Growing Up... Welcoming the 3rd Decade - Calgary, AB

I think “Teen Mom” is a stigma…...

I think “Teen Mom” is a stigma… one in which I will never outgrow. But after nearly 16 years, I have learned to accept it, embrace it even. Along with a strong sense of pride, a personal vow to preserve it, and the refusal to become a statistic, I have conquered every challenge that life has bestowed me with. I am strong, educated and accomplished. I am proud of myself, and I am confident that my (illegitimate) children will continue to be my greatest success! I wish my tummy told the same story.

My tummy has taunted me… Not only has it beat down my self-esteem and body image, it reminds me daily of the ‘lost’ teen years and of the criticism that was my life for so long. It tells me that I am forever a damaged teen, that I am weak, ugly and that I don’t deserve to feel comfortable in my own skin. My tummy will not allow me to embrace being a woman I actually am!

“TUMMY, I am fighting back! I deserve to feel good, I have worked hard, I will show you! I am leaving you behind for good!”

Well, after years of naively trying to work off the skin and wrinkles, a near 60lb weight loss, maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, many doctor advices and 2 plastic surgeon consults, I took the plunge!!

On April 4, 2011, I LET THE TUMMY GO! As I write this review, I am only 5 days post-op, and have yet to really see my results, but I already feel liberated, and I can’t put a price on that. I am amazed at what an ordeal this has been; the planning and preparing, the emotions, the opinions, the challenges. It is ironic, that all this tummy talk is the result of my controversial choice to have a beautiful baby at the ripe age of 16, and yet it is the only life event that can compare. I hope these results continue to be as rewarding as my wonderful 13 and 15 year old boys!

Thank you to all the RealSelf bloggers that helped me make it here… I can’t wait to continue this journey with you all.

Who would've thought that there could be so...

Who would've thought that there could be so many questions and debates about binders and compression garments?! Until 2 days ago, I assumed they were one in the same.

I have decided to post pics of my binder, and my 'tank top solution', for those interested.
I will also make mention that I googled "what is the difference between abdominal binder and compression garment" for further clarification.

I am 12 days post-op, and I absolutely dread taking my binder off. I reserve the "event" for showering and "flipping" only! (I bought a second for washing.) I am queasy by nature, and almost everything TT brings it on. When the binder opens, I feel like my insides falling out and I can't hold myself up. I know it is all in my head, but none-the-less, I become nauseous,sweaty and panicked. I am developing an odd love-hate relationship with my binder. LOL

Flipping: I was told that my binder will develop a memory, and start conforming to my shape if worn the same way 24/7 and will then start diggig in and become unecessarily uncomfortable. To avoid this, it must be "flipped" at least once per day. Top becomes bottom and bottom becomes top.

Who would've thought that there could be so...

Who would've thought that there could be so many questions and debates about binders and compression garments?! Until 2 days ago, I assumed they were one in the same.

I have decided to post pics of my binder, and my 'tank top solution', for those interested.
I will also make mention that I googled "what is the difference between abdominal binder and compression garment" for further clarification.

I am 12 days post-op, and I absolutely dread taking my binder off. I reserve the "event" for showering and "flipping" only! (I bought a second for washing.) I am queasy by nature, and almost everything TT brings it on. When the binder opens, I feel like my insides falling out and I can't hold myself up. I know it is all in my head, but none-the-less, I become nauseous,sweaty and panicked. I am developing an odd love-hate relationship with my binder. LOL

Flipping: I was told that my binder will develop a memory, and start conforming to my shape if worn the same way 24/7 and will then start digging in to my skin and become unecessarily uncomfortable. To avoid this, it must be "flipped" at least once per day. Top becomes bottom and bottom becomes top.

The weeks have flown by, and I can honestly say...

The weeks have flown by, and I can honestly say that this process has not been as physically painful as I anticipated! Admittedly, I am a huge wimp, and I was convinced that I had signed up for the worst pain of my life, but I caused myself a lot of undue fear. In hindsight, the pain from having my tonsils removed was worse than this… or even the complicated (vaginal) birth of my fist son. The first 5 days post-op were a little rough, but I had my great friends, Percocet and Zofran, to help me deal with the pain. And for the weeks since, I only use Advil or Robax for back pain, some evenings before bed. I am pleasantly surprised with my “pain rating”, and I would describe this as mostly uncomfortable –not painful. Ironically, recovery has still felt long and been far more mentally and emotionally challenging than I was prepared for.

Prior to surgery, I tried to inform myself of the recovery process, but I could not find any two recovery stories that were the same. Some women were back to the gym after 3 weeks, and others were still swelling and tired after 3 months. (A good friend suggested that I will encounter as many different TT recovery stories as I would pregnancy and labour stories –spot on.) My PS gave me a few guidelines and couple strict rules (which also differ with every surgeon) for movement and exercise. I decided that I would not risk wrecking my new tummy and abide by the 3 months no soccer, no yoga rule, but completely expected that I would be bouncing back to my desk at the office after a generous 4 weeks of rest! Ha…ha…ha…joke’s on me.

Four weeks post-op, I am taking an additional 2 week leave from work. There is no way that I could “bounce” anywhere… I am still not walking upright! Also, I am still wearing my abdominal binder (as prescribed), and I am swelling like a soggy marshmallow… Maybe it is a combination of all of the above, but I am not permitted, nor would I want to, wear stretchy yoga pants, flip flops and baggy tees to work. Truth be told, I am less than impressed to leave the house like this… especially considering my post-op activities do not include sport or yoga! (I did manage to squeeze into my “old, fat, pms jeans” for ONE day.) Despite my discontentment, I still go out almost every day, to walk, or run small errands. People gawk, I accomplish only half of what I need to, and I come home very tired. Few friends are privy to my procedure, and my griping may be exhausting the ones that are. I read a post from someone who had TT same day as I, and she is doing track laps, weights and cardio… I am so impressed, and I wanted to say congrats, but I found myself bawling for hours, and avoiding RealSelf for a week. I am not accustomed to feeling so vulnerable and weak, I feel less than pretty, I may be lonely and my serotonin levels are down. I miss “life” :(

I am usually confident and mildly unemotional, so I am chalking this all up to post-op blues that will pass in time. I hope to reclaim my body, mind and that sense of accomplishment… SOON!

It has been 4 weeks since my last review update; I...

It has been 4 weeks since my last review update; I am now 8 weeks post-op. I have already spent one-sixth of my year in “Swell Hell”, and according to my PS, I will likely endure another month or two!

I have changed my review from “worth it” to “undecided”. Initially, I was thrilled to have all my loose, saggy, wrinkly skin removed and the idea of NOT tucking my tummy flap into my panties was beyond exciting. I thought that the trials and pains of recovery would be worth it. But nearly 2 months after my TT, I still have not seen the worth. Prior to surgery, people would comment about how slender I was, and nobody would guess that I was sporting an atrocious mommy tummy. Now post surgery, I actually look like I have a bun in the oven... and unfortunately, I cannot hide my “new” tummy in my panties.

I expressed my concern to PS at my 6 week check up. My PS did consider my swelling to be “extreme”, as he sees it in only 10-15% of his patients. However he was not concerned and insisted that this type of Lymphederma will subside... in time... said I need to be patient. ((UGH!)) I also asked him if my tummy will even be tight when all this swelling is gone. He basically said that my tummy will be flat, but never tight. Apparently the damage to my skin is irreversible and “tight tummy” is impossible. The skin is so thin and overstretched and it has no elasticity anymore. How sad will that be if the wrinkles return?

As a side note, I have planned a Vegas vacation to include sun and shopping in 2 weeks. (A Canadian luxury LOL) But now, I will NOT be wearing a swimsuit of any kind, nor will I be inclined to take advantage of buying cute labels that will not fit. I will take a suitcase full of jersey knit tanks and leggings...bleh!

Pre surgery, I relished the idea of wearing a crop top to Bikram yoga, or a bikini at the beach – I haven’t bared my belly since I was about 12 years old, so this is a long time coming. It seems that I was so fixated on my destroyed tummy that I completely failed to notice or admit the magnitude of my (hip) stretch marks... most of which are still very large and noticeable and not for display with a bikini or crop top. So... if I am still not inclined to bare my tummy after spending $9000 + 6 weeks salary, and months of limited lifestyle, what is the worth?

I really hope that this is all just a lack of patience and possible ignorance on my behalf; I would love to confidently say my TT was “worth it!”

 

Calgary Plastic Surgeon

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 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
3 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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