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Thrilled with my results!

I lost 120 lbs and have kept it off for over a...

I lost 120 lbs and have kept it off for over a year and a half now. Unfortunately, like a lot of people with substantial weight loss, I have excess skin on my abdomen. I have wanted a tummy tuck for a while, but it took me a while to find a surgeon I was comfortable with and to save up the $7,750 for the procedure. Well I am about a month out, and I am getting nervous about it. My husband in an over-the-road truck driver and he has a week off to take care of me. His company will let him have longer off, but for the sake of a paycheck, we are hoping a week is enough. I don't have friends or family close by (about an hour's drive away), so I fret about being able to take care of myself after he goes back on the road. I was able to get three weeks off of work though. I am just stressed about the healing and the pain and going under general anesthesia and all that. I am hoping to find support in the community. My friends and family have been really supportive, but it would be nice to get support from those who have been there. I look forward to getting to know more of you!

One month out and feeling nervous!

I decided to take and add some pics. I am 5' 3" tall and currently 121 lb. I know it can be helpful to try and imagine yourself, so I thought I'd add some stats for your own reference.

Two weeks to go!

I have my pre-op physical this Friday and I have gotten pretty much all the supplies I think I will need, but maybe as I peruse this site, I will find more things that I need! I am so appreciative of the support and information provided on this website. I am more excited than nervous now. I have read others' reviews and I have seen all the before and after pictures people post, so now I am going to extensively document the before and afters so I can maybe help others out too. Can't wait for the 5th!

"labs normal, cleared for surgery"

I had my pre-op physical with my family doctor on Friday, I got his notes back. So, nine more days until it's time for a new me! I really can't wait and am so excited. I used to be super nervous but now I am just looking forward to the day when I can just be done with it and start healing. I have been reading a lot of reviews and looking at before and afters and it just makes me feel even better about what I am doing. It took me five years to lose 120 lb and now it is time for me to enjoy the fruits of my labors. I am getting the kind of TT which also tightens the inner thighs, so I decided to take/post some more pictures. These are my "before" pictures in size 4 jeans. I am going to take afters in the same jeans. My first pics have my thighs in them, but I decided to put one more up.

My story up til now...

Well, first of all, after weeks of nervousness, it just kind of disappeared about a week before surgery. I had to be at the surgery center at 7 am, I went to bed at 9 pm the night before, had no troubles getting to or staying asleep, when I got to the place and I was having my IV put in and getting marked, I was like "let's do this..."

After I was marked and had my IV in, I was led down the hall to the OR, where they had a little step for me to get up on the table. The table was actually not cold and metal like I thought it would be. I was laying on a warmed air pillow, so that really helped me relax. The nurses and the anesthesiologist were warm and friendly, then... BOOM! I woke up with a binder on! I didn't need much pain medication in my IV, the nurses called me a "rock star." :) I was supposed to stay overnight at the ASC, but I really wanted to go home. My IV had come out, so they were just giving me oral pain meds, which I can do on my own. They made sure I could eat and urinate, then I took a walk up and down the hallway and Dr. Yen cleared me to go home.

The hour long car ride home was pretty brutal. I was in a lot of pain when I got home. I got in my recliner and there I sat... for six days. I am not kidding you, I only got up to go to the bathroom. If I wanted a drink or dropped something on the floor, I texted my husband in the other room and he took care of it. It actually hurt to shout, so we had to go the tech route when i needed things. Getting up and down was (and still is) pretty painful. I pretty much slept in a drug-induced haze for my time in the recliner.

I took the pain meds for about five days, and decided to go off them. Wow, what happened next was AWFUL! I was constipated and having horrific stabbing gas pains for one whole day. I had been taking MiraLax, I tried Milk of Magnesia, but then I decided it was time to pull out the big guns - ExLax. Whew, it worked! I don't think I have ever been so grateful to go to the bathroom :D

I went to my PS six days post-op and got my drains out. I only showered twice with my drains in and the ASC gave me a handy lanyard to pin my drains to for that purpose. Thanks, Lakeview Surgery Center! I shower on the shower chair still. I am still walking bent over and you would be surprised about how tiring taking a shower can actually be.

Getting the drains out was a relief. They were stitched into my groin and starting to pinch a lot. It did not hurt to have my drains pulled, it felt really weird though. My belly button had started oozing and Dr. Yen was concerned about that, so he ordered another round of Keflex for me.

On day 7, I decided to go for a short drive. Getting into and out of the SUV is really challenging. I went to the local delicatessen all hunched over and hobbling. I was sore after my drive home.

Today is day 8. I am not having so many problems getting out of the recliner, I kind of give myself momentum rocking first, getting in and out of bed is harder. I got a walker from Craigslist for $20 and I use it to steady and pull myself out of bed. The walker was really handy, because you really cannot use your abs. It was helpful to get off the toilet too, but now I am okay with that.

Yesterday, before my husband went back on the road, I had him take some progress pictures for me. When I looked at them, I was like: "wow." I am REALLY happy with the results and when the swelling goes away, I am going to LOVE my new body. I thought I would share them with you now. Thanks for reading!

(My belly skin looks kind of crepey still. It just the imprint of the binder against my skin)

The absolute worst part of the tummy tuck healing...

My lap dog can no longer lounge in my lap. Look at how upset he is!

I can't believe this is me!

I am 15 days post-op and I can't believe the befores and afters! I am really glad I got this surgery. The expense, the pain... it was all worth it. What I can't believe is this is only the beginning. Not all of the swelling has dissipated. Looking forward to a few months from now. I go back to work on Monday. I am totally ready, got cabin fever :)


Well, today I got ahead of myself. I had been taking it in baby steps, not overdoing it. But I was feeling really good, so I spent the afternoon having lunch with friends and then had a kind of spa day. It involved laying back at the hairdresser's sink at the salon. I basically took a long drive and made a day of it. This was after I had only been running an errand here and there.

My abs started cramping. I can't walk upright anymore. The thing is, I didn't swell. I really don't have issues with swelling for some reason. But… now I am back sleeping in the recliner with pillows under my knees, I have taken painkillers, when I haven't taken them since day 5 PO. And being the brilliant person I am, did this the day before I go back to work. I don't work a lot of hours, but they are standing hours and now I'm crunched over. I saw my coworkers on Saturday and I looked and felt totally fine. I was glad for that, because I did not tell them what my surgery was for, even though they kept hinting around they wanted to know. Now I'm going to show up to work ailing and have to deflect all the questions. Suck!

Well I have learned my lesson. This is a holiday week, so I'm not working a lot of hours. I'm going to go back to week one activities, being camped in the recliner all the time, getting in some activity, but really limiting myself. I guess it's back to me, the TV, and the Investigation Discovery channel. Learn from my mistake. Take it easy, even if you feel really good, remember it was MAJOR surgery. I feel like an idiot.

Still thrilled…

Well, today I had my 4 week post-op appointment today. Dr. Yen said I didn't have to wear my binder anymore and I'm not graduating to any compression garments either. Totally free! A great thing happened to me. I wore a very form fitting dress for my first non-binder outing and someone commented on how flat my tummy was! I NEVER dreamed I could love it this much! I included angles to show you that my tummy isn't board flat. There's still a curve to it, which I like. As I was recovering, the Miss Universe competition came on and I noticed them in their swimsuits. I noticed hardly any of them had a completely flat abdomen, they mostly had this nice womanly curve to them. I had hoped I would have a belly like them… and I do! I like ALL of the curves Dr. Yen gave me. I am also probably the only person in the RealSelf forum that likes the slitty belly button. Lol. I don't feel the need to do the "marble trick" or anything.

You might also notice that my scar gets a little thicker and higher right above my pubic area. Since my belly was numb, I didn't realize that I had been pulling the incision apart. I didn't realize it until I went in for my first post-op appointment. Then when it was brought to my attention, I was having a really hard time modifying how I was moving/laying, so I kept pulling it. What you see is the result of that. The scabs on that part of my incision took about a week and a half longer to fall off than the rest of my scabs. It was really thick.

I was really thin, all the way into my early 30's - but my body was not perfect. I'm 40, and I'm thin again, but my body is not, nor will it ever be, perfect. This imperfect body is the one I have been happiest in though, even with the stretch marks, and the scar, and… I don't know if you can see it or not, but even with a tiny leftover corner of a tattoo that used to reside on my belly pre-surgery.

I think we all want perfection, but I hope if you don't get perfection, you will settle for happiness. Peace out.

Oh, by the way…

I bought a pair of size 2 jeans today. I'm glad that I'm only going to flatten minimally now. I think a 2 is not something I would ever complain about, and although I have a petite frame and small stature, it's really small still. People have told me that I've "lost too much weight," so I was always self-conscious of being a 4. It seemed to be independent confirmation that, yes everyone, I have lost too much weight. Now I am a 2, but I actually have not lost any more weight. Only a little weight was taken off and I gained it all back over Thanksgiving (yum!) about 2 lbs. So, hey, naysayers! I didn't lose ANY weight at all! I need to ignore those people. I'll never go to a zero. I'll just eat my way back into a 2. Nom nom nom! No sample size for me!

Just a quick update…

I'm approximately 5 weeks post-op. I feel really good, can cough, laugh, sneeze with no problems. I can't fully go back to work until I can lift around 20 lbs. I've lifted some of the common items I would lift and I have been ok, but I picked up a box of books today and… ouch, that was one too far. I should be able to return to "full duty" by next week. I have noticed I do not tire as easily. I was concerned that I would not be able to make my hundreds of cookies I usually do for the holidays due to my tiredness, but my energy has REALLY improved, so if I play my cards right, I might be able to pull that off.

Only two people at work know what surgery I had done. One of them was like "how much weight did you lose???" Uhm… ZERO! Two weeks ago, when I weighed in, I had lost 1.4 lbs from before surgery. Then there was Thanksgiving, annnnd… well, I weigh exactly the same as I did before the surgery. I never asked my PS how much weight he took off. I can't imagine it was more than a few pounds. I like the way I look, I'm not worried about a number on a scale. Obviously, I don't want it to creep up and up. I weigh every week and watch what I eat closely, so I tend to nip gains in the bud. This is what I weighed in college, but I am 2 sizes smaller.

My husband is coming home from the road on Christmas Eve, so we will have a family holiday and hopefully a little bow-chicka-wow-wow ;) since he has been on the road since my surgery, that's quite a dry spell!

I think that's the whole update from me. I feel really great. The worst part is that I always feel like there is something heavy setting on my abdomen- it's from the numbness, of which there is a lot. It is getting better- very slowly and gradually, but the numbness is my biggest complaint. I wish I could take a bath too! The thing is that I still have my shower chair, so I can relax a little and let the water flow over me and it is an okay relaxing experience, since I can't soak just yet.

I got some of this stuff called Scarguard. I'm hoping it will help with the redness- especially where I pulled the incision apart. You know, I expected the hip-to-hip incision, but what's really bothering me are these wound marks in my pubic area where the drains were! I'm normally bare down there and I was kind of excited for the lift the lady got, but there are these awful purple marks where the drains came out and there are even dots where the stitches were! I hope Scarguard helps those as well.

That is all for me. I hope you have had and will have Happy Holidays. :)

See you 'round the forum!

Found pix of me in college…

College was a LONG time ago. I worked out like CRAZY in college. At least two hours a day, seven days a week. I had 11% body fat. So, I found pictures of me in a bathing suit from back then… and I now have the belly I had in college again! So, basically, Dr. Yen gave me the absolute best result that was possible. If you are in the Des Moines area, I say give The Iowa Clinic plastic surgery department a call. Not only did I get awesome results, this was the least expensive of all three estimates I got.

Swell Purgatory…

Well, I have not updated in a while, not much to report, really. I have had some bouts with swelling lately. I did not post any pictures of my swelling, because I think everybody would be like "boo-hoo, I WISH that was my swelling!" lol I still fit into all my clothes and everything, it's just a very uncomfortable and "heavy" feeling in my abdomen. I've taken to wearing my binder to bed, because when I lay on my side the heavy feeling is exaggerated and it makes sleep difficult. My binder sure has seen better days, but it works still.

My sleep schedule was REALLY thrown off by my recovery. You know, sleeping all day in a chair, sleeping on and off throughout the day. I have always had problems with sleep and that has been the most difficult part of getting back to normal. My doctor says to exercise more and that will help my sleep. So far, I have not been following that advice. :)

My husband came home from the road for the first time since my surgery on Christmas Eve. Uhm… I immediately injured my abs with bedroom antics. Haha. It was really freaking painful and has taken me a little while to get back to having non-achy abs. I suppose we should maybe be a little tamer the next time we try. ;)

I have been looking online at scar treatments. Vitamin E oil, Scarguard, silicone sheets, Mederma. I think the only studies that have true merit are for the silicone sheets, but I don't wanna wear those. I tried Scarguard liquid (which also has silicone in it), but it doesn't stick to my skin very well. No matter how I clean my skin, I have made sure not to use moisturizing soaps or moisturizer on the scar and wait the appropriate amount of time after application. Still, it peels right off. So, I guess that one is not for me.

Most of these studies say that the likely cause of scar improvement is keeping it moist. Like it's not the Vitamin E in the Vitamin E oil, it's actually the oil helping out. So, I came up with my own idea for a scar treatment that I will be trying out. Aveda has this stuff called "Beautifying Composition" oil. It's SUPER great at moisturizing and it doesn't leave an oil slick on your skin, it absorbs right in. Like all Aveda stuff, it's made of botanical extracts. Are any of these extracts supposed to work on scars? Not that I know of. It's just a long term great moisturizing product (that smells wonderful), so I decided I will put that on my scar. I will admit that I believe that if I put nothing on my scar, it would end up the same as if I tried scar treatments. Just hoping to maybe speed it along some. So we will see if my own remedy will help that along.

When I get scars, such as the purplish-colored one that adorns my lower abdomen currently, they tend to stick around for a while. I would say past what is considered a normal healing time for most. I also bruise very easily and it takes a long while for those to fade as well. So, I'm just like "what could it hurt?" with the Beautifying Composition. The bonus with that product is that you can use it as a bath oil, massage oil, scalp treatment (try that with Scarguard!), so I'm not really out anything if it doesn't work. I'll probably take some periodic pictures to document my process and post them.

Well, tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I hope everybody has a safe and happy New Year and that great things happen for you in 2014! You are starting off the year with a new you, roll that into a whole year of positives!

Sometimes I have looked in the mirror and thought "oh… I wish I got lipo…" or "maybe I should have done the whole Mommy Makeover," or I'm poking at something I consider an "imperfection," instead of looking at how far I have come. It is kind of a thinking trap to improve one thing and by doing so, make another undesirable thing stand out more in your head. If you "fixed" that, then it might be that yet another thing is a glaring error. I'm all for body modifications, I've had the tummy tuck, I've got tattoos and piercings… I think it's great as long as you're not chasing some unrealistic ideal in your head. You have to get to a point where you're happy. I vacillate between happy and wanting the unrealistic ideal. I know that soon, I will stop being so silly and be like "helloooo? You look great now for someone who lost 120 lbs!" And I actually REALLY lucked out because in losing the weight, my boobs went from DD's to B's and they do not sag AT ALL. I'll focus on that stuff and stop wanting the lady on the magazine cover.

Because there is no plastic surgery procedure called the "Full Photoshop."

Celebrate responsibly, my fellow RealSelfers!

Quick update at 10 weeks…

I am 10, almost 11 weeks out. I wanted to post a before & after in the same jeans.

16 week update, what a change!

This picture is me now compared to my last pic, which was about 8 weeks ago. Flatter all the time! I'm super satisfied with my results. I have resumed intensive core workouts, but I don't go past the limits of my body. Next doctor appointment in May, but will update before then. :)

A couple of more pix

I thought a front view and one of my scar should be posted. Dr. Yen really sculpted my waist and I think my scar is average. It has gotten lighter.

Five month update- probably the last one for a while

So I got my Tummy Tuck 4 months and 27 days ago. It was the most painful thing I've done. I went from dreading having to go to the bathroom, spending my days in the recliner in a Norco-induced haze, to bring severely constipated from said Norco. I went through two rounds of antibiotics, one of which gave me a nasty yeast infection. I wore a binder for three weeks, covered by yoga pants and a zip-up sweatshirt. When the binder came off, I looked at my progress in the mirror and was like "WOW! This was all worth it!" I was super happy at that flatness. Now I'm like "REALLY WOW! This was all worth it!" I went from struggling to walk, to the simplest task making me exhausted, to now working out six days a week with no problems. I used to wince if I had to bend over, getting in and out of bed was a huge challenge. Now I do a complete core workout, even with weights. I did not battle swelling very much, I don't know why. I understand I was lucky that way.

I'm out $7,750, but I would spend it again for this.

It didn't just make my body look better - it made me feel better about myself, gain more confidence, see myself as sexy again. When people say "why spend so much just to look nicer in clothes?" They do not realize the effect it has. Yes, I wanted to wear t-shirts that didn't have to be baggy, I wanted to wear dresses that didn't have to have ruching in the middle to cover the bulge, I did not want a muffin top anymore. I got all that, but I also gained confidence in myself again, and a more cheerful disposition. When I walk by the mirror, I think "you look good!" Before, I always thought "ugh." I was seriously fixated on my belly. When I was in the bathtub, I thought "gross." Every single picture of myself that I saw, the first thing I noticed was the bulge in the middle, or I was upset that I lost so much weight, but still had to wear baggy clothes. What was all that work for? So when people think a tummy tuck (or any other cosmetic surgery for that matter), is for the sake of vanity, they don't understand the shift it makes in your self-image. Your confidence.

I am posting pictures of my progress from beginning to end, starting with the before. I have one set in underwear, and another set in the famous size 4 jeans. The bottom one on that shows how big they are on me now.

I want to thank the RS Community for your comments and support. I want to thank everyone who posted their messages of support and comfort on the "November 2013 Tummy Tuckers Check-in Here!" message board, especially mainemom, my Nov 5 buddy :) I pop in on that board now and again, but I'm mostly a lurker. I'll be back to post on the one year post TT forum next November. I'm sure I'll post here and there at one time or another, and I will update my review at that milestone.

But I think I've done all I can do here for now. The results of my surgery are complete. There won't be any progress past this stage, so regular updates are unnecessary.

Good luck to anyone considering this procedure. If you've got yours scheduled, don't sweat it! I know you are nervous about the scar and the pain, but you will make it through the pain - it doesn't last forever. And the scar? It's just part of my body now, it doesn't phase me to look at it. I do have ink now, and I plan on getting a tattoo on my side soon. People ask "don't you want the tattoo to cover up your scar?" Hell no! It's a badge of honor for me. I worked hard to lose my weight and I went through the pain and healing from this major surgery, I'm badass, and that's one badass scar! Gives me character! It's a symbol of the start of a better and happier me, inside and out. I'm not covering it up.

If you're considering it, I say do it! But do it for the right reasons - never because your boyfriend or your best friend says you'd look better if your gut was gone. Do it for you. And pick the RIGHT plastic surgeon, one you "click" with, one with a good portfolio, a good reputation, a good education, and board certification. And talk to more than one of them. I know it is tempting to just try and find someone who can do it for the cheapest price, but would you shop around for discount brain surgery? Probably not. So keep that in mind. Go for quality, not price.

Have a nice year, everyone. I will look forward to reading your reviews and updates.

West Des Moines Plastic Surgeon

I found Dr. Yen to be really personable. He explained things to me in detail and was attentive and answered all of my questions. He has a great "bedside manner." I did not feel rushed. I have contacted his staff a couple of times and they have been friendly and helpful and have gotten back to me quickly. I had two consultations with other surgeons prior to Dr. Yen and I really didn't feel comfortable or at ease with them. Dr. Yen put me at ease right away, and I am impressed with his education, with the satisfaction his other patients have expressed, and his portfolio. I think I made a great choice.

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Comments (78)

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Your results are amazing. You look incredible!
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Thank you!
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You look great!!!!
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Thank you!
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I love your transformation both inside and out. You look wonderful! I feel so much more confidant about myself too. I love, love, love looking at my flat belly. I wish I could have done it 20 years ago, but happy I was able to last November! Talk to ya in the fall. Blessings to you this year!
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The difference is amazing, isn't it? Thank you for your kind comments.
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You look amazing!! Congrats on your 5 month milestone. Right now I'm suffering from "foreveritis" at 2 weeks PO. Recovery has been smooth, but at this point I wonder if I'll ever feel normal again.
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Thank you! You totally will feel normal again. Hang in there!
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You look great! I know I should workout more and your pics give the incentive!
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Wow, your swelling has really gone down! When do you think you saw the most improvement?
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It has been VERY gradual. I actually didn't realize how much the swelling went down until I updated my review. There wasn't like a big, drastic change and now all my pants are too big or something. At 4 weeks, Dr. Yen said I would continue to get flatter, but not so much that other people would notice. I didn't even notice! So it's been very very gradual.
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That is good to know. And true for a lot of us, I think. I still deal with swelling on an almost daily basis, but........at four weeks, heck even 10, I couldn't think of wearing my post op jeans and now I can, except on bad days. So it does happen. It's just painfully slow. lol.
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You look really good.
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Thank you!
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The 4 week and 16 week difference is amazing!
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I was wondering how you were doing! Good to hear everything is well, but sorry you're dealing with swelling. I hope it is a non issue for all of us sooner rather than later!
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I love your results! Look great!!
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Thank you very much!
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I had my surgery on November 6! Yay for us! Don't worry about the redness in your scar. It's called 'scar maturation' and by month 8, (yes MONTH) ,you will see it start to turn white. I'm only using cocoa butter on mine. Anyway, great results! You look awesome! Oh, and I didn't have a problem with swelling much either (except the pubic area which is still resolving itself).
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Yeah… I figure I will have the redness probably for a lot longer than most people. Generally, if I have gotten a scar that turned out purplish-red, it has taken a really long time to fade. People will say "what happened?" I'll say "you remember! It's from when I walked into the bureau!" Then they go "you can STILL see that???" Bruises tend to stick around longer as well. I'm not too bothered. It's not like people see it in the normal course of the day. Thanks for the compliment!
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Glad you are doing so great, Dayna!
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Thanks, mainemom!
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U look wonderful! Cant wait until I am able to go back to normal
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