55-Year-Old Mom of Four, Grandma of Three - Mommy Makeover Has Changed my Life. Towson, MD

I know that we all have our own journey but I'm...

I know that we all have our own journey but I'm supposing that the motivation is much the same for many of us. I absolutely hated my body. Even I didn't realize how much it weighed me down. I just assumed it was something I had to live with, and had to accept from having children and aging. Many times I would simply not go anywhere because I had nothing to wear that I thought looked nice and I was just so uncomfortable! I cringed at the pictures of me because I always had a roll of fat. I put out "feelers" to some friends, work associates and of course, my husband and children. The comments I got were discouraging: "Are you looking for a new husband?" "At your age?" "Think what you could do with that money?" "You look perfectly fine to me." "Are you going to do anything with your face" (I really don't think that last was was meant to be cruel -- I think he meant it as a serious question.)

I made an appointment for mid-February to see a plastic surgeon who was extremely well regarded. They asked me to remove my clothes and put on a little tiny pair of black panties. I stood against a wall, turning this way and that, while they took pictures. I was so ashamed, so vulnerable, that I just started to weep. I realized then all I had given over to my husband(s), my children, to time. I wanted it back. Anyone who has this surgery really knows what I mean when I say it has virtually nothing to do with vanity.

After my consultation, it was time to go see the "financial consultant." Uh oh. She told me that the doctor recommended a full abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), breast left and augmentation, and liposuction of the flanks. The cost: $18,800. The price of a nice car, or an addition to the house, a vacation for ALL of us, etc. I thought about it -- and scheduled my surgery for Apr 8, 2014. I methodically set about collecting the money I would need, pacing myself at work so I could comfortably take off, collecting my supplies and rearranging my house to accommodate a sick person (me!).

I could not imagine that I would have great results. I have never been the person for whom things work out. Not that things ever went too terribly wrong -- but I was the kind of person where it just wouldn't make a big difference one way or the other. I could not have been more wrong. In the interest of time and space, I won't go into it now but will answer ANY questions anyone has for me. The surgery was much more drastic than I had counted on. The pain is excruciating, the scars are significant, the healing time is long and arduous. The results -- are nothing less than stupendous. Much more than the physical results are the emotional ones. All the years, the bad memories, the times I hid my body, or got irritated when my husband touched me, not because I was bitchy but because I was ashamed --it's all GONE. Tossed away in the trash can, literally and figuratively.

I followed every single direction to the absolute letter. I wanted it to work. I wanted to have good results. It has now been 14 weeks and one day since I had my surgery. I will never be the same and my life has changed, forever. In many ways, the clock has been set back, in my mind, at least a decade. Not physically, mind you, but mentally. When someone coined the phrase "new lease on life," this has got to be what they meant. In some ways I wish I had done this a decade (or more) earlier, but the truth is, I would not have had the time off work or the time to spend just indulging myself to heal. I would not have had the money. I would not have had the mindset that I could do this for myself. So, like many things in life, time and opportunity lined up perfectly.

Now, I want to be able to help anyone along on their journey. You can always count on me to be honest. Should you have any questions, please ask me. It's been interesting, to say the least. I have referred back to RealSelf over and over and over in my recovery and it has brought me great comfort. It's time now to pass my own experience on. Good luck to you all. God bless you.

P.S. I'm awfully sorry I don't have "before" photos. I will ask my doctor for a couple -- maybe they will let me share. But, just to let you know, I had the infamous "butt in front" belly button, thick and heavy stretch marks, a "ledge" along the pubis, not from a caesarean but from another abdominal surgery, and my stomach "hung," even when standing straight. My breasts were lax, with the areola and nipple not pointing out, but down. I had to lift them to dry under them. My flanks were simply fat, and created a muffin top in everything I wore. I wasn't terribly overweight but zero muscle tone and quite a lot of excess skin and fat in my middle area. A bajillion sit ups or crunches would do nothing for me.

A Word About Women and Why We Can Be So Unkind

At first I thought it was my imagination. Then, I thought, maybe it's not my imagination but maybe I'm sending out "bad vibes," so I made a conscious effort to be extra kind and thoughtful. But I've come to the conclusion that it's probably not me.

I've written previously about some of the unkind comments I received when I was considering surgery. That was confusing to me because I am hardly ever unkind to anyone. But maybe, I thought, people really did feel that I was being selfish for having the surgery. Then it occurred to me one day that the vast majority of the unkind comments I got were from other women. Ah, I thought, that's only because I mostly share with other women -- so I tried to forget about it.

Fast forward 4 months. I am solidly "on the mend." My body is, I think, amazing now and I'm TRULY grateful. I like to think that I would be happy for anyone else who has shed their old skin (and fat and marks and scars...) and I had gotten used to everyone on RS being SO very supportive.

So, I'm going to just say it... "Support" has not been my experience. In fact, it has been quite the opposite and 99.9% of the poor treatment has been from other women. Sure, there are a TON of people who are truly happy for me. But there are many more who simply, oddly enough, won't even look at me anymore. Some, though we work in the same office, have never acknowledged my surgery or even that I was gone for eight weeks. There are some young women who flitted about in front of me for a couple of years who will not even acknowledge or make eye contact with me now.

At first it was really upsetting to me. I could feel the old shame welling up in me -- but then, wait a minute! Not only did I go through weeks and weeks of preparation, excruciating pain, a slow and painful recovery, but I had to pay almost $19,000 of MY OWN money for the opportunity to do so! I'm NOT going to be shamed into feeling uncomfortable about something I wanted so badly!

Jealousy and envy are hard. They are hard to feel it (and I have and so, most likely, have you) and it's really hard to be on the receiving end of it. I thinking I am learning to accept it for what it is and overlook it. It's still uncomfortable for me and I don't like it but it's starting to make me feel more annoyed than sad. I do hope that have learned something from it -- and that is that everyone has a story. The next time I am tempted to feel envious about something someone else has, I hope to be able to take a step back and consider that their road may not have been as easy as all that, as mine has not been.

I suppose my reason for writing this is to let those who are starting their journey know that these attitudes exist, and please prepare yourself. And for those further along on their journey, if you've been tempted to think it's your imagination, it's not. I, for one, will try to be all the kinder.

God bless each and every one of you. We're very fortunate to be on this journey, and all the more so for having each other! I'll post new pictures soon.

Proof of End-of-Day Swelling!

Hi, everyone. Like most of us have heard, there can be swelling many weeks and months after our procedures -- in my case, of course, it was a full TT, liposuction of the flanks, and a breast lift augmentation. We hear about end of day swelling and I've been suspecting that by the end of the day, I'm pretty significantly swollen. Last night and this morning, I got pictures. The first picture (jeans on, boobs out) was taken just before putting on my jammies. Literally end of day, and I was beat! The second picture was the VERY first thing I did this morning. FYI, I DO wear my compression garment at night, along with a support (sports) bra. My CG is quite literally my security blanket. It does not even velcro hardly at all anymore but I don't know what I'll do without it. Also, I usually DO NOT wear Spanx during the day but on this particular day I had, but had taken them off for a couple of hours after returning home from work.

What do you all thing? Swelling?

Pet peeve: typos and no way to fix them

I've noticed on RS that once a post is posted it's posted! Obviously, my last sentence says: What do you all think? Swelling?

I hope every one of you is well tonight -- excited, calm, in no pain. :-)
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