This is the start of my story - I hope! I'm a 39...
I'm a 39 year old mother of a ten year old daughter. I've been wanting to do this for a long time! My weight fluctuations, and pregnancy, and led to a very saggy stomach. My breasts have always been large, and gravity has not been kind.
I'm scheduled for an extended abdominoplasty, reduction mammoplasty, and lipo of the flanks, on Nov. 11th, 2013.
The Whole Story
Height: 5’ 3” (when you round up) :D
Surgeries: Extended abdominoplasty, reduction mammoplasty, flanks liposuction
Surgery date: Nov 11th, 2013
Surgery cost: $15,080 plus labs, mammogram, and meds
Surgeon: Dr. Scott Sattler, Mountlake Terrace, WA
I used to have amazing boobs. Like, Helen of Troy style boobs. We’re talking boobs that men (and several women) would have started wars over. They were glorious full C-cups with cute little nipples. They were perky. They were happy. I loved them.
Then they became D-cups. Then DD-cups. Now…DDD-cups. Saggy, sad, floppy DDD-cups.
My stomach has been my enemy for so long I no longer recall the brief time I liked it. I’ve been in a Moriarty-style battle of wits with her for so many years that I’ve decided the only solution is to cut her floppy, stretch-marked self from my life—literally.
Last year I split up with my husband—the father of my 10-year-old daughter. Over the years he had let me know in no uncertain terms that my weight, and general lack of “tight body” was an issue for him. As soon as we split, a funny thing happened. I lost weight. I found some self-esteem. I was able to save money. This has all culminated in my being able to schedule this surgery, and finally, FINALLY do something to improve ME.
I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m scared. I’m excited. But I already said that :D
Finding a surgeon:
I saw three plastic surgeons in my journey for this change. The first was very nice, and seemed knowledgeable, but I wasn’t ready. That was over a year ago and I didn’t have the money. I was nervous about the procedure, and I had no support. She made vague but alluring promises about “flat stomach and cute tits”. She also highly recommended doing the surgeries in two separate procedures. I took her at her word, but now that I know a little more, I’m not sure why she would have said that. I didn’t go back to her mostly because I don’t like vague promises and wanted a second/third opinion.
Once I had the money together I saw my second and third surgeons. The second was a highly-rated surgeon who gave me a passel of bad news. No chance of saving nipple sensation with a breast reduction; no liposuction with the tummy tuck; general mediocre result at a fairly high cost ($12K for the tummy tuck alone without lipo).
The third, Dr. Sattler, I met two days ago. I liked him; I liked his staff. The nurse has had a tummy tuck. The patient coordinator has had both a tummy tuck and breast augmentation together. I felt like they understood. Dr. Sattler’s approach to the nipple sensation question was much more logical to me—he will do everything possible to preserve it, and watch for necrosis, then deal with that if it happens.
My sister is a doctor. I ran the responses past her, and she agreed I should go with Dr. Sattler. She gave me some doctorish questions to ask him, and we liked his answers. Oh, and HOW did I ask him? Well…he gave me his cell phone number and email address. He answers emails same day. That, in my humble opinion, is a huge plus.
I booked my surgery date yesterday.
So, here I sit, 54 days pre-op. I’m still 30lb/13kg heavier than I’d like to be. I think I can drop close to 20lb/9kg by my surgery date, and am going to work like a sumbitch to make that happen.
I can’t even begin to say how much having supportive people helps with all this. I need to acknowledge that, because acknowledging the positive helps me get over the nerves :)
My boyfriend, first and foremost, is amazing about it. He has made it clear that he loves and is attracted to me regardless of the “issues” I have with my body. However, he understands the hit my self-esteem has taken, and believes I should make the investment so that I will see MYSELF as the best I can be. He has offered time, money, and emotional support—including restricting his travel schedule so he can be here for me physically. This is a big deal, because he travels a LOT.
My best friend is struggling with the same issues, and completely understands the desire I have to make this change.
My sister is very supportive—concerned, but supportive. Because she is not only a doctor, but an E.R. doctor, she has a “risk assessment” view of all medical procedures. She has told me not only to go for it, but to do it all at once! This is something that made me very, very nervous at first.
So, that's the real start of my story. Let's see where this goes!!
I had my pre-surgery appointment a few days ago, and that went well. They gave me a very intimidating description of what it will be like, ran me through the entire surgery and recovery process (ouch!) and basically said my "caregiver" needs to have a strong back and a very strong stomach.
Check, on both counts, lucky for me!
They took blood to run labs, which came back fine except I'm a bit anemic (thanks to seven years of vegetarianism). I have since eaten lots of spinach, actually ate beef (ew!) twice and am taking iron.
The weight loss went not nearly as well as I'd hoped, for lots of reasons -- the primary being that I was just lazy. I spent the last few weeks moving out of my house and moving in with my boyfriend, which is a huge shift for me and my daughter. We want everything settled before my surgery, so things are a bit crazy with moving really heavy furniture (his goes, mine stays, because mine is cuter!) I have a bajillion boxes left to unpack, which is not going to be fun, but I'm determined it will be all fixed by Monday.
My SURGERY day.
Am I freaking out? Hellz yeah! I'm scared to bits. Seriously. This is going to be a long, hard, painful, exhausting road, and at this point I'm just trying to remind myself that it will be worth it. Right now I'm just terrified and can't remember why I signed up for it.
Speaking of signing up for it...I paid the bill in full during my pre-op. Oh my lordy crap. I have never in my life smacked my debit card down on the table for that much money. Not even when I bought a house, did I bring that much money to the table.
So, Monday is the day. One week from now I will be almost done having the surgery, still out like a light.
Or I'll be dead. But I'm trying not to think about that :D
Over & out for now!
The deed is done!!
Here's the story…
Day Before Surgery:
I was scared. My boyfriend, who is the most cool, calm, collected person on the planet, was scared. It was obviously a very invasive procedure, with a long painful road to recovery, and there is always that slight risk that things will go sideways under anesthesia. I know it's silly, but as a kid a friend's parent died having his hand operated on, and that image always stuck with me. Even minor surgery is a risk.
So, I was scared, but in a bit of denial, the day before, and that was good. They said not to drink alcohol the day before, but I figured that was most likely because they didn't want a hung-over patient. So I did have some wine to calm myself, but watered it down a lot with club soda. I stopped eating and drinking at midnight, and we settled down for what we assumed would be a long night of tossing and turning.
We were wrong. We both slept like dead logs! Yay!
Day Of Surgery: Pre-Op
My surgery arrival time was 7:30 AM, so I was up at 6:00 scrubbing myself like I've never scrubbed before. I shaved, scrubbed, cleansed, scrubbed, shampooed, and scrubbed some more. I wanted to be extra-ultra-super-duper clean, for some reason. Probably because 5+ people were going to be all up close and personal in my business all day!
When we arrived everything went really quickly. They basically told me to say goodbye to my boyfriend, and gave him instructions on coming back, checking in, etc. We said an only *slightly* teary goodbye and I went off to do some of my least favorite things. Like be photographed naked, and be weighed.
My surgeon, Dr. Sattler, came in to do his magic with a Sharpie, and we talked a bit about what I wanted to look like. He asked me again about breast size, belly button type, etc. It was a surreal experience to be able to contribute to your body's design. I felt like my own personal Frank Lloyd Wright.
Dr. Sattler was great. He was cracking me up, despite my nerves, and lack of coffee. In fact, he rubbed in my face repeatedly, that he was about to go have his second cup, throwing out a, “Oh, and you can’t HAVE any! Ha ha ha!” at me. I loved that.
Using me like a kindergarten art project took about 10-15 minutes, and then I was led out to the operating room to be (literally) washed down with a freezing cold antimicrobial soap solution. That sucked, but the nurses and anesthesiologist were all fun, great people, so it was overall a good experience.
Walking into the OR was the hard part. I got really nervous then, and had to start telling myself all the reasons I couldn't back out then and there. My self-motivational speech, and the drugs, helped me through that part.
After I was washed down and had the IV in, I lay down on the operating table, face-down because they were going to start with the lipo on my flanks. They asked me about my favorite alcoholic beverages, and I'm pretty sure the last words out of my mouth were "Guinness", before I went lights out. I don't even remember fading. I do recall afterwards thinking that if I had died, “Guinness” would have been my last word. I find that amusing.
Day Of Surgery: Post-Op
I woke up slowly in the recovery room, fading in and out of consciousness, hearing people talk. My boyfriend and step-mother were there, having discussions with the nursing staff about random stuff. According to my boyfriend I participated in the conversation and actually asked well-formed, coherent questions. I remember NONE of that. He did say that at one point I said, "let's go to the gym!" He rolled his eyes and said, "Not today sweetie, let's go tomorrow," and the nurse apparently gave him the stink-eye. I guess she doesn't understand sarcasm :)
In recovery they told me I did well in surgery, the outcome was promising, and my body held up great (blood pressure, breathing, etc). That was relieving, because I was seriously worried about dying for some reason.
Anyway, after that I have vague memories of being poured into my "going home" clothes (a zip-up hoodie, sweat pants, and fluffy slippers) and wheeled out in a wheel chair. I don't remember the ride home at all.
I always wondered, reading these types of stories on RealSelf, what the pain level and overall feeling was really like for people. I will tell you as honestly as I can what it felt like. I was not in a ton of pain. I could tell my body *would* be in a ton of pain if I wasn't medicated up to my eyeballs. But I didn't hurt nearly as much as I'd expected. It hurt *some*. But I was extremely slow-moving, slow-talking, and slow-processing. I felt like I was in a bubble of sorts, where I was bulky, frail, and numb, with a little pain.
When we got home they settled me on the sofa, propped up with lots and lots of pillows. I had a tray next to me, on the sofa, with water, meds, my phone, etc. It was convenient. I used the Starbucks re-usable cups with a bendy straw to drink out of. I really was a giant baby ?
After that I basically slept. My boyfriend helped me pee once, and otherwise just kept me on my meds schedule. He slept on the floor by the sofa that night, waking up at any tiny noise I made. Just like the parent of a newborn, only I didn’t shit my pants. Which I was pleased about.
Post-Op Days 1-3
By the day after surgery, I was coming out of the fog. I could tell I was swollen all over -- my hands and face looking like the Michelin man were a dead giveaway -- and the "padded" feeling was gone. I still didn't need the Percocet all that much yet, because I had the time-release local anesthetic.
One thing that surprised me was that I didn't really have any discomfort in my breasts. I expected them to hurt like hell, but any pain there was definitely hidden by what was going on in my belly.
P.O Days 1-3 were basically me figuring out how to get up, walk around, balance my meds with food intake, etc. I slept most of the time. I couldn't have done it without my amazing boyfriend. He did everything, and let me do nothing but heal. He brought me food and drinks, tracked my meds, emptied my drains, tucked me in, etc. It was awesome.
My surgeon allows for a shower at PO Day 2. They said I didn't *need* to, but was allowed to if I wanted. I opted to wash my hair in the sink. I took a shower PO Day 3, and it was both amazing, and horrific. The shower itself felt like heaven. Getting my stupid-ass drains through the holes in the compression garment, and worse, getting them back in, was terrible. Even getting the garment back on me was hard. It was the one and only thing that broke my boyfriend. He had to hurt me to help me, and it killed him. We stood there at one point just lost, almost in tears, wondering what the hell to do. But we muddled through it.
The pain started to rear its ugly head around PO Day 2. I kicked up the Percocet and it helped a lot. I’m sort of in love with Percocet right now.
Post-Op Days 4-9
Each day got easier, and I gained a little more flexibility. By about day 4, I was standing up almost normally a lot of the time. These days were just about learning what I can and can't do, when to ask for help, and ... sleeping. A lot.
The drains were the really sucky part of this time. They were scheduled to come out at the post-op visit at the one-week mark. I couldn't do it. One had come loose and was being tugged out by the stitch. It was killing me. I called at day 5 and told them I was coming in, and they would either fix them, or take them out. I did, and they took them out. :) We had a serious celebration that day.
I had my post-op a week after my surgery exactly, and it went fine. I had a few questions, Dr. Sattler answered them to my satisfaction, and all seems "so far, so good!"
I'm done with PO Day 9 now, and can honestly say the corners I've turned have been amazing. I overdid it today, but I'm OK with that. I was so excited to see what I could do! My boyfriend left on a business trip this morning at 4 AM. That meant I had to walk the dog by myself (including picking up the turds), shower by myself (including getting back into my garment), and I tidied the house! I loaded the dishwasher, gathered laundry, picked up and organized crap...etc. But it was too much and I'm paying the price by having ab-tightening like crazy. Doesn't exactly *hurt*, but doesn't feel great.
The "Must Have" Lists
One thing I will say at this point is that I'm glad I didn't buy all the crap people put on those lists as "must-have" items. I almost did, and they would have been a colossal waste of money. I needed help sitting on the toilet the first time, but managed it fine after that as long as I went slowly. I took a shower 3 days post-op and didn't need a shower seat. I used pillows on the sofa just fine -- no need to rent a recliner. For most of those items, I say save your money and send someone to but it if you find you really need it.
The only thing I really did need was laxatives. Oh boy was I full of crap! But I’m pleased to say I pooped twice on day 3, which is pretty good!
Am I Happy I Did This?
In short…HELL YEAH.
I mean, I haven't actually SEEN my scars yet (sani-tape stays on for a month!) and my belly is still swollen as hell, but honestly, I'm already in love with my new boobs. They're adorable. Dr. Sattler hit the nail on the head size-wise.
My stomach skin was (and is) in shitty condition, but Dr. Sattler did the best with what he had. His contouring/lipo work seems like it was a great job, and my overall shape is way, way better. I feel so positive at this moment.
I will be honest with you and say that I think part of my positivity is that I had Very Realistic Expectations. I will never be perfect, and am OK with that. I wanted the big picture stuff fixed, and it is. I have the tits of a 25 year old! WOO HOO!
Pics! 9 days Post-Op.
2+ weeks post-op
Last night was the first night I slept normally, without the aid of tons of pillows propping me in "cradle" position, and it was OK. I did add some pillows halfway through the night. I feel 90% normal, but realistically my energy and flexibility are probably 75%. It just FEELS so good right now, it seems better than that! :)
My stomach is still tight, but doesn't hurt much at all. My abs just sort of cramp up if I do too much, and the swelling is definitely worse after I do too much. But overall it's going great.
My boobs actually hurt more right now than they did before. I think it's just that the ab pain is so much less, I'm noticing the boob pain now. I'm OK with that.
My second post-op appointment is next Monday, and at that point the surgeon will take a look and replace some of the steri-strips that have gotten nasty.
3 week post-op appointment!
The tape coming off is interesting. I can see the scars now, and on my stomach that's not great because the swelling has made this weird line where it looks like my stomach is trying to burst over my incision, but I have been assured this will go down as the swelling reduces. But my boobs are cray-cray! I can't believe the itty bitty nipples, and the general lack of red-ass scar tissue. I'm so excited.
They are a bit tender after removing the tape. Having the cloth rub straight on the scars ain't so much fun. But I'm sure that's going to resolve itself shortly. Then I get to go buy a new set of bras!!
I actually did the math today, and realized he removed 2.25 lb of breast tissue alone. Wow!
I promise I WILL post pics, but I seriously need a shower before that, since there was three weeks worth of surgical crud under that tape! :)
I met Dr. Sattler yesterday, and so far I am very impressed with him and his office--which is why I'm now booked for a surgery date! I saw three plastic surgeons, and feel very comfortable with Dr. Sattler's approach, answers, responsiveness, and reviews. I'll update this as time goes on, though! :) **Update** I have had my surgery with Dr. Sattler, and am 10 days post-op now. I still give him a very high rating! He is friendly and knowledgeable, and did a great job. He is a busy man, and not the "hold your hand through it" type, but that's OK. I'll take skills over frills any day. His staff is still, for the most part, awesome. They are kind and attentive and empathetic. I had one minor incident where I showed up for my appointed post-op time only to be told Dr. Sattler wasn't available, and it was my fault for scheduling a morning appointment (I was assigned the day/time 6 weeks before, and didn't request any specific time or day), and shuffled around a bit. I ended up coming back later in the day and all was fine. I would definitely recommend Dr. Sattler. He is extremely competent, from my experience.