I lost 120 lbs and have kept it off for over a...
One month out and feeling nervous!
Two weeks to go!
"labs normal, cleared for surgery"
My story up til now...
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...
I can't believe this is me!
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.
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…
Just a quick update…
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…
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…
16 week update, what a change!
A couple of more pix
Five month update- probably the last one for a while
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.
Sorry, ladies. I can't help you.
He looked at me like this was the craziest question anyone has ever asked him. Then he said "what do you mean? Post-operatively?" I said "yeah, most people swell a lot."
Apparently, he is not aware of swell hell and if it exists, there can't be THAT many people who experience it. So, it is safe to say most of his patients don't swell. Why? I guess we will never know. Sorry I can't give you guys the magic answer here.
Here are my "professional" pix!
The list of supplies I REALLY needed for my TT and why
Recliner: yes, I purchased a recliner AND it was very helpful to me. Essential, I would say. BUT... you must also know I had been looking for a reason to buy this recliner for a long time :) I think if you can borrow one, or get a cheap one from the charity shops that maybe doesn't match your decor, but can just get rid of it (maybe give it back to the charity shop after :), you will find that helpful. Now this was helpful for ME. I had to sleep in a V shape for almost a month. In the recliner, I just had to put pillows under my knees. If I was in my bed, I would have a bunch of pillows bunching up in places under my back, I'd be slouching and uncomfortable reading books or watching TV. Plus, I was slow to get out of bed and if the doorbell rang or the dog needed to go potty (time-sensitive issues), the recliner was right next to the front door. It was already going to take longer due to the severely cold winter and I had to get bundled up. So, a recliner was BIG for me. Recliner: essential
Button-front nightshirts, zip-up hoodies, front-clasp sports bras (I hate being braless), yoga pants a size larger than normal, and some brief-style (granny) panties. I also had some fuzzy, warm slipper socks, just cuz they make me feel pampered a little :) I already owned a Slanket, I liked to cuddle up in that, but you know, any blankie will do. Easy on/off clothes and blankets: Essential.
I got a TV tray to go next to my recliner, it had all my meds, a little clock, a bottle of water, all the remotes, a place where I could charge my phone. Snacks like graham crackers, fruit snacks or an apple or some clementines (fruits that don't need refrigeration), so I had food to eat with my pain meds. TV tray: Very helpful.
I got a walker on Craigslist for $20, I would say this had limited usefulness. I used it for maybe two days. It helped me get off the toilet and out of my chair, but I could have really skipped that one. Walker: not helpful
I did buy a shower chair. I thought it made things easier, especially having my drains pinned around my neck. It made it less likely that I'd turn around fast or make a sudden move and yank on one of the drains. Plus, I was at a 45-degree angle and that made my lower back hurt a lot. Sitting was nicer. The other thing I liked about it, was that even when it was okay for me to take a shower normally, I could sit in my chair and have the water wash over me and just relax. I love taking baths to relax, but that would be impossible for a while, so this was the next best thing. Shower chair: very nice for the sake of comfort. Essential? Probably not, but comfort is a big thing for a lot of people.
For the first 10 days, my husband was with me, after that I was all alone. For the next two weeks, I had my normal pet sitter come every other day to scoop the cat boxes, spend time with the cats and maintain their food and clean out and refill their bowls. That would have been ALL bending over, and bending over was super painful, so I am glad Amy was willing to come over (well, I paid, it wasn't generosity lol). I did have to take care of the dog myself, though. What I found invaluable was a one-handed, long handled poop scoop, so I didn't have to bend over and pick up his droppings, again, no bending. Help with the pets: essential
As far as laxative, I started taking MiraLax a few days pre-op and was on a (surgeon-required) liquid diet two days pre-op (and that REALLY cleaned me out). I still ended up constipated. I took Milk of Magnesia, and that didn't help, I was still uncomfortable for a day and a half, so I took what I thought was the "sure thing" (I often call it the "nuclear option" lol) magnesium citrate. Those are the safer kind of laxative that add water to your stool and pass it out by making it softer. But those did not work, and now I was in quite a bit of pain, so I sent my husband out for a stimulant laxative - the kind that forces your colon to contract and push stuff out - pretty harsh on your body. The most famous of the stimulant laxatives being Ex-Lax, which finally did the trick! Laxatives: I think we all know they are ESSENTIAL!
My belly button had started to ooze and it became slightly infected, so a box of 50 2"x2" gauze squares and a roll of paper tape were helpful. A couple of little first-aid supplies: helpful
The stuff I did not get was any of the bromelain, arnica montana, bio-oil, expensive scar treatments, silicone strips or pads, turmeric, homeopathic, natural remedies, etc. The silicone pads show the most promise for scar treatment, but too expensive for me to justify getting it. And I didn't want to wear scar strips or pads for that long. All the stuff in that list: didn't get any so unhelpful to me YMMV
I did NOT buy any compression garments, which turned out to be a really wise choice for me. My Plastic Surgeon took me out of my surgical binder after three weeks and told me not to use any type of CG. I have seen some reviews from PS that they do not use any binder or anything at all post-op, so if you are going to shell out serious dough on those things, make sure you need them. Compression garments: unnecessary (because my doctor said so).
My binder started to annoy me after about a week, because it kept bunching up in places. I tried to put a t-shirt between it and my skin and I hated that even more. So, I just had to ride it out. Long T-shirt for between binder and skin: not useful, but I didn't buy one, I used my husband's t-shirt
I have been rubbing Aveda Caribbean Essentials body creme and Aveda Beautifying Composition on my scar after every shower (I have always done that, I just put extra on the scar). Can't say with any degree of certainty that they made a difference (but I am super soft :) But now, I have one inch sections of my scar that have totally faded to white/flesh tone. Aveda stuff: necessary if you want to be soft and smell good :)
Just remember when you see these lists of things that some people are having a mini-TT, full-TT, TT with no MR, TT with lipo, or an extended-TT or body lift, so it stands to reason that not everybody will all need the same things. Some people are having a large amount of skin taken off and have significant muscle separation, so that will make things different. I had moderate muscle separation and had about a pound of skin taken off, for my reference. There are also a lot of people getting the "Mommy Makeover," so if you aren't having any breast surgery there are things you may not need as well.
These are not "one size fits all" surgeries, so the supplies you need are also not standard for everyone. Think about that before you invest in things you do not need. Check reviews of people having a very similar surgery to yours (with your same body type, if they've had kids or not, etc.) and that will probably give you the best idea. Who wants to waste money when you are already paying thousands of dollars for the procedure in the first place? Research: invaluable
Ink to distract, not cover…
Here are some new pix
(I see some of my pictures are uploading really low-res, I might have to re-post)
Holy Crap, my whole update got erased!
I guess that's it. All good, super happy I did it, if you're reading this in a Norco-induced haze, just look at me a year later all walking upright and in pre-op jeans!
I always kind of wondered about some of the people on here. I wonder if what I am really like matched to what you thought, so I thought a video send-off would be fun! You guys have made this journey wonderful! Thanks! xx
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 made a great choice. The Iowa Clinic Plastic Surgery is a very technologically advanced facility and the check-in process is very smooth, as is the payment process. Lakeview Surgery Center is also a great facility and it's not cold and clinical and all of the staff are really great and you can tell they care about you. From start to finish, having Dr. Yen do my surgery was a great experience.