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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Comments (80)

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Hi: I'm hoping you will answer as I noticed you haven't posted in a while. I have chosen Dr. Perron as my surgeon for a TT. I am the same weight a you (128 pounds) and 5'4". I ams worried, nervous, anxious, and ready to pick up the phone to cancel one day, but brave the next to go through with it. I am wondering if you are thinking it is "worth it" as you weren't too sure last time you posted. Thank-you : ). (If you don't answer, I'm thinking to PM you, but do not want to bother you at all.)
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*"am" not "ams" :-P
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hi I was wondering if they have any payment plan or you have to have the cash at front ? Im desperate but not much money lol
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Hi I noticed that you used the gelzone wrap for your scar treatment. Can you tell me how that worked for you. I have read some reviews were users state they sweat a lot or got a rash and it was very itcy. How were your results, how long does it last and how long did you were it? Thanks for your response.
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How are you feeling? I have been thinking of your swelling issues. Have you tried the Arnica? Any luck? I have to admit when I start to swell at the end of the day its the most uncomfortable thing in the world, I now share your pain lol I hope things are well in your corner! How was Vegas?
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jtaylor, your post op belly looks alot like mine. My PS assures me it will be flat in time! I am giving it a good year! At least it's way better than before!!
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You are NOT alone ! After I read your story it helped me to know there are others that are feeling what I'am. All I keep reading and seeing are these wonderful stories of tummy tucks gone GOOD. I'm 14 days out and I'm still not that impressed with my results, but I continue to hold on to hope that as the time passes it WILL get better. I have swelling just like you, except I feel like I'm not equally proportioned. (I've always been short waisted but know it's worse) there is not much space from my incision to my belly button? It SO red and there are blisters on my incision line?? I see my PS on Thurs. So hopefully he can shed some light on the situation. Hang in there and keep in touch with me! I'll be praying for both of us!!
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Hi Honey ... as much as I want to say, don't worry, everything will turn out fine, you are not in that space right now. I am having my struggles too. Initially, I just wanted a flatter tummy and wanted to look good in a one piece, because I knew going into this that I would still have stretchmarks on my tummy. I could have had a full TT but would have ended up with a vertical scar that the PS said would be very long and most likely would come above a bikini bottom and some of the stretchmarks would still be there too, that didn't sound like a good trade off. My mind set before surgery was just to have an improvement of any kind and I was sure that would make me happy. Right after surgery I was so excited, I thought, maybe I can wear a bikini (the swelling hides my stretchmarks) as the weeks have passed, I see those indented marks and its depressing, especially in the sunshine. How can we go from so happy to disappointed in such a short time? I told my husband how I was feeling, bless his heart, he says "don't all women have stretchmarks ... its not a big deal" (um no), God love him and he loves me and is still attracted to me through all of this. I want to stop obsessing, to be satisfied with the results I have and I wish this for you too. For the record, I think your belly button is fabulous & your scar is healing so well! Once the swelling subsides, you have the rest of your life to enjoy the amazing improvement and this will be a short stop on the map of your life. Take care :)
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Susan- LOL @ hubby and stretch marks...if only!

Maybe I am just over-obsessing as well... but it’s comforting to know that I’m not alone :)
In hindsight, I may have benefited from surgery in the dead of winter, when I could hide in big sweaters, with little to no consideration of swimsuits ...hehe. Your words are encouraging and your compliments of my bb and scar feel good, thanks!

I hope things start looking up for you too! We have a warm sunny weekend in store... SMILE :D
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How are you doing???
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Aww sweetie I am so sorry your having such a hard time. I don't blame you one bit for being upset-although I hope that with time it will all be worth it!! Once your through this and your tummy is flat you can forget all about this stage!! I agree with the other ladies that Arnica helps but I have also been taking Bromelain. It comes from the pineapple and is more directly associated with reduction of swelling, whereas arnica is an all around type of homeopathic treatment for injury. My mother in law is a homeopathic nut and has been for 20 years. She highly recommended the Bromelain. I got mine at GNC and I swear by the stuff!! I started taking it twice a day the first week after surgery and will continue to do so for quite a while. I also bought a large icepack and use that as soon as I get home from work at 4:30 for 20-30 minutes and again for 20-30 minutes around 10pm-right before bed. It feels amazing and also helps with the swelling. I hope this help :)
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Thanks Spunky! I didn't seem to notice much difference when taking the Bromelain, but I know that brands and strengths might vary. I never even considered using an ice pack...duh! I am definately trying that on my tummy tonight. I often get painfully swollen by dinner :(

I hope all is well with you Spunky... I will check your recovery prgress soon.
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I was just going to post about the Arnica but Sunnygirl beat me to it. I did the test as well and it does make a difference. Even the strength made a difference. Get the 30c not 30x strength. The brand I bought was Boiron and you can also get it online at Amazon. Do you have a flatter tummy in the morning when you wake up? If so, that is what your tummy will look like when everything has settled down and healed on the inside. Hang in there...I'm right there with you at 9 weeks!
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Mom2Four, thanks for the advice. I am going to try to find Arnica today... although this week is better than last, I am still crazy swelling. I have only recently noticed that my tummy is flatter in the morning. But it is not completely flat, but quite uneven. My left side has a noticable bulge (?)

I hadn't realized that our surgery dates were so close.... how are you feeling?
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I'm feeling pretty much what everyone else around 9-10 weeks is feeling...swollen, sore around belly button...impatient! I have a noticeable bulge on my right side and my PS said it could be that one side of abdominals can be stronger (?) Not sure about that one but we'll just continue to try to be patient :o/
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Long time since you've been on, I've been wondering what you have been up to and how you have been. Your tummy does look fantastic, I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way yet, but it will. Think positive, it does a lot for the healing and overall spirit! For the swelling, have you considered taking Arnica Tablets? I found a suggestion and started taking them prior to surgery and let me tell you, they seem to get rid of all the puffiness that sometimes comes from eating the wrong foods (higher salt content). When I stopped (a little test) my swelling came right back! Why not give it a shot? The only place I was able to find them was a local health food store (sangsters) everyone else looked at me like I was nuts! There are different doses and I opted for the stronger dose. 2 weeks in Vegas will be amazing and all the sun will really help your spirit. All we’ve had lately is rain! We did get some sunshine yesterday with the announcement of the NHL moving back to Winnipeg, but now we are back to rain and dark clouds!!! Keep your head up and in no time you will be rockin the crop tops and the bikini! You just need time :)
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Hey Sunny! Good to hear from you... your posts always make me smile
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omg! I wrote a long reply Sunny... and only posted top line :(

Abbridged re-write: Your positive spirit is gonna help tons with a speedy recovery. I am soooo excited for you! I will be thinking about you on Tues (as I soak up some Vegas heat :P) and I plan to check in on you when I return. Good luck :D

Hitting up Sangsters today for Arnica. Thanks for info, I haven't had any luck finding, and wasn't sure of the worth. I hope it helps, I am 9+ wks PO now and dying for some swell relief. Admittedly, this week has been the best in many, so things might finally be looking up for me.

Hope you're getting more sun than E-Town

YAY Winnipeg (Jets)!
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Your tummy is looking very nice though! It can be a struggle with the swelling.
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Thanks L... it's just tough for me to see right now. On the bright side of life; I am still NOT smoking!! I'm gonna check your review to see how recovery is going for you.
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Glad your not smoking that is awesome!!!! Keep up the good work! One day at time for healing I guess. I swell bad when I eat salty stuff and spend time in the sun! Hope you feel better soon.
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I just read your story. Im usually on the mommy make over forum instead of the TT forum so Ive missed your posts. We are close to the same op day. I read your discouragement and frustration and my heart goes out to you. I want to say that from my perspective your results look fantastic. The incision is one of the lowest Ive seen. I can see the swelling but even with that you have more curves than pre op and only better results to look forward too. Drink tons of water. This can help with swelling. Arnica helps for some. Watch salt. And most of all trust your body to heal, and do something you always wanted to do with your rest time. You're a good writer and have a good story. I could see you writing a book. Keep me update.
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Faith, you are so kind, thank you! xo
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Oh girl!! I went through the EXACT same thing...word for word! I was told I could return to work after a week or 10 days...uhhh NO! I went ahead and took 6 weeks just because I had the time saved up and I could! I am so glad I did!! It took me 5+ weeks alone just to stand up straight. He did so much muscle repair on me that there's no way I could stand up straight even when I tried. A friend of mine had her TT done 3+ weeks ago and didn't have near the muscle damage I had and she stood up straight in 10 days. It's so different for everyone of us b/c we have different situations. I am 3 months out and still swelling up and down off and on. It took me about 5-6 weeks to fit into my jeans. My sides are more swollen than anything else. I am still sore right down the middle from the muscle repair. Don't get frustrated! It's going to be a long recovery but well worth it in the end!
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Thanks for the encourgement Jade :)
I did end up taking 6 weeks off work as well, and it also took til week 5 to stand straight! Unfortunately, I have insane swelling, and probably 2 sizes from fitting pre-op jeans :(

How are you doing now? You must be about 4 months PO? Are you still swelling? Experiencing any discomfort?
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