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I can’t believe I am finally ready to post here!...

I can’t believe I am finally ready to post here! I’ve been researching this site (and others) for months and months and now I am finally ready to ‘join’ the community ;) My tummy tuck is scheduled for Dec. 19th of this year- barely a month away!

I am a 30 year old female who, over the course of the last 4 years has lost 80lbs by changing my diet and exercise habits, and have kept it off. Ever since I was in high school, even at a much lower weight, I have always carried my weight in my stomach, especially that lower ‘pooch’ area. As I got serious about my weight loss I was ecstatic to see my hard work was paying off and my body was changing for the better- except when it came to my tummy. As I lost the weight, my stomach definitely shrank, but it also left behind this awful hanging skin. Of course, I feel SO much better about how I look and am proud of myself for the work I’ve put in, but, even though I know I look and feel so much better, I still agonize over that skin pouch, flap, whatever you want to call it, every time I look in the mirror.

I’ve been considering a tummy tuck for about the last 2 years. At first it was just a “Wow! Wouldn’t it be nice to get this done and get rid of that skin?” but it was really just a pipe dream, because of the cost and my own reservations. However, over those past 2 years, I’ve been thinking on it more and more, and doing more and more research, talking to my doctor, etc. For about the last 6 months I’ve been actively pursuing how to make a tummy tuck happen for me. I did a ton of research on the procedure and different surgeons in my area. I found my surgeon in late September and had a consultation to just see what my options were. She is great! After numerous ‘before’ photos, and letters from my general practitioner, who’s seen me go through this whole process, I got the phone call yesterday that my TT was thankfully deemed medically necessary by my insurance company and the cost is going to be mostly covered by them! It only took one more phone call, and now my surgery is on the books for over my Christmas break! I’m a teacher, so I have 2 weeks off at that time and I took an additional school week off as well (might as well use those sick days I NEVER use!) so I will end up with 24 days of recovery time before I have to go back to my third graders ;) Hopefully that will be enough….

One concern people always have for me when I’ve mentioned wanting a tummy tuck is the fact that I don’t have children yet. This is true- and I may still want kids in the future, and it’s something I’ve had to think long and hard about as well. However, I KNOW that I spent my entire twenties HATING the way I looked, especially my stomach. I do NOT want to spend my thirties feeling the same way simply because there is still a chance I may have a kid of two. This extra skin I have now is a complete hindrance to my ability to work out as best I could, has caused me to have uncomfortable issues with sweating and rashes in that area, and so on. I’ve decided the benefits to my self-esteem and just over all well-being are greater than the fact that I could end up with some other skin issues in the future if I have children. That being said, I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone who may have had a TT and then had another child, just to get that perspective.

SO- after that kind of long winded introduction, I’m just so excited to get this ball rolling! ? I know there will be a long recovery, pain, and some depression in my future after the surgery, but reading so many stories here on this site has really helped me to feel more prepared for that and know that there is hope on the other side and it will get better! My surgeon thinks I will only need maybe a stitch or two in one small section of my ab muscles to tighten up that littler area where I have a small hernia, but other than that, it should be strictly skin removal, so I’m hoping that will shorten some of the discomfort time during my recovery.

My next pre-op appointment with my surgeon isn’t until Dec. 3rd, so I won’t know much more until then- I’ve already got a new list of questions to be sure to ask when I see her, ha!

**I’ll be posting pics of my ‘before’ stomach in a few days. NO ONE ever sees that part of me so this is a huge, uncomfortable step for me, but I feel like I need to do it!

Pictures as promised....yikes!

Of course they took before pictures at my first consultation a while back, but I didn't actually see those. I feel like if I am going to really document this, I need to document all of it- I know looking at other people's "before and afters" really helped me! Plus, hopefully in a few months I'll get to look back on these and feel the relief that comes with being happy with my new tummy! :)

Less than a month to go!

I can't believe I have less than a month to wait before my TT! 25 days! It seems like plenty of time, but not nearly enough at the same time ;) I feel like I have so much to do to get ready and not nearly enough time to do it- I'm coaching cheerleading for the middle school in my district this year, as well as performing in a Christmas play on Dec. 13th and 14th, so between the cheer practices/games and the play practices and performances, I feel like I'm so busy and running out of time! I know I'll need to get my house cleaned, make all my sub plans for my school absence, grocery shop for fresh, non-salty/bloaty foods, get myself some big cotton panties and comfy sweats, and seemingly a million other things before the big day! Yikes! How do you people with young kids do all this? ;)

I had a question for anyone else getting their TT around the same time as me- with the holidays being so close to my surgery, I'm worried that I'll still be super sore and "gross" at Christmas time, which kind of bums me out. I'll only be about 6 days post op on Christmas Day and about 12 days post op for New Years. Anyone else having anxiety about that? I'm assuming I'll still have my drains in at Christmas and possibly even still at New Years, and I think that's the part that's freaking me out the most. Nothing would ever make me change my mind about the surgery- I still think despite it all, it will be my best Christmas gift ever, but I'm still anxious about spending the holidays in pain :( Does anyone else have any advice about how they are dealing with their surgery being over the holidays???

17 days! Pre-op appointment tomorrow!

I've got my first official pre-op appointment with my surgeon tomorrow morning at 9am and I can't wait! I had my initial consultation back in October, but then it was the waiting game with figuring out insurance and financing, yada, yada....I'm so ready to sit down with her again and work out the details for my surgery. I've got like 2 pages of questions to ask her, lol! After all the research I've continued to do and all the advice from reviews I've combed over on here, I have so many things I want to go over with her about the big TT day. I'm just so ready to feel not only excited about the potential of what is to come, but be more at ease about the surgery and recovery. Hopefully that happens (in part at least) tomorrow. I'll do a quick update again after my appointment and hopefully I'll have an even better outlook on getting to the "flat side" ;)

Under 2 weeks to go!

10 days til TT day! Can't believe it! It is so completely surreal to me how I have fantasized about getting this problem fixed for literally YEARS and now it's 10 days away from being a reality- well, probably 10 days and 6 months before it's a completely realized, "flat" reality ;)

I had my pre-op appointment last week and got a chance to go over the procedure and whole process more with my surgeon. I hadn't met with her since October and I was staring to get nervous and second guess everything. Once I got to talk to Dr. Randolph again, it all felt ok though ;) She has such a calming manner and is open to any question I have. Her office staff are WONDERFUL and always make me feel like they are there to answer any questions I have! I took a list of things to ask about and still ended up forgetting things- mostly about after surgery stuff like tips for taking care of the incision and healing and what not, but I figure I can do that after the fact. Plus, I've already learned a lot from reading all the stories and suggestions here as well!

I found out the time of my surgery finally- 10am, so I won't have to get there until 8:30, so that gives me at least a little time to get my wits about me in the morning beforehand ;) I also found out that since my surgery is deemed 'medically necessary' and is being (mostly) covered by insurance, I am going to be kept overnight as 'inpatient' in their recovery center. This makes me feel a lot better since I will then have access to pain meds through my IV until I go home the next day and will have a nurse right there to chat with if I start freaking out about anything right after surgery. Plus, I then get to have my next day post op appoint with Dr. Randolph right there before I leave the day after surgery instead of having to ride the 45 mins home and then come right back the following day. **Has anyone else stayed overnight after their surgery? Just wondering what your experience with that was like....

I'm including some more pre-op pics today- basically to remind myself what I hate about my stupid skin pooch NOW, so I can look back at that when I'm in pain and wondering what in the world I've done! ;) Mostly, I feel ok with the way I look in clothes, but I am really excited to get rid of the stupid crease, fold, line, whatever you want to call it that I have going on in the lower half of my pants from my hanging belly skin! I hate that I can't tuck things in or wear shorter shirts without a cami underneath to conceal that added girth. And that I have to wear my pants up so high to hold in my pooch! You can't even see my belly button because it is always covered up by my pant's waist line! And speaking of belly buttons, I'm including the other picture because I'm wondering what my belly button is actually going to look like when it doesn't have a flap of skin hanging over it? I never actually see it now so I took a picture holding back that skin just to see if what I might end up with in the belly button department after surgery- we'll see how it compares!

Today's the day!

My surgery got bumped up to 9:15 so it's under 3 hours away! Absolutely can not believe it! I'm so excited but so nervous- I barely slept last night. Though I guess I'll be sleeping a lot in the next few days hopefully ;) And hopefully soon I'll have great after photos to share!

I survived! ;)

I'm awake and feeling pretty ok- surgery took about 3 hours and now I'm in the recovery center where I'll be staying overnight, thankfully! I get a morphine pump for tonight so that has been wonderful! I'm hooked up to so many things, I can't even! Lol!

I won't get to really see anything until next week when my doc checks me out, but I'm hoping to have some pics to post next week.

Once I am home for a couple days I'll try to update with my progress and keep checking other's stories for advice ;)

Home again home again jiggity jig! ;)

Made it home in one piece! So to speak ;) My surgeon came in and checked me over this morning and said everything looked really good and went very smoothly. My belly button is a little oozy, but not so bad that is soaked through or anything. At the angle I was looking at it I'm afraid it seems a little off center but my sister assured me it looks fine ;)

Staying overnight in the recovery center was so worth it! The nursing staff both there and in the OR were wonderful, made me feel right at ease and answered all of my questions.

I've been able to get up to go to the bathroom about 6 times since surgery and it's not too awful so that's been good! I'm still pretty nervous about getting super constipated but I guess that just comes with the territory. I've been taking a stool softener and drinking juice. I bought some laxative suppositories for the future, just in case! ;)

Doc said I can undo my binder and air it out every once in awhile while I'm laying down, since I can't take a shower until Monday! I have 2 drains, but the nurses said they were emptying well and not with just a ton of fluid so if that keeps up I might be able to get them out sooner. Doc said she'll prob take one out on Monday and leave the other just a little longer to be on the safe side. I'm really anxious to see my actual incision scar at that appointment too! From what I can tell with still being all wrapped up, it should be pretty low. Fingers crossed!

So now it's just the waiting game- everyone seems to say that the first 3-4 days are the worst, so hopefully those go by quick!

Thanks again for all the well wishes and advice! I've got a few pics to post and I'll post some of my actual stomach once the doc has my dressings all off next week.

Unwrapped photo

Day 2- super tired!

I slept super soundly last night! Only got up to the alarm I had set to take my pain pills and once to go to the bathroom. But I still feel exhausted today- much more tired than yesterday.

I'm down to one pain pill every 4 hours instead of 2 and that's been fine. I'm hoping to start weaning myself off more and more, probably next week. I don't want to push it too hard but my pain so far as been pretty manageable so I figure the sooner I can be done with the meds the better!

I'm still taking my Miralax once a day and occasional Dulcolax pills as well. So far I don't even feel like a need to go #2, so at least I'm not miserable...yet. But I guess I've only really drank water and juice and then eaten 3 yogurts, a cup of chicken noodle soup, some ritz and saltine crackers, and some whole grain toast since Wednesday night. Maybe there just isn't much in there now anyway ;)

My belly button area is super itchy today and was last night too, so I hope that's fairly normal. Other than that I though I can't even feel my insicions until I try to get up and they pull a little. I can tell I'm still pretty swollen, as I expected.

I'm still undoing my binder every couple of hours while I'm lying down and I'm using the walker to help with the back pain as I shuffle around. But I have to say, so far (knock on wood) everything has actually gone better than I expected! I sure hope that keeps up! ;) Monday at 9:45 am can't get here soon enough! I'm ready to see what I'm really working with here and get more reassurance from the doc! Pics will follow that appointment. I continue to cherish the advice and support from everyone out there on RS. I think I'd be lost throughout this process without you!

Get these things outta me!

Ok- I need these drains gone! It's not so much that they hurt, but they are so annoying and it's starting to get really sore around the area that they go in :( My 'output' is slowing down for sure, but it's still a bloody color. Lighter than before, but it worries me that I'll have to have them in longer....I'm supposed to get one out on Monday.

I'm also stressed out that I haven't gotten to see my actual incision yet. The doc checked my belly button on Friday before I left the recovery center and checked for 'oozing' anywhere under the other bandage which I didn't have. But it seems like a lot of people already have their dressings off by now and are walking around without their binders and drains and now I'm getting worried since I'm not! Boo hoo! I'm sure I'm just being a baby and getting to the point in recovery where I'm second guessing everything. Couple that with the fact that I can't shower yet and it makes for one miserable me! :(

Thankfully I am still in very little pain. I can walk around pretty easily and almost completely upright if I wanted too, but I'm still using the walker for support for my back and trying not to stretch things out too much. I get up every 3 hours and walk around the house several times. I'd stay upright longer if I wasn't still so tired.

Anyway- thanks for being a place to vent! Today is just one of those days.

Quick day 3 post op pic

As the day goes in I've been much more mobile and feel like I need the walker less and less (still using some to help my back). Unfortunately I started my period today as well- probably contributing to my gloomy mood and the swelling I'm already having. I'm still pretty wrapped up but I thought if post a quick photo of what you can actually see. I feel like the lower left side is more swollen and the upper right side by my belly button too, making me look uneven, but I'm assuming (and hoping) that will even out with time.

Apparently pic didn't go the first time so, let's try this again....

One down, one to go!

Yehaw! Got one of my drains out today! It was the one that always had very little drainage anyway. My doc said that the other one is looking good as well and I have relatively little output with that one too, but she wants to leave it for another week to be safe. So I'll get the other one out next Monday when I go in for my next appointment. So, hopefully I'll feel like a 'real' human being again on Dec. 30th ;)

I've had much more energy today, though I do still tire easily. My surgeon's office is about a 40 min drive from where I live so while it did take a lot out of me just to ride in the car, it was nice to get to be out of the house for awhile. I feel like I am standing much more straight today as well, but I'm trying not to push it too much as things do still feel tight.

I also got all of my dressings removed at the appointment today! I still have the steri strips over my incision so it's still pretty dark and 'gunky' looking, but the doc said she would remove that and put new ones on at the next visit. She said they were still fresh enough today that if she tried to take them off now I would bleed quite a bit. No need for that! But overall my scar line looks like it should turn out pretty nice when its all healed up. It's pretty thin and even and low. There is one spot on my left hip that looks to me like it could be a potential dog ear problem but doc says we'll keep an eye on it and go from there. Too early to get too far ahead of ourselves ;) My new belly button is looking great I think! It has to stay dressed for awhile still so it heals properly (a nice deep innie" lol) so I don't have a pic of that yet, but I'll take one the next time I change the bandage. Overall my tummy is a million times better than before! I'm trying to look past the swelling and lopsided-ness that goes with that and just know that there is a lot of healing to do before I'm at that final result, but so far so good I think! ;)

Oh and I got to finally shower today and it was the most glorious thing EVER!!!

Ups and downs

Well, today has been a roller coaster of emotions. I felt really good yesterday, and woke up this mornings feeling pretty rested. I finnnnnally had a real BM and even though it was not at all pleasant, it was such a huge relief! Literally, lol! Hopefully that means things will keep moving along in that department ;) I've cut back on the pain meds too, so that should help as well.

Things just kind of went down hill from there, unfortunately. I think I may have just pushed myself a little too much yesterday and this morning while I was feeling so good because the rest of the day I have been in swell hell for sure! My upper abs around my belly button are so swollen and so are my lady parts ;) The remaining drain site looks fine and doesn't hurt or anything so I think that's all fine. My incision area feels so tight though with all the swelling and it seems like no matter how I lay or sit its pulling and I'm uncomfortable.

I know there are just good days and bad days and its part of the process. I think all this being in bed over the holidays and the fact that I'm on my period just got the better of me today and I spent a good portion of my day in tears. I just want to be able to enjoy my favorite holiday foods, and traditions, and time with my family, and instead I'm stuck in bed. And my incision is still all taped up and gross and I just wanna rip that off and clean it up! Sigh....*end pity party*

I know I asked for this and really I'm probably doing really well, and I really am so thankful that I was able to do this for myself and in the long run it will be sooooo worth it! But Lord have mercy, today just sucked! ;)

Thanks for giving me a place to vent and for sharing all of your insight into this whole process! I hope all of you lovely folks are enjoying your Christmas Eve! God bless!

Back among the living!

Well after a couple days of rest and recouping, I'm feeling relatively normal again ;) I didn't do myself any favors over the holidays when it came to eating- yikes! Seems I got my appetite back just as everyone was bringing over Christmas sweets and wow, I def over indulged! The only upside to that was that it seemed to get my bowels moving again....a mixed blessing, lol!

Had some major swelling for a few days and I'm still dealing with that off and on, as many of you are first hand familiar with....just feeling tight in general but I am standing about 95% straight I'd say, so that's something.

I'm a little nervous about my scarring- I think the placement is great, but I still have a lot of the tape on so I can't see how everything really looks. But I do feel like the stitching on the ends at my hips is kinda mmmm rough looking I guess. Is that normal? At the places where the tape is loose my incision seems pretty thin but its already kind of hard and raised which worries me. I have another post op tomorrow so I'll def be talking to my surgeon about it, but she hasn't seemed too concerned with the scar in our past conversations- she said you really just have to give it time to heal and actually "be what it's going to be" and then if I need some revision we'll go from there. I'm hoping *fingers crossed* that I won't need any, but I feel better knowing she is more than willing to fix things if I need it and it should all be covered with my insurance. As I've mentioned before, I'm a little disappointed in noticing that my belly button isn't completely centered, but in looking back at old photos it does seem that my original bb was off centered a bit too so that may just be where mine was meant to be ;) And really, all of that aside, I'm still so pleased to no longer be carrying around that skin apron I was dealing with before! My stomach is just so much smoother overall and I feel like yes, there are still imperfections, and some of those may fade as I heal and some my not, but my tummy is so much more true to the work I've put in and feels like me ;) I'm not sure how confident I'll be in a bikini or naked, haha, but I already love how much better I look in clothes!

So that's my update so far- still sleeping on my back, which I hate! But I'm finally supposed to get my other drain out tomorrow and then hopefully I can wear normal clothes again and start trying to sleep on my sides. Other than that, I'm feeling pretty good and looking forward to about another 15 days off before I have to return to work- hoping to be more the 'real me' by then! ;)

Oh one last thing- I want to start some scar treatment next week since I'm basically all healed up and I was wondering if anyone had any strong recommendations on products that have worked well for them in that department? Like I said, my scar line seems pretty thin and I know the coloring takes time to fade, so I'm mostly just concerned with the hard, raised feeling it has right now. I've been doing some research and will continue to check with my surgeon too of course, but I'd like to hear from some trusted RS friends! ;)

Hodge podge pics of this week's recovery

Here are some photos of the days just after Christmas- they show the swelling a few days ago and my belly button progress. I haven't taken any in the last 2 days but I will after my other drain comes out tomorrow!

Drains gone gone gone!!!

Literally just left the surgeon's office and I'm finally drain free!!! Wheeee!!! Hoping all those extra days helps ensure I don't have any issues with fluid from here on out...I know that can still happen but I'm hoping after 11 days with a drain that the fluid will cut me some slack and behave ;)

I'm getting ready to head home after a teensy bit of shopping first. My very first real outting since surgery so I'll def make it brief. I'll post pics and a more thorough update of how my appointment went either later today or tomorrow.

You win some, you lose some

So, yesterday I had my 2nd post op appointment. The office staff and my surgeon said they couldn't believe it had only been 11 days since my surgery because I looked so good and was healing nicely, so yay! ;) All the tape came off and they cleaned up my incision area and put new tape on- what a difference! everything looks less ugly now, lol. My doc doesn't want me to start any major scar treatment for a little while. She said she finds people have better results if they wait until the scar has started pigmenting more, after it is healed up well. But she said I could go ahead and start using whatever scar cream or vitamin E oil I want on it the next couple weeks.

I completely forgot to ask while I was there, but I think I'm going to go ahead and switch to wearing my Spanx instead of the compression binder they gave me. She had said it was fine to take that off periodically anyway to just let everything breathe and I really feel like the Spanx give me more all over support anyway, without cutting in to me as much as the binder. I have 3 pairs of the legless kind that come all the way up to under the boobs so they give great, even coverage and I can switch them out and wash them. I'm going to call her office after New Year's and double check that it's ok, but I feel like if my body feels ok with it, it should be fine ;)

How soon did you all start doing some light cardio? I'll be 2 weeks post op on Thursday and obviously on Swell Hell days (like today-yikes!) I don't feel like doing anything, but I'd like to start at least like walking on the treadmill whenever I'm feeling good. I'm completely terrified of gaining back weight! I know there is some extra hanging around because of fluid and swelling right now, but now that I'm so much happier with my stomach, I'd really like to get my arms, legs, and butt back in shape and drop about 10ish lbs from where I was at the time of my surgery.

Anyhoo- after my appointment yesterday, my mom and sisters and I did a smidge of shopping while we were in town and I felt really good. When I got home I caved and tried on a bunch of my clothes. All of my shirts and dresses look sooooo much better on me already! I tried on some underwear that I always felt to fat in before with my belly and they fit so nicely now. I even tried on my bikini bottoms (that I only ever wore at my parents backyard pool, not in public!) and I was thrilled with how they look- completely cover my scar and sit nice on my hips now. Most of my pants fit pretty ok right now. There are a couple of pairs from when I was a little thinner this summer that are snug that I didn't want to risk trying to button right now. I think after the swelling goes down though they should be fine and I may even be able to go down a size once I can finally start exercising again. And when the holidays are over and I stop eating like crap! But overall, I was really pleased with my new shape in my old clothes ;) That's all I really ever wanted- to feel confident in the clothes I love. No more lumps and bumps and rolls and lower belly buldge to make me feel bad when I look in the mirror.

BUT all the activity might have been a bit much cause- whoa! I must have pushed things more than I thought yesterday and/or consumed way to much salt (damn you eating out!) because today I am the most swollen I have been during this whole process! My stomach is so tight and like rock hard! I look like I'm 5 months pregnant. I hope this is just one of those days and not a sign that I'm gonna swell a bunch more now that my other drain is out- do NOT want to deal with any fluid problems, so fingers crossed! It probably didn't help that I slept in my own bed last night for the first time since the TT and it didn't go super well. I'd been staying with my parents and using their amazing temperpedic bed which has the ability to raise and lower the head and feet so it was perfect! I never had any back pain at all from that thing! But, once my drain came out, I was anxious to get home. I tried to keep my head and legs propped up with pillows but it just wasn't the same and I woke up with super bad neck and shoulder pain this morning :( I bought a wedge pillow today hoping that will help things. If not, my dad said he will bring over a recliner for me to use for awhile and see if that is better.

Sorry for the long post! Hopefully it was somewhat informative and useful for someone ;) I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year's! I know even with all the ups and downs and more still to come, this was the best end to my 2013 possible! Looking forward to the new me in 2014!

Happy two-week-iversary to me! ;)

Not too much to report, other than I'm glad to have made it to 2 weeks post op! Still dealing with major and minor swelling off and on. It's pretty much confined to the area between my incision and my belly button area right now, though I do also have some swelling in my hips too. While it is certainly REALLY uncomfortable, I know it's just part of the process. So far I haven't felt like I'm retaining any pockets of fluid or anything- hopefully that remains that case!

Still not liking sleeping in my bed so yesterday my wonderful father brought over a recliner for me to use for awhile. It doesn't really fit in my living room but I could care less, lol! I still hate not being able to sleep on my side or stomach, but in the recliner it's much more manageable. Think I'll stick to that for at least another week or 2.

I was wondering who else out there had their drain tubes placed in the pubic area? I know that's a pretty common placement but I was just wondering how those areas scar? Mine are still red and scabbed over right now so I just wanted an idea of how others look once they are healed...do those scars fade out eventually too? Oh, and how's everyone's belly button doing? I stumbled across some reviews where women had their belly buttons close up completely and it freaked me out! So far mine seems fine, but of course, I'm a worrier. I started putting a ball of gauze back in my bb like I did when it was still fresh, just to give me peace of mind ;)

That's pretty much all I have going on. I'm still amazed how different I can feel day to day. Some days I feel like I'm good to go and do anything and some days I'm still forced to stay put on the couch or in the recliner due to the swelling and exhaustion. I don't go back to work until the 13th so I still have a good amount of time to get some more rest. I'm posting some 2 week pictures just for reference. Still a might swollen, but I'm still thrilled with the way my undies fit and look now!

Almost 3 weeks! Yippee!

Hey all!

I figured I would just start posting weekly-ish now that I'm a few weeks into my recovery. Not much new to report. I'm still dealing with the on and off 'swell hell' we all get to deal with. I usually feel pretty great in the mornings and then as the day wears on I get that tight feeling more and more until bed time. I feel more swollen in my hips now as I guess stuff tries to work it's way around the incision. I hope that's temporary- I've always had bigger hips, and I'm totally fine with my curves, but I don't want them to stay THIS big forever! I know it's just part of the process but I'm def. ready for it to get better! ;) I'm just so ready to be able to wear my normal pants again and *fingers crossed* get to the point where I can maybe even buy a smaller size.

I've been wearing my binder at night and then wearing my Spanx during the day to get ready for that process when I go back to work next week. I know that first week is gonna be pretty rough so I'm just hoping my students are extra sympathetic for a little while, lol!

I'm hoping that now that I've had my drains out for over a week that I'm past the major risk of getting a seroma. I've not had any problems so far outside of what seems to be normal swelling and that 'hard' tummy feeling. I've not felt sloshy or seen any fluid build up, so I'm hoping that means I'm pretty much out of the woods in that department.

I'm still sleeping in my recliner, though I'd like to move back to my bed later this week if I can. I think maybe it's just more of a comfort thing- I get nervous lying too flat and even though I'm dying to sleep on my sides, it's still scares me.

All in all, I'm feeling pretty darn good- more tired than I'd like, but good ;) I'm calling my surgeon's office tomorrow to see if I can get cleared to start some kind of light cardio- I'm getting so nervous about not being able to work out! I'm also starting back up on Weight Watchers on Monday when I also go back to work. I need to get my eating back under control now that the holidays are officially over. Especially since my exercise is so limited. I'd really like to drop around 10 lbs for the summer months, and tone back up. I ran a half marathon last July and my legs were in great shape and I'd really like to get back to that ;) I'm hoping to be good to go to start training in late March to run a 10K in June. Something to shoot for! I'm gonna try to start walking on the treadmill next week and then possibly start up with yoga and low impact step aerobics at my gym. Gonna clear it with my surgeon and just try to listen to my body.

Incision and belly button looking pretty good! As I've said before, I'm super happy with the low placement for where my scar will be and I think my belly button is looking really nice! I have a nice innie that seems to be healing really well and not showing a lot of scarring. I'm still a little nervous about it closing up too much so I'll keep an eye on that, and I do think it is a little off center- though as I said, I think it may always have been and I just never noticed when I had that 'cave' bb because of my hanging skin. I still have the tape on my incision from my last post op and I'll leave that on probably until Monday and then change it. Doc said to keep it taped because it helps with it not raising up and then just change the tape ever 1-2 weeks, so that's the plan until further notice.

Hope all of you are healing up nicely and feeling better and better! And to those of you still waiting for your turn- keep checking in on this site! It did so much to help me answer my many questions and just calm my nerves. Good luck!

Can't sleep, so quick pics and scar update

I took my tape off completely for the first time (outside of the surgeon doing it in her office) so I got my first real look at my scar line. On one hand, slightly terrifying and on the other, not so bad ;) I like that it's relatively thin and has a good curve to it. It feels a little raised right now but I'm sure that's normal. I'm a little nervous about a possible dog ear on my left hip, but I'm trying not to worry too much about it this early on. I know a lot of what I'm seeing has to do with the swelling (which is really bad tonight!) and that the scar will change a lot before it's at the final result.

I'm going to stick with paper tape- I'll be switching it off every few days, or as it's needed when it starts falling off. I know some people swear by the silicone sheets and I may switch to that later but my surgeon really recommends the continued paper taping for the first months before moving on to the silicone sheets and I'm gonna go ahead and stick with her recommendations . I figure I trusted her to cut me open and put me back together so I should follow her directions ;)

I am interested in starting some massaging of my scar in between tapings and I wondered what you all might recommend. In this area my surgeon really left it up to me and had no preference. She said the massaging of the scar is good and I can use bio oil, vitamin e oil, mederma, ect. Do any of you have strong opinions on what has worked the best for you?

Back to work blues

First day back to work today and I may literally explode! This is by far the most swollen I have been thus far! :( I know it is all part of the process and I know I probably did too much today but Holy Moses! As a 3rd grade teacher it is very hard for me to "take it easy" at work. My students were great, they weren't a problem at all- and I know I shouldn't be standing all the time however, I feel like I need to wear my binder to hold everything in BUT then trying to sit in it for any amount of time is a nightmare so I was up and down a lot! It's a lose-lose....it also probably didn't help that I had a doctor's appointment right after school for my thyroid checkup, followed by a middle school basketball game (I'm the cheerleading coach but thank goodness for my wonderful co-workers! One of them offered to stay and watch my squad for me so I could go home at 6 instead of 8). Needless to say, a 7am to 8pm on my first day back was not a great choice but I didn't have much of a way around it.

All that aside, this has not made me regret having the surgery! I'm really trying to keep those flat days I've had in mind and look back on all my before pics for perspective. HOWEVER this swelling is really taking a toll on my mood. It's hard to stay positive and focus on the end result when I feel like I'm going to burst and still can't wear my old clothes :( I know everyone goes through this but arghhhhhh! It sucks!

So, anyhoo, no tummy pictures for me today as I can't even bring myself to look at it, but in an effort to keep everything in perspective I'm posting some before and after pictures of myself at my heaviest weight (nearly 240 lbs) compared to some shots of myself from (before surgery but) after the weight loss at around 150-160 lbs. I need to remember I've come so far already and when my body finally cooperates and stops swelling up like crazy (and I can work out again!), I'll be so much happier and proud of my work again and have the stomach I worked for.

PS- I officially started back on Weight Watchers today and despite the fact that I also started my period (thanks for the extra bloat and depression Mother Nature) I have done a good job all day and haven't felt like I was starving. So wish me luck in that continued endeavor ;)

Swelling- how I hate you...let me count the ways!

Not a whole lot new to report- still swelling progressively throughout the day. Today was a particularly bad day for that, but I also was on my feet longer because I had lunchroom duty and my stupid period was particularly awful today as well....grrrr! So, I'm assuming that made things worse today than they have been before. I still don't see any signs of seromas or anything. I'm just very, very tight everywhere! I had a lot more swelling in my upper abs today than I usually do too. I can't think of anything that I did differently today that would cause that, so I'm assuming it's just part of the ups and downs of the process.

I still have no regrets! Even though I'm "fat" and miserable by the afternoon, I LOVE how I look in the mornings when I first wake up! I'm still even a tad swollen then, but I still feel like my stomach looks pretty great and I really like my shape. So hopefully when that extra swelling is gone too, I'll feel like a knockout ;)

Finally! A day without too much puffiness!

Finally, a day where I didn't look 4 months pregnant by the end of the day! Lol! Granted, I didn't have to work today so I wasn't on my feet quite as much, but still! There was def still a little swelling in the morning and it got a little worse as the day went on but not nearly as bad as it has been- hopefully when I'm also off my period in a couple of days that will continue or get even better ;)

I seem to have misplaced my incision tape somewhere, so I just decided to leave it uncovered today after my shower. I'll buy new tape tomorrow if I can't find it since I'm gonna pick up some kind of scar cream/oil tomorrow anyway.

That's about it- glad to have a day where I felt pretty good the whole time. Hopefully that continues or I at least have more days like this each week. Hope all of you lovely ladies are healing up nicely! Have a great rest of the weekend!

Just some questions...

Does anyone else find themselves with more swelling in their upper abs at random times? Most of the time mine is confined to my hips and the area between my belly button and the incision line, but sometimes lately, it's weirdly like all above my belly button...hmmmm. I guess it happens more on days where I've eaten a big meal and maybe because my lower tummy is tighter now all that food bloat is just migrating north? Lol- does that seem plausible? Just wondering if anyone else has noticed this happening.

Also, those of you using paper tape on your incision, how often are you changing it? I just started using bio oil on my scar line and it says to apply it twice a day, but I'm also taping my incision still per my PS suggestion and I wasn't sure if it's ok to change the tape everyday or if that will irritate my skin...thoughts?

Coming up on 6 weeks!

Can't believe it- 6 weeks post op on Thursday! In the last week or so my swelling has seemed to subside somewhat, though the more active I am the more I swell. I suppose it will be that way for awhile yet. I've been able to wear my regular pants to work lately, so that's progress. I still don't feel comfortable in some of my pants that were tighter on me before- I can get them on and button them but with the numbness and random swelling, they feel weird and I don't think they'd be very comfortable by the end of the day.

I'm a little discouraged to find that my hip and waist measurements haven't changed really since the surgery :( I'm hoping that's just because I'm still swelling, especially in the hips. I definitely already feel better and more confident in my clothes, everything lays flatter and I don't have the weird buldges, and really that's what I wanted the most going into this. But it sure would be nice to see some pounds and inches come off still....

On that note, I started back up on Weight Watchers recently and have done "ok"- I've cheated pretty bad on the weekends but have still managed to lose about 3.5 pounds. I'm starting back to the gym for the first time tonight too so I'm nervous and excited about that! Hopefully in the coming weeks I'll see some muscle tone returning and knock off a few more pounds! I'll keep y'all posted on how the workouts go in the coming weeks.

I have my next post op visit on Monday so I'll update again with any news I get after that. I've got some "bumps" under my scar line in just 2 small areas that I'm a little nervous about that I'll have the surgeon check on. They don't hurt or anything and they don't feel like they have fluid or anything in them cause they're pretty hard. Maybe just scar tissue built up in those particular areas???

I'm posting some pictures today to show my how my scar is looking and the swelling I still have going on. Hope everyone is doing well!

Almost 9 weeks post- can you believe it?!

Well hello RealSelf friends! Long time no see! ;) I've been busy busy busy the last few weeks, and honestly there hasn't be a TON of changes in my TT journey since my last post. I do have a couple of things to mention though and a pic to post.

I really felt like the 6/7 week mark was a turning point for me. I'm still swelling by the end of the day and depending on my diet and how active I am on any given day, I do still get that upper ab swelling and in my hips. However, it is soooo much better than what I was dealing with a little earlier in my recovery. My surgeon said it's very common to have some level of swelling all the way up to 6-12 months after surgery, so I'm glad she prepared me for that. But like I said, the swelling is not nearly as bad now and I can usually anticipate it based on how my day is going.

I started back to the gym around 6/7 weeks as well, and at first I was just going maybe a couple of times a week and doing minimal stuff. I tried jogging on the treadmill early on and could barely do a minute! Considering I have done multiple 5k's and a half marathon last summer, that was a bit of a shock for me! I knew taking that much time off would effect my endurance level, and I also just felt weird in the tummy area when I was jogging. Like my lower ab muscles just felt tight and pulled during it. But cut to last week and this week and I feel much better during my workouts! I can jog now with no problems and I'm a couple of weeks in to my 10k training. I still haven't done much in the way of weights or ab stuff, but I'm hoping to do more with that next week and beyond. I didn't have super extensive work done with my muscles during my surgery- it was pretty much all skin removal, so I'm hoping I'll be able to get more abs going soon without too much problem. I've also been doing step aerobics and kickboxing classes without any problems as well. Occasionally I'll have to modify things if we've been doing a lot of jumping exercises or I'll feel that pulling sensation again, but it's nothing major.

Overall, I am still thrilled with my results! My scar is really low and is already pretty thin. I've been using bio oil on it twice a day on average and just massage it a little with that. My surgeon said I'm welcome to use other methods if I feel the need to, but she doesn't start recommending things like silicone sheeting and such until about a year after the surgery once the scar as had time to heal completely and mature. I was taping my scar still to help flatten it, but my skin started to get irritated by the tape. I asked my doc about it and she said to just stop using the tape and not to worry about doing anything else unless I start to notice my scar getting more raised and rope-like. So far that hasn't been an issue.

At my last post op a few weeks ago my doc said she was also thrilled with my progress, so that's good to hear! ;) She said everything is healing wonderfully and everything I've experienced so far is completely normal. And we both love my innie belly button, lol! The scarring with the bb is hidden really well.

I am still just a tad bummed about my measurements. They haven't changed a whole lot since surgery and I don't know if that's because I'm still swelling and stuff or what. I am finally able to wear my pre-surgery pants all the time now. It took awhile for me to feel comfortable in them because even though they went on and zipped up and look great, I knew by the end of the day the swelling would make the waist band tighter and too uncomfortable to wear all day, and I'd start to swell up over the waist band which is a pain! So I'm still basically a size 10. Granted, that size looks SO much better on me now because everything is smoothed out and flatter, but I am really hoping to get down to a size 8 soon! I'm currently still doing WW and hoping to drop 10-15 lbs in time for summer. I'm back down under my surgery day weight which is good, so hopefully with some more gym time, consistently better eating, and swelling subsiding even more, I'll be seeing that scale and inches go down more soon! It's crazy how now that my lower ab pooch/skin is gone, I start to notice my other imperfections so much more- my hips and thighs are driving me crazy! Typical woman right? ;) I keep trying to remind myself that I've come SUCH a long way and I can still put in the work to improve on those things. I didn't have any lipo done and really just had skin removal and some skin tightening with my surgery, so I still have hip fat to deal with and some loose skin/flab above my belly button and I need to be ok with that! I'm a fan of a womanly shape and no one is perfect.

That's about it for now! I don't go back to see my surgeon until June, as long as I don't have any concerns, but I'll still try to post every couple of week until then. I'll also post some comparison pics from before surgery to now and some of me in clothes to show how my things are fitting now. The photo I'm including this time is just of me at the end of a normal work day to show how my swelling is still there but much better ;)

Good luck and happy healing to you all!

Just a few updated pics

Nothing super new going on but I'm posting a few pics today just to show how my scar is doing and how some clothes fit for me at 9 weeks. Sorry if the pics are a bit of an overload- I feel like I post so many, but honestly looking at others progress in pictures is what was really helpful to me so I just try to do what I know helped me along ;) I'll do a workout/weight loss (hopefully!) update in the next couple weeks.

Oops! Forgot I had this comparison one to upload too ;)

2 weeks before surgery compared to 9 weeks after- now I promise I'm done with pics for awhile, lol! I promise I'm really not this full of myself ;) I still have work to do but it's shoes the progress...

16 weeks! (almost)

Helloooooo friends! Tomorrow I’ll be 16 weeks out from surgery. Four months, what?!?! Yeesh- it’s been quite a while since I’ve given you all an update! Apologies all around ;) Honestly, the reason for my hiatus is really just that my life has just gotten back to nearly complete normalcy, which is something I was doubting would ever happen when I was just a few short days/weeks post op. Most of the time I don’t even think about my surgery or incision/scar line at all, which is amazing! I’m actually getting to the point where I can almost forget what I felt/looked like before the surgery, which is so crazy! But I do have a few observations/thoughts to share:

-Swelling: This is pretty much gone now, though I am still always a little flatter in the mornings when I first wake up, but I rarely notice any significant swelling anymore during the day (unless I’ve been working out really hard). However, when I’m on my period-yikes! I never really experienced feeling bloated because of my cycle before, but now I ALWAYS do. Also, it’s not really swelling, but as I’ve mentioned before, if I indulge too much and overeat during a meal my upper belly get so poochy and uncomfortable- it’s like the food has nowhere else to go but ‘up’ now. It’s a good reminder to stop eating like that! ;)

-Exercise: I’m back to full, normal workouts at the gym. I jog on a regular basis, anywhere from 1-5 miles at this point and I can do all the machines and weights without much trouble. I also attend step aerobics, kickboxing, and boot camp classes. Every once in a while I’ll get a weird pulling feeling in the muscles near my scar line or a sharp, quick pain (especially when I do exercises that stretch me out, like yoga) but I always just try to listen to my body and slow down/back off when I need to and then I don’t have any lingering problems.

-Scar: My scar is getting to that purple stage in the healing process. I’m looking forward to the day it starts to fade out to a pink or white color, but overall, it doesn’t really bother me. I knew there would be a significant scar left behind from this surgery and I am SO much happier with having that than the hanging skin I HATED before. Most of the scar is smooth and flat, but I do have a few spots that are a little raised up and bumpy. Nothing that I’m super worried about though and my surgeon said at the one year post op mark we can revisit how it’s looking and decide if I need any revision then, so I’m not really too concerned with it for the time being. Occasionally I’ll feel a little pain if I’m pressing on the scar, like in a weird way in my clothing or sometimes when I put the Bio Oil on it. But it’s not enough that I think it’s a problem, otherwise, I’d call my surgeon and see what she thinks.

-Clothing: I am SOOOO much happier with the way I look in my clothes now! I was always a bit of a clothes hoarder, or as I prefer to think of myself “just very into fashion” ;) And now I actually feel like I can wear anything in my closet without worrying about how short a shirt is or how to cover my pooch. That’s not to say I don’t still find things to not like about my body. It seems like a lot of people think that after you have a surgery like this you will have a flawless midsection and should never complain again. I’m here to tell you, after this surgery you will more than likely still have some rolls when you sit or hunch over, especially in tight pants. I think this is especially true if you’ve had a major weight loss before your surgery. Because I didn’t have an ‘around the world’ tuck to include my hips and back, I still have some excess skin in those areas that probably won’t be going away, which causes there to still be a pudge in those spots in some clothes. So, just be prepared to see those kinds of things if you were in the same boat as me before surgery. BUT, I do TRY to keep my complaints to a very bare minimum because as a general rule I LOVE my new stomach and that has truly changed my ability to finally be pretty comfortable in my own skin! And I’m finally going to be able to wear a bikini without being totally mortified! ;)

I hope everyone is doing well in their recovery or prep for surgery! This ability to share my story and reading those of others has really helped with this whole process. I’ll try to be more faithful in checking in my with progress and keeping up with everyone else’s as well.

(Oh! And I’ll have some progress pics to share soon too!)

Progress and comparison pics

Here are some pics from over the last few weeks...
Dr. Laura Randolph

If you take any amount of time to read my TT journey posts, it is evident how much I enjoyed having Dr. Randolph as my surgeon! ;) From the beginning she made me feel very much at ease. I never felt that she was pushing any unnecessary 'adds on' for my surgery and she was always clear about what my expectations should be for the procedure. I'm very happy with my results so far. I'm only a few weeks post op (at the time of this review) so I still have a ways to go to see how the after care and follow up work are, but I'm sure I will be just as happy. Dr. Randolph's office staff are wonderful! They are always so kind and friendly on the phone and in the office. They always answered my questions when I called and got back to me in a very timely manner if they were unsure about how to answer something. The facilities where Dr. Randolph performed my surgery were also wonderful. All of the staff at the surgery center were wonderful and reassuring both before and after my procedure. I stayed over night at their recovery center and I HIGHLY suggest doing that if you can! The nurses there were wonderful as well.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (196)

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You look wonderful! Congrats!!! :)
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Thanks!!!! I feel pretty good all the time now which is a nice change ;)
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U look great..congrats on losing all that weight :) and we are about at the same time frame..I had surgery 12-16-13 ..and your scar looks great too..mine seems to have gotten darker. But I guess its all part of the process
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Oh yes! I've learned it is def a process and you gotta go one step at a time...even though it's really hard, lol!
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Beautiful! You have truly excellent results - your surgeon did a great job! Your tummy skin looks flawless, the scar is nice and low and thin and your BB looks perfect! You should really get used to strutting your stuff in a bikini and cut-offs!
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Haha! Oh man! You just made my day! ;) Thanks so much- and I would DEF. recommend my surgeon to anyone. She's been great through the whole process. I'm even a little sad that I don't go to see her again until June, lol!
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WOW! Your last pictures! Especially the one with your Nashville outfit! You look AMAZING!!!
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Thanks so much! I'm not confident enough to bare my mid-drift for real just yet, but it was nice to rock that shirt in my room and feel pretty darn good! ;)
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You can totally rock that for real! Absolutely!
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Just wow! You must be over the moon with your results! We have very similar post op tummy's so I was really excited to read your story. Happy healing and thanks for sharing your experience x
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Oh thank you! I am def. thrilled most days ;) I would certainly do it all over again, despite all the pain and recovery time so I think that says a lot. I hope my experience continues to help you! I know it was always the most helpful for me when I could see pics of people with a similar body type/situation as me- every body is different and comes out of the surgery differently I think, but it's still nice to get an idea of what might be ahead for you ;)
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You look so good! I bet you feel amazing too!
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Thanks so much! I am feeling pretty good! It's crazy how those first few weeks of recovery seem endless and then all of the sudden it's like, what, 4 month?!
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MissKitty you look amazing. I am considering scheduling a TT in December of this year. Wondering if you recommend this time of year, any issues you came across, did you share your surgery with your friends, coworkers and family? I am a pretty private person so I plan to not tell anyone but my husband and kids.
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Hey Blondemom! I actually highly recommend having your surgery in the winter! At least for me, it worked out really well. I thought it was nice because you can wear big sweatshirts/sweatpants/sweaters to hide your drains at first and then because of the swelling later. I wore leggings a lot too later on which were way more comfortable than regular pants with buttons or zippers. It also worked well for me because I'm a teacher so I was able to do it over my Christmas break. I had to take additional days off as well, but only a week. If you live in a place where the weather can get nasty in the winter like I do, I would say, as long as you have someone to drive you around in those first few weeks if you have to go anywhere you'll be fine. I also liked that because it was winter, I didn't feel like I was really missing out on being out in the sun or at the pool or missing any fair weather activities. So that's my opinion anyway ;) As far as telling people, my close friends and family knew. I stayed with my parents for the first couple weeks of recovery and since it was over Christmas, I let the people I was the closest to know since I wouldn't be around during the holidays really. But at work and if other people asked me about it I usually just told them I was having a hernia surgery, which is true. I had to have a hernia fixed initially and that's what led me down the path to going ahead with the skin removal at the same time. I think it's really whatever you are comfortable with. It's really no one's business but yours, but I found that all of the people who I was close enough to to tell about it were very supportive!
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Oh SNAP! Your comparison photos are awesome!!! I love referring to mine when I open my Review up. It just amazes me the difference. You seriously look amazing my MissKitty friend! :-)
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Shucks ;) Thanks! I def. need those comparison shots to remind me not to get discouraged by every little roll I see and remember what a HUGE difference the surgery made!
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I get rolls when I sit...But when I stand I love what I see! ;)
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Same here! I'm good standing and lying down, it's just that sitting that still gets to me sometimes, but I think that's pretty normal, no matter what size you are ;)
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I completely agree!
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The comparison picture is awesome!!!
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Thanks so much! It's always good to have a few reminders for those days when I let the other imperfections get me down- gotta remind ourselves how much of an improvement it truly is ;)
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I love the pics! Keep posting them, I really think that is what is helpful. It's good to read about stuff, but pictures paint a thousand words. And honestly, that is what I think this whole site is for so we can SEE the results. I mean after all, we are doing this to LOOK better so if we don't see any pics, then what's the point? Anyhoo I really appreciate your updates and all the pictures. I do like to see how people are coming along. I've actually stopped commenting on reviews that just talk and talk about their issues, problems, etc but no pics.
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Oh, that's good to hear! ;) I agree the info is important to read too, but I always felt like actually seeing people with the same body type as me/same issues and how their figure changed through the process was the most informative and encouraging. It gave me a realistic idea of what to expect and I think it kept me from being disappointed with things along the way. It was nice to see what kinds of things to anticipate as the days/weeks went by and also to have a record to remind myself of my own progress. And I know not everyone feels the same or is comfortable posting pictures and stuff, and everyone's journey is different, but I can only go by what really helped me out and I'm glad to know I'm able to do the same for at least some others now ;)
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You look so good! I bet you are loving being able to wear whatever you want without the muffin top. Congrats!!
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