and that I was well cared for. I did not feel comfortable with the pain-control process, but must blame myself and my husband for not communicating my needs to him. Dr. Hedden answered all of my questions and gave plenty of advance information. His staff is very responsive and thoughtful. The staff is a little awkward for a a 40-year old who is concerned about her looks, because most of the staff look like 19 year-olds hunting for a discounted boob-job. Several of them compared me to their moms. (Oh thanks.) I would have loved some more mature staff members at the office. The wait times were absurd. Several times, at different appointments I considered leaving, because I value my time as much as doctors tend to value theirs. My one hope is that the wait times are related to the responsiveness of the doctor and staff to post-op questions, concerns and needs. I had one concern and was seen almost immediately, a convenience which would clearly wreak havoc with scheduling. It might have been helpful if up-front, the risk of long wait times had been discussed, however the 2-hour wait for my consultation was certainly fair warning. Dr. Hedden's bedside manner is a tiny bit stilted, but I was hiring a doctor and not a buddy or a comedian. (Perhaps I would not feel as confident with a more casual doctor?) I feel like I hired a great doctor and recommend him often.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
1 out of 5 stars Wait times
Was this review helpful?