Laser Lipo - I Finally Did It and It Was WELL Worth It!!!!! - Atlanta, GA
Thursday, November 13th was 1 week and 2 days past...
I was an 18 at the end of 2012 and with my exercising I have dropped to a size 16 and could even squeeze into some 14's but they were not presentable for public wear...LOL, if you know what I mean. The zippers were so tight that I was afraid that my crouch would eventually have an aneurism...LOL. But I would put them on from time to time to encourage me to keep working out. I dropped from 213lbs to 197lbs and seemed to just stay there. No don't get me wrong, I could see some change, but not like I needed to stay motivated with exercising.
No matter what else was getting smaller, my stomach was not going anywhere! Finally, I saw a billboard and started my research on laser lipo. I contacted several offices but only 1 responded back, American Lipo Center (Atlanta, GA) I called and scheduled a consult, went back and met with the Doctor and then scheduled my appointment for procedures to my upper and lower stomach along with my flanks to be completed Thursday 11/13/2013.
I arrived at the office shortly after 8am because I could not have food and the nurse wanted me to eat before taking the medication to reduce nausea. So, once she administered the meds, we were heading into the procedure room at/around 8:45am or 9am. The nurse took pictures after I got undressed and then Doctor Shotwell came in to chat with me before he started his markings for the prodedure. Finally, up onto the table I went.
I was very prepared mentally because I had read a LOT of reviews about the procedure...good, bad and the ugly. I not only read the good ones, but I read the bad ones too. I wanted to hear both sides of the story and see what I should have been looking for when I went into the offices for consults. You will not find a lot of information on-line about Doctor Shotwell, other than information about his Private Practice. I found this to be good information because "no news is good news!" I was impressed with his knowledge, background concerning surgery(s) and his ability to answer all of my questions efficiently and effectively. I like that he gave the me worst case scenarios about my skin elasticity and did not offer any unrealistic promises concerning my final outcome.
NOW On to the Procedure!
Once he marked my body, he stepped out of the room to allow me and the nurse to prepare for the procedure. Once back in, he explained to me that most patients say that the entering of the anesthesia is the most painful part. And it was...the removal of the skin was not as painful as the initial prep. There were some times that it was uncomfortable, but he would add a little more pain reliever.
He allowed me to look at my stomach once he had finished 1 side and it was AMAZING! The other side still looked like a mountain while one side was flat. I was elated from that point on. I have hanging skin because it will take time for it to move back onto place and some of it may not ever move back just depending on my elasticity. Nonetheless, I am EXTREMELY pleased and it is just day 3.
The first 24 hours was a LOT of draining. The pain fluid that was pumped in has to run out so this is expected. Get maxi pads for your body and puppy pads for your bed and floor. The first day is the worst...so be prepared. The more that you massage the more that fluid will release, so by Friday night I was completely dry because I really pushed a lot of it out on Thursday night.
Line your car with the puppy pads and even with plastic. I still have large plastic bags under my sheets just in case...to prevent my mattresses from getting messed up. Some people washed their garments in the machine...I washed mine on hand and wrung them out with a towel, put them in the dryer while I was in the shower and they were ready when I got out of the shower. It will take you about 1 hour to remove your clothes and shower because you are not moving at normal pace.
BEST ADVISE EVER...take your meds every 4 hours, do not wait until you are in pain otherwise, you will have major issues trying to manage it. Getting in and out of bed is hard, but I try and move or at lease turn over every hour or so. Also, I would get up and walk around my house for about 20 or 30 minutes when everyone was sleep to help keep me from getting sore and stiff. I have kept water and Gatorade next to my bed and please eat before you take the meds...it will make you nauseous if you do not.
I am sorry for my post being soooooo long, but this is what happens when you don't get to do it daily. My pain meds are kicking back in and I will try and keep you posted aging on tomorrow and though out me next few weeks.
I am trying to post a couple of before and after pictures for your review. I have to learn how to get them downloaded, but as soon as I do, I will upload them. Please note, that I bruise really easily and therefore they may be too graphic for some people.
Until I chat again,
Mrs. Happy that I did it!
2 week Post-opt update!
Area of procedure – Laser Lipo to Upper/Lower Stomach & Flanks/Waistline
Well, Hello RealSelf Family,
I have learned 2 things the really hard way. I will not try and process an updated from my IPad, Tablet or phone because after doing all of that work, I still tend to loose the information and have constantly lost over a hour of typing…therefore, I will keep a log in WORD and then just past it to the site in the future. I will try and recap what I wrote earlier, but a portion of my enthusiasm is gone from the lost of that work.
I would like to confirm much of the information that has been written on this site and also offer some additional advise as well.
1) Puppy pads are the best for the drainage during your first couple of days, but they also were very helpful when I encountered very dry skin from not keeping my stomach lubricated post-opt. I began to peel REALLY bad after the 1st week and was encountering raw skin (like a burn mark with the bubble skin) in the areas that had not drained. My Doctor's office advised a product called, “Arnicare” and it is located in the burn/deep heat area of the the pharmacy. I am NOT recommending this information just letting you know what happened to me. I believe that I would have not had this problem if I had kept my area lubricated from the beginning…so this is something that I would discuss with the Doctor during consult. I also used A & D ointment for this area as well. I am still using these products and will have to give an update about them next week.
a. Lining your bed with the puppy pads is great, but also putting large plastic bags under the sheets will help with the drainage that leaks through. I did this and it did not destroy my mattresses. I am a SUPER clean freak, but you will not have time to change the sheets everyday in the beginning. Just FYI…
2) I took my pain meds every 4 hours as recommended and my antibiotics as stated. There was another med that is mainly used for anxiety, but it will help you to rest and will help with the stomach spasms. I took this religiously in the beginning, but then only as needed as time went on. I was not really hungry after the surgery, but strongly suggest taking your meds with a piece of toast, crackers, or something light to coat your stomach otherwise you may feel sick. Because I was not really hungry, I drank a lot of Gatorade and kept 1 at my bedside at all times to sip on through out the night and first thing when I work up in the morning for hydration.
a. The initial pain will only allow you to sleep around 4 hours. I would get out of the bed and walk around my house for 10-20 minutes after I changed my pads to help with the soreness. I would take my meds first, change my pads and then walk so that by the time that I walked around for a while I would be ready to go and lay back down…they will have kicked in by then…LOL
b. You will NEED someone with you during the first 48 hours…I know that a LOT of people have stated that they did this on their own, but I am one of those SUPER (I can do it all by myself people too) and I strongly suggest someone to be there with you during those first couple of days. It is difficult to change the pads and put the garment back on and work through the pain. The drainage is so heavy on the first day that you just really need help with maintenance and your balance is not really steady so standing and sitting it not really easy by yourself. Not saying that it can’t be done…but it will make your life a whole lot easier.
c. I have school age children and making arrangements for someone else to pick/drop them off the 1st week was a blessing. My procedure was on a Thursday so I had the weekend to recover, but it was not enough. I could have done it but I would have had to add about 1 hour to my morning prep time in order to be dressed before they woke up each morning. As WOMEN, we have a hard time asking for help…ASK for HELP and don’t let your pride get in the way!
3) My incision wounds healed really well and very quickly…just taking a shower is odd with the fluid in your surgery area. I use Dove Soap, but I strongly suggest asking your Doctor for the best bathing tools. I would stay away from any specialty soaps, you know like body shower lotions, and bubble bath stuff, but I am not even sure if Dove was mild enough because I still had the problem with the dryness and peeling....so this may be trial and error.
a. I had a lot of bruising in the 2 areas where the fluid did not release as quickly and therefore really needed to know more about how to care for these areas. I was fine when I visited my Doctor for my 1 week check-up but I should have been keeping the areas lubricated. I begin to peel almost like a burn victim, which opened me up for infections…but the nurse, at American Lipo Center (ATL) was great. She and I communicated via text and thank God for Smart Phones, I was able to send her pictures for the Doctor and we were able to work through this challenge. I am still working on this and will update next week. Still taking my antibiotics though.
b. I am still dealing with the peeling…been about 4 days now, but I am feeling much better now that I know HOW to lubricate the area and ward off infections. Take the antibiotics as assigned…do not miss them. This is crucial to your healing. The peeling has been my worse experience of it all, but ALC (Roche and Dr. Shotwell) have been great with getting me through this.
4) I am going to post a few of my pre-opt pictures and a couple of post-opt, with and without clothing. I will not post my peeling because it is very graphic and I do not think that they are a true representation of my overall surgery. However, I will post photos of me with then compression/surgical garment on. These pictures will not show true representation of my skins elasticity and how it currently hangs but I believe that the true pictures are too graphic for public viewing. I will be happy to share more with anyone that sends me a personal e-mail or contact, but not in general.
I will give another detailed update by next week…I think weekly is best because it gives more details and solid information.
2 Weeks and 4 days post-opt
I had to give you a quick update. There are several myths and I want to bring clarity to for those that may be thinking about having a procedure completed.
1) Many people said that this (laser lipo) is a QUICK recover surgery - I am almost 3 weeks in and it am still in a lot of recover pain. Now let me say that based upon what I have read from other people, I expected to jump up and just be having fun right now. My surgery went very well, but my body has undergone a MAJOR process. Although I am fairly healthy, this is not a “quicky” surgery. People are able to return to work, but not as they had mentioned on some of the reviews. For instance, I can dress myself now but bending over to tie my shoes is a HUGE and painful task. If I drop something on the floor it has to stay there until someone else can get it for me. So don’t take it lightly that you will be able to just jump back into your normal duties.
2) The pain that I am having now is more from the tightening of my skin than it is the surgery itself. Now don’t gets me wrong, I am REALLY happy about my results and this process, but it is extremely uncomfortable and I can tell that this process will go on for a while (6 weeks or longer). I have these little spasms (sharp pains). They don’t last long, but for anyone that has every had a baby, they fell like very light contractions, they don’t last long, but they are noticeable.
3) Knowing what I know now, I would have had this procedure during the warmer months as going outside in the cold is extremely uncomfortable. (I am in Atlanta) The first day, I did not really think it though, but I try and wrap myself up really well when I am going out in the cold…you know like to old people used to say, “don’t want to catch cold in my body.” But seriously, the cold weather shoots pain into every area where the surgery took place…it is just something to be cautious of and keep a little blanket with you at all times to cover your surgery area for added comfort.
4) Read up about all of the side-effects. I had one called “seroma” which is the clotting of the blood under the skin in the pockets where some of the fluid did not completely drain…and it is a normal reaction for some people. My surgeon was very comfortable about my “bruising” but I will share with him that it needs to be explained more so that when the patient has this reaction they will not panic because initially I was ok, but then began to worry. It helps to know so that you can mentally prepare yourself for the skin peeling and treatment that goes along with it. I found a review by another Doctor that gave some really great advise and it has really helped me in just the 3 days since my reading his review. I did take pictures of this, but will only share those via special request.
5) Drink plenty of fluids!!!!!! This will help with you antibotics/constipation and with the hardening of the skin that you are going to experience. If you are not a BIG water person like me, then try Powerade or Gatorade…but stay hydrated! It will help you in more ways than one…LOL
Mornings and nights are the toughest because you are so stiff during those times. It is much better when you keep moving around…so keep the walking going. I am in school and I walk while I am reading some of my material and it helps a lot when I have to sit in my classroom for a few hours straight. Massaging your stomach/surgery area while you are sitting in class or watching tv really helps to subside the pain. I am thinking of going to my local massager to see if he could help just a little. Maybe going to see him 1 time per week for a couple of weeks or a month would help also. I have heard about masseuse that specialize in surgical massages but they are about $150 per session and my regular guy is on $40 per session, but he has been in the business for about 10 years so I am sure that he could study about it and still give me a better price than the $150…just something to think about.
Well I am about to head to bed now. Gotta get my pillows right so that I can get comfortable for the evening and make the best of my night before it is time to drop my kids at school.…LOL
4 weeks Post opt update
I have been pretty busy and missed my update for last week as I would have liked. Nonetheless, here we go…and let’s have some fun!
First off, I am EXTREMELY satisfied with my current results, I can finally wear some of my dress pants and flex jeans that are not as fitting on my stomach. I have mostly been wearing sweat pants because they are the most comfortable and do not press against my stomach as it is trying to heal. I wore a pair of my pants on yesterday and they were actually pretty loose in the waist because this is the area that healed the quickest for me. Then, my lower stomach has given me great results in comparison to my worst case scenario that Dr. Shotwell had given me. (Basically, he did not make a lot of promises to me, but he advised me that my skin may not tighten in that area…worst case, but it possibly could) So my excitement is that mine is tightening and I can actually start to see the results of procedure.
Realistic Expectations – When I went into this process, I had very realistic expectations. I had been working out consistently for almost 1 year and though other parts of my body were shaping up, I knew that my stomach was not going anywhere…no matter how many planks, and ab exercises that I did. Also, I was not on any of those strict diets because I know that is not a reality for me. I have cut back on my chocolate, sweets and sodas, but I still have them from time to time. So with this said, I was not looking for a MIRACLE cure for my abs, but needed a little help in pushing them in the right direction.
I am still in some pain, but have dropped down to 800 ml pain meds instead of the original stronger narcotics. I can take these 3 times a day, but I am down to 1 or 2 per day depending on my pain level. I am not one to take too many pills/drugs so I try and only take them when really needed.
I try and massage my areas all throughout the day…when I am laying in bed, sitting and watching TV or walking through the mall. This movement helps a lot with the tightening that is going on with the skin. The massaging also helps with the hardness that comes as a result of the surgery. Some of my hard areas have already returned to a normal feeling because I try and massage through the pain.
Allergic Reactions – I had an unusual situation to happen to me and this is not likely to happen to everyone, but the burn like peeling and bloating that I mentioned in my earlier post was not just a condition but also a reaction to the anesthetic that was used. I met with Dr. Shotwell on my 3rd week and he provided a silver sulfate cream for application and immediately I was healing much better within 1-2 days. I have been using the cream now for 1 week and a day and my entire upper and lower stomach are almost completely healed.
Just FYI, if you notice burn like (looking) marks after your surgery, notify and visit your Doctor immediately. If I had gone sooner, I believe that it would not have gotten so bad and would have cleared up much quicker.
Overall Results – I have really been satisfied with my overall results and believe that I would have been more pleased if I had taken care of the peeling earlier. However, I am smiling every day when I look in the mirror because I have not seen my body look like this in quite some years.
I believe that the more active that you are, the greater your results will be. I am still tired sometimes because although this is an invasive surgery, it is still surgery and your body will need time to bounce back. Therefore, I am getting in and out of the car better/quicker now, I can bend over a little more now and I can sleep on my sides with less pain right now.
More importantly, WEAR YOUR GARMENT EVERYDAY as assigned. This garment is a surgical garment and it helps to shape and contour your body. Other than allowing my wounds to get some air every night for about 1 hour, I am in my garment. It is very uncomfortable…for the ladies, it is like wearing a good bra…such a relief when you take it off…LOL, but you should wear it if you want to see great results!
I am still very happy that I made this investment into myself and do not have any regrets even with the allergic set back that may cause me to take 8 full weeks to heal instead of the normal 6 weeks. I am also pleased with how American Lipo Center has handled my concerns and assisted me with taking care of me during the follow-up concerns/appointments. It is still one of the best things/gifts that I could have ever given to myself.
American Lipo Center has 3 locations within in the USA. And I was able to catch them during one of their special pricings. Normally my procedure is between $7000 & $8000. Dr. Shotwell was very personable. He answered all of my questions and concerns about him and his years of experience. He has been a surgeon for over 20 years. He is a general surgeon by profession and decided to performs Laser Lipo as an addition to his already successful surgical career. Although he perform lipo during his residency he decided to take more of an interest a few years ago and add it to his list of knowledge and experiences. I was extremely nervous because I have never thought of anything such as this but his details and knowledge to answer all of my questions put me at complete ease. He was extremely patient and answered all of my questions in details to assure my comfort during my pre-opt.