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I finally had my procedure done August 6 - So Far So Good - Houston, TX

After a month delay due to the flu, I finally had...

After a month delay due to the flu, I finally had my procedure done August 6 (the day after I got back from Greece).  I was SO nervous, but they gave me Valium and Demerol and Versed and I had no problems.

BACKGROUND:  I will be 39 in less than a month.  No kids.  5'2" and always athletic or slim at 102 lbs.  So much so, in fact, that I was a figure competitor in 2005 and 2006.  In late 2006 I had to have neck spine surgery for 2 blown discs (single level ACDF, C5-C6) and then was unable to work out for a few months.  That, coupled with the epidural steroid, the DepoProvera, and "that age thing" led to a weight gain of 20 pounds over 2 months.  Initially the weight dropped off when I resumed my workouts, then began packing on again beginning of 2008.  For the first time ever I had a little tummy pooch, love handles, and bumpy outer thighs. 

CONSULTATION:  I went to Houston to have my procedure done by a surgeon who only specializes in this and medical weight management.  You can find him on americanhealthandbeauty - dot - com, front and center!  I met with him in July for my consultation after sending photos and a history through email.  I initially went for the abs, but came out looking like a road map after he drew his plan on me. Unfortunately, I became seriously ill over the next 24 hours and was unable to have my surgery the next day.  I came back August 6 for my procedure and it went just as planned.

PROCEDURE:  I had my labwork redone prior to August 6.  I took the antibiotics the night before and the morning of, and ate a light breakfast as instructed.  No advil for 2 weeks prior to surgery, either.  Anyway, he re-roadmapped me after I put on the paper bra and thong.  They gave me the Demerol and Valium orally, my husband (also a surgeon) warned that I'm resistant to pain and sedation medications and suggested they give me more Versed than originally planned.  Turned out he was right, I was coherent enough during the procedure that I told the doc "I am WAY too awake for this, mind giving me more Versed?"  They complied.  At any rate, after the Valium, Demerol, and Versed you are given a shot to initially numb the areas where they use a 2mm punch tool to create the openings for the laser and suction tools.  Then, through these same openings, they infiltrate the area with a solution that contains lidocaine (an anesthetic).  That was a little weird and stung some.  After you are ballooned up with this, they use the laser to destroy the fat cells that they are targeting.  This can be slightly uncomfortable.  They will jab, sweep, etc until the area is sufficiently broken up.  Then comes the suction tool.  The fat and numbing solution is suctioned out and into a collection container.  Periodically while the doc is performing each of these functions, the nurse will call out a number to let him/her know how much numbing solution in, how many joules of energy of the laser, etc.  Each section is done separately.  You need to be awake to follow directions ("roll over" "move your arm" etc).  You also need to be awake to let them know what you're feeling.  Twice I told him "OK, THAT was a rib."  My procedure took three hours plus an hour of seeing how I do, I guess (I was walking around immediately after and dying to get out of there but they kept waiting to let me go).  I had upper and lower abs, flanks, back, hips, outer thighs, and "banana roll" done (we called it the "plantain roll" because it was a baby banana roll, haha).

POST OP DAY 0:  Immediately post op I was ready to go.  They kept me for about an hour, then let us go around 230PM.  We went to the hotel, then took a cab to go eat a late lunch.  By the time we got back to the hotel from lunch at 530PM, I was ready to take a nap.  I woke up at 930PM and changed my bandages for the first time.  WARNING:  if you have that many areas done and are wearing a chest-to-knees compression garment, either LIE DOWN or have someone ready to catch you when you strip it off.  I passed right out due to the change in blood pressure.  This happened the first three times I took the garment off.  Anyway, I was SO AMAZED at how my body looked!  It was like I turned the clock back 2 years to my offseason competition days.  I remember thinking "WHY did I wait so long to do this??"  I had quite a bit of oozing from the 11 insertion sites, with the most severe being low abdomen and lowest points on my legs.  I actually had blood coming out of my legs, not just blood-tinged solution.  Anyway, bandages were changed and you are supposed to put Neosporin on the sites but we didn't have any until the next day.

POST OP DAY 1:  Follow up appointment in the morning, things looked great.  I did 3 bandage changes that day, and started using band-aids instead of the 4" bandages. Still some significant drainage out of left lower abdomen and left lower thigh insertion sites. Swelling began that day, but I was not yet aware of just how much swelling was to come.  I took a total of 3 darvocet on this day (each time I did a bandage change).

POST OP DAYS 2-5: Today is post op day 5.  The swelling has brought me back to my original body shape pre-op.  Disappointing, yes, but I called the office and they said I will swell like this for a couple of weeks then begin to shrink again to what I saw the day of surgery.  I agree with this, as my husband is a surgeon and told me this already.  I am down to 1 pain pill per day, usually if I do something stupid like hit my leg on the steering wheel getting in the car (I've done this both yesterday and today). Otherwise, no meds whatsoever.  I believe I have taken a total of nine of 20 prescribed pills, and only because I had such a large percentage of my body sculpted. 

OTHER NOTES:  I took antibiotics for five days as prescribed.  Your doc may require the same.  Use Neosporin at each bandage change.  Continue to do so for a couple of days after the hole closes to help minimize scarring and chance of infection (post op day 5 three of my holes have already closed).  Have someone with you the first day, ESPECIALLY if you have several sites done.  Take my advice on removal of the compression garment (lay down) the first few times.  Drink plenty of fluids - being 'dry' can also make the blood pressure change too severe to handle.  Sleep on towels the first day so you don't stain your sheets.  Wear dark clothes the first couple of days until the oozing can be controlled (completely absorbed) by bandages.  You may feel like you've been in a car accident starting day 2.  You may feel VERY tired starting then as well, lasting for a handful of days.  This is all part of the healing process.  EXPECT SWELLING that gets worse as the first week wears on.  I was told to wear my compression garment 24 hours a day the first three days, then at least 8 hours a day for 2 weeks thereafter.  I say the more you wear the garment, the better off you'll be.  Give it time for your body to complete the process and don't get discouraged.  If you have questions for your provider, ASK - that's why he's paid the big bucks!

Enjoy!  I'll post updates as I can.

POST OP DAY 8:  I had my follow-up phone call...

POST OP DAY 8:  I had my follow-up phone call with my surgeon this morning.  Nothing unusual so far.  Beginning yesterday I experienced "rippling" pain in most of the areas that were treated (moving pain, like ripples in a pond).  I also began noticing that the areas treated were somewhat numb to the touch.  I explained this to my doc, he said the laser damages the nerves in the areas treated but they regenerate and I may have odd sensations over the next couple of months.  I wear the compression garment 12 hours or more per day to keep swelling to a minimum.  I think the worst of the swelling has passed, and when I initially take the garment off the appearance is very similar to Post Op Day 2.  By the end of the day, though, I'm lumpy and puffy again and it's time to put the garment back on.  He reiterated that I should wear it at least another week, more if I can tolerate it.  I still have some bruising, especially in the banana roll area.  I only wear 4 bandaids now, for the two lower abdomen and two lowest leg points.  The leg points are the absolute slowest to heal - they still are completely open whereas the 2 abdominal are scabs.  No pain meds last two days, not even Advil.

POST OP DAY 12:  Hasn't quite been 2 weeks...

POST OP DAY 12:  Hasn't quite been 2 weeks and I'm already enduring 5 hour car rides again!  : )  I've stalled out on the swelling, and if I eat ANYTHING with salt in it (chips, etc) I swell more.  Waiting for the swelling to go down.  I still look somewhat better than before, even puffed up like this, but I can't wait for it to stop.  Still wearing four bandaids (2 lower ab and 2 lowest thigh).  The leg holes are really stubborn.  Still sore, especially on my thighs - they feel very bruised but most of the actual bruising has diminished.  I did a light workout and 15 mins cardio on Saturday (Day 10).  Doc told me to do just 5-10 mins cardio and to wear my compression garment during cardio (I'm an overachiever).  I wore the garment but next time I just don't think I can hack it - too uncomfortable (yeah I'm whining).  Today I will try another light (4 exercises, 3 sets of 15 reps each) workout and light (15 mins) cardio.  Took Advil Friday (Day 9) for achiness but none since.

By the way, I forgot to mention that I had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics early on and had to switch (low grade fever and a rash).  Will post photos at the two week mark!

POST OP DAY 14:  It's been 14 days of...

POST OP DAY 14:  It's been 14 days of recovery, and the swelling is rather disappointing. : (  I am trying to be patient!  I will say that I've dropped 3 pounds from my pre-op weight, even with just the minimal exercizes (only 3 light workouts in the last 7 days).  So I guess that's proof that yes, the fat DID come out.

I still feel very bruised on my legs.   They don't look bruised, but it feels like they should be black and blue all over the outer thighs.  My husband said they will feel that way for six weeks, generally.  Ooookayyyy....

I will include photos of the holes in my legs tomorrow.  The two lower outer thigh and the two lowest abdominal are still healing.  Overall, though, I believe this is worth it - especially if I can look the way I did the very first day!!  : )

Dr Bergeron, Houston, TX

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