40 Year Old Mom of 2 - Full TT with Exparel - Atlanta, GA

I had a full TT with umbilical hernia and...

I had a full TT with umbilical hernia and abdominal muscle repair on February 4th, so it's been exactly 10 weeks. I am 5'3" and weigh 100 pounds. Basically, my small frame wasn't meant for having children as my first child pretty much did all of the damage. I had severe separation of abdominal muscles, so a full TT was the only option to repair. Prior to the surgery I was an avid crossfitter training 4 days a week (I was a competitive gymnast my entire child/ adolescent life). I was in extremely good fitness going into the surgery.
I mention my fitness level, because the surgery itself and immediate recovery was very easy. One of the reasons I wanted to share my experience was because it was extremely good and I myself had put the surgery off for years due to fear. During the actual surgery, I was given a shot of Exparel directly into the abdominal area. This is a 72-96 hour nerve block. As a result, I had the surgery...stayed in the hospital one night...came home and never had ANY pain. In fact, I never took any of my pain meds because I didn't need them. I did take an occasional muscle relaxer to sleep better. I consulted with a few plastic surgeons and only found one practice actively using Exparel. In the end, that's why I selected my practice....it is a total game changer!
Another notable piece of information is that most of the time when umbilical hernias are present with muscle separation the need for a "fake belly button" (floating belly button) is pretty much unavoidable. It is important to select a PS that can create a natural looking "fake belly button" (ask for pictures...etc). This was a huge deciding factor on selecting a plastic surgeon. I love my new belly button. : ). While I have a few stretch marks that could not be removed in surgery, I am very pleased with my result. I am currently in the process of having a series of 1540 Lux laser treatments to minimize the appearance of the stretch marks. I will create a separate blog for that later.
Now - jumping to the present. It's been 10 weeks today and I still have significant limitations. The immediate recovery was a breeze - I was driving at 2-3 weeks and walking 100% upright around 4 weeks. My scar is healing beautifully (I continue to keep covered with the tan micro tape), but I am still extremely tight. When I move I still feel tugging sensations. I'm assuming this is a result of the severe muscle separation and abdominal plication. I can walk for exercise, but there is no way that I am even ready for light running. Coming from my athletic back ground, this is limiting. Now is where I realize that everyone's recovery is different depending on how much internal damage was repaired (muscle repair and hernias). I also feel compelled to say that my umbilical hernia was a result of my first pregnancy....not crossfit (as some have suggested).
While I have no intentions of returning to crossfit until at least 6 months....I am wondering when I will be able to be active ( according to my standards) again? I would love for anyone to weigh in on this for me. : )

10 weeks

Progress at 15 weeks

The above picture was taken around 10 weeks. This is also after having one laser treatment to smooth stretch marks. I am about 15 weeks out now and doing great! I am running about 3 times a week (3-4 miles). Still a little stiff. My arms won't quite reach 100% overhead yet, so no pull ups/ hanging on a bar or barbell work yet.

15 weeks

So this is a 15 week update. I have had 2 fraxel laser treatments to minimize residual stretch marks. In terms of overall healing, I am doing great! Just trying to improve the outcome as much as I can. : )

4 months PO

So I never thought I would ever wear a bikini again.....and then this happened....4 months to the date....I put it on and went to the pool! I think it takes a full 4-6 months to get a good picture of final results. 95% of the swelling is gone and non-ablative lasering has done wonders for any residual stretch marks.

Six months!!

So it's been a little over six months since my surgery. The time has flown by! At this point I almost feel like I have never had surgery. I am still numb....so that part is what is different, but everything else is great. I think numb is the new normal, so I'm not really bothered by that at all. I haven't returned to crossfit yet, but I have been running since about week 8 or 9. I wore a compression garment while running until about month 4. I wore it because I think I thought something was going to move out of place. Lol. When I finally stopped wearing it, I realized my abs and skin are so tight....nothing is moving out of place. My scars are healed well, but are a little darker than I would like at this point. They will lighten...it just takes longer with my olive skin. I did have the little scar from my old BB lasered and it made it smaller and completely smooth (no indentions). My stretch marks have remained at minimum since having them lasered.
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Wow, fabulous! Wish I had results like this!!! You really look great!
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I think you do have good results - I'm just 3-4 months ahead of you. Finally, my shorts are fitting better and not so constricting in the waste. How are you feeling??
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Thanks, but no I'm not liking my results. I feel ok, just ALOT of rolls when I sit and overall not what I expected.. I also gained a lot of weight in my upper thighs and but which really throws me off as I have been back to working out since 6 weeks PO. I see my PS in October so going to tell him once again. But honestly your one of my favorite results on here, this is exactly what a TT should look like! :)
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Awe - thanks! I'm sorry you are not happy. I hope your PS can shed some light when you see him next. I know some will offer revisions fee of charge. Hang in there. : )
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Have the laser treatments been helpful with stretch marks?
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Yes - look at my other review on real self for lasering. I have some pretty good before/ after photos. It has made the difference in wear bikinis and not.
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Woah I just realized you're 5'3 and 100#, you're little! I'm also 100# but three inches shorter. Congrats on wearing bikinis again :)
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Thanks you!! : )
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Hi you look amazing and your tummy is so flat! Thanks for the positive review. I have the same issues as you i need abdominal muscle repair and a very large hernia pls did ur ps use a mesh becos mine is using one also can u post a b4 pic if you dont mind thanks. Happy recovery.
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Thanks!! I have no idea if I have mesh or not. I had a general and plastic surgeon. All of my follow ups were with my PS. I never even thought about mesh until someone asked me a few months ago. Guess it doesn't much matter now?? Lol.
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you look amazing! you rock that bikini girl!
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Thank you!! : )
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Hope I look like you in 4 months. We are about the same size.
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You look great!!
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Thanks a bunch!! : )
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Hey Jen40 :) . You write that your stretch marks are smaller, lighter after fraxel t, but do you think that they are just a little bitt smale or smaller than they are barely noticeable. I have read that one can reduce the visibility with 40-50%, , and some places it says up to 80%, what percentage do you think this treatment has reduced the visibility on your stretch marks? my stretch marks are white, when you write that they get ligheter what do you mean by that? Sorry, I know I ask a lot of questions. Hope to hear from you :) norwaygirl
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I would say that it was a 70-75% improvement which was huge for me. I have better pics on my second blog only reviewing laser treatments. I will try to get some new pics up soon. : )
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thanks jen, very kind of you :) :) I 'm planing to take Fraxel 1540 in Norway, but a wanted to see some pictures from people who have more experie. But do you think that the stretch marks are just a little bitt smale or smaller than they are barely noticeable. Sorry I know I've asked this question, but felt not quite answer.
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I think both - they are a little smaller and the color/ texture are better (so less noticeable). I will always be able to spot them, but they are much less noticeable to the "untrained" eye. It was worth the extra $850 to "finish the project".
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Hey jan :) Do you think you could add some new before and after pictures in more light? The pictures on your profile is hard to see the pictures because they aren't that clear. Stretch Marks are not that noticeable in the dark or some times inn the house, but out in the sun light or in very bright light they often are very visible, I wonder do the stretch marks still shine in the light? hope to hear from you ;)
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Hi - I have another blog under my same user name on the Real Self network. There are much better photos on there. : ). My stretch marks have absolutely no shine to them whatsoever. Look at how shiny they were in my first photo on the other blog. They were very white and shiny.....not any more though.
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You look wonderful. 2 weeks for me, I have a long way to go.
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Awe....thank you! The time will go by fast and in a few months your surgery will feel like a distant memory. Hang in there!! : )
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Thank you for sharing your updated progress. Those who are still in the very beginning stages of recovery can become so discouraged about ever seeing the results that we are seeking. You look absolutely fabulous, btw!
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Thank you so much, yoga girl! : )
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