Fantastic Doctor - Pittsburgh, PA

I am a distance swimmer and the excess skin on my...

I am a distance swimmer and the excess skin on my arms would chafe terribly when swimming long distances, and this was particularly painful in salt water. I had abdominoplasty in 2004 (different doctor/town), so I knew plastic surgery hurt. And it did. But my doctor was excellent and I felt like I had a partner in the recovery process, which made a huge difference. And now my arms don't rub at all when I swim! Very pleased with the outcome. It was worth it.

not worth it afterall

I love my doctor and this is not his fault but I have developed lymphedema in my left arm as a result of this surgery. It is swollen, painful, and I need to be in compression 24/7. Ironically I had this procedure so I could exercise pain free. So much for that. According to my physical therapist she sees this often in brachioplasty patients. The long scar disrupts your lymphatic system. So much for thinking I made it through the worst part of this.
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Gusenoff and his staff were excellent. Pre-op and post-op, he answered every one of my questions (and I had a lot of questions). He is bright, personable, confident, and current with the medical literature.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Hi Sarah! Have been thinking about you - how is the lymphadema going? Any signs of clearing up?
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No. I am using a Flexitouch machine nightly and wear compression constantly. In fact I have to dress up for a wedding today and I am dreading wearing the therapy glove and dealing w the looks/questions. It's gets old. My hand is weak. I am having trouble cycling since operating the brakes is difficult. The most depressing thing is the damage is likely permanent. I may never wear my wedding rings again.
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Sarah, so terribly sorry to the risk of sounding "weird" I think of you and your situation often as it is the epitome of exactly what you *don't* want to happen...the hopes we pin on these surgeries....the risks we take with our bodies (even when the serious complication rate is low)....makes me so sad.... I so appreciate your candor in discussing, it is very sobering. Keep us posted on any changes, OK?
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So sorry to learn of this, I had never heard this was a possibility. I pray this is something that will be short lived.....When checking it out online they mentioned lifting weights as a way to prevent it. Have you heard of this? Since yours started after your first year out, I wonder if this means the weight lifting is something that needs to be started as soon as you are able after surgery? Hum, I am 9 months out from having my arm surgery. Maybe I need to start lifting arm weights.
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I lift 2x/week, swim 3x/week, run 2x/week, and bike 2-3x/week and I do hot yoga weekly. I finished an ironman triathlon swim last year. And swam around NYC on a 4-person relay team. So if exercise prevents it, it didn't work for me.
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* edit: ironman tri (full 140.6) and a 10k swim.
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So tragic, this article just mentioned light weights to get the lymphatic system flowing. I too am a swimmer and I noticed such a difference swimming there was a pull in the arms that was never there before. It seems harder to stroke now, I laughed to myself and thought my batwings acted as flippers helping to speed me along. I truly hope this condition leaves as quickly as it came on. Wishing you all the best.
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If I may ask...when did the lymphademia start?
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13 months post op. 1 month after my annual follow up visit where my doctor declared the surgery was a success and I was out of the woods. So much for that.
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Wow sorry to hear of the lymphedema complication! Eventually this is expected to resolve correct?
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maybe it will resolve, or maybe I will spend the rest of my life in compression, with the added risk of serious infection every time I get a tiny cut. My physical therapist said we would know more in 6 months. :( And she said I was not the first brachioplasty patient she had seen with this problem. It can happen years post op. The long scars compromise your lymphatic system.
  • Reply just had my brachio.....we all count on the " do no harm" as being the absolute start point to plastics and their value add to our lives....I can just imagine how disappointed you must be ( I know how I would feel...)....I was watching you because you do have really nice scars! I am so sorry you have the complication....will be so praying for you it is temporary!
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I hope you don't develop complications. Apparently lymphedema can happen many many years post-op. My physical therapist has seen it 10 years after major surgery. The long scars disrupt your lymphatic system. The sad thing for me is that I did this surgery because I am an athlete and the excess skin caused problems. Now my left arm is compromised. I have to wear full arm (to the finger tip) compression all day/night. And I am having trouble riding a bicycle since I cannot operate the left brake, and my hand swells terribly when I ride.
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Hi there, welcome and thanks so much for sharing your experience with us!

Your arms look really good and the scar looks great. If you don't mind me asking, did you have excess skin because of weight loss, or was it just general excess skin?

I'm going to need this surgery in the future and I think I'm most nervous about the pain, etc. Was your movement restricted at all, initially, because of the scars?

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Weight loss. I have had abdominoplasty too over 10 years ago. I lost 100 lbs between 2004-2004 thought diet/exercise. The stomach skin was so loose it would come untucked from my pants. I could barely move initially when the arm wounds were fresh and it was extremely painful. The worse part was not being able to get comfortable to sleep with my arms stuck out front like Frankenstein. But the horrible part did not last as long as others' that I have read about on the internet. There were a few really really bad weeks. Then it got better. I was back at yoga after three weeks and ran the turkey trot 5k on Thanksgiving (my surgery was 11/5). Granted both of these things were not at the level I was at pre-op. But I was able to get out there and finish it.
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Well congratulations on your weight loss, first of all. That's an amazing achievement!

The recovery is really what scares me the most! But, it's something that I will definitely need, so I guess it just has to be done. Maybe pain killers will help. :-)

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