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Tummy Tuck with MR Journey - Folsom, CA

I'm a 49 year old athletic woman, with two older...

I'm a 49 year old athletic woman, with two older teens, who were both 9.5lb babies. As a result, I had some loose skin and a flabby "outie" belly button, neither of which reflected my hours and hours at the gym and in Bikram. Tired of hiding my tummy, I had determined years ago that I would have a tummy tuck for my 50th birthday. Finally, I garnered up the courage to research doctors in the area, and I found Dr Clark in Folsom. My review is below, but she is AMAZING! I had a consult on a Friday, and then, luckily, she had a TT cancellation the following Tuesday. That was perfect timing for me with my work schedule, so I paid on the spot, grabbed that surgical time, and set myself on the way to a new tummy. No regrets! It's early yet in the recovery, but I can already tell that my new tummy is going to be all I dreamed of. :)

Post Op Day 1

Well, I didn't write this review until Post Op Day 7 (POD 7), so I'll sum up the first week of my TT journey.

Day of Surgery: I was nervous all day but kept myself busy with TT-related errands. My doctor had asked me to keep the whole day open in case they were running ahead or behind of schedule, and I'm glad I did because they called around midday, asking me to come in a few hours early.
Once there, I was shown to the Surgical Suite, and then I changed into the patient gown, struggled with the paper booties, and added the surgical paper hat to my outfit. They did a pregnancy test (as they do for all female patients of child-bearing age), and then set me up with an IV of saline, gave me the Edema (prophylatically for nausea), and gave me tons of advice and support for the upcoming surgery. The doc came in, chatted, and marked me up with a pen as we discussed incision placement, process, and surgery related things.
Soon after, the anesthesiologist appeared, and gave me some "happy" juice, which, because I'm a complete lightweight, knocked me completely and quickly out.
What seemed very soon after that, but which was actually 2.5 hours I think, I woke up in the recovery room, having been there for an hour or so, with the nurse helping me into the wheelchair to go home.
I remember very little of the rest of that day. I remember a glimpse of the highway, my husband handfeeding me scrambled eggs at home, and not much else. The pain pump and the narcotics must have been working well, but I remember also that the experience wasn't completely pain-free.
That night was a blur too, with my husband helping me to the bathroom, emptying my drains, and helping me remember the meds. I remember being relieved to be on the flat side of the TT experience at last.
I didn't rent a hospital bed or recliner; instead, we just arranged a million cushions and pillows to help me sleep more upright and to support my knees. I was downstairs on the futon because the nurse had suggested that stairs might be a problem. Smart move, I think.

Post Op Day 2-3

Day 2-3: these days were pretty uncomfortable overall, with my finding it hard to move without pulling stitches, and with plenty of pain meds. I'm a lightweight with Percocet and any narcotic, so I was either groggy and awake (beginning or end of Percocet cycle) or completely out of it (middle of Percocet cycle). I eventually was able to walk to the bathroom with my husband's help but with my supporting myself for the most part, and by day 4, I was able to be more self-sufficient mobility wise.

Post Op Day 4:

I had been watching the Stryker Pain Pump balloon get increasingly deflated as the meds run out, and on Day 4, I knew I would have to remove the pump and its catheters. I was nervous about this procedure, but I knew that my husband really didn't want to get involved in this delicate process. I read over the instructions, nervously removed my compression garment, located the thin wires, and then gently pulled the catheters out and down towards my feet. The catheters were surprisingly long, and after what seemed like easily a foot of wire came out, I was done. It felt weird but not painful, and it was somewhat of a relief not to have to carry the pain pump bag around with me and to have reduced the number of wires and tubes emanating from me.
At this point too, I'm watching for bowel movements. The steady stream of pain meds resulted in some pretty painful bloating, and eventually, EVENTUALLY, the equally steady stream of Colace and Gas X worked their magic. Constipation is definitely something to look out for if you're considering a TT. Smooth Move tea works well, but I think, in retrospect, I would have gone full bore on prunes and prune juice as well as the Colace and Smooth Move. There's a delicate balance to achieve in all GI activities, however, and I wasn't moving quickly at all. The general advice seems to be take the colace, prunes, and possibly Milk of Magnesia, and at the first sign of rumbling, start walking to the bathroom.

Post Op 5-6

By this time, I've decided not to take any more Percocet; the pain is manageable on 800 mg of ibuprofen every four to six hours, and I'm tired of the grogginess and constipation associated with the Percocet. I'm getting more mobile, and I'm taking showers independently now. (Prior to this, on day 4), my husband had helped me wash my hair in the kitchen sink with the spray attachment and then guarded me ( in case I got light-headed) in my first shower on day 4, post pain pump removal.
I'm enjoying my increasing independence, mobility, and healing. I'm not painfree; if I move a certain way, stitches pull, but each day is a definite improvement. I'm driving locally now that I'm off Percocet, and that's good too. I had to run a few errands while my husband was at work, and so I drove my teenaged son around and he actually went and did the errands for me, which worked out great.

I didn't have to be cared for 24/7 for the entire last week. My husband was home the night of surgery, and then the day after, (and the days following), he had to go to work, so my friend came over with lunch and company for a few hours. Since I was immobile and sleepy for those first few days, it wasn't like I was going to need help doing too much. We managed well, with care coverage appearing every two or three hours, and I think the imposed independence helped me recover my mobility (through necessity) more quickly.

Post Op Day 7: Week One Checkup

While I'm able to drive locally, my PS is not local, so my good friend drove me up to Folsom for my week one checkup. I had had a day 2 checkup, which was fine and which my husband could take me to, so this week one checkup was the next appointment.

My doctor is great and so are the staff at her office. The medical assistant who cared for me and prepped me for the doctor visit was great; she took out my belly button (BB) stitches, cleaned up some scabs, took off my steristrips off my incision, and cleaned up those scabs too. I was surprised but relieved that the steristrips were taken off; it's good because it means that I can see the incision and that it's healing, but it's worrisome because now I can SEE the incision in all its gruesomeness and because the incision no longer has protection of the strips.
All looks well although I have a small rash just above my incision below my BB. She's not sure what it is, but usually it appears because of some reaction to the steristrips, so that's another good reason the strips were removed today. The rash looks painful but because my stomach is completely numb, I can't feel a thing there. I have to put Xeroform on the rash (yellow antiobiotic gauze) on the rash twice a day for five days, and she's confident that it will improve. Everything else looks great, according to the doctor, which is good to hear.

One BIG event from today's visit was that the nurse took out one of my drains. The criteria for removal seems to be below 25cc daily, rather than the straw color that drains eventually show in the fluids. Removal of the drain wasn't too bad at all; a little sting when the stitches holding the drain were removed, and then a definite weird feeling as once again, what seemed like feet o' tubing was gradually pulled out of my torso. A little sting at the end and it was done. I'm pretty skinny, even before the TT, so I could see and feel the tube of my right drain in my abdomen, and the nurse could watch its progress as she pulled it out. I looked away; I don't have to see EVERYTHING, I've decided.
So--I have one more drain to go; that remaining drain is still showing about 50cc of frank red bloody liquid a day, so that needs to go down signicantly before that comes out. I think that they take it out at week 2 even if it's draining more than 25cc to avoid infection? I don't know; we'll see if it's still showing >25cc at week 2.
I'm standing more and more straight each day; if standing straight is 180 degrees, then i have about 20 degrees left to achieve that. Much improved, however, and my back is not as painful from being not so hunched for those first few days. My stamina and mobility is improving each day, which is great.

Post Op Day 9

Good God; I took some photos today, and they are not pretty. I've read that the very early daysof TT recovery help you see what the future will look like in terms of flat tummy, but that since swelling peaks on days 5-8, your tummy (or at least MY tummy) does not look that great.
I took pictures of the incision and of my tummy, and I was shocked. Definitely not something I want to see close-up. I'm not squeamish, but I'm very much looking forward to when things have calmed down.
I'll upload the pics here because it's realself, after all, and they show part of the process. Here are some pointers to the pics:

The yellow tape you see on my stomach above my incision is the antibiotic tape for the rash.
The redness is from my compression garment and goes away quickly (but not, of course, before I took the pics).
The puckering of the scar fades as the scar heals.
The lower abs are pretty swollen still.
It's early in the healing process yet, and I'm confident in my body's ability to heal well and my doctor's ability to do the TT.

Pre TT pics

I'm going to see if my doc will send me copies of the pre TT pics; I don't have any myself because a) I didn't think of it and b) I haven't worn a two piece for a million years. I had some pics on my phone that I sent to my doc early in the process, but I deleted them. Does anyone know if you can retrieve deleted pics from an iPhone?

Pre TT Stats

Here's where I was pre-TT:
Age: 49
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 125-128 (I lost 40 lbs three years ago-- kept it off with diet and exercise)
Workout regime: Bikram Yoga 4-5 x wk; swim 30 mins 4-5 x wk; 300 crunches a day.
Diet: Plant-based diet/vegan. See the movie Forks Over Knives which was my inspiration for going plant-based.

Pre TT pics uploaded

Here are some pre TT pics, so you can see where I was.

PD Day 10

Phew. Just returned from my first "exercise" walk outside the house. It was just around our (small) block, and it was great to get out. It's interesting walking with a recovering TT. I have to take tiny steps, I'm hunched over, and I'm very slow. I waited until dark to walk too because, while I have some lovely neighbors, I also have some neighbors that are nosy, and I just didn't want to have to answer questions. Even though it was far from an athletic walk, it just felt great to get out and about. I'll just keep listening to my body, so I don't overdo it.

POD 11: drain problems

I'm feeling more and more self-sufficient and healing as the days go by. My drain, though, has been bothering me. My PS took my right drain out on POD 7, but the left one was still draining 45-50 (cc's? ml's?), and she'd like it to be below 30 before she takes them out. Unfortunately, now the remaining drain is sore and red, with yellow crust around the entrance, so I'm worried it's getting infected. I've emailed the doctor, so I'm waiting to hear back from her today hopefully. She's out of the office moving and with family events this week, but I hope she's still checking her emails. If I don't hear back from her today, I'll call her office tomorrow to see if someone can check my drain for me. It doesn't look like it's something I can wait on until my Week 2 appointment on Wednesday.

I'm wondering if they can take my drain out even if it's still filling with 45-50 in a 24 hour period. If they do take it out, where does that liquid go? Is it going to be absorbed by the body (hopefully), or will it leak out (yuk)? I don't know, but I do know that I don't want any complications with an infection after such a big surgery.

My rash above my central incision is getting better but still present too. The xeroform has definitely helped, but tomorrow's the last day for that, and unless the med has some big hurrah effort for its last day, I don't think the rash will have gone by then, so I'm wondering also if I need to extend applying the xeroform gauze to that area too.

Everything else is looking pretty good at this point. My incision, while still not pretty, looks healthy and healing its way to health, and I'm standing straighter each day. To help that, I pull my shoulder blades together frequently throughout the day, and it helps with posture and stretching and just feels good for my back.

Overall, I think I'm trending in the right direction still. I'm more mobile each day; I spend less time collapsed on the sofa or on bed, and my head is clear without the pain meds. My GI system is no longer clogged up (thank you, Colace and Smooth Move tea), and I'm managing my swelling more effectively by periodically lying with my feet above my heart (thank you, TTers for that suggestion).

Eyes on the prize is my mantra; eyes on the prize.

POD 12-13: Drain out and feeling good

So I called the PS this morning, and they gave me an appointment for mid-day to get my drain out. When they saw the drain, they could see that it was pretty irritated (and irritating), so they didn't hesitate to remove it, even if the fluid was still at 45-50cc. Again, the drain removal wasn't too bad; a little sting at the end perhaps, but overall, it was relatively painless. It feels great to be free of that thing; it was inconvenient for me and weird to look at for others, and now that I've left it behind, I can wear my own t-shirts instead of my husband's big shirts (which I wore to hide the drain).

I'm noticing that I am most vertical/straight in the morning, with a gradual decline in straightness as the day goes on and I get tired. I think that's perfectly normal although I'm looking forward to building up my stamina as the days go by.

I'm going to need to return to work on week 3 po, and I'm a little concerned about stamina for that first week. I teach, and MW, I have three 90 min classes back to back. Under normal circumstances, that first week back with back to back would be challenging; with the TT recovery, I'm somewhat concerned that I'll be hunched over and tired by my second or third class. It's the first day of the semester, and I want to be as invigorating and inspiring as I can on that day (because first impressions count), but I don't know if I'll be able to hold the enthusiasm by the third class.

Other people, however, have noted in their reviews that while they're tired easily in the 3rd or 4th week, they are often able to stand straighter and hold it together a little more easily than earlier in their healing process, so that will be what I hope will happen for me too. Either way, it will be what it will be.

Until then, I'll work on building my stamina, but I learned today that it's a tiny brick by tiny brick wall building process. My dog walk today was too long, even though it was less than block, and I need to manage myself more effectively in order to protect myself and my investment. I'll work on that.

Otherwise, all is well. My drain is gone, and that's huge. I have a two week checkup on Friday with my doc, who will check for any seromas and ensure that the rash is trending in the right direction still and check my incision is ok. (It bled a bit yesterday, so it might be a stitch or two trying to work itself out perhaps?).

As I noted before, eyes on the prize, AJ, eyes on the prize.

POD 14

I think I need to be more conscientious about resting up. I don't want to pull or push or strain anything, and while I need to build stamina, I don't want to overexert myself. Luckily, I haven't yet worn out my husband's patience because, often, by the time he's home from work, I'm wiped out on the sofa, looking as if I've been there all day. I'm two weeks today, but he's still being very understanding about the limited exertion and the sofa surfing.

Things are coming along nicely, however. My scar looks phenomenal. It's thin, symmetical, and tidy, and it's fading to just a thin line. There's a little puckering on one of the hips, but people say that that will sort itself out with time. My bb looks a little odd, but again, time will likely fix that, I think.

I had my remaining drain out two days ago, and the nurse put an ABD pad on top of the drain entry and under my CG; when I showered yesterday, the ABD pad showed that the drain had been leaking quite a bit, so I'm glad the ABD pad was there. I'm just about to shower today, so we'll see what it looks like today. The drain entry is much less irrirtated, thank goodness, now that the drain itself has been removed.

Just this morning, though, I noticed that my belly seems to be developing a seroma. I'm not sure; the skin isn't moving like a water bed exactly (the key part of a seroma diagnosis, it seems), but the belly is softer and more swollen than it's been, and I had a 40-50cc drain removed on Monday. Sherlock Holmes would deduce reasonably that, based on the evidence, I could have a seroma. :) I called the doc, and her office said to wait until Friday's appointment for there to be enough fluid to aspirate. Yikes. They weren't too surprised to hear from me because the drains were still draining pretty high when they removed them.

I'm wearing my old preTT shorts; they fit in the butt and thighs, but I can't button them because of the abdominal swelling. Target has this band called a BeBand ($16/99). It's a circle of wide elastic material that enables early pregnant people to wear normal jeans etc before they have to wear maternity clothes. I didn't think I'd ever have to shop in the maternity section again, but this little Beband holds my shorts up and covers my unbuttoned button very well. It's secure and not too tight.
My wardrobe has expanded considerably with that little addition to my TT tools. :)

Off to wash my hair in the sink. I had a shower yesterday, and I already had my CG on and off once today for the seroma and application of a xeroform to a blood blister thing where my pain pump wires had been. I can't face taking the CG on and off again for a shower; a shower in and of itself is a wonderful thing, but drying, moisturizing, and gettng the CG on and off are all exhausting.

Hope all is well in your House of Healing.

POD 17: all is well

I just returned from my week 2 appointment with my PS. All is well! I have no seroma, the rash remains won't scar and should resolve by themselves, and I don't have any stretch marks. The incision is healing nicely, and my BB has started redesigning itself to more closely resemble a normal BB. Yaay!

I do have swelling, which she thinks is internal (rather than at the skin level--ie a seroma), and since I'm not having problems with pooping (sorry--TMI?), it must just be swelling in reaction to the surgery. She recommended getting an abdominal binder from Sports Authority to use in addition to the CG to manage the swelling. I bought one, and it's neoprene so it's pretty bulky. I think I'll look at pharmacies too to find a fabric one that will more unobtrusive over clothes.

The nurse said that her own TT had some pretty good swelling too and that it would likely have resolved by three months or so. That seems like a long time, but as long as the swelling dissipates sometime this year, I'll be ok with that. Three months is November, so hopefully, I'll be able to wear a bikini with confidence on the beaches in HI in December. That's my long-term at this point. Well, that and getting back into athletic shape by HI too.

In the meantime, I'm wondering about my work clothes. I'm 100% certain they won't fit at the begining of the semester (ie two weeks time). Even if I'm half as swollen as I am now, my pants and skirts are pretty fitted, so I'm wondering what to do. I think I'll wait until a day or so before work stuff starts, and then I'll run to the outlets to pick up some emergency clothes--just a few items to cover me. This swelling has to resolve at some point, and I can hope that over time, it gets smaller. I won't need a whole new wardrobe there--just some elastic waisted skirts probably to get me through until I can wear my "real" clothes again.

Oh--and get this--actually, I can barely believe it myself. My PS asked me to bring in bikini and sports bra/short pics at my six month appointment because she thinks I'm going to be "rocking the bikini" by then. I certainly hope so, and it was great to hear her confidence in my recovery. Having heard that, I feel a great deal more confident in all this process and the ultimate results. I know it's an excruciatingly slow day by day recover process, with some days feeling as if I'm taking a step back, but if I were to really scrutinize the before, day 9, and now today's incision and appearance, I can see that I'm really moving quite well toward recovery.

Baby steps, AJ, baby steps. That's the key to this. Nothing's instantaneous, no matter how much we'd like it to be. :)

POD 18: yeast infection

Yuck. Probably inevitable with all the antibiotics from post-surgery. Oh well. If I have to have an infection during my TT recovery, a yeast infection is certainly the minor one to get.

On the bright side, my BB is starting to look very much improved, and my swelling is less than it was yesterday.

I found a medical abdominal binder at the pharmacy, and I wore it yesterday for a few hours. It's pretty tight, but I think it helped with the swelling (or at least control the swelling), and I'll wear it for the next few days (but not nights) to see if it continues to be helpful in that area. I'm still wearing my surgical CG with hooks and zips; it's still pretty tight and deal to get on and off, but I'm willing to do what needs to be done to protect my investment (in time, money, and energy). As my PS's pamphlet exhorts patients, you don't want to "compromise your aesthetic goal."

What's nice about this point in our recovery processes is that many of my friends on RS are also posting messages that they're turning the corner on their recoveries with increased energy,, more confidence in their TT, better sleep, less pain, and definitely fewer drains. Those are all such inspiring messages to read because we're all going through the same challenges almost simultaneously. It's so helpful to have the support of people here. It would be a whole different experience--a lonelier one and one that is more worrisome and definitely less fun--without RS. If you're considering a TT, please consider joining the community (writing your review, participating on the forum, posting pics) because this is truly a safe supportive place, and the people here are truly awesome.

Pod 17 pics

Pod 17 pics

The redness on my skin in the pod 17 pic is from my cg, but it's weird that the red ends so abruptly at my incision. It doesn't extend at all below my incision.
I'm wearing an additional binder to try to counter the clearly visible swell hell pouch in the lower half of my abdomen. I'm also going to try pineapple products to see if that helps with the swelling. At the least, I get to eat some delicious piƱa. :)

Week 3 update

Wow! Week three already. It hasn't exactly flown by, but it's great to see that, as days go by, the healing really does happen and that you do, inexorably, start to feel stronger and more agile. Sometimes the healing seems to take forever, but as I review this review/blog, it's evident that each day, I'm a little stronger, a little faster on my feet, a little straighter in posture, and a little more confident in both myself and the process.

I had a busy day yesterday: mani/pedi, home to rest and work on the laptop, take son to class, walked around Target, walked to restaurant, unpacked groceries, walked around the neighborhood for my longest walk yet. I felt great--the strongest and straightest and most agile yet in my recovery.

I was tired at the end of the walk but a good tired. My upper abs were complaining; I guess we use abs for walking more that I expected, but it felt so good to be outside, moving independently, and moving my body after weeks of what has been mostly stasis.

Next time, I'm going to do a smaller circuit with more dropping out points. I noticed that I went very quickly from feeling good to feeling very tired, and perhaps doing more laps of a smaller circuit might allow me to stay a little closer to home while still getting out and about.

My swelling seems to be much reduced. I can zip my shorts halfway now, which is more than before. I'm still using the Beband to hold up my pants, but I'm pleased to see that reduction. More comfortable too. I've been taking turmeric to help reduce the swelling. Perhaps it's working. I don't have a control me, so it's hard to say that turmeric worked definitively; perhaps the swelling would have gone down anyway, but I'll stick with the turmeric either way.

I've heard that swelling peaks around weeks 5-7, which is disturbing, but after that, it mostly starts dissipating, with periodic flares reflecting over-exertion. Three months is supposed to be the point you see your true colors apparently. That will be exciting to see.

My next dr apptmt is at week 4, which is next week. I'm confident in my doctor, and she knows what she's doing. I'm happy with the progress so far.

I have a work meeting in a week, and I'm more confident in my ability to attend with strength now. Each day, I'm a little straighter for longer, and each day, I have more stamina. I think I came into the process in a good place, with plenty of workouts, crunches, and yoga under my belt, and I think that strong foundation is helping me recover effectively and efficiently. I hoe so at least.

Hope your recovery is going well too. It really is a journey.

What's still under repair

I'm regaining feeling in my top abs, which is nice; my nerves are still regenerating in the lower 2/3 of my abs and the top sides of my thighs/hips. Those parts are still tingly and numb, but will likely come back when they're ready.

Slowly, slowly, steadily, steadily.

Week 3 pics

Week 3 pics to show progress. Slow but inexorable improvement. :)

POD 24

Whew! Well, the novelty of healing from the TT has completely worn off for me. I was tired today from the get-go; I walked the dog (about two blocks and back), which was good, but my upper abs get pretty sore from that exertion (and/or the CG?).

Then I showered, which went well, but taking off and putting on the CG is a real ordeal, and I find it seriously tiring to work with all those hooks and zippers. I feel as if I need to be Inspector Gadget to get them all lined up and hooked up and zipped up. After I've put that thing on, I practically need to rest up for the rest of the day. Sheesh.

I struggled with some errands, and then I came back and collapsed on the sofa for the rest of the day. Thank goodness for an understanding family and Netflix. My upper abs are the area I struggled with today in terms of irritation and pain. My MR is very tight still, which is fine, but it does mean, I think, that it will take a while for that area to settle down in terms of irritation and nerve regeneration.

In the end, I resorted to the wise advise of my fellow TT warriors here at RS, and I put some maxipads between my CG and my upper abs, and that made all the difference. I need to do that MUCH earlier tomorrow.

So--a trickier day than normal for me today. I think it reflects my recent increase in activity and was my body's way of telling me to slow down again. That's fine; I'll heed the complaints and slow things down again. Better day tomorrow.

I wonder how long I need to wear the CG; my PS had mentioned spanx at an earlier appointment, but they have pros and cons too. They have to be a little easier and a little more comfortable than the current CG, however (which is my surgical day 1 CG). I'm fine wearing the necessary support to protect my TT investment, but I hope one day soon to graduate to a more comfortable garment (assuming that one exists). :)

Hope your healing journey is progressing well, TT sisters!

POD 26: stronger each day

Just a quick update; I'm pod 26 now, and I'm feeling stronger each day. I guess my last update revealed the ups and downs of TT recovery, but I think that the further you get into recovery and healing, the more ups there, which is good. :)

Yesterday, I spent most of the day vertical (walking, standing, sitting). I did rest on the sofa for an hour mid-afternoon, but then I went out to a friend's house for BBQ with the families, and I didn't get home until 11 that night. I was amazed and relieved to see that I made it all the way through the evening, and that I even drove home. Wow. That would have been inconceivable a week ago. It's amazing how much change happens in a week. I just returned from my longest dog walk yet; he's a small dog, so no pulling, but we walked perhaps 3/4 mile, and we had a nice time outside.

I need to build up my stamina, so I'm trying to do two walks a day (if the temp allows it---today will be 100, so likely no pm walk unless the temp drops dramatically). Perhaps I can go to the gym and do a short slow walk on the treadmill. That can't be that much different from walking outside, I think. If I'm allowed to walk outside, I think I' ok walking on an equivalent treadmill speed.

I'm excited because this week, in theory at least, my PS allows people to go to the gym and to get the green light to do what they want. Of course, just because I want to do a camel backbend in yoga doesn't mean I can do it straight off this week, but in theory, I should be able to return to gentle attempts at yoga and workouts after Wednesday. I was very gently experimenting with my yoga routine yesterday, and I can do many of the poses, either very gently or using modifications.

Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to getting back into the gym and working out my body again. I've enjoyed the downtime, but with my increasing healing, I'm ready to get back into the gym to start to build up my fitness again. I'll need to be very careful and heed my body's messages (pain, swelling, fatigue) because I don't want to do something that endangers my "aesthetic goal." :) Gently, gently.

This week upcoming is the week I start to transition into work and one of the reasons I need to start building up my stamina. I have five hours of meetings tomorrow, Monday, most of which will be sitting (unless I stand at the back of the room for a break). Then Tuesday off. Wednesday has morning meetings for three hours and then my PS 4 week checkup, which will be good. More later on that. Thursday is a presentation in the afternoon, and then Friday is, sigh, all day meetings.

My 4 week checkup is on Wednesday this week, and it will be my last scheduled checkup until my six months point, which means that after Wednesday, I'll be "released into the wild" to heal and workout and do normal things.

I need to figure out questions for my PS to ask at Wednesday's appointment. So far, I need to ask about crunches, belly button, swelling, and CGs. I'm still in my surgical Cg, which is working well but is pretty intense to wear and work with. I'm hoping that I can get into a stage 2 CG, either as a spanx (although online reviews suggest they fray quickly) or a Marena CG--more expensive but getting rave reviews.
Spanx or Flexees or other local store support garment:
pros--easy to buy, can try on in store, wide variety, people love them.
cons: fray easily? not crotchless

Marena:
pros: designed for post surgical patients, rave reviews, crotchless
cons: expensive, online so can't try on.

I don't know yet. I'll wait until I hear from myPS what she recommends in terms of support--high waisted? mid-thigh?

Until, healing thoughts, friends.

Week 4 update

I've finally reach week 4 in my post op recovery, and I feel as if I've reached a major milestone. The week 4 appointment is my last PS appointment until my 6 month checkup, unless something comes up between now and then, so I feel as if I've been approved to go out into the wilds by myself. I'm feeling confident about this stage, and so it's a good place to reach.

My week 4 PS appointment went well; the incision looks healthy (although I might have a dog ear on my right hip. If it doesn't resolve, and it could, then my PS will revise that using a local anesthetic and a few stitches.) The bb looks great, and now I'm on silicon tape for scar therapy. I have to apply it in two strips, one strip starting on each hip and coming to the center of the incision; I need to remove it for showers (but not for sweating), and the strips will last about 7 days or so. I needed to keep an eye on it for the first few days to check for any skin irritation, but it all looks good, so now I'm in scar therapy land.

I asked about when I'll be out of Seroma Land, and the PS said I should be safe now.

I asked about workouts---biking, cardio, yoga, walking, swimming etc, and I've got the green light for all those. I won't be strong right out of the gate, however, so I'll need to take it gradually, pace myself, and listen to my body. I can't hurt the incision or the MR, however, so the tightness will resolve, and the nurse thought that yoga would really help with that if I take it slowly.

My ps said that I can do crunches right now, but her partner PS goes with 8 weeks, so I'll go with 8 weeks, just to be sure. My MR is still very tight, and I don't want to injure myself or my MR through impatience.

I'm in spanx now too, which is a nice break from the CR. I'm wearing girl shorts high waisted Assets (which is Spanx's brand at Target), and they're compressive but comfortable. I need to allow time for getting out of them when I go to the restroom, and I need to think about which compressive garment I'm wearing (the ones that are crotchless or the Assets, which are not crotchless) because that impacts what I need to do in the bathroom. I'm so used to crotchless ones that I'm concerned about forgetting I need to pull stuff down. :)

Anyway, all is good, and she asked me again to bring pics to the six month appointment in January. That'll be post HI, so I'll be able to bring some bikini beach pics, but I'll also bring some yoga pics for fun. And I have an identical twin, so the PS and staff want to see a pic of me with my twin too. :)

Hope your healing is going well too, friends. The journey, in the early stages, seems inteminable, but time does pass, friends, and healing does happen.

First Post 0p Bikram class: Week 4.5

I went to my first post op Bikram class yesterday, and it was an eye opener for me. I already knew that I wouldn't be able to do great back bend poses and that I'd skip the cobra series, but what I didn't realize was how tired I'd be so early in the class. I was ready to leave after eagle, really--that's the first pose series, and we have four left to do in the class. I think I did about 1/3 of the poses, and the rest were either modifications on the floor or just lying in savasana.

Still, I count the class as a success if not a little premature; it's a baseline at least, and now I know how it feels to be back in the hot room. I wore my spanx to the class, because I'm wearing Cgs for at least another two weeks minimum, but that was fine. It was fun to see my yoga friends again, and I know that my stamina will increase.

The plan for today is to walk the dog and then, this afternoon, go for a light bike or elliptical or stair master or something at the gym, with another dog walk tonight. (I have a small dog, so our walks are about 0.5 to 0.75 miles--it's not like a huge hike or anything. :) ) I'll do another yoga class next week, once my work week's complete, and I'm sure I'll be able to do more. Healing happens, after all. Healing happens.

First Post Op big day at work

I had a huge meeting day on Friday--6 hours of meetings all over the work location, and I was feeling fine for the most part, right up until the last meeting when I felt really tired. I managed to pay attention and contribute sensibly until the end of that meeting, but then I dragged myself over to the med room for some ibuprofen and a nap. Luckily, at my work, I have the flexibility during the day, outside of meetings and work demands, to go to the med room and lie down. I'm so grateful for that resource.

Anyway, I went to the med room, asked for some ibuprofen, and then, once the possibility and proximity of a bed was so close, I couldn't hold myself together any more, and I almost started crying as I was speaking with the nurse about my surgery and my fatigue. Things were much improved after the 45 min nap, however, and the nurses said that it takes time for stamina to build, so not to hesitate to return during the upcoming week if I need to.

Anyway, this day was a big reminder that, while I'm standing upright, I'm still healing and that I'm still building stamina. Good things to remember. I need to pace myself through this upcoming week. It's going to be a big work one for me.

Almost Week 5: first full day at work

Whew. First day really back at work today--actively on my feet being "on" for 5 hours. In the 4th hour, I was really starting to feel it; my abs were starting to spasm and ache on the right side, and I was getting pretty tired. It wasn't as bad as Friday, however, and so I forged on. After the last meeting, I went and lay down for 30 mins, not for a nap but rather to rest my abs. Weird how that works--I wasn't exactly tired, but my abs were---I guess from supporting my core all morning.

Hopefully, my stamina will continue to improve as days go by.

I'm trying to get in two walks a day, but I haven't been to the gym yet. I can't see quite how I can go to the gym before or after work when I already get so tired at work. Well, not tired exactly. More achey abs and swelling. If swelling and aches are telling me I'm doing too much, how can I put a light gym workout on top of that?

It's possible, however, that I'll feel good at the gym---it's probably likely that I would feel good because I'd be able to move my body actively after so long a time of rest and healing. At the same time, however, I worry that the swelling that I already have will only worsen with a gym workout on top of work, and if swelling is an indication for me to slow down, no matter how much I'd like to work out, I probably shouldn't until the swelling reduces after a regular day. Sigh.

I guess I need to remember that you can't hurry healing and that I need to slowly guardedly return to active days and that I need to heed the messages from my body. Slow down when you need to. Chill when you need to. Lie down when you need to.
I can do that. At the same time, I can't wait to get back to the gym.

You can see my quandary here although I think that, outside of me, this quandary is probably very clearly solved--don't work out for another week. I guess that's the answer. Healing happens.

Thanks, TTer friends. Hope your healing is happening too.

Gym today: week 5

I finally went to the gym for a workout; I had a full day at work, but I amazingly wasn't that tired, so I trotted off to the gym to see how that felt like. Cardio-wise, I did 15 mins elliptical (with a few ab twinges here and there, but mostly fine), and then I did 20 mins on the bike (which was fine). I didn't want to do too much or work too hard, so it was all fairly gentle with fairly light resistance. Then I went down to the mats and did all the standing poses of Bikram (which felt great and much improved over my last Bikram workout), along with some some attempts at crunches (not too bad but worrisome because it seems early) and plank (ouch!) and the floor series of Bikram.

My whole core is weak right now, apparently, going by the floor series poses, so cobra, locust etc and all the other back strengthening poses were all pretty tricky to do. If you mix in the sensitivity of my incision as I lay down on my stomach, then I think I'll be doing modifications to the floor series poses for a few more days at Bikram. Clearly, though, my lower back strength will need to be worked on to regain that area post-surgery. I hadn't considered losing back strength, but it makes sense if you think about it.

So--a good day today. My workday went well--pretty mild on TT compared with the brutality of my MW schedule, and then a good gym workout. I'm on my way back to normalcy now, and it feels great. :)

I realized that I'm the big 5 weeks this week; that's incredible to me. I remember being a week 1 and 2 person and reading about people who were week 5 or 6, thinking that I couldn't imagine being that far along in the healing process, and yet here I am. I'm mostly upright, mostly ok at work, and now coming along in the fitness area too.

I have to note, though, that the warnings about swelling in week 5 and 6 are completely accurate. My lower belly is very swollen most of the day, particularly in the afternoon and evenings, and I can feel the swelling when I walk (yuk!), but I know it will go away eventually. In the meantime, I'm trying not to do too much, steal rests when I can, and keep taking Turmeric. I'm still low sodium, which has to help, and I'm confident it will improve over time.

Overall, it's been pretty good this week. I know I need to post pics, so I'll do that this week too. It will be fun to compare the pics this week to my last pics.

Hope your healing process is working well too.

Week 5 pics

My tummy isn't that red in real life

Now that I'm looking at my recent pics on a big screen, I have to note that my tummy, while it gets red when the Spanx etc irritates it, isn't that red in real life. :)

So I was getting ready to go to the gym today . . .

. . . . and I found myself reaching for my old baggy gym top, and then I remembered that I didn't have to wear that one any more; I could wear my tighter tops that are more fitted. It felt great to make that realization. :)

And at work, I've been tucking my tops in and wearing my cardigans open because, well, now I can. I don't have to hide my belly button anymore.

And at home, I'm wearing more form-fitting t-shirts and clothes because, well, because of the TT and MR.

{{{inner smiles all day}}}

Great workout today week 5

Wow! Great workout today. I'm week 5. 30 mins elliptical, 20 mins bike, normal weight for weights (although fewer sets), and it all felt great! I even worked up a sweat! I may pay for this tomorrow, but until then, I'm feeling satisfied with my healing. And my Tt looks fabulous under my top (although I still have some lower ab swelling, which seems inevitable in Tt healing).

Plus I'm starting to see my abs again, which means that my upper ab swelling is improving at last. Yay!

Tomorrow is Bikram (only mt second post op class) and a few crunches, some dog walks, and some work at home. Should be another good day.

Wishing you good days too.

Week 5 post bikram bikini

Here I am post shower post yoga in my workout bikini. I'm pretty pleased with the emerging abs at last. :) the swelling must be receding on my upper abs finally.

Side view week 5

Second Bikram post op: Week 5.5

Just returned from a GREAT Bikram class. I worked out at the gym yesterday (normal workout pretty much), and then this morning's Bikram class was pretty close to normal. Last week's Bikram felt pretty premature; this week's Bikram felt very appropriate. It was great to feel as if I'm truly on the way back, and each time I return, I feel better than before. Plus I get to see all my good yoga friends again. :)

Warning: the rest of the post is about specific Bikram poses to help me see improvements over the days. :)

Standing Poses: I can do all the standing poses, more or less; my standing bow is pretty reserved still. It pulls on my left groin, which is still healing from the TT, and I'm not y es so wildly flexible (or confident enough to try to be wildly flexible) as I was before, but I made the entire standing series (all the way up to eagle).

Fixed Firm: I skipped fixed firm because I couldn't go all the way back and because it was making my neck ache.

Cobra: I could do all the cobra series but in a very limited way. I'm still working on core strength there, but in contrast to last week, when I couldn't do ANY cobra series, today was a big improvement.

Wind removing: Wind removing was much trickier than I predicted; I could only grab my wrists instead of my elbows, and I skipped the two knees up section.

Tortoise: my instructor showed me a great mod for this pose--use your hands to walk yourself out instead of going down only using core.

Camel: tried one set just standing up on my knees with my neck back, but it didn't feel great, so I skipped the second set of camel.

Rabbit: Skipped rabbit because I was tired.

Final set of straight leg stretches and spine twist--I did all these but with bent knees.

Final breathing: easy and felt great.

I worked up a real sweat, and I felt as if I'm very much back on the path to normalcy. Cool. Now I'm going to be watching to see if I balloon up because of all this activity.
I hope your lives are returning gradually to normal too!

PostBikram Week 5.5

Whew! It turned out that Bikram class really (and not surprisingly) wiped me out by 5pm that evening. I just dragged myself around the kitchen and then went to bed at 8:30. Lol. Still, it felt great, and I didn't have any extra swelling the day after.

Good to know, good to know. I can do Bikram, but, until I build up my stamina, I need to allow for an early night that day. :)

Finally. . .

. . . . my husband said that he liked my TT. Up to this point, he's been pretty uncomfortable with the results, saying that only that the TT looked "weird"--a comment I didn't find particularly helpful when I was still getting used to the appearance myself. Now that the swelling is somewhat reduced, I guess he's more able to see its potential. He's been really supportive otherwise, but I was getting irritated at his "frankness." I didn't need candid commentary at that point--only support.

I've read on other people's reviews that spouses can sometimes seem to resist change for the better in their partners, and I was worried that mine too had succumbed to that anxiety. I l know also that the scar freaked him out, and that was understandable too. The scar freaked me out for a while too.

And if I'm being generous, I would say that he was probably scared that the results weren't going to be good. For the first month, I have to admit it can be hard to keep the faith in the ol' TT, what with the drains and the giant puckered scar and all.

Anyway, he's on board now and better late than never, as they say! :)

Swelling update

With all these workouts recently, I was wondering if my swelling would increase, but if it has, it's been pretty subtle and primarily in the evenings. That's good to know. I figured I'm likely to swell anyway, so I may as well work out and just work with the swelling than not work out and have to deal with the increasing weight instead. I think swelling will be easier to lose ultimately than additional pounds.

Off to walk the dog. Hope you're having a great day too and that your healing is coming along well too, TT friends.

Swelling end of week 5

Not too surprisingly, today I've seen increased swelling in my lower abs. I wondered if and when the swelling would catch up with me. I've put on 4 lbs over the last two days of visible swelling. The plan now is to keep wearing my cgs and spanx, cut back on workouts, and add more rest. it looks like I've found my "edge," and there's no sense in overdoing things. Hope all is going well for you in Healing land.

PS and swelling advice, binders and compression garments

I was confusing myself with the swelling workout issue, so I wrote to my PS and asked her advice on working out with swelling. Amazingly, she said that as long as there's no seroma (ie no small discrete water bed area), and as long as it's just swelling, I can workout as normal.

Yaay! I'm so psyched about that advice. If the swelling goes nuts, I'll cut back, of course, but since it looks as if the swelling is inevitable with increased activity (and everything is increased activity compared to the last few weeks), I can continue working out as I've been doing.

That's a relief to know that I can't hurt it and that swelling is just a temporary byproduct but not a true problem or hindrance to healing.

And I've noticed on the forums that many of us, at week 5-8, are considering weaning ourselves off our binders and cgs, once we get permission from our PSs. Some are going cold turkey, and others are doing it more gradually. My ps just said at about week 6, you can start losing the garment, so I guess I'll consider reducing the hours in the cg/Assets over the next week or so. I'm in week 6 this week, so it's exciting (and concerning) to be at the stage without cgs.

It's a little confusing to hear all the discussion on the boards because every single PS has his/her own individual approach to the process, from day one surgical care to losing the CG. Some of us have been told to lose their Cg gradually; others have been told to lose it cold turkey at a certain week. Others have been wearing binders but now have graduated to stage 2 compression garments. Still others have only just started wearing spanx or lighter compression garments, while some have been without cgs since week 3 or so. And this variance is just for the week 5-8 people. It doesn't include those who are more or less than those weeks post-op.

As for me, I've been wearing my post surgical cg (compression garment) for the first four weeks, with a graduation at week 4 to spanx type garments (actually Assets from Target) with the idea at week 6 or so that I can stop wearing garments. The nurse at my PS office, however, told me that she wore her post surgical cg for months because she wanted the best results possible.

I guess that I'll be wearing my cg for a few more weeks at least; I don't want to compromise the TT through impatience, and the Assets aren't that bad to wear. I guess one goal could be to wear the Assets until the daily swelling has reduced quite a lot. I know that swelling will come and go over the next few months, but I think if I can get the swelling to be reduced on a daily level, that might be when I start wearing the cg less.

Week 6.5 pics

Coming along although my BB still looks a little weird although not as weird IRL as it is in these pics. :) This is post shower, post Bikram---great class today, btw. I could do everything, and I only needed to pull back a little on both-leg-windremoving and camel. I'm rolling to the side on situps (because while I can do cautious crunches, situps are still on the other side of the moon right now). I was also careful with standing bow, but each day is more limber and more comfortable. Yay!

I also lost 4lbs since yesterday--most water weight in Bikram, I think probably. I wonder if the swelling disappears with sweating? I don't know. Is lymphatic leakage (the source of the swelling, I think) the same as bloating?

Week 6.5 First post op swim

I went for my first swim today, after Bikram. (Yep--I'm a Bikram nut. :) Bikram went great---each day is a little better.)

The swimming (really paddling) felt great, but I was pretty cautious as I am with any first post-op experiences. it wasn't a swim workout---just a cool-down, but it felt wonderful. I could feel discrete ab muscles pulling on either side of my abs, which was an interesting feeling. Breast stroke was pretty tight still, as was freestyle, and my abs felt "wooden" throughout, which was an odd feeling. I know that things will loosen up, however, and that the first time I do any exercise post-op, my body is going to have to learn to stretch in a way that accommodates that particular movement.

AND it was the first time my husband had ever seen me in my bikini--his jaw literally dropped. :) Nice.

I didn't spend too much time in the sun--I was worried about scar darkening, and all I had on was my scar tape, so I just swam and then sat in the pool in the shade for a bit.

I can't wait to get all worked out and in great shape for my Dec HI trip. I need to get another bikini--probably one from Title Nine or Athleta because they make bikinis that stay in place, even when you do activities like paddle boarding and surfing. I just don't want any over-exposure worries on the vacay. :)

Anyway, all is well here. Hope all is well with you too.

Week 7 update--a full work-day without Assets

hi everyone: Today's my week 7 day post op, and to celebrate, I decided to go cold turkey today and go a whole workday without Spanx/Assets or a CG. Over the past weekend, I had tried going for an hour or so without any support, but it felt weird and worrisome, so I retreated back to CGs relatively quickly.

After much pondering and watching and learning from my peers on the RS forum, finally decided that today was the day to try out a work day without support. I was sure to pack back up support in case the experiment back-fired, and at first, early in the day, I was both worried and curious, but I was very much relieved to see that the day went well, despite my concerns.

Throughout the day, I was acutely aware of my cami touching my stomach because my stomach skin remains sensitive on my upper abs, and I was very aware of my seat belt when I drove, but other than that, I had no problems with the cold turkey CG free day.

Throughout the day, too I was aware of my Ken Doll swelling (sigh), but it didn't seem worse than normal, and, much to my relief, I didn't see any other swelling appear.

I have to admit that, upon returning home, I rushed upstairs to change back into my Spanx/Assets, fearing that perhaps, just perhaps, the Swell Hell was waiting for the perfect opportunity to ambush my complacency and push me back into 24/7 CGs. I was very much relieved to be wearing my Spanx/Assets again---possibly because it was additional support, but I think the relief was equally likely to be from a security blanket relief to be wearing Spanx/Assets.

I learned today, then, that life after CGs IS possible and that it's possibly quite near to my current reality. That's good to know. I'll still wear support for workouts, particularly Bikram, but I'm starting to think that wearing spanx/assets during the regular work day might be less frequent. I'll continue to let swelling be my guide. If there's increased swelling, back I go into Spanx/Assets. If I'm doing ok without the spanx/Assets for most of the time for the next few days, then perhaps my body's ready to go it alone, at least during the work day.

Either way, happy healing to you all, and thanks for checking in with me. I hope your healing journey's are going well.

Week 8.5 update

Well--not too much to report other than a good week with continued healing and improving flexibility and strength at work, in Bikram, and at the gym. Swelling is up and down, but primarily stable if not reducing a little. I can tell when it's increasing on those days it increases because I can feel the swelling when I walk up stairs. My upper thighs start touching my below incision when on non-swelling days, my thighs don't touch my torso at all.

I',m still in Spanx most of the time, but yesterday I went without Spanx for most of the day--chores, jobs, and shopping. It went fine for the most part (although my tummy still feels weird and vulnerable without it), but by hour 7-8, my abs were complaining, I was getting cranky, and, when I got home again, I literally ran to get my Spanx back on. It felt sooo good to have that support again. Still, that's the longest day yet, and the busiest non-CG day yet, so I guess it's going to be a gradual CG-liberation process (as are all things TT-related).

I still wear Spanx for Bikram and workout, but, this week, I'm considering trying a yoga session without it to see how it goes. The Spanx often roll down in poses, and I'm anxious (both curious and anxious) to try a practice without a spanx. I can put a Spanx in my yoga bag, and if it's not working out, I can just leave to put it on and then return to the practice.

I don't know yet if I'm confident enough to go sports bra and shorts only at yoga, even though that was definitely part of my motivation for the TT in the first place. Maybe if I go to a very early AM class that has fewer people, most of whom I know well. That might be the safest place to embark on that part of my TT journey.

I'm still wearing the scar tape 24/7 except in showers (although I often forget to remove it before showers), and replacing it once a week.

I'm still sleeping in my post surg CG because it's pretty comfortable still, and I guess I'm just used to it. I'll probably rely at least periodically on my Spanx and CG until month 3, and then I'll have to seriously start weaning myself off them. I know I can't wear them forever.

I still have a numb triangle on my stomach from sternum to hips, but that may or may not resolve over time. The tops of my outer thighs are still numb too, and that may or may not resolve too. Either way, my tummy looks great, and as time goes by, it will continue to improve, amazingly enough.

I'll post week 8-9 pics this week. Happy healing, friends.

Week 8.5 pics

No spanx Bikram update

Quick update: I did early AM yoga today, without any spanx, and it was my first public foray with sports bra and shorts--no shirt! I felt great, with no problems from lack of support, and it was amazing to see my tummy in the mirror during the practice. Hard to believe that flatness and bb are both mine.

Anyway, I was inspired to get some shorter shorts on the way home from work, a purchase which would have been inconceivable before my TT/mr.

All in all, a good day. Hope you're having a great day too.

Week 9,5 po pics

Week 9.5 update

So far so good. In case you're interested, my week workout schedule is this:
Bikram yoga 3-4 x wk
Gym (cardio, weights, crunches) 2-3 x week
300 crunches every day since May (with five weeks off for TT recovery)
20 min dog walk 2x day.

I know that I am very fortunate on so many levels--time to workout, access to a Bikram studio, a safe place to walk etc. I'm very grateful for those opportunities, trust me, so I try to make the most of them :)

Hope you're healing well too.

Lift iPhone app is great to build healthy habits!

Along my journey back to health, I've been using the iPhone app called Lift. It's a check-in habit building type of app that keeps track of how many days in a row (and how many days total) you've completed a habit (and checked in for that completion). It's a free little app, and I really like it. It's very gratifying to check in once you complete a habit each day, and if I skip a day, it will send a prompt encouraging me to do the habit. It's not naggy, but it does motivate me to do more than I might have done otherwise.

Thought I'd pass it along to you. It might help motivate you too to adopt whatever habit you're trying to adopt on this side of the TT journey.

10.5 weeks PO update

All is well; I'm still healing well. Some of my numbness on my tummy triangle appears to be receding, and my scar is healing well. (I'm using Mepitac scar tape from the PS--seems to be working.) I'm still doing Bikram and workout and crunches, and I would say that in normal life, I'm 95% back and in yoga, I'm 92% back. There's still some tightness on Half Moon pose, but for the most part, it feels great to be at this stage.

I'm working on getting my hips, butt, and thighs back in shape after all that sitting and lying down for healing, but the TT and abs are coming along nicely.

I'll post pics of 10.5 weeks TT and scar in a sec.

Hope your healing is coming along too, friends. Thanks for reading!

10.5 week po pics

Other updates I forgot to mention

Hi everyone:
Forgot to mention that I'm still wearing Spanx most of the time and that I still sleep in my CG. I figure it can't hurt. I don't wear Spanx for workouts now, but the rest of day I do. I know that at some point, I'm going to have wean myself off them, but while my PS said I could wean at 6 weeks, the nurse noted that she wore her CGs for the first three months, so I'm going with her advice.

I also had an ingrown hair on my incision--yuk. They look like little red tender zits, in case you're wondering. After much peering at the little zit, I finally just grabbed the tweezers and poked around it until I was able to remove the offending hair. Felt better almost immediately.

Thanks for reading, TTers.

Week 12.5 post op pics

Week 12: CG free!

Hi everyone: I'm finally CG free. My PS had told me that I could leave CG land anytime after week 4, but the nurse there said that she wore her CG/Spanx until week 12, so I've been wearing them religiously for the past three months. I finally couldn't take dealing with rearranging the Spanx during the day and then getting poked by zippers at night, so I've declared a CG Free Life from here on. Today's Day 2, and so far so good. No additional swelling, my tummy skin is adjusting to the different materials (all of which feel odd because of the nerve regeneration on my abdomen from the surgery).

My weight is weird though. I went into surgery at 128, and now I'm 135. It can't be swelling. It must be the fact that I've changed my diet to include more carbs. My butt and thighs were bigger than they were, going by my clothes, but I'm working on them in workouts. My stomach is flat and tight, and my clothes fit there, but not in the butt/thighs.

Overall, I'm feeling great and I like my results. I hope you're healing well too, or if you're still in the planning stage, feeling confident about your plans. Namaste!

Week 13.5 update

Hi everyone: Just an update for week 13.4 or so. I'm still doing great, and I still love my tummy. Swelling is making a reappearance below my BB. People call the swelling a "ken doll," and once you have it, you understand why. :)

It comes and goes, but it's been mostly there for the last week or so, and I'm looking forward to it leaving for good. I can disguise it most of the time with some shrewdly used cardigan/top outfits, but I notice it (and I feel that it's most noticeable) when I'm wearing pants and jeans because it's harder to hide it with those outfits. Since the weather will eventually turn cooler, I'm looking around my wardrobe for ways to be warm at work without resorting to pants for as long as possible.

I know that eventually the swelling will disappear; I know also that, going by my TT warriors on the July 2013 forum, it's a fairly common symptom to be dealing with at this time, so I'm not worried about it. I know it will resolve, but it would be nice to have it resolve sooner rather than later.

Swelling, however, seems to be part of TT recovery for quite a few months. It's nothing like it was in the first month or so, thank goodness; good grief--that swelling was impressive! At that point, I couldn't even button my shorts or jeans at all.

Now, for the most part, I can easily button shorts and jeans, but everything feels just a little tighter than it did before (or it does until this swelling resolves).Some of the tightness, if I'm honest about it, is also there, however, also because I need to lose this last five pounds or so to get to my pre-surgery weight, but looking at the swelling, I have to note, in my defense :), that that must contribute something to the tightness of certain jeans. :)

It's not that big a deal, however. My tummy looks fabulous and flat still, and I'm still thrilled with my overall appearance. I'm still happy with my profile in yoga (shorts and sports bra--yay!), and I'm happy with my flat tummy in work clothes and under shirts. Yes--I would do this again, but I would have spent more time on the Real Self site to understand really the length of time it takes to recover fully, or at least to see how long it takes swelling to resolve.

In the big picture, however, while I'm 3 months, which would have seemed like eons away to me during my first few weeks of TT recovery, three months is really just a drop in the bucket in the long term recovery of TTs. When I'm feeling a tad frustrated about the swelling, therefore, I need to remember that in a year or in 6 months or however long my body needs to figure out this last part of the healing, the swelling will (hopefully) be resolved or at least much less common and less noticeable, and I'll be looking back at this review, shaking my head, and saying to myself, "patience, little one, Patience." :)

Weight is down a few pounds, which is great. Cutting carbs did the trick, as usual for me, so I'll continue on that road to get to a weight where I can wear my jeans again. :)

That's all the news for this week. Oh--I had an endometrial biopsy yesterday to check something out. OMG---ouch. It's unlikely that I'll have anything because of no overt risk factors, but, still, please wish me luck and benign results on that.

I'll post pics (of my TT!) this weekend; I think they'll look pretty similar to the others on my review, but I'll post them anyway. Thanks.Namaste!

Overall, I'm content and happy with my progress and healing. I hope you are too with your's.

Hmm. Week 12 no CGs. Week 13--increased swelling

Sheesh; you'd think I would noted a possible connection between this week's no more CGs and this week's increased swelling.

Maybe I need to go back into Spanx for a day or so. I'll see if the swelling worsens and/or resolves, and let you know if I resort to Spanx again.

Sigh

*you'd have thought I would have noticed a possible connection between LAST weeks decision to stop wearing CGs and THIS week's increased swelling.*

My typing. . .. .

Week 13.5 pics

Week 14 update

All is well, and the swelling has receded, which is a relief. I didn't have to do anything--no CG wearing or Tumeric. I think the swelling just comes and goes, possibly to do with salt (although I'm low salt in my diet) and possibly to do with activity, but also could be to do with who knows what. I think it's all just part of the healing process, which takes longer than you think it will, FYI. :)

So how am I healing up at the 14 week point? Pretty well, I think. I'm happy with the tummy, and I'm going to keep working on abs and flanks with yoga, crunches, and cardio. It's almost November, and I have a HI trip in Dec to prepare for. :)

I wonder about my belly button sometimes. It can look a little weird--the word "gaping" comes to mind sometimes, so I'm wondering if that's worth a revision in January. I think it depends what a revision entails and how much recovery (and money) it requires, so I'm going to see how it looks at the 6 month point before I make any decisions on that. The ps noted on my first post surg visit that she wasn't sure how it would turn out, so hopefully, she can advise me on that at my 6 month visit.

Other than that, all I'm feeling is some tightness in the abs (likely due to the great but tight MR (MR=muscle repair--sewing my separated vertical abs together again) when I get out of bed in the morning or for about 10 mins after an ab session or yoga, both of which understandably stress the ab muscles.

Additionally, the sides of my thighs/hips are also pretty tender at times because the scar extends to my hips on each side; it feels a little like sunburn, but again, tingling, numbness, and scars are all part of the TT healing package, so I'm not particularly worried about them. I'm including the symptoms here to help you understand how the TT healing process is going for me and to help you understand how it might go for you.

Big picture: am I happy with the overall TT? Indeed, I am. It's turned out fabulously, and I'm loving my tight tummy. Yes--the entire process takes weeks, months, possibly a year for healing, but to me, it's been worth it.

Hope your planning and healing journeys are going well too! Namaste.

Week 15 pics

Week 16 update

No real changes to report, or none that are dramatic at least. My scar is coming along nicely, so I'll post pics of that. The scar tape (Mepitac, from the ps) works well, I think, but I take a break from it every few days because it seems to irritate the skin surrounding the scar.

I'm still working hard on abs and Bikram; it's now about five weeks until my HI vacay, so I have to look pristine (well, I don't HAVE to, but I'm choosing to, I suppose) because that will be bikini central, and I'd love to look great on the beaches there. It will be my first beach foray with my new tummy. :)

So really I'm just working on maintenance overall, so that's good. One of my July 2013 TT warriors just had a TT revision for a seroma, so she's back in early recovery again; I feel for her because it's hard for me to imagine being back in early TT recovery again. I really hope that this time the TT works out for her and that she doesn't have to work with seromas again. That would be so hard to deal with, so best wishes to her for a speedy and seroma free recovery.

(What's a seroma? It's when the abdominal skin doesn't "stick" back to the ab muscles and instead develops a pocket of fluid which people describe as a "waterbed" type of appearance. If you type in "tummy tuck seroma" into Youtube, you can find a pretty good video there of what to look for, if you're interested or concerned.

I had a seroma with a minor ab surgery, and the waterbed description is pretty apt. Mine was smaller, however (and thank goodness), but felt like a water balloon in that it easily gave and was clearly full of fluid in how the skin physically behaved.)

I'll post update pics this weekend; the differences between the weeks are subtle, but they're good for me to see how I'm progressing, even if in small discrete ways. Keeps me on track. :)

Hope you're healing well too, or if you're in the planning stages, hope you're feeling confident and strong. It's so great to be on the flat side. :)

Week 16 update to the update

Woohoo! I can get into my size 2 jeans finally---yowza! I wasn't sure I'd be able to get back into them, but now I have a tight tummy and back in my old jeans. That's a relief. I know that sizes are artificial, but still--it's a good feeling to be back in the ol' skinny jeans. My wardrobe just opened up, just in time for the winter. :)

Hope you're doing well too.

Oops--misread the jeans label

Premature celebration--still in my 4s after all. I misread the label. That's ok. The journey continues. I've gone from an 8 to a 6 to a 4 in the last three months, post TT, and I imagine I'll get to the 2 eventually. Still happy.

Week 16.5 pics

Week 17.5 po pics

Week 17.5 update

So amazingly, I'm at 17, almost 18 weeks, in the healing process. "Amazingly" because, in the early days and weeks of the healing, full healling seemed eons away, and those who were at 4 weeks po or 6 weeks po seemed to be at the same level that high school is away from 6th grade kids.
Still, here I am, and it feels great. I'd say I'm 99.9% back in terms of flexibility, strength, and agility (although, to be honest, I've not the most agile person in the world to begin with).)

I'm no longer using the scar tape; I noticed that my scar looks more healthy without it, and since I understand (rightly or wrongly) that scar tape speeds up the healing process but that the healing process will occur anyway, not using the scar tape doesn't seem to have any negative effects on the scar. I used it for about 2 months, and I noticed that my scar would get red and irritated underneath the tape.

Now that I haven't used it for about a week, my scar looks great---pale, thin, calm and flat. It's low still, which is nice; I know that sometimes the scar can rise up somehow, but I'm lucky enough for it still to be low, so bikinis are still on the plan for HI in Dec.

I still have a dog ear on the right side, a minor one, but that will get fixed at my 6 month meeting. I'm not that worried about it because my PS said it would be an easy fix.

Workout-wise, I'm pulling back from bikram right now. I know--I was a bikram nut for a long time, but I'm worried that it will over-stretch and loosen the skin my doctor and I worked so hard to tighten, so I'm going more to the gym now--lots of cardio (treadmill, bike, elliptical) and weights and crunches. I feel better about protecting my investment, and the gym workout actually fits better into my day than the set times of yoga class. It's nice to have a change too in workout too to keep my interest high and my body on alert. :)

I'm wearing jeans in my week 17.5 pics to show that I have non-yoga clothes. lol..

Hope you're having a great week and that you're healing well too. If you're newly TTed, hang in there; it gets better, it truly does. If you're still planning, it's worth the cost and the improvement to your appearance and confidence. If you're waiting for your surgery, consider doing what you can to get in shape and adopting a healthy clean green diet BEFORE your surgery. In my experience, a fit healthy body has an easier healing process, and you'll have healthy habits ready to re- adopt once you're on the flat side.

Week 22/ 5.5 months

Everything is great still. Going to HI in a week, so I'm gathering bikinis and guidebooks and getting a bunch of workouts and yoga in before I go. I've been doing some modified bikram which is a great compromise for me. I feel as if I'm stretching but not overstretching. Feels great.

I have my sixth month apptmt in a few weeks. Should go fine and I'll learn more about fixing my dog ear.
Hope you are all doing well too. Happy holidays!

hi from HI--5.5 months post op

Here's a quick update from HI. I feel great, actually I feel amazing, in my bikini with my new tummy. :) My tummy is tight and taut, and I'm very happy with my results. I do periodically have to check my bikini bottoms still cover my scar, but the fact that I can wear a bikini at all after twenty years of one piece suits is stunning to me.

Anyway, I'm writing this update from HI, having been at the beach all day having fun. Hope you all are doing well too. I'll update more once I have my 6 month apptmt in a week or two. Happy new year to y'all! Happy healing!

6 month checkup

hi everyone: Just returned from my six month check up, and all is well. She loves my tummy and my healing (as do I), and I showed her my bikini pics from HI, and we chortled over my brimming confidence on the beach and in the yoga studio. She's such a great doctor and such a sweet person; I have no hesitation at all recommending her to anyone in the Northern California region (or beyond).

I have an Feb 14 appointment to fix my small dog ear (right hip); it's just going to be numbed, trimmed, and then have a stitch or two--just 30 mins or so, with probably a follow up appointment the following week. It doesn't sound like it's a traumatic procedure, so we'll see, and it's small enough that it won't take too long to fix or heal.

I asked about whether or not skin and muscle repair would stretch in yoga, and she didn't think it would. Skin might loosen as we age, but it probably won't stretch as I was concerned about. I still think I'll be cautiously stretching in yoga because my skin isn't getting any younger, and generally, all over my body, it's losing its elasticity (purely due to age at least).

They took the After pics, which were a LOT easier for me to handle than the before pics (let me tell you!). I wonder if we ever get copies of those pics. I'll ask at the dog ear appointment.
So anyway, all is well with me, and I hope it is with you too. I'll post pics in a sec, and then I'll post an update of the dog ear repair and recovery.

Just a note of encouragement: with a TT, I know that this whole process can seem trying at times, and if you're early in the healing, six months can seem to be LIGHT YEARS away from you, but hang in there. The healing does happen, and it is worth it. While the months didn't exactly fly by, as the healing progressed and I returned to normal life, the time passed more quickly, and before I really knew it, I was at six months. I can't tell you how much I love my new TT; I was pretty confident in my body image before the TT, but now I feel so much more confident with my new TT. I didn't realize that I minded my ol' tummy that much, but now it's been fixed, I can tell you that I'm just more confident and stronger. I love my tighter abs, and I love being able to wear with confidence my new tighter tops. The whole TT rocks, and your's will too.
Hang in there, fellow TT Warriors! You'll get there too!

6 month pics

Scar at six months

All is well at pretty much seven months. I'm posting a pic of my scar at 7 months or so. It's looking great with parts of it having faded to almost invisible most of the time.

I still swell above my scar but below my belly button after exertion, so I'll ask my PS at my next visit when that will go away. Apart from that, I feel great about the whole process. Hope you do too!

Dog ear repair and swelling update

I had my dog ear repaired today--right hip, about 1cm so pretty minor apparently in Dog Ear Land, but from my perspective, worth getting fixed. It was a pretty minor repair (although the doc and the nurse both wore surgical caps and masks, and it was done in the OR, which surprised me. I was expecting just a little doctor's type fix.) I just had a local shot in the dog ear, and then it was really just a few snips and a few stitches, with it all completed in 15 mins or so.

I am now the proud owner of a steristrip on my repair for the next week or so, and I can't shower today, but beyond that, it was pretty painless---literally. I'm sitting here, having walked the dog and done a home crossfit workout (burpees, situps, squats, pushups, plank etc) without any problems. I did have some minor repair bleeding when I accidentally knocked the stitches when I was changing into my workout stuff, but that bleeding has stopped, so all is well.

I asked the PS about the swelling I get at the end of the day after workouts (or just a busy day), and she said that some pts have swelling for a year, but it eventually resolves. It's nothing like I had in the early days of the TT, but I'm looking forward to when it goes away for good.

And I think I have a teeny tiny hernia in my abs, likely from a scar from an earlier minor ab surgery pre-TT. I'm not sure who'll take responsibility for that, but it's not big enough to draw any attention to at this point. My one concern is that my HMO will deny it as their problem, even though they were the original surgery that caused it, because they'll think that the last person who touched it (my PS) caused it. I guess we'll cover that when we get there.

Hope all is well with you all and that you're healing well and happy.

TT pix 10.5 months

All is well here. Still plant-based diet, still doing Bikram, still doing 10k or more steps a day, and still doing 300 crunches a day--the crunches only take 10 mins, so worth doing.

I have found Fitbit zip plus the Fitbit app, the Lift app, and the Myfitnesspal app all really helpful in building and maintaining healthy habits to maintain my Tt investment. If you're interested, they might work for you too.

Have a great day and happy healing!

One year update!

Wow. Amazing that it's already one year. TT healing is like the parenting saying: The days are long, but the years are short. :) I remember the healing process very clearly and thinking that it was taking forever. Yet here I am, at the 12 month point, and loving my results. I'm so grateful for my PS, Dr Clark, and her skilled surgical work. It really is worth taking your time to choose a PS whose work reflects your own aesthetics. I wanted an athletic square waist (and not a princess waist), and Dr Clark helped me achieve that goal.

Residuals: I still have some numbness on my lower abs, my incision can be tender if it gets knocked into, and the top sides of my thighs can be tingly. The feelings, however, are coming back gradually, and I'm optimistic that they'll keep improving.

Would I do this again? Absolutely. My tummy is tight and taut, and it's exactly what I wanted it to be. I love going into yoga in just a sports bra and tiny shorts and having a tight ab, and I love wearing tighter fitting shirts without worrying about my belly button sticking out.

I'm still a fitness nut--yoga, workout, crunches, and I still eat vegan and healthily, using all those apps listed above to help me maintain and achieve my goals. My tt is an investment, and I need to take care of it, just as I would any other valuable asset.

Wherever you are in the healing process, I hope it's going well for you and that you're loving (or will love) the results. Healing takes time, but it happens. Hang in there, and happy healing to you!

One year pics

Here are my one year pics. So happy with my results and so grateful for my good fortune to make this happen.
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon

Dr Clark is the bomb! She is a great doctor, and I trusted her within the first two minutes I met her. She provides a very honest opinion of your options, and her demeanor is friendly, professional, and honest. I'm PO Day 8, and I'm healing right on schedule. She's responsive and prompt via email, if you have questions between appointments, and her staff and office are both wonderful and welcoming. The tummy tuck itself is going to look fabulous. I had a virtual consult from her website, and within 24 hours of emailing the pics to her, Dr Clark has responded back in detail describing how she could help me improve my tummy. I had a consult on a Friday, and then, luckily, she had a cancellation TT on the following Tuesday, so I was able to get my TT completed only three days after my original consult. No time to get nervous! Dr Clark partners her practice with Dr Kaufman, who I didn't research at all because I was looking for a female plastic surgeon. Go with Dr Clark; you won't be disappointed.

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
5 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
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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