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Overweight My Entire Life + PCOS Diagnosis = A Long Overdue Tummy Tuck - Lanham, MD

It’s been four years in the making. My first...

It’s been four years in the making. My first cosmetic consultation was in the fall of 2009, and I have since had four additional consultations. In late 2012 I finally selected the surgeon who will perform a tummy tuck + flank liposuction on me Friday, February 22nd.

MY BACKGROUND:

I’m an African American woman that, according to that gawd-awful BMI calculator, is morbidly obese. I’ve always been overweight… I was a big baby, a big kid, and as a young woman, always looked older than my true age because of how “developed” and mature-looking I was; I just wasn’t BUILT like the girls my age. And even though at different stages of my life I’ve been smaller than I am now, I was still overweight nonetheless. Today, three days before my procedure, my weight is 311.20 pounds.

My weight, height and overall physical characteristics are the result of two things… #1. Genetic predisposition. I come from a long-line of “Amazon” women. All of the women in my family (predominately my father’s side of the family) are big women. I’m 6 feet tall and pretty-much BIG all over. There are no skinny/slim/petite/short women in my family. .. seriously, none! #2. In 2011 I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome); being diagnosed was bittersweet, as it’s a blow to find out you have any kind of condition; however, the diagnosis finally answered the many puzzling questions I’ve asked, but never got answers to. For years I’ve suffered afflictions that were abnormal, like, facial hair growth (one of the most popular symptoms. I’ve suffered chin and jawline hair growth since I was a teenager), the inability to lose weight through diet and exercise, and the worst of all, the massive amount of centralized fat that I carry around my midsection, hence my desire to have a tummy tuck.

Although I'm a big girl, I don't dislike my size... it's the SHAPE of my body that I hate. I envy big women who are flawlessly curvy, with flat tummies who don’t suffer from “muffin top.” Although the biggest concern I have with my physical appearance is my midsection, the next area I plan to address are my breasts... my 38JJ/K breasts. And maybe even butt augmentation. But both of these are much later down the line.

People typically don't make change until they're fed-up, and that's where I am in my life right now... I’m fed-up with not liking what I see when I look in the mirror, with and without clothes, and I'm fed-up with being a slave to wearing smoothing and cinching undergarments every day, Spanx and the horribly uncomfortable Body Magic.

I’ve been a member of RealSelf for a few months now, and I’ve admired the bravery and dramatic results of the numerous people on this site, and now I’m joining-in to share my story… and the journey begins!

Hello everyone! My surgery went very well... I...

Hello everyone! My surgery went very well... I look nothing like my pre-op pictures! Dr. Banks absolutely changed my life. My midsection is so tiny, whenever I look at myself it's truly surreal! I feel like a video chick! LOL I've been doing alot of resting/sleeping because of the pain meds. When I came-to after surgery, I felt nauseous... Ugh, I hated that. And I got nauseous whenever I moved around, luckily it went away. The pain I have are my flanks (from the liposuction), and my abs... my muscles were tightened, so my abs are sore whenever they're engaged. It's amazing how having the surgery shows you just how much you use your abs in almost everything you do. The pain isn't excruciating, it's just uncomfortable. Oh, and no standing-up straight. I’ll be walking like an old lady for a while, I wish I had a cane, lol.

My boyfriend has been absolutely wonderful. He's the best nurse ever. He gives me my meds at the correct time intervals, feeds me and he clears my drains and measures how much I drain. He's such a blessing.

My doc called to check on me and she was very happy to hear I sounded well and doing well. She was very comforting and encouraging. With all of this said, I don't regret having the surgery one bit. I'll upload pictures in the next couple of days. Thank you all for your kind words and support!

New pics uploaded! OK, it’s 11:15pm on...

New pics uploaded!

OK, it’s 11:15pm on Saturday, February 23rd and I thought I would give another update before I called it a night…

I’ve been in and out of sleep all day. It’s the pain meds, they knock me out.
I’ve been eating, but not much. When I came home yesterday I had a bowl of chicken and rice soup that I could barely finish. I’ve also been drinking lots of water. I get hungry, but when I start eating, I either get full quickly or lose my appetite. I think the binder has something to do with it.
The only leakage I’ve had is from the pubic area, where my drains are. I solved this by wearing a maxi pad. I’m not draining from my lipo sites at all.
I’ve been wearing a black tank and no bra. I’ve also been wearing a pair of black undies/briefs that used to fit me TIGHTLY. Now they’re loose and I’m able to cover both drains! Again, this is surreal! My doctor told me I’m able to shower right away, but I don’t want to remove the binder, so I’ll take “bird baths” until my first post-op visit with her this week.

My throat is still slightly sore from the anesthesia (and whatever device that was in my mouth/throat). I’m also still wearing the support stockings on my legs. My doctor wants me to wear them until I start walking around more, and she encourages that I start moving soon to get my blood circulating normally again.

I want to say THANK YOU to all of you. Your kind words, encouragement, prayers and blessings are helping me get through this smiling!

Just a quick update. Today I showered for the...

Just a quick update. Today I showered for the first time... OMG what a relief. My boyfriend was afraid to undo/redo the dressings at the drainage sites, so we asked my mom to come over, she has a background in medical/surgical care, so she was more than happy to help out. She's amazed at how good I look and like my surgeon's placement of the incision. I'm doing well... minimal pain... but it's a process. I'll keep you posted!

New pics uploaded! Yesterday was my first...

New pics uploaded!

Yesterday was my first post-op follow-up... the doc says I'm healing well! Unfortunately I’ll have to continue to wear the drains, as I'm still draining quite a bit; from what I've researched, this is common for overweight/large-mass tummy tuck patients. The drains are a nuisance, but it is what it is... after all, I wouldn't want to acquire a seroma, so whatever the doc says, that's what I’ll be doing. Hopefully they'll be removed next week *fingers crossed*

The doc did notice my navel was a bit red, which is partially my fault, as I didn't realize I needed to keep it dry, so she cleaned it. All of the bandages were removed elsewhere... I can't believe how fast I'm healing!

I discussed with the doc the discomfort of the binder. And although she requires me to be in one, I don't have to wear the uncomfortable binder I was placed-in after surgery. Between all the standing, walking around, sitting and laying down I was doing, it would shift and become really uncomfortable. Because I'm tall, I have a long torso, and the binder didn't cover me completely. I asked if I could wear the Spanx Higher Power Brief, and she agreed that it would be a good garment to wear for compression with complete coverage... yay!

Sleeping is a task, as I'm a side-sleeper and I can't sleep on my sides because of the soreness from the flank lipo. In fact, my sides are the only REAL areas on my body that's sore... liposuction is a doozie! No real soreness from the areas of the tummy-tuck, just discomfort. I don't need the pain meds during the day, however I take them at night in order to sleep because of the soreness; unfortunately by the time I wake-up I'm sore again *frown*. At any rate, this is all part of the healing process, and I'm early in its stages.

I'm noticing my ab muscles are healing, because it doesn't hurt so much when I laugh or cough, and I can almost fully blow my nose. Not to mention, getting up from sitting, reclining or laying down isn't as uncomfortable as it once was. I'm still hunched-over when I walk though, and walking slowly (walking fast or "hard" is very uncomfortable!)

Well, there you have it... one week out, and doing very well y'all.

New pics uploaded! Two weeks post-op, 1 of 2...

New pics uploaded!

Two weeks post-op, 1 of 2 drains removed... yay! The drains have driven me CRAZY! Unfortunately I'm still putting-out well over 30cc's a day, so I have to keep one drain. Hopefully not for long.

The doc cleaned my navel. I'm kinda freaked-out about cleaning my navel, and I don't clean it as well as my doc. She did reiterate that soap and water is sufficient and keeping it dry is imperative. She packed it with gauze and covered it. I also discussed with her scar treatment, and since I've been reading alot about silicone strips, wanted to know if those are something that would benefit me. She confirmed that I could in fact use those. She also noticed my skin was dry and told me by all means to use lotion, cocoa butter, vitamin E, etc… whatever my preference is, as surgery tends to be drying to the skin.

I've uploaded a couple pics of me wearing a bodycon tank dress (something I’d never attempt to do prior to surgery). My period's right around the corner, so I'm more than likely a little bloated... but flat nonetheless! :-)

I'm still a little sore in the flank areas and feel some discomfort when I get up from a seated or reclined position (and in/out of the car), but the pain is minimal for the most part. I’m also still walking slow and hunched… everyday gets better.

Second drain pulled today, woohoo! I feel...

Second drain pulled today, woohoo! I feel liberated! lol The doc took a post-op pic; seeing the "before" and "after" side by side is so surreal! It's like night and day. So happy I decided to finally do this for myself... best damn decision I've ever made. Starting silicone strips tonight, looking forward to seeing some improvement with my scar (although my scar isn't bad at all), my skin is notorious for hyperpigmentation, so my goal is to lighten it and hopefully it will flatten over time as well. Still numb in some areas, flanks still tender, but feeling fine nonetheless!

So I'm one month post-op today, day 3 on the...

So I'm one month post-op today, day 3 on the silicone strips! Found a massage therapist in DC that has excellent Yelp reviews; made an appointment for a lymphatic massage session in two days (referred to as the "lymphatic drainage treatment")... looking forward to experiencing that. I feel pretty swollen in my lower abdomen.

Has anyone else used the silicone strips and/or had lymphatic massage sessions? What about swelling... anyone experience swelling in their lower abdomen/public region?

**new pics uploaded**

**new pics uploaded**

As of Monday 4/22/13 I’m two months post-op, and...

As of Monday 4/22/13 I’m two months post-op, and it’s been just over a month since my last update. I have so much to share with you guys!

The bad news…

I ended-up acquiring a seroma. *frowns* I wore the drains for a little over three weeks, and had them removed after a few consecutive days of low-drainage. Soon after they were removed I discovered that “waterbed” effect in my lower belly. It took three visits to my doc’s office for aspirations. During my 2-month post-op visit on Tuesday 4/23/13, we were both happy to discover that there was just a small amount of fluid remaining; at this point my body will absorb any remaining fluid on its own. *wipes forehead* Thank God! The alternative would have been to have the drains replaced, and the thought of this happening depressed me… Luckily all is well now.

Now, the good!...

I returned to the gym on Monday, two-months post-op to the day exactly. It felt good to be there, although the 30 minutes of cardio and another 30 minutes of strength training (arms and legs) kicked my ass. I would have returned to the gym sooner; however because of the seroma, the doc wanted me to “take it easy” until after it was resolved, “aggressive” movement would only lead to more drainage, thus prolonging the seroma. Luckily that’s over! Now, I’m determined to lose and tone… the goal is to avoid ANY more surgery, and now that I’ve gotten rid of the tummy, I’ve been contemplating other areas I’d like to get worked-on, like additional lipo for my back/bra rolls, not to mention, my arms look like THIGHS… they’re huge, and I’d like a breast reduction and lift… So I’m more determined to sweat every single day from this point forward. Now my diet, *sigh*, that’s definitely a work in progress… pray for me!

For the most part I’m feeling pretty good. My right side, however is still "tender," and the area below my belly button is still completely numb. I do feel “pressure” in my tummy from time to time, feels as if it’s from the muscle-tightening. And whenever I stretch, either standing or lying down… HOLY MOLY, my abs remind me that there was work done. LOL

Still wearing the scar strips religiously and my scar is flatter, I’m really impressed with the strips. I’m only one month out with two more months to go, so I’m anxious the scar will be damn-near nonexistent by the time I’m done wearing them. I’m also happy to report that the strips held-up well during my workouts… no issues with them peeling off from sweat and movement. Also, I discussed with the doc my concerns with hyper pigmentation around the scar, on the areas where the surgical tape and/or binder did a number of my skin; my skin is notorious for turning dark wherever there’s been some “trauma.” The doc wrote me a script for hydroquinone and it should take care of the marks left on those areas.

Also, I’m still wearing Spanx; I actually switched to Spanx "Assets," still the high waist brief (sold at Ashley Stewart). I like the fabric used in this new version, the fabric it’s stronger, the garment doesn’t wear nearly as fast as the traditional Higher Power brief, and the compression is alot better. I’m still wearing the one that I purchased more than a month ago!

I’ve been shopping like crazy and selling A LOT of stuff on ebay… God I love ebay! Most of my pants are just too big in the waist now that my belly is flatter. My blouses, now that’s a different story. Because my boobs are so big, my tops fit the same for the most part; HOWEVER, almost all of my blouses, sweaters AND dresses really need to be taken-in at the waist. Yay!

MAN I LOVE MY NEW BODY!

OK you guys, that’s all for now. I have another follow-up visit with my wonderful doc next month, I shall update at that time.

P.S. My doc is having a FREE SmartLipo seminar on May 2nd from 6 - 7:30 pm, and offering special pricing for those in attendance! Yes, I will be there!

TTYL


**new pics uploaded**

**Photo from Tuesday, March 26, after seroma was...

**Photo from Tuesday, March 26, after seroma was aspirated**

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I've been trying to add new pictures for the last...

I've been trying to add new pictures for the last 3 or 4 hours, but apparently the format here on Real Self has changed, and I cannot... sorry everyone!

I've been trying to add new pictures for the last...

I've been trying to add new pictures for the last 3 or 4 hours, but apparently the format here on Real Self has changed, and I cannot... sorry everyone!

Can't Believe it's Been Three Months Already...

Still wearing scar strips... scar is breaking-down very VERY slowly. I'll continue to wear the strips for as long as it takes until I'm satisfied with the final result of the scar. Still got some lower-belly swelling (above the pubic area), at the end of the day is the worst time. I'm back in the gym and going harder than ever. I want more surgery, liposuction of my back and bra rolls (this excess fat is affecting the way my flanks are looking, and I've already had THAT area lipo'd); however I'm hoping to stick to rigorous gym workouts to diminish the fat and tone-up those areas. Next year I'm going to consider breast reduction; the tummy tuck accentuates your breasts and butt. I was already super top-heavy to begin with, now my boobs just look insanely large, and it's time for them to go! New photo of me uploaded!

1 Year and 2 Months Post Op...

OK, so this wrap-up has been long overdue. This will be my last entry, as I don't have the time to monitor/update/reply to everyone's inquiry. I do appreciate all the support I've received from everyone!

So... 14 months out and I still think having the tummy tuck is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Positives: Well… just look at the pictures! The Negatives: (1.) Having a flatter tummy accentuates my huge breasts even more, so I've decided to have a breast reduction, perhaps later this year. (2.) My front is flat and tight; however my back NEEDS WORK! I've got alot of back fat and bra rolls that I'm eventually going to have lipo'd. I can't tell you how much I loved the way I looked in my form-fitting dresses this past summer… turned around to see myself from the back… and frowned. The body should be flat and smooth all over. (3.) You really-do have eat better and incorporate exercise in your life. Although I'll never go back to having the belly I had before the tuck, I can still gain weight and accumulate fat on top of my "new" belly (thus forming, a “pot belly”. Not to mention, if I don’t make a lifestyle change, I can also gain weight in other areas, such as my arms, thighs, and of course... BACK FAT, ugh.

More pictures for you to enjoy… again, thank you all, and good luck on your journeys!
Washington Plastic Surgeon

After meeting with many doctors throughout the Washington, DC area, I'd come to the conclusion that it was important for me to find a reputable surgeon near my home, and through my research I found Dr. Banks. Her office is conveniently located relatively close to home, which makes followup visits very convenient. I had a great consultation and I felt confident my search for the right doctor for this procedure had finally came to an end. The procedure went very well, not to mention, for surgery so invasive, my quick recovery was almost surreal. For the first time in my life, I have a flat tummy!! She did an amazing job with the placement of my incision - a concern I had prior to surgery; needless to say I am very happy with the outcome, and have shared my experience and referred her to others.

4 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 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
3 out of 5 stars Payment process
3 out of 5 stars Wait times
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