A little background on me; I've just turned 42 and I am happily married to a wonderful man with two children - my daughter is 15 and my son is nearly 13. Life with two teenagers is a lot of fun and never a dull moment.
Over the last 3 years I have lost 78lbs and this has left me with a nasty apron and my skin was ruined. I knew it would happen but the weight had to go. I currently weigh 163, so standing at 5 2 my weight loss journey isn't really over. I would like to lose another 7-24lbs, but my body has been at this weight for over a year and seems happy here, even if my mind isn't!
The apron has been the bain of my life for too long, but more recently it has stopped me, to a degree, enjoying my life and my weight loss. 18 mths ago I suffered a back injury that stopped me in my tracks; I used to be very active and fit. As I slowly recovered and tried to pick up the exercise where I left of, after many sessions with my physio, the apron would get in the way. I could feel it slapping around and bouncing up and down and the embarrassment this caused with horrible. I stopped going to my boxing gym and my work's gym because of this. Simply, the damn thing had to go!
I started researching TT around 18mths ago and with my husband's blessing I had an extended TT with muscle repair to the lower abs and a boob uplift on March 14 2013.
It has been an emotional journey to say the least!
I had the op mid day and was awake and in my room by 6pm, on the phone to my hubby by 6.30. I was able to get in and out of bed with little problems, I just used the strength in my arms to get myself up and out of bed. I spent one night in hospital and was on my feet the next morning back and forth the loo. My surgeon came to see me the next morning and was pleased with how the op had gone - he removed 3 1/2 pounds of skin and fat. I honestly thought there would be more...lol. He said that the average he removes is around 1 pound.
There was very little in my drains, so they were removed and I went home. I had to wear those sexy support socks for two weeks... my, how lovely did they look and the hospital supplied me with an elasticated binder that I kept on religiously.
The first week post op was a complete breeze! I know! Pain was hardly there, more of a discomfort; I was mobile albeit at a slow pace and I felt great! Sleeping wasn't a problem. We are lucky enough to have a spare room, so that became my bedroom for many weeks and I just used plenty of pillows to keep me propped up and two underneath my knees for comfort and to support my legs. There was no way I could lay out straight so they really did help. There was some discomfort in my lower back from being hunched over, but not too bad. I used tiger balm and that seemed to help.
Even my surgeon and his nurse were surprised at how well I was coping, especially after a double op. I was really impressed with myself, mind, I'm not one for tea and sympathy! The initial reaction to my new tummy and boobs was OMG! This is amazing! My surgeon truly did an amazing job! He cleared me to have a shower - wow! What a moment that was - clean body, clean hair... oh just lovely!
Week 2 was a little more testing. The swelling had started and there was a lot more discomfort - perhaps I over did it in week one? Who knows. I then developed a seroma and the pressure this put on my scar was awful. Plenty of rest was the order of the day. I mentioned it to my surgeon and he was reluctant to drain it saying that it would disperse naturally and it was not a problem. I have to be honest, I did panic a little as my tummy was so tight that I was afraid it would affect my final results.
I went to see my doc week three as the seroma had gotten bigger, I could feel it ripple as I walked and I wanted him to drain it. Again, he was reluctant but eventually agreed and to my dismay he only got a little fluid out... from the size and discomfort I was expecting a tidal wave...lol. This really put a halt to my recovery, I felt. I was very aware that I had to do very little as I didn't want it to get worse. I found a video on you tube to do a self massage - lymphatic massage and I did that daily. I think it helped... it felt good anyway.
At this appointment I asked for a new binder as the elasticity in mine had completely gone and my surgeon took it off me and told me to just wear support pants! I was a little freaked out by this as all I have read is compression, compression, compression. So I tried it for a day or so but I wasn't ready for just support pants and I ordered a new compression garment and a waist cincher to tide me over, wearing them day and night.
By the beginning of week four I was feeling a lot better physically... I could do more and the seroma had nearly gone. Still wasn't in any of my pre op clothes so it was leggings and joggers all the way for me. I was getting rather bored of this wardrobe by now, but I couldn't stand the thought of anything tight on my tummy and I couldn't fit into any other clothes.
I was supposed to go back to work, but my GP agreed to sign me off for another week and I am glad because I couldn't of managed. I am a teacher and the thought of standing up in front of all those teenagers not being 100% straight was not a good one.
It was at this stage that the emotional side of the journey really kicked in. When I went into this I really just wanted rid of the apron and to have a normal shape for my age. My surgeon told me to keep my expectations realistic and I thought I had... until around the middle of the four week mark. The serious swelling really had kicked in by now and this distorted my opinion of my results. I would swing from wanting a body like Lara Croft to being grateful that I didn't have the flap op skin hanging down. This really did one on my head and heart.
I found myself getting emotional for no reason - mood swings were crazy! I knew I was being unrealistic wanting a perfect tummy... I mean c'mon! My skin was a mess... it was completely ruined by having two kids and being morbidly obese for over 15 years, but it didn't stop me wanting that perfect tummy... what was going on in my head. I would talk to my nubby and close friends about it and they would just remind me about the apron and how much better I looked now. And they were right! But it didn't really make any difference to my train of thought.
I started back to work 5 1/2 weeks post op - wow! What a shock to the system that was... going from doing very little to back in the classroom like I had never been away. It was a whirl wind week that had me exhausted by the Weds. And the swelling...phew! Nasty! By 1pm I looked pregnant - I had to chose my clothes very carefully because of this - I would weigh 5lbs heavier by the end of the day - that is some swelling. It was also quite painful around the scar too. I had read a lot about the 'swell hell' but never imagined anything like this!
However, work was a good distraction for me as it took away my constant obsessing about how flat or not my tummy was. Routine was needed and it worked well. I was wearing my compression garment on and off. I was feeling a little bold the one day, and I put on a pair of support knickers that came to the waist - not under the bust. This was a mistake! I discovered that I still have the dreaded muffin top - seriously! All this and the muffin top is still there? I was nearly in tears! I didn't have time to change so I was stuck with these all day - as I got more swollen they cut in and by the time I got home my middle was really hurting. My thoughts returned to my expectations - I really didn't want a muffin top! Was this how it is going to be, or is it swelling, or is it fat? OMG! I put it on my must discuss with surgeon list!
At 6 weeks post op I had a check up appointment with my surgeon. I must admit, I wasn't there that long - I expected it to be longer; lasted about 15mins!
Anyway, he checked over my tummy and boobs. He was really pleased with the shape of my tummy saying that it looked good and that the scar was healing nicely. He told me to ditch the compression garments and just wear support pants. I expressed my concern about the muffin top - he said that it is probably 50% swelling and 50 % fat, which is better than 100% fat! This confirmed to me that I still have weight to lose - c'mon body, it is time to comply and get rid of some more fat!
As regards to the uplift, again he was pleased, all healing well and the scars were looking great and I agree to an extent. There does seem to be a little difference between each boob though; the one nipple seems larger and lower than the other. When I mentioned this he said to wait until the 3mth pos top mark before making any final judgement as they haven't settle properly or into their final position yet. I was pleased with this response. I don't want perfect boobs - no one will see them! Again, I just want them to be a better shape, which they are.
I told him about how my expectations were shifting all over the place and playing games with my head and he said that this is completely normal and with time things will settle as I get used to my new body.
He cleared me for exercise including light ab work; walking and light jogging and swimming. He said that I should listen to my body and do what feels right - not to over do anything or push myself too hard! Fat chance of that when I am knackered after a hard day in work!
As the week progressed I felt that I had really turned a corner.. I started the 30 day squat challenge; starting with 50 squats - easy peasie - so I soon went up to 100. I did some light ab work - lower pelvic lifts and upper curls - I took it easy and gently. Not wanting to neglect my upper body I started doing some half push ups, off the counter top, off the table and then half push ups on the floor. I also started walking in the evening more. This little bit of activity worked wonders on my mental outlook; I started to feel great and was walking much 'taller' - metaphorically and literally! The swelling wasn't so bad and I was alternating my binder with the compression garment. Things were looking up at last!
I even got into my pre op jeans and holy moly, they were too big! In the space of a few days. How happy was I? On the weekend I went out and bought a new pair in a smaller size and they fit! I could do them up and sit down in them. Ok, so they were a little tight, but not as tight that I couldn't breath and turned blue! I haven't had this size (UK size 12) since my early teens... did I mention that I was happy? If they fit now, will they be loose when the swelling goes completely!?
I also moved back into my own bed. It was nice to share it with my hubby again, I had really missed him! I was a little apprehensive that he would roll over on me, but he didn't! lol
Then I hit week 7... still doing my squats but dropped the other exercises except walking as the swelling is back with vengeance! OMG! I'm even waking up swollen. This is regardless of whether I wear my compression garment or control pants! I know it is part of the process but it is proper shitty! The muffin top still haunts me and I get really blue days of feeling fat and ugly. Then I get days of feeling amazing and slim. I try those jeans on every day to make sure that I wasn't dreaming and I am looking forward to the day I can wear them out, in public, comfortably. I am also feeling a lot more tired now - probably due to a heavy work load (this is a stressful time of year in work due to admin deadlines and exam prep).
When I have a shower, I still go to pick the apron up to wash underneath it... forgetting that it isn't there any more! I think it is going to take time for me to realise that it has gone for good.
I haven't lost or gained any weight... still the same as the day of the op which is a little disappointing - but my eating hasn't been as clean as it could and this is something that I must work on over the next few weeks .. especially if I want Lara Crofts's body! But my energy has been consumed with just getting through each day
I still alternate my compression garment and control pants in the day. Sometimes I wear the compression garment to bed, sometimes I don't. I honestly don't think it is making that much difference at this stage, but when I am super swollen it does add some control and comfort to a night's sleep.
So, through all the ups and downs, doubts and victories, was it worth it? HELL YES! And I would do it again in a heart beat. My tummy and boobs, although not perfect, are a million times better than they were. They now match my face, if not look younger than my face and that was my original goal.
I know that this is not my final result and looking at others who are further out than me, I realise that I am still at the beginning of this journey. And that is very promising. Once I am able to do more exercise and I have more energy, I know that I will feel physically and mentally stronger. Time is a healer and patience is a virtue! Cliched but true.
For all of you that have posted before me, thank you for your honesty and inspiration; your stories have helped me get through the early days and the darker days post op.
For those of you who are thinking of this procedure, do your homework, find the right surgeon for you and be prepared for the ride of your life. It will be worth it in the end though!