TT and Umbilical (Incisional) Hernia Combined Procedure - Tacoma, WA

My incision from a prior surgery has split open...

My incision from a prior surgery has split open and it was repaired with just sutures the first time. This time I'm having a mesh repair and muscle plication through a full Tummy Tuck incision and hoping this will be my last surgery ever. I have a general surgeon and plastic surgeon working together. My biggest concern is possible umbilical necrosis ( dead belly button) because I have had three prior medical abdominal surgeries using that incision. I'm not doing this so much for looks as I am for support of my hernia repair. I love high impact activities like fitness kickboxing, backpacking, scuba diving etc and I don't want to miss out on anything. I hope I've got the right team and the right plan for this. Wish me luck.

I would love to hear advice for preparing for...

I would love to hear advice for preparing for surgery. I need to know pros and cons of products to help me be more comfortable and to heal. I need answers to questions like, how do you sleep if you can't lie flat? In a chair? How long until you could drive? What do I look for in a compression garment? How tight should it be? Is it better to try to be active right away, or to keep activity down to reduce swelling? I have tons of questions, so I'm off to the boards to see what other people have learned.

My recliner lift chair was delivered today in...

My recliner lift chair was delivered today in preparation for my surgery on Monday. Getting a little more nervous now but trying to focus on how nice it will be to be healed and having fun with my family this summer.

Had my markings appointment yesterday. The doc...

Had my markings appointment yesterday. The doc said this ink will stay on until Monday. I was hoping for more steep V-ish shape, but I think this will "hide" better in clothes. I'm trying not to stress about the scar. I'm focusing on how nice it will be to have my hernia fixed and get back to life. We have a big vacation we're taking this summer, haven't decided where yet. Maybe Belize, maybe Africa, Europe. Not sure yet. I want to go somewhere I haven't been before. Any suggestions? What is the best place you've traveled to? Why? Maybe this will help me focus on how cute I'll look in my clothes without my tummy sticking out and how much fun I'll have when I don't have to worry about my back pain and hernia pain.

I just talked to my surgeon. He is VERY reluctant...

I just talked to my surgeon. He is VERY reluctant to change the scar he outlined. He says I will get a worse result, but if I want to modify it, he will show me what he is willing to change on Monday morning when I go in for surgery prep but then if I don't like it he suggests I go to another surgeon who does it in a different style. WHAT? I'm two days from surgery, everything lined up, paid, etc and thats his response? He said it will create dog ears and limit his ability to pull in laterally? I told him that I've seen LOTS of pictures online where people have this done successfully and he says that its based on their body structure. He said I have wide hips and that requires this kind of incision. Even if these things are true, why wouldn't he have mentioned that during the initial consult when we went over my scar pics, or at the pre-op when I discussed it again. Is this normal? Each plastic surgeon I consulted (including him) with said that the scar I wanted it just fine for me. But now he changes the story. I'm even more freaked out than I was earlier because I feel like he doesn't want to do this surgery now, or even worse, maybe he's not capable of creating the kind of results I'm looking for. I hope not. On a good note, he returned my call in less than 2 mins (after hours) so thats a good thing right?

Tomorrow is the big day. I arrive at the hospital...

Tomorrow is the big day. I arrive at the hospital at 5:45am. See you on the flat side!

Day 2. had my surgery yesterday With the...

Day 2. had my surgery yesterday With the combined procedure my surgery was about 4 hours. Yesterday the pain was practically unbearable but today it's about half what it was yesterday.

Day 3 post op. so far day 1 was hardest. Today I'm...

Day 3 post op. so far day 1 was hardest. Today I'm feeling much better. Glad I have a weaker and lift chair recliner. Even with those aides, I still need help.

Day 3: Pain is starting to lessen. Still taking...

Day 3:
Pain is starting to lessen. Still taking pain meds but having an easier time moving around. My docs office provided a walker for me to use. Thank goodness. I need to get a good look at my scar but I'm still not sure what it looks like

Day 5 I am loving my lift chair recliner. I have...

Day 5 I am loving my lift chair recliner. I have rented it for one month but I'm hoping ill be sleeping in my own bed soon. I rented my chair from a medical supply company for about $150 per month. I am also using a toilet seat riser with handles. that has been a big help too.

Day 8: This recovery has been BRUTAL so far. I...

Day 8:
This recovery has been BRUTAL so far. I switched to Ibuprofen for pain today. The other pain killers are stopping me up so badly I can hardly breathe. And the swelling feels like my stitches will pop out. Can't wait to be feeling better.

PO Day 13 I have been sick with flu like...

PO Day 13
I have been sick with flu like symptoms, nausea, achy, flushed face, cold feet, sore joints. Every night the symptoms get worse. I'm feeling a little better today thank goodness and hoping I'm at the end of this. I'm no longer taking anything for pain. I'm still a little tender if I'm not careful about my movements but I was thinking the tylenol and ibuprofen might be adding to my nausea so I just stopped taking it. I'm having vision problems too. Nothing too serious but ever since my surgery I'm having trouble focusing on small print, and the light seems different too. I'm wondering how this surgery could effect my eyesight? At first I blamed it on the medication, but I'm not taking anything and its still blurry. Has anyone else heard of these side effects?

PO Day 15 Yesterday my hubby took me to the docs....

PO Day 15
Yesterday my hubby took me to the docs. I was declining fast. For about the last 4-5 days I have been getting weaker and having a hard time eating or drinking. I couldn't walk more than to the bathroom and back to my chair without bad cramps and heavy breathing. I was getting very emotional and just had this overwhelming feeling that something is really wrong with me. Doc couldn't find anything obviously wrong. All my vitals looked fine, and my scars are all healing nicely. She ordered blood tests to see if that would show anything. Blood tests came back yesterday afternoon showing slightly elevated white cell count. Looks like I have an infection brewing. To complicate things, I'm allergic to all penicillin type antibiotics and I was already taking Cipro after my surgery and that didn't wipe it out the first time, so they have put me on another round of Cipro to see if it will take care of it. I've only had two doses so far and I'm already feeling a little better. I'm so glad my hubby was there to take me in and take care of me. This has been a ROUGH few days. I'm exhausted. I feel guilty that he is missing work and taking care of everything else too... and we got the nicest surprise last night when my neighbor brought over a fully cooked dinner ready to serve my hungry family. What a blessing after such an exhausting day. Today I'm more optimistic and hoping to be on my feet very soon. I'm going to see my acupuncturist today too. Its supposed to be very good for the immune system and for healing. I need all the help I can get.

PO Day 24 Finally over the hump and on the mend

So, it turns out that the infection was the least of my problems. In one week I lost 10 lbs from not being able to eat. Luckily, I was staying well hydrated but so nauseated and having a hard time breathing. Went to see my surgeons several times but couldn't find anything wrong. Ended up in the ER after 11 days of not being able to eat and it was getting harder to breathe and not able to move without feeling like I was passing out. Sometimes the room would start spinning when I was just sitting still in my bed or chair. My surgeon suspected a blood clot or pulminary embolism, so off the the ER for tests. They did a CT scan, EKG, blood tests etc. Everything came back normal. Went home still in distress and no answers. That night I was sitting forward and I felt a terrible, slow, tearing type pain and then it felt like my belly button was being pulled out of my abdomen from the back. The tearing pain was dying down to a throb and within about 30 mins I realized my head started clearing and my nausea was dying down (for the first time in WEEKS). Finally fell asleep. The next morning I woke up STARVING and I realized my eyesight was back to normal too. Plus my head felt totally clear, no dizziness or vertigo and my breathing felt really free and chest felt opened up and clear. Docs have run more tests, ultrasounds etc and aren't sure what the tearing was, but they're thinking it may have been scar tissue from a previous surgery that moved to block my diaphram and stomach opening. What a frightening ordeal. Im so glad that is all behind me now. All I can say is trust your instincts. If something feels like its wrong, it probably is. Its been about 4 days since the tearing and I've been feeling better everyday! My surgeon and his office was very responsive and very concerned. It was nice to know they were willing to take every action to figure this out and stuck with me through it all. Oh, and I had a little incident with the belly button too, but it seems to be doing great now too. Next step is to get my blood checked again to make sure the antibiotics wiped out the infection. Whew. I'm exhausted.

PO Day 27: Feeling good, eating well, and getting my energy back

I took some new photos of my scar and abs when there's not much swelling. Funny how it swells up almost every evening still. And if I'm too active, I can feel it swelling on the spot. Very strange. Wonder how long that will last. My scar is getting much lighter and most of the scabbing is gone. I love my new belly button. I can't believe how different it looks. Finally getting excited about my results.

PO Day 42: I'm about six weeks after surgery now.

I'm doing much better but still having some issues with muscle cramps, back pain and it turns out I have ovarian cysts going on right now too. YAY. That may be part of the reason I'm still feeling so crappy. Its like a roller coaster on my hormones but I went on my very first hike yesterday and it felt awesome to be outdoors in the sunshine with my kids. We took lots of rests and only went a total of about 3 miles but it felt good to be doing something "normal" again. I decided to post some of my post surgery pics and some updated ones too. Hope its not too confusing since these are out of timeline order. I've been putting petroleum jelly on my scar 2x per day and I'm very pleased with the way its lightening up and healing.

Six week pics.

Still a little swelling at the lowest point of the V, but scar is healing nicely. Sorry about the photos. I have a lot of elastic lines on the skin from panties and pants. Better to take pics right after a shower or something so the skin looks smoother.

PO Day 46

I took some pics after my bath that show how well the scars are healing. I still have a little swelling but this week has been good for me. Last weekend I went on a three mile hike with my kids. We took it slow and rested a lot but it was good to be outdoors and getting some exercise. Yesterday I went for a walk and went 3.25 miles. I feel weak and tired after and it reminds me just how much this recovery has taken it toll but I'm glad to be on the mend. Everything feels very tight, and not normal yet, but I expect that to keep improving over time. I'm really motivated to build up my strength and keep getting healthier. I can't wait to lose some more weight as well. The muscle cramping has really died down a lot and goes away more quickly as soon as I rest. I'm easily making it through the day now and even adding in more and more chores and activities. Can't wait to feel "normal" again.

PO Day 70 - Acupuncture to help with the muscle cramps and scar healing

I've been seeing an acupuncturist for pain relief initially but now to help with the muscle cramping which is actually more rare these days but happens mostly when I'm walking long distances or overexerting. I'm planning a camping trip with my son next week so I'm getting out more and getting more active lately but still very careful about abdominal muscles. They are still VERY tender right under my ribs and midline. I'm seeing progress though. I'm really pleased with my belly button and the scar itself. Looks much better than I expected.
Tacoma Plastic Surgeon

He was highly recommended by my general surgeon. If you have any experience with him I'd love to hear from you.

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Comments (19)

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Your button looks amazing!! Thx for your review, I live about 45 min from you, and looking for dr still. Loved your results, gonna check dr Nichols out. :) Thx!
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Happy to hear your feeling better, you look fantastic!
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Thanks Mama. Hope all is well with you.
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You look great! U r healing well!
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Wow glad u r ok. I'm also allergic to the cinllins. So I hope there will be a just as strong substitute for me if I need it. Overall u look great. Happy healing!!
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I learned from my neighbor, that I can get a blood test to determine which antibiotics I'm allergic to so that if I ever need them again, they don't have to do the trial and error thing (which can be very dangerous). I'm going to look into that. I felt really foolish when the docs kept asking me if I'm allergic to x or Y and all the names sound so similar I couldn't remember which ones I've reacted to. Just thought I'd mention it since I'd never heard of the testing before.
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Oh wow!! Thanks that a good idea I will look into that!
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Hey Me, looking great! Just rest, rest, rest!!!! The first 5 days to me were the hardest-mentally and physically. Drink tons of water and fluids and eat or drink plenty of protein. It's a roller coaster ride but well worth it! Take care!!
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Thanks Kimmers. Its nice to hear from people who have been where I am now. Im drinking lots and resting lots but having to get up to pee every 2-3 hours ouch I hope my scar settles down. Right now it looks like a marshmallow wearing a tight string around it. Very odd. I'll try to post pics soon
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Good luck suga !!! Ur gonna look fabulous !
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Thanks. So far so good
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Im kind of freaking out about my markings. I had two visits with my surgeon before the markings appointment, I brought in photos of scars that I like, and talked to him about the shape I wanted. He agreed to everything and then when he did the markings, he kept saying "you don't want it too high on the sides because it will show". "You don't want any corners or they won't heal right". Etc. So I ended up with this low wide SMILE line, that is NOT what I had in mind. I don't want to second guess his experience, but I'm seriously stressing out that I'm not going to like the result. My surgery is on Monday morning and I keep having visions of running out of there and not going through with it. I don't want to be "talked into" something I'm not comfortable with. I'm really undecided because I tried on a bunch of bathing suits yesterday and the scar was well hidden with all of them, but when I'm naked, its just not what very flattering. (lol...like a big giant scar is flattering) but you know what I mean. Crud. I think I'm going to call his after hours service. I really need to decide if I'm ok with this or not. Monday is approaching fast.
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Hi M.. I must be one of the very few who did not do extensive planning for my TT.. I've had 4 previous surgeries so maybe was more prepared mentally!? The only thing I was concerned about was my recliner, my pain meds and the t.v remote! My family was there to help with the rest. I personally did not eat special foods or watch my salt intake before or after.. I know everyone is different, but I just wanted to act/feel like everything was normal! I totally agree with REST! Very important to take it easy for the first couple weeks for sure! RS is so awesome, you will find women who are just like you in every aspect! Wish you the best of luck! Very exciting time! :)
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Thanks Lacey. Your results look amazing and I love the tattoo idea. Very cute
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Welcome to the tummy tuckers:)   I am very happy you joined us and look forward to following your posts.  

From now up until surgery date you need to focus on rest and proper diet.  You want to be in peak shape mentally and physically for this procedure.  Be extra good to yourself now.

Sleeping is an issue after the tummy tuck.  The first two weeks are the worst as far as getting comfortable.  I personally recommend renting an electric hospital bed.  Sleeping in a chair is simply not comfortable.  If the bed is not an option them get your own bed all fixed up with tons of pillows an a foam waffle pad for under your booty.  The wedge pillow system is very nice.  The ladies are buying this off of Amazon.  

While recovering patience is a must!   Stay on top of your pain medications, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy lean protein (important for healing), low sodium, and lots of fruits and veggies.  Rest, rest, rest all you can the first couple of weeks.  But also make sure you are walking several times during the day.  I am attaching a couple of links to my journey which will help you see what may be ahead.  

Stay positive and know things get better each week during recovery.  Healing can not be rushed.  

Tummy Tuck Survival: A Real Life Guide

Month-by-Month Diary Post Tummy Tuck

I am always here for you:)

 

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A mesh repair should keep you nice and flat! I hear that it may take longer to heal with mesh since it is a foreign body that's very large. If you did have necrosis of the BB would there be a way to fix it? like how they do breast reconstruction after mastectomy, they should be able to recreate a navel. As far as getting ready. . .I slept on a couch with a bunch of pillows and blankets cradling me, however a recliner and preferably an electric lift recliner would be preferred if you can afford a rental. Lots of help to the bathroom mind you. And, it's really hard to sleep upright so expect very strange sleep patterns. Keep a ton of fluids nearby . . . I kept a lot of Gatorade...make sure you have gentle foods for your stomach. I was nauseous and not hungry for days so I found things like soda crackers were ok to eat. It took me 3 weeks to drive because my car is low to the ground so it was hard to get in and out of, the doors are very heavy, and steering is very hard. As for a compression garment I got Design Veronique which is quite expensive but after spending a ton whats another hundred dollars? I got an extra large, I am 5'9 and 165 lbs, and now that I have been wearing it 2 weeks it has stretched out a bit -- or maybe the swelling has gone down considerably--- but it is still good support. You should look into it. I also got a silicone strip from my doctor that is long enough to cover the whole scar. Silicone is like heaven, so soothing. It is good to walk around for 10-15 minutes a day at first if you can handle it. So nice long post sorry for that hope I answered some of your questions. Happy tuck keep us posted!
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Thanks you so much for the tips Fxygmgrl! I'm looking into that compression garment now.
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Oh, and yes, the belly button can be rebuilt, at least superficially... but its the necrosis part that would be really bad. The real belly button stalk goes deep into your abdomen, so if it dies, you have to deal with deep tissue wound healing for months, I guess. It can be quite nasty and carries risk of infection. Once that is all healed, then the rebuild could happen. It would be great to hear from someone who has gone through it. Just so I know what to expect if that happens.
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Just wondering how the silicone strips work? Do they have adhesive, like tape? Or?
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