Discreet TT: BB concerns 2+ wks post-op

I’m 50 yrs old, 5’6”, 170 lbs,...

I’m 50 yrs old, 5’6”, 170 lbs, married. I have never had children. I am in the midst of menopause and am having an increasingly difficult time shedding the pounds I’ve gained over the past year. I have always had a belly pooch, even in my more slender days of running, weight training, and bicycle adventuring. It is a genetic trait evident on my mom and sisters. The weight gain makes it all the more pronounced. A couple years ago, someone asked me when the baby is due. (I’m actually surprised that hasn’t happened more often.)

I have a high-profile, demanding, public sector job and very busy schedule. My husband also has a high-profile job and fully supports my decision to have a TT. I no longer fit in my size 12 clothes and the clothes I can fit are not flattering. Shopping for new clothes is torture. I feel awkward and self-conscious. It negatively affects my self-esteem and confidence. I am hopeful that the other parts of my body will more directly benefit from any weight loss I can achieve after the TT.

I live in a close community where most folks know everyone and I work in a small office with other women. Given the recovery time involved, there is no way I will be able to hide the fact that I will be having some serious surgery. And, given the nature of my job and workload, I expect I will need to be back on the job after 2 wks and will still be dealing with post-op issues. People will be concerned about and interested in my well-being and will ask questions.

I do not want ANYONE , including my mom, sisters, and in-laws (all of whom live in another state), to know I am having this procedure done. I hope I will be able to accomplish that by simply not mentioning it to them when we talk on the phone. But how do I go through the TT process without letting all the other folks around me know the truth? I cannot let it slip to even one person. What alternative explanation can I provide? I don’t want to fabricate some story that I could get tripped up on. I don’t expect my outward appearance will be shockingly different when I return to work because of the post-op swelling. As the swelling subsides, I expect I will be able to explain the apparent weight loss as the result of successful dieting, summer activities, and effects from the “whatever” surgery I had—all of which I hope will be true.

I am grateful so many people have shared their experiences on this Web site. In all the posts I have read, I have not seen anyone mention this dilemma. I will appreciate any advice.

Date is set. It's for real now. More later.

Date is set. It's for real now. More later.

The day of transformation is more than two months...

The day of transformation is more than two months away--ugh!. Now that I am committed and it's no longer just an idea, I wish it could happen right away. I am so ready to be rid of this frontloaded protrusion.

Like so many others who have posted here, I am...

Like so many others who have posted here, I am grateful to all of you who are sharing their stories and experience. Many of you have had more than one consultation. I guess I shouldn't worry about this since I am already committed, but I am intrigued by that process nonetheless. Me: I went with the first person I met with. At $125 for a consultation, plus travel time and gas$, I didn't see shopping around as much of an option. Plus, in VT, I didn't imagine there are loads of options out there to shop around for. I am especially pleased I have a woman PS, whom I expect (hope) will be sensitive to female sensibilities.

I am worried now that, with my procedure scheduled...

I am worried now that, with my procedure scheduled for Thurs. July 26, I have not allowed enough recovery time--exactly two weeks--before I have to jump back into work. The workload picks up that following week and I will have preparations to attend to. What if things don't go smoothly? I don't really have a Plan B. Will I be able to drive? And how to do all this and not let the truth be known what the real procedure was? I am wrestling with doubts and second thoughts, but when I pull my belly in and see what it could be like, I wish I could do it tomorrow.

I made it to the flat side! I am sitting here and...

I made it to the flat side! I am sitting here and cannot believe it. Pain has been manageable. I've got two drains, with one putting out about twice as much stuff as the other. Mine was the first surgery of the day yesterday at 9:00 and I was home around 3:30. I am so thankful I did have any nausea. Not a bit. Cannot stand up straight and that is already wearing on my back. We don't have a recliner, so I've been set up on the couch with pillows to keep me propped in a recliner fashion. I slept there last night very comfortably. Taking 1 to 2 pain pills every 3 or 4 hours. I definitely feel more tender today.

I went to the hospital weighing 167.5 lbs and came home weighing 173 (including clothes, shoes, drains, etc.). Not worried about that. I and the medical staff were suprised by how little discomfort I had yesterday. And I am usually a big baby. They think it was because I had such a positive attitude.

I've had a horrendously busy schedule these past weeks and have been on a sort of autopilot in terms of dealing with work stuff and preparations for the upcoming TT. I didn't have time to think about the procedure itself, instead focusing on the preparations for my absence and making sure I had my story straight. The surgeon did the mark-up the morning before and I filled my perscriptions. I didn't think twice about having the dr. phone two of my perscriptions to my regular, local pharmacy; the third one I had pick up with a script. I was horrified when I saw realized the script said "Fletcher Allen Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery" in big bold letters. Ugh! This being a small town and the pharmacy staff not being a particularly professional lot, I am concerned about this potential breach in my cloak of discretion. I realize they have better things to do than gab about me, but you never know when an potentially interesting factoid comes up in conversation.

Back to yesterday morning. The only thing left on the to-do list was to get my wedding ring off. The hospital staff was very clear that if you can't get it off, they'll cut it off. It was later explained to me the reasons why simply covering them with tape wouldn't work, which made sense. I started the night before trying to get if off. No go. I went to bed stressed that my 20+ year custom-made, inscribed wedding band would have to be cut off. I worked and worked at it on the hour drive to the hospital. Ice, soap, and a lot of twising finally got it off! I don't see how it will ever go on again--I guess I'll have to get it resized.

My hub was with me right up until they wheeled me to the O.R. I was in good, cheerful spirits. Moments before show time, tears began to leak and then came the waterworks. An avalache of pent-up emotions let loose. One of the nurses said, "Now it's time for the I don't give a shit medicine." Valium was added to my I.V. and all was well.

I'm glad I remembered to buy some "granny pants" to wear. They are high-waisted and help hold the drains in place. I have not yet tried on the binder. Well, that's all for now. I'll upload some pics in a few days.

Thank you to all you for sharing your stories and photos! You really helped me to know what questions to ask, what I might expect, and so much more.

I started to write this yesterday as an 8-day PO...

I started to write this yesterday as an 8-day PO review. But today, 9 days PO, is a slightly different story. Yesterday, I felt I was doing OK. I still am, just had a rough night with almost no sleep. Biggest issues right now are trying to stand up straight (Dr's orders), watching the fluid level in my remaining drain, and monitoring my aching, bleeding BB.

Post-op: Had one-wk post-op visit two days ago. The Dr. said I was healing well but quite swollen and still had fluid. She peeled away part of the tape over the healing incision and said it looks good. She also specifically directed me to stop walking hunched over. She said there was no risk of pulling anything out or ripping anything apart. She was surprised by how little bruising I had from the lipo. One drain (the more painful one) and BB sutures came out. BB was still crusty w/ blood and I see the reason why: it continues to leak. I need to get that checked out. I am hoping to go back Monday to have the remaining drain come out, but only if the fluid level remains below 30 cc two days in a row. I am now doubtful I'm going to make that goal for Monday. I don't know if they meant to keep my drainage records for my file, but I left the office without them, so I cannot recount my drainage progression.

Garment: The drains poking out of my pubic area, the right one more than the left, were too uncomfortable to be able to wear the "SPANX Higher Power High-Waisted Power Panty" compression garment (hospital recommended) for very long. The Dr.'s office said it was OK not to wear it until the drains come out. Now that the more painful drain is out, I'm able to wear it pretty much all day. I've tried to sleep with it on, but have ended up stripping it off in the middle of the night because it is still too uncomfortable for sleep. I got more high-waisted granny panties to wear during this process. They're nylon w/ cotton crotch. Wearing them under the CG helps make it easier to slide it on and off over the tender areas and helps hold the tubes and bandages in place.

Pain: Overall, the pain has been manageable except for this one thing: a stabbing, burning pain in the left groin area in the crease of the leg that emerged sometime around PO day 3. There appeared to be a lipo entry opening in there, but I couldn't be sure. It almost brought me to my knees in tears. On-line info suggested it could be temporary nerve damage. I called the doc's office the next day and a nurse suggested putting bacitracin on it. I don't know why, but it worked. It's flared up a few times since, but a hit of bacitracin would put it back in check. Now I put it on pre-emptively. But now trying stand up straight, which also means sleeping with minimal pillow support, has launched a new batch of aches. The BB feels increasingly sore. I wonder if my straighter posture is pulling on it.

Drain management: I didn't read the directions closely enough at the beginning to realize that the bulb should be uncorked for milking the tubes. I tried it both ways, corked and open, and didn't really notice much diff. But the instructions did say to open it. One thing I wish I had discovered sooner was to wet my fingers to milk the tube. So much more effective and no more fear of breaking it.

I neglected to mention that I slept on the couch downstairs for the first 4 nights propped on pillows, recliner-like. The upright part of the couch provided welcome support and leverage for getting up and down. I used pillows similarly propped to transiton to the bed, though without that upright couch support.

Photos: Since the captions don't seem to be...

Photos: Since the captions don't seem to be working, the first photo shows part of my mark-up the day before the surgery. The 2nd photo shows the dressings 2 days PO and before first shower. The 3rd photo is 3rd day PO after 1st shower. The dressings came off easily in the shower.

Second drain out today. Yay! Not a minute too...

Second drain out today. Yay! Not a minute too soon. I don't think I could have tolerated it much longer. The binding stitch at the entry point was extremely tender. BB is still a concern to me, but the Docs think it's doing OK.

Has anyone else had lingering BB healing issues? ...

Has anyone else had lingering BB healing issues? It's now 2+ weeks PO and my BB is still oozing goo, including hints of blood from the brown color in the bandages. (I uploaded a post-shower photo.) It's also quite sore, especially when in the binder. Since the last drain came out I've been wearing the binder regularly, including to bed. Last night I did not sleep with the binder on and the BB was so much more comfortable. Rather than the usual bacitracin and gauze pad, today I decided to give it lots of air--maybe it just needs to dry out. I'm wearing the binder rolled down below the BB. The nurse who removed the drain last Tuesday was not too concerned. The Dr. is now away for 2 wks.

Almost 3 wks PO and BB is still oozy and angry. I...

Almost 3 wks PO and BB is still oozy and angry. I wore the binder all day yesterday and thru the night. This morning BB had fresh blood in with the ooze. Went w/o the binder this morning to give my BB some air, and now this puff below the incision showed up (new photos uploaded). Yikes! My next appt w/ my PS is not until mid-Sept., though I have an appt. in two days to see her nurse about the BB. Very anxious to hear what she says.

As much as I want to give my BB some air, I put...

As much as I want to give my BB some air, I put the binder back on in case it's a seroma.

4 wks post-op today. I'm back full-time at work. ...

4 wks post-op today. I'm back full-time at work. No none has commented about my changed profile, though I try to wear loose-fitting tops to not draw attention. Still a lot of swelling. I've been wearing the CG day and night, which seems to amplify the sensations of the nerves and other sensitivities as the tissues and nerves in my abdomen heal. Including my throbbing belly button. Because of all these sensations, the CG is increasingly uncomfortable. I went to the Dr.'s office last week to check the BB. The Dr.'s assistant thought it looked OK and wasn't particularly concerned. He said the tissue looks relatively healthy, there were no seromas, and that I just need to give it more time. His assessment seemed based on extremes (e.g., as long as the skin is not black,he's not concerned.) Ugh. I know I need to give it all more time. I am increasingly weary of these discomforts and am frustrated that I continue to weigh as much or MORE than when I went in for surgery, despite conscious efforts and exercise. Sigh.

Six weeks + 3 days PO and doing well. New pics...

Six weeks + 3 days PO and doing well. New pics posted. Still swollen. Went to Dr. on Aug. 30 to have the belly button checked out again. She said the stem of the BB appears to have died (yuck!), which is why it was not healing and continued to ooze. She put a dab of silver nitrate on the blob of tissue which cauterized it. The tissue shrank and turned gray. It still oozed for a little while, but then scabbed, which is where it's at now. It appears to be healing and is no longer throbbing. She said I won't have much of a belly button, but I think it's going to turn out fine. It wasn't much to write home about to begin with. She also said that at 6 wks, activities are no longer restricted. I think she recommended I continue to wear the CG a while longer, so I wear it during the day, but not to bed anymore. I go back later this week to see how things are coming along and will confirm about the CG. I have not been doing much scar treatment except in the shower when I'm soaped up. I bought some Eucerin lotion (recommended by the Dr.'s office) and will make more effort on that.
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Well I am having mine tomorrow morning in Burlington as well. I am nervous but have read so many post and feel that in the end it will be all worth it. Thanks for the insight it does help.
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My mom said "tell me how you make out...I want one too!" LOL!

I did have an umbilical hernia repaired before, while getting my tubes tied after my last child 5 years ago. I've since had a hysterectomy. I remember the umbilical hernia hurting more than anything else, they used mesh and it felt like I have a big orange under my belly button for a couple of weeks! My PS said because of this I too run the risk of my BB dying and possibly turning black.....I really hope this doesn't happen to me. I already have a 3/4" scar in my BB so we'll see. My fingers are crossed!

I have a pretty high pain tolerance and hope that I'll be back to my usual self quickly so my "excuse" looks more realistic. If it doesn't go that good then I'll have to say I had complications...yada yada! Luckily I have my own little business where I work out of my house so there is no worries about having to return to work PLUS my husband works out of the house too so the first couple of weeks I should be good.

New pics look great! =)


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Just peeking at your pics....my TT is on Sept. 25th. You scar looks really good at 4 weeks! WOW! How is your BB doing now?

I too haven't told my family what the surgery "actually" is...except for my mom. She is old school and doesn't tell anyone elses business so I know I can trust her. The few people that I mentioned surgery to asked and I told them I have having an umbilical hernia repair. I told my kids this too! A little white lie....right?
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Thanks, Dmags. I posted updated info & pics today. I wouldn't say an umbilical hernia repair is a lie: your umbilicus will definitely be repaired as part of the whole thing. I did not use the hernia option in part because I am under the impression that recovery time for hernia stuff may be less involved than for a TT. How did your mom take it when you told her?
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I go for my pre-op appointment tomorrow!! YIKES!!!! Im so nervous about everything...anyway GreenGal, your pictures look great and Im sorry about the swelling and the BB situation..my PS told me up to 8 weeks to a year healing time!! It's so hard to wait it out when you spent all that money, went through all that pain and uncomfortableness(?), doubts, second thoughts, etc, etc, etc.... I hope the BB is feeling a little better...enjoy your day!
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Thank you, Letta61! A pre-op a month before the procedure? I guess that will give you plenty of time to get ready. Other than the BB issues, I am quite pleased how the rest of it is working out. In addition to the BB being physically uncomfortable, it's a bit unnerving that it seems to be an unusual case they simply haven't seen the likes of before, don't know what is causing it, or what to do about it. I try to take comfort that they don't seem too concerned about it.
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Give it time. I'm just about 8 weeks post op and I promise you will feel and look much better within the next several weeks. In the past week or so I've really come a long way in the reduction of swelling and pain. I know how you feel, time seems to slow down when you are waiting to look and feel better. Hang in there!
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Thank you! That is very encouraging.
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Hi! Im 51 and having my TT on September 27. Im trying to keep it on the down-low also, with only 2 of my close friends and 1 family member who know. I don't want to lie and say Im having a procdure that Im not having, so If anyone asks me why I havent been around I plan on telling them "Im having a non-cancerous mass removed from my stomach". lol! or that "my back is bothering me". Because in reality those things will be true!.....
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Thanks, Letta. I told folks I was having a "mass" or a "growth" removed from my abdomen. I reported afterwards when folks inquired how I was, I said it was benign and that every day is a bit better. No one really pressed for details, though I did offer a few odds and ends (drains, CG, incision [BB] not healing well).
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Lol non cancerous mass. Initially my boss rejected my leave because a colleague was on leave too. We don't do the same job so I didn't see the problem. I had to speak to my boss and tell that I really need to take this leave. He asked why it was so crucial and I said it was a personal matter. He said ok I can take it. I'm not sure what he thinks a personal matter is. I'm just worried that I'll still be lacking in energy when I get back to work. I work in finance and will be month end when i get back. We will also be starting to set new budgets. I think it going to be quite busy a nd possibly a bit stressful :-( Not great for recovery!

I am going to Poland to have my surgery and have had disclose the fact that I'm going there. I have to get a visa and a letter from work confirming I have a full time job! I'm collecting my passport tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed they have approved the visa!
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Oh, my--so complicated! And no doubt some added stress. I hope it all works out.
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Hi GreenGal

I have to say your cut is very neat nd thin. Your tum looks great. I hope your bb heals soon.

I am having surgery on 14 Sep and have told 3 people at work, no one else. Family wouldn't understand and neither will some of the ppl I work with. I am only able to take two weeks off so fingers crossed I can sit still and heal.

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Thank you Dee. Yes, I think the scar will heal up well. I've not begun any kind of lotion or massage treatment on it yet; the Dr. told me to wait. Good luck with your surgery! I was back to work after 2 wks with a light schedule. I did disclose to a couple folks at the office that I had a drain to deal with and compression garment to wear to manage post-op swelling, but it was in the context of general abdominal surgery. If anyone comments on my improved profile, I'll credit the post-op compression garment.
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Thank you. Good plan re post op garment for improved profile. :-)

Wish I could have a phased return to work.
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Thats great news!, I am pleased it is not as bad as it looks and you feel better, just try to air and dry it out when you can for a couple of hours a day! Happy healing
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Hi greengalvt, After seeing your new pics , This has to dry out you must keep it open to air as much as possible. I would cut the hole and then bring with you to work a supply of the sterile gauze pads( not the shiny ones as this needs to breath) and just tape them down over the bb lightly with some micropore tape and wear a very loose top. Then keep checking and replacing during the day as needed.
Before you go to work I would clean with hibi scrub and then a watered down peroxide or saline solution and then use Betadine on a gauze pad and dap, blow dry or air dry this and then use the sterile pads gauze pads to cover lightly. I hope this help with your recovery.
One question though are you using a sugercal binder or a compression garment?Because the CG's are breathable and you could just take your breatheable gauze pads with you and replace as needed over bb under your garment.
I was shocked when my PS said I should have no dressing under the CG if everything is healing fine and no oozing and just use these pads on any spots that are oozing. Of course I would not use the CG's that you have to pull up over your incision unless your lower incision is completely healed up. Maybe something like one I got from my PS in my hospital pic that hooksup either at the side or the middle. I would suggest the sides for youn as this is a bb issue and its in the middle, Good luck and keep us all posted!
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Thank you, NewSue for such a thoughtful response. One of the nurses at the Dr.'s office was able to see me today after all. By then the new puff had subsided (thanks to the binder, AKA compression garment, which is a pull-up-to-the-ribs Spanx-like thing.) She thought the BB didn't look that bad and there were no signs of seroma. Bottom line: she put me at ease that nothing dire is going on, which is what I needed to know. I will meet with the Dr's assistant later in the week for more info.
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Definitely let it air out and dry out some. I was having issues where they removed the drain and I couldnt figure out why, then my husband suggested I go a day w/o putting my ointment on and covering it up. Sure enough all it needed was some fresh air. Hope this helps.
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Thanks, tigereyes. Yes, the BB loved the fresh air again today and again seemed to respond well. The dilemma is the binder: wearing it is important but it covers up and puts pressure on the tender BB such that it starts oozing again and seems to go back to square one. Arg. I'm not quite at the point of cutting a hole in the garment. Now that I'm back to work, I don't want my BB oozing into my work clothes. And now that I'm back at work, I cannot air it out so easily. Double Arg.
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You look great! Sorry I don't have any advice about your bb, just wanted to tell you that you are looking good:)
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On my bb my doc had me clean it 2x a day with hydrogen peroxide using a qtip to remove scabs and stuff. He said "when you use Neosporin or Mupirocin use it lightly, you're not frosting a cake. Use plain thin gauze so air can get in and out; not to use bandaging with backing or anything else on it."

One person somewhere on here cut a hole in the cg for the bb so it could breath. I considered that but after following the docs orders it is all cleared up. At night I let the bob area go uncovered, with just the lightest amount of thin gauze.
Hope that helps.
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Wow, thank you Abscape. My Dr. and her nurse advised about the thin layer of, in my case bacitracin, but provided completely opposite instructions on everything else. They said NOT to use peroxide because it kills new/good as well as bad cells. (I had done it once with a Qtip before they told me that and it fizzed pretty good.) They said just use soap and water and pat dry. And they said to keep it covered. I had it open-air most of the day yesterday and I think it responded well. An evening out last night with binder on seemed to un-do that progress, but I'll see how it goes today. Cutting a hole in the binder: I hate to, but think I may need to resort to that. Thanks, again, for the feedback!
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I followed the instructions from my surgeon as I wrote above. When one of my kids became quadrepeligic we had to be careful with h- peroxide because it can destroy healthy cells. There is a point where the amount of nasty dead cells are creating a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive; which in that case some healthy ones get "sacrificed".
I am 3 weeks PO and my navel has no red tissue, oozing, scabs, at all. There is no need for HP anymore. I am using a modified ear plug to shape my navel ( its really tiny, perfect for a chick, not a dude) and I use an antibiotic ointment during this process.
During the day I have on the binder, silicone ScarAway strips on the incision (more for comfort on clothes rubbing), and bb shaper in place with micro tape.

After showering at night I massage cocoa butter oil on the incision and and do a lymphatic self massage over the abdomen, groin, hips, chest and incision area.

At bedtime I am free and clear of all products and recovery related supplies (no binder at night after 3 week po since i didnt get lipo) .
In bed I lie on my back and do the lymphatic deep breathing techniques before sleep, and upon waking.
We all recover differently for a variety of reasons. Everything I am doing now are things my surgeon advised on or is permitting. Next week is my 2nd acupuncture treatment; performed by an experienced post-surgical practitioner. My first visit yielded a great reduction in swelling and tenderness!
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