Oh, So Worth It! - Huntersville, NC

I am a 25 year old, stay at home mother of two, a...

I am a 25 year old, stay at home mother of two, a 3 year old and a 17 month old. My first pregnancy wrecked havoc on my body. I weighed 175lbs in the beginning and I gained 55 lbs over the duration. I was blessed with a 10 lb 9.5oz baby girl. My second pregnancy, I learned from past practice and only gained 25lbs. I was given another little blessing, a 7lb 6oz baby boy. I breast fed both kids for about 6 months each, but with baby number 2, my DD's went to saggy, barely B's. My stomach was littered with stretch marks from above my navel down and I was left with extra skin. I decided that I needed to do everything in my power to get my post baby body back. I began to exercise and eat right. I knew that I couldn't undo the extra skin I had, but I continued to work hard and got down to 135lbs, which is by far the thinnest I have ever been. I researched my plastic surgery options. I wanted a tummy tuck and since I would be in surgery anyways I wanted to fix my breasts.

I scheduled consults with a few doctors locally recommended to me. I wasn't impressed with any of the doctors I met. Aside from that, no one would even consider doing a TT and BA in the same surgery which totally bummed me out. I only wanted one recovery time since I have small children at home, but I wanted to go ahead and have these surgeries while I am young so I can "bounce" back as quick as possible.

A friend of my husbands highly recommended Dr. Hunstad from a BA his girlfriend had, and so I began my research on this doctor. After looking at his impressive website and near googling him to death, I scheduled my consult. This doctor is 3.5 hours away from me, one way, and I would have driven twice that to have him perform my surgery. In addition to his credentials, his knowledge and charisma made my husband and I feel confident in his ability. We decided that I would "need" a purse string lift, a breast augmentation, a full tummy tuck with muscle repair and lipo of my hip rolls. I honestly about had a stroke when we received the quote for the surgeries $22000, so my husband and I went back home to contemplate and discuss this expenditure. The surgical quote included all the procedures listed above, 2 surgical garments, scar treatment (hybrisil), pain pump, over night stay at the center, and follow up visits. After speaking with Ashley, the Surgery Coordinator, we said no to the lipo and paid the surgery in full to discount the cost further. $17,000. Wow, that's still a lot, but my husband and I wanted the best doctor, and we found him. I booked my surgery for August 22, 7:30 a.m.

I went back to N.C., 4 weeks out, for my pre-op appointment to find that Dr. Hunstad had agreed to do the lipo at no additional cost to me! I decided on the 500 high profile gel by Mentor and had them placed subfascial. In subfascial placement, the implant is placed below a thin, but strong layer of connective tissue that covers the pectoralis muscle. My husband and I arrived bright and early, 7a.m. I was photographed, drawn on and escorted to the operating table. I had my procedures done at the Hunstad Center, the surgery lasted 6 hours, and I recovered there overnight. 3 pounds of skin was removed from my stomach and one pound of fat was removed with lipo.

The majority of my first week post-op is a blur due to medication. I do remember being awakened by my nurse to stand and walk every few hours after surgery and that was excruciatingly painful. I had both my children naturally, but trying to walk post-op, bent over, doped up, was the worse thing I've ever experienced as far as discomfort goes. I am not trying to scare anyone, but my philosophy is: if you imagine an experience will be the worse thing you have ever been through, and then you won't be surprised, you may even be pleasantly surprised by it. My husband and I stayed in a hotel local to my doctor for the first 5 days. I got my first drain out on day 3, it was gross but painless. I am so blessed to have my husband. I know he was grossed out the majority of the time, like when he had to continually dump my drain for me, and “milk” the line at times, but he didn't hesitate in taking care of me. We returned home on day 6. I had rented a hospital bed the day before my surgery so it was waiting on me when I got home. That bed was a God sent and only $125/month! It was semi electric so I could maneuver it to help with my comfort level and it helped me get up for my frequent trips to the bathroom, since I was drinking 1.5 gallons of water per day.

My wonderful mother took care of both of my children for the majority of first 14 days. If you have small children, don’t even consider lifting them before day 14. I am not saying that you are unable to lift them before that-it’s just not a wise decision. I sat on the floor and played with and held my children and I did more than I should have. You will feel like crap if you overdo. This recovery is much like the recovery process after having babies; you have to take it easy. I actually split open on one side of my tummy incision and in hind sight, I feel like it’s because I did too much in picking up my youngest. My husband returned to work on day 14. The second drain was removed on day 15, even though it was still putting out about 70cc of fluid each day from my back. The doctor was concerned that having the foreign object (the drain) in me, may be causing my body to produce excess fluid so he removed it.

On day 20, I woke up with a seroma on my lower back. I was pretty freaked. My doctor didn't hesitate to see me, even though his schedule was slammed that day. The seroma was drained, 70cc. Each week for three weeks, I returned to have the seroma drained and each week, the fluid accumulation had reduced by half. After the fluid was gone, I was sent to the MedSpa within The Hunstad Center and had Endermologie with Diane (who is amazing!). Endermologie is basically a fantastic massage of your areas, affected by surgery, done by machine and a qualified technician. This relieved all the tightness and heaviness in my abdomen and back. It was amazing and three treatments are included in my surgery price!

Now I am approaching the two month mark, post op and I feel great. I still wear a compression garment during the day (Assets high waisted panty, super compression) to help combat swelling. I am still not 100%, maybe 90-95%+ and I try to keep in mind that my body has been through a lot. This site helped me so much with my journey that I felt a duty to come back and report my experience as well. Good luck to all of you considering surgery and all of you that are in recovery. Thank you to all the women that experienced this before me and took the time to write down your experience. Thank you for unknowingly supporting and guiding me through this.

I am now passing the fourth month mark, post op. I...

I am now passing the fourth month mark, post op. I would say, now, that I feel 100%. I have begun my workout routine again with the New Year. Having two young kids and being a SAHM, I do beach body DVDs at home. They cover everything from yoga to light weight training. I've stayed away from the ab ripper, core, workouts and I'm not working out every day as I was before pre mommy makeover, but at least I'm getting my heart pumping. My incision is still pretty red, but I am fair skinned and prone to scarring, so I'm not shocked. My doctor has said that I should see dramatic fading within the next month or so. He also said that I don't need to continue with any scar therapy treatments, so I haven't done the Hybrisil for a month and a half. My endermologie is still amazing and I see DAWN for that at the MedSpa. I miss wrote her name in my previous post and it's been bugging me :o)
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Hunstad, board certified plastic surgeon, along with his associate, Dr. McMullen, a board certified anesthesiologist, took excellent care of me. The surgical team and staff that Dr. Hunstad has surrounded himself with, make you feel comfortable from your consult to your recovery. Dr. Hunstad has published his first full work, Atlas of Abdominoplasty and shares his unique surgical methods through lectures around the world. He is a skilled surgeon and I would HIGHLY recommend him to anyone considering plastic surgery.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait tmes
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Blue Ridge, did you happen to do the 3D imaging at the Hunstad Ctr? I see that they have this capability. Wondered if I would be doing it during pre-op appt. Thanks for response!
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I did not have the 3D imaging. If it's something you want, ask for it. It's as easy as sending Ashley an email, I'm sure. My pre-op appt bascially consisted of blood work, paperwork and deciding on implant size.
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Hello Blue Ridge! I just had my consulation with Dr. Hunstad and am pleased that he matched my expectations and was patient in answering my three pages of questions! I really enjoyed reading your blog on your recovery since you had the same procedure that I am looking to have. My concern is blood clots and although Dr. Hunstad mentioned taking various precautions such as compression and taking blood thinners, was there anything else he suggested you do during your recovery? I read that you should stay mobile (which from your blog is painful), but did you even get up during the night to help prevent this? I'm concerned about not getting rest, but more concerned with blood clots. Thanks!
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Hey tuberose. I had concerns about clotting as well. Hunstad used compression on my legs during surgery and during my stay at the center, to minimize the chance for clots. I was worried that I wouldn't be mobile enough during my recovery process, but that wasn't the case. I tend to swell so I made an effort to push a lot of fluids post op-which kept me actively going to the restroom, even throughout the night. My husband was my care taker and he set alarms on his phone to remind me to walk around and to take my meds which was helpful and you could do that yourself. Also, I got a bottle of baby aspirin, 81 mg, to help ease my mind and took them with my pill regimen.
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Hey Blueridge just checking in with you. Your pics look great! I am going to post scar pic later today. I cant wait until this scar evens out. Even though its low its so close to my bb which makes me worry and it doesn't fit in my panties like it did the day of pre-op when he drew on me. I pray that this goes back right I'd not like having to have a revision but I am sure I cant live like this! I am still early so I am still hopeful.
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Hey Fit! I haven't seen new incision pics on your profile yet, but I have to say, swelling can do crazy things to your body. You were in good shape pre-op, so do this: turn to the side, in front of a mirror. If your stomach isn't completely flat, you are experiencing swelling. Dr. K pulled everything tight, so if your stomach doesn’t look like a wash board or even concave, this isn’t your end result.

In the beginning, my whole mid section, front and back swelled. After that, for a while, I almost looked like I had a pooch b/c my swelling localized between my new belly button and my incision. I thought my BB and TT were too close too-but it was the swelling. I was given Hybrisil for scar therapy, once the stitches dissolved. That helped flatten out my scar a ton. Nearly everything you have said, I experienced too-I just didn’t have the mindset to document my recovery the way you have; I wish that I had.

I know it's hard, I am the most impatient person I know, but you have to wait out the recovery time. I had so much swelling that my BB looked closed-like a slit. The 1st pics I post on here, I thought I looked great-b/c the swelling had gone down so much-now I look at them and I think, wow, I looked horrible. Then another month passed and my swelling subsided even more. If you're driving yourself crazy, looking at your TT, commit to looking at it in the A.M., when your swelling is the least. Go buy some hip hugger panties to cover the incision while you’re still in the recovery stage.

This too shall pass.

It will all be over soon. It just takes some time. Just keep watching your sodium, your activity and pushing water. Green tea is great for swelling and healing too. I started brewing it at home, by the cup; you can put some honey in it as sweetener.

Give yourself until month 4 p/o. I know that seems like a lifetime away, but I think you will be amazed at the way your body looks by then; it only continues to get better. By then you'll be working out again and you can whip all your new found muscles into ship shape.
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Blue-Thanks for the tip on green tea and swelling!
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Blue you are so right. Everything you said! I have recommitted myself. If I say anything again please gently remind me of new commitment : ) I'm do happy to hear that this is all normal. Who knew ths swelling can do all this? Well I don't think I had the proper expectations set in my mind prior to the procedure. Now I do thanks to you and others who have helped me to see that. I'm doing great today! Not looking is so helpful to me. I'll try that green tea. In fact I love tea and I have some from green tea leaves from my favorite tea store Teavana!!! I'll start drinking a cup a day to see how that does. Thanks again for your unwavering support and understanding. .
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Fitdiva...the green tea worked miracles for me! 2 pounds of tummy bloat water lost overnight!!!!! Waist went from 31 back to 29 overnight. whew!! Teavana is one of my favorites too!! Of course, I adulterate my tea with splenda...oh well :0)
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I'm so glad the green tea worked so well for you Mothera8. I absolutely love it. It's a miracle worker. I've never heard of Teavana, but I 'm going to see if I can find one near me now :)
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It's hard to set expectations for this kind of surgery. It's life changing. That's why I went into surgery believing that this would be the worst experience fo my life. I thought, if I set the bar low, anything that exceeded my expectations would be a bonus. You can do this. You have a lot to look forward to. Overall, it's smooth sailing from here. You got this. Good luck!
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I just read your Jan. 4 update and it gives me hope! I am at 8 weeks and am so tired of the pulling tummy muscles and super sensitive breasts. Hearing that you feel 100% at 4 months makes me feel like it will all work out in the end! Thanks
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I felt your pain! The tenderness in my ribs was terrible. Endermology helped me a TON with the tightness in my abs. My Dr. threw in 3 sessions for free so that was awesome! Asking for things like that may be uncomfortable-but in my opinion, everything is negotionable-especially with elective surgeries. You're getting a quote for what the doctors' time is worth to them. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and that's how they receive a lot of their business; so they want you to be pleased with your experience. A free option that helped me was applying lotion to my abs and massaging them. There's light at the end of the tunnel. Good luck with your recovery!
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You are very welcome Yogaluva. I'm glad I could help a bit. I was in surgery for 6 hours as well. I was caught off guard by the amount of time surgery would take as well, but I didn't question it enough to ask. Dr. Hunstad trains other medical doctors through direct observation, so maybe that accounts for some of the added time. Plus, he's a perfectionist. :) I emailed Ashley, the surgery coordinator, to the brink of exhaustion with all of my questions and she was quick to settle all my concerns. I do feel that I am stronger post op already, but it is a process, trying to condition my new found muscles without over doing it. With the New Year upon me, I’m sure I’ll be pushing myself to get into better shape. :) Take care!
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Blue Ridge, thank you SO much for your response. You have made me feel so much better about the surgery. I do have one more question - how long were you in surgery? I know everyone is different, but my current estimate is 6 hours. That seems much longer than anyone else in my January forum -- and some of those gals are actually having more work done. My husband says Dr. Hunstad is great and I shouldn't really question his expertise. But, it does worry me that I'm so much longer than others. So great to hear you can do plank and push-ups at 4 ms. I hope to think that eventually I'll be stronger post-surgery....but I know that will take lots of time. ;-) Happy New Year...and again, thanks so much!
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Yogaluva: I am definitely still extremely happy with my results and my results are getting even better as time passes. My scar is beginning to fade and Hunstad actually asked me to come back in February to take pictures, he’s so pleased with the results. I was completely freaked out, myself, before my surgery. I booked it 6 months in advance, and the reality of it all didn't really hit me until I had 3 weeks to go. I tried to keep busy by thoroughly cleaning everything, stocking the pantry and making/freezing meals, so when my husband went back to work-I would have our dinners taken care of. The day or two before surgery, calm came over me. I was most definitely nervous the day of, but having my husband take me in was a huge help. I now feel 100%. I've actually started working out again, slowly. Any exercise involving my core is difficult (ie:plank & push ups), but now it’s doable. I’ve passed the fourth month mark now. I told most of our friends and family that I had a severe muscle separation in my abdomen from child bearing and had to have that repaired. No one really questions me beyond that. My close friends, I told them everything basically. Many of them want a momy makeover too now. And they all tell me how great I look. I would advise that you try not to pick up your girls for as long as possible. Your scar will widen, the more you do, or at least mine did. I would get my kids to climb up onto the couch/bed beside me. I’d protect my incision with a pillow across my waist (their little elbows would tend to gouge me) and I could “hold” them freely that way. I also spent a lot of time playing in the floor with them. They were happy to have me on their level. I did not have the opportunity to meet any of Dr. Hunstad’s prior patients, but I was happy with his photo portfolio. Dr. Hunstad and Dr. McMullen are fabulous and so are the nurses, you’re in good hands! I’ll try to update my pics soon. I was still pretty swollen in the ones I posted. Keep me updated! And I wish you well!!
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Hi Blue Ridge, I'm not sure if you are still checking emails from this site, but I am considering having a TT and lipo with Hunstad. I met Dr. McMullen and thought he was great too. Am completely freaking out though about the risk and the fear I won't see my daughters again. You are younger than I am....I'm 39. Even more time has passed post-op. Are you still happy? Do you feel as strong yet as you were pre-surgery? Did you by chance encounter any other TT patients of Hunstad?
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Thank you for sharing your experience and results with us! I hope to be sharing mine soon!
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I am happy to be able to help. I see you have two more weeks to go, how exciting. I wish you well!
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your results are amazing! :) thanks for sharing your story. have you noticed a difference in your scar after using hybrisil?
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Thank you! And yes, I have definitely noticed a difference in my scar since I started hybrisil. I was able to use it on my aerola insicisions first and within two weeks, you couldn't even see the scars on my chest anymore. It has really helped flatten out the scar from my tummy tuck; it's not raised at all anymore.
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thank you for your response! my ps didn't offer hybrisil, but i was able to get it from another ps. it's a lot of $, so i'm hoping to get good results from using it since my scars heal poorly. if you said it worked for you, then i'm a believer! :)
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:) I have fair skin so my scars don't seem to heal well either. I'm so glad I had the surgery in the fall though; by next spring I should be all healed up and bikini ready. I will give you a piece of advice. Whenever you apply the hybrisil, wash your hands well after applying it. If you somehow get a taste of this stuff-it is wretched! And use it sparingly or the excess will flake off once you put your binder/clothes on.
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thanks for the advice about the hybrisil! i am starting to apply it today and want to make it last as long as possible. i'm glad i had surgery in the fall as well...it's perfect weather for recovery! i'm excited to be bikini ready for the summer. p.s. take it easy with the two little ones on your hands!
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And thank YOU for coming back and writing your story for us. You've had quite a journey and the worst is behind you. Having supportive people around makes all the difference when going through something like this.

I'm sure you're helping countless other women by posting your experience on RealSelf!

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