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3 weeks PO and I look like a BEFORE picture. P.S. It's not swelling. =(

Thought I would write a review because I've...

Thought I would write a review because I've found the others to be so helpful. I'm a 36 year old mother of three beautiful children (8, 6, 4) and my tummy was wrecked because of it. Honestly even as I type that I feel a bit guilty because I was so lucky with my conceptions, pregnancies and deliveries that I feel I should have nothing to complain about. I'm 5'5" and weigh 131. I gained 38 lbs with each pregnancy, which I find a bit amusing, not 39, not 37, 38! I was able to lose that weight after each, but it always took about nine months to fully come off.

I thought I was going to escape my first pregnancy unscathed by stretch marks but at 36 weeks, I saw the start of one by my belly button. Well that one quickly multiplied and it didn't take long before I had all sorts of flaming red squigglies all around my middle. I remember telling a co-worker that I was sad cause I had gotten some stretch marks and she asked to see, so I lifted up my shirt, and honestly I will never forget her reaction. She gasped! "Oh my God!" she said like she was looking at some horrific site. To this day she feels awful about that reaction, perhaps because I remind her it made me sad, and we are still good friends!

After my daughter was born, my stomach of course was still plagued by stretch marks, but the loose skin was more apparent after the birth of my second child. Also I had pretty pronounced diastasis with that pregnancy. People would often comment that I looked like a torpedo. Thirteen months after my son was born I got pregnant with my third. My diastasis caused some issues with that pregnancy and I often wrapped my stomach with ace bandages to have some stability. My stomach was huge, and strangers would come up to me and say, "How many babies are you having?" Or "Does your doctor know how big your baby is because you are huge." Seriously. People I had never met before would say these things! Well after my 10 lb 23.5 inch baby was born, I was left with sagging, loose, wrinkled skin, and a large gap in between my stomach muscles. I can't see my belly button anymore and my kids often think it's fun to look for it when I'm changing. I also discovered I have a small hernia which will be repaired along with the muscles during my tummy tuck.

After my third was born I went to physical therapy to try to get my diastasis corrected, but it did not help. I workout regularly and started doing Pilates three years ago and I can tell that it does help with my core stability, but there is still such a gap. When I lay down I can see food/waste moving through my intestines. Gross! I've known I wanted to have my stomach fixed for four years now, and my husband originally was not as excited about the idea. He says I look beautiful, and he doesn't care about my stomach. Also, he owns his own business and I've been essentially staying at home for the past eight years, so I know one of his major concerns was that it would cost thousands of dollars. Two years ago I was obsessed with the idea and remember crying to him because we just did not have the extra money, and thought this was just an unattainable dream. I resolved to just be happy with my body. Well of course my stomach still bothered me, every day. I had a pooch, that luckily I could hide under different types of clothing, but I hated looking at it. I preferred to keep a tank top around my waist when we had sex so I wouldn't be bothered by flopping skin. Recently I've been working part-time a bit more, and am considering going back to work full-time next year. Our car will be paid off at the end of the summer, which means we could afford a monthly payment to pay for surgery.

One day last month, my husband turned to me and said "You should do it. You deserve a tummy tuck. You gave me three beautiful kids and I totally understand why you want it done." Oh my goodness did I hug that man! I was online researching that night and the next day had three consultations scheduled! Luckily one of my best friends had the same surgery two years ago so I've seen her stomach before and after and it looks great, plus she really loved her plastic surgeon so I was looking forward to meeting him. I met with him, and preferred him to the other surgeon I had met, so I scheduled and now it is just three days away. I can hardly believe it! Wow I shared more than I anticipated, but it's a bit cathartic to type it out since I'm a bit anxious it's happening so soon!

Went in this morning at 5:45 am and was taking...

Went in this morning at 5:45 am and was taking back by 6. When I was getting my IV in the vein slipped so the nurse had to try it again. She got the second one in right away, but I started to feel like I was going to faint. I laid back, got my feet up, got a cold washcloth and I felt much better. My PS came in to mark me up, and I was hoping he'd mark off all of my stretch marks, even though I knew ahead of time they are too high to all completely be taken off. He didn't mark them all off, which is fine, and what I expected. I next talked to the anesthesiologist and then was walked back into the operating room. I laid down on the table, the anesthesiologist put an oxygen mask on and I was out!
Waking up in recovery was better than I had anticipated. The only real discomfort was my abs which felt like I had ton 1000 sits ups and was still holding them up. The muscles felt like they were contracted and locked! I had a hard time resting because of it, so they gave me a shot of Demerol in my leg. Boy did I love that stuff! I was able to doze off then for a while.
After I woke up, the nurse got me dressed and I moved to the 2nd stage recovery room and they brought my husband in. I was so happy to see him!
We got discharged and I slowly walked out of the hospital. Getting into the car was fun because it is impossible to not use your ab muscles! I felt ok all the way home (25 min) until just before our house I started to feel faint again. I reclined my seat, hubby blasted the AC, and I used an ice pack to help it pass. UGH Icky feeling.
I got inside, walked up stairs and got into my recliner (It's actually a reclining lawn chair with a feather bed on it!) and I've been parked here all day.
The best part of this recovery is my PS sends you home with a catheter, which I was originally not looking forward to, but man do I love having it now! I'm so thirsty and have been drinking water and coconut water all day I'm sure I would have peed 10 or more times by now! So wonderful not to have to get up to use the bathroom!
I did try to get up and walk around, and again had another "I'm going to faint" spell. I just lay back down and it passed. I'd really like to be done with those now!
I haven't even peeked at my belly yet, and I might not for a couple days. I don't want to be disappointed if I see a stretch mark above my belly =(
I don't got in for a follow-up until Tuesday, so it's rest, rest, and more rest for me until then! I'll try to add my before pics.

I slept pretty well last night. Woke up a few...

I slept pretty well last night. Woke up a few times, but I do that normally. I'm sleeping in bed with lots of pillows propping me up. Pain is ok. I can tell that my pain block has worn off because every 2.5-3 hours I really feel the ab pain. Vicodin takes care of it though. Should I be worried that I'm not draining all that much? Just not sure what is normal, and I'm sure everyone's output varies. I still have my catheter in, and can take it out today. I'm a little reluctant to give it up honestly! So much easier just to stay in bed and pee :)

So I suppose it's post op day 3 officially. I...

So I suppose it's post op day 3 officially. I feel much better than yesterday. I asked my PS if I could keep my catheter (isn't it funny how much I love that damn thing!) in for one more night and I'm glad I did. I got a good night's rest last night and when I woke up at 6:30 I pulled it out myself and was able to take a little sponge bath too. Completely sucks that I got my period and it seems to be much heavier than normal. Maybe it's because my uterus is held in a bit tighter than normal because of the muscle repair.
I'm moving around easier today, and am starting to feel a bit more like myself! I can get up and down the stairs, and in and out of bed easier. I need to remind myself to slow down though. It was hard to walk through the house and not pick stuff up!
I was thinking about stopping the vicodin today and just switching to Tylenol, but I think I'll take it for one more day. I have not had a BM yet, and I'm anxious for that to get kicked back into gear, and I'm hoping when I get off the vicodin, it may help? I'm taking the colace, and had a gentle laxative tea last night, but nothing! It's frustrating.
I still have not looked at my tummy! Can you believe that? I might have to take a peek today. I'm curious, but just felt like I should keep the garment and the bandages all in place.
The only other complaint I have is my lower back! WOW does that get sore walking around hunched over. I'm icing it today and hoping that will help.

Felt pretty good all day, except after my nap I...

Felt pretty good all day, except after my nap I had a headache and felt nauseous and I'm convinced it's from the vicodin! So I'm done with that I've decided. I can deal with the incision and ab pain but I can't stand feeling sick to my stomach and fogheaded. I'm ready to detox these drugs out of my system! I did have two BMs today and those went better than expected, just took longer than usually because I just had to sit there and let it happen to not strain my abs. Hopefully tomorrow will be even better without the drugs.

Today was a pretty good day! I'm feeling better...

Today was a pretty good day! I'm feeling better than yesterday and I think that's because I'm off the hard pain meds. I did take some tylenol last night at 1 am, and again today at 1pm which is pretty good. I can manage the pain because I'm pretty much just laying around. I noticed I am draining quite a bit more the past two days opposed to the first two days, and I'm sure it's because I've started moving around more. I have a post op appt. on Tuesday and I'm betting I'll get one drain removed but have to keep the other one in. That's ok with me as long as both are gone by the 24th, cause I go back to work on the 25th. Crossing my fingers!

So I forgot to update yesterday! I am feeling...

So I forgot to update yesterday! I am feeling pretty good overall. Yesterday I was able to move around quite a bit, and probably should not have moved as much as I did. I'll admit that I actually swept and wiped down the kitchen floor. I know, I'm crazy. Honestly I took the sweeping really slowly, and just used the spray cleaner and paper towels on the floor. Being on my hands and knees actually gives my lower back some relief so it kinda felt good to be down there. It felt good to do something useful besides sitting around in bed! I'm starting to go a little stir crazy and need to remind myself that my body needs rest for it to heal. I think I'm a little more sore today because of all the moving around I did, but I still feel pretty good. I'm walking hunched over still, but try to straighten a bit and just bend my legs to relieve my back. My thighs are getting a workout because I squat whenever I have to pick something up. I was kneeling in front of the oven yesterday to get the pan of lasagna in and out! It's kinda funny.
Today I have my first post op appt. and I'm excited to see what's going on under the bandages because I haven't taken everything off yet. Can't believe I've been able to wait, but I figure I may as well, because what's done is done, and I just want to be pleased with my results.
My hips and pubic area are swollen, and I have a blister on one side from my CG. I've been taken tylenol twice a day and honestly it's been fine. I've also been taking oral Arnica, Bromelain, Chlorophyll, probiotics, and zinc. I'm draining about 40 cc in a 24 hour period which is supposed to be under the amount to have my drains out, and honestly only one of my drains is still draining, so I assume I'll have one removed today and maybe the other one too. I wouldn't mind keeping it in because I'd rather have it draining out than inside of me.
I will hopefully update pics after my afternoon appointment.

So I just took a little bath and man did that feel...

So I just took a little bath and man did that feel wonderful! I can't shower because of the drains, but I just filled the tub with a few inches of water, and I kept my tank top on, but pulled it down so I could wash my chest with a washcloth. Felt so good to sit in that water and I even shaved my legs and pits! Wow the small pleasures! Off to the PS soon. Have a great days ladies!

So I finally took some after pics and will post...

So I finally took some after pics and will post them. Today was a good day. I took a bath, drove myself to the PS, even went to Target after! I am very thankful for the shopping cart because I was hanging on it as I was walking. Made me look lazy and tired instead of injured!
PS visit went well. The nurse stripped my drain and now it's pulling a little more fluid. I have an appointment for Thursday to have them taken out and I can certainly handle two more days. I got to see the whole stomach and am really pleased with the results! I think it's going to look really good once the swelling goes down.
Another interesting part of today was a Qigong Master Healer came to the house to do some energy work on me. I'd never done anything like it before and this is someone my husband knows, and it was really neat! She had some great things to say about the power of the mind related to healing our bodies. I will definitely try some of the techniques she suggested because I do believe that the mind can be such a powerful link to the body, and it certainly is not going to hurt the healing process!

Today was not a good day. And I swore I would be...

Today was not a good day. And I swore I would be the lucky one. I was going to be a smooth sailor and each day was going to get better and better with no set backs. WRONG. Pretty sure I did way too much on days 4 & 5 cause today sucked. I felt so sore, achey, and tired all day and I did nothing but lay around and read. I did make lunch for myself and my kid, but that's honestly all I could manage to do, and it's not supposed to be like this!!! I'm supposed to bounce right back. It's frustrating. I'm sick of my drains. I'm sick of my neck aching because I can only lay in the same flippin position all night and day. I'm sick of not being able to bend over to pick stuff up. I actually sat in front of the open refrigerator this afternoon because I could not find the stupid Gorgonzola cheese for my salad and it hurt too badly to slightly bend over to look for it. Who has to sit in front of the fridge? Sigh. It was going so well.
However I believe in the power of positive thought, so I will have a better day tomorrow. I think my body was sending me a message to slow the heck down! I shall listen. Hope all you ladies are healing well!

So yesterday was a much better day! I got my...

So yesterday was a much better day! I got my drains out and honestly that has made such a difference. My CG was pulled up higher than it should have been to avoid the drains and that cause it to hit my incision often. So now I'm able to pull it down around my incision cause the drains are out. Plus I'm now able to stand straighter because I'm a week out and that has made such a difference in my back! I like the tightness of the CG, but I've ordered some Spanx and if they hold me in, I'm switching to those. Tonight when I took the CG off to change I was lumpy cause it was bunching I think. I don't want my tummy to heal with lumps.
Today has been good as well. I got a shower and boy did that feel great. Took a picture after to post and I think it's going to look great. I'm kinda hoping that once the swelling goes down, the incision might drop a tiny bit lower. Just kinda feels like my pubic area got pulled up quite a bit.
I'm able to do some stuff around the house, but am trying to take it very slow and I'm making the choice to not pick things up! That's hard for me, but it's ok if the house gets messy during the next few weeks. All in all I'm happy with how I'm feeling!

So it's day 12 and I feel really good. My...

So it's day 12 and I feel really good. My swelling is not too bad; I fit into a pair of normal jeans and I can even button them over my CG. My main issue is my stupid stretch marks above my belly button. As the swelling continues to go down, the skin is wrinkling when I'm standing. It's really bad when I bend over or sit. I can pull some of the skin into my BB, so I feel like it could be fixed, but that might make my BB looked like there's skin tucked into it. And I have no desire to go back into the operating room at all! But honestly that might look better than the wrinkled stretch mark skin! UGH. I really am trying to stay positive, and even told my husband this morning (before my shower) that I was just going to accept that I still have them and they don't look perfect. After my shower, the more I looked at it, the sadder I became. And I feel like I can't say anything to him about it now because I just went through all of this pain and discomfort and I think it's frustrate him if I'm dissatisfied.
I would not wear a bikini with the skin looking like that, and why the hell did I pay so much money to not be able to wear a bikini! I feel like all the other pictures on here show women with perfectly smooth tummies, and mine is still a wreck. UGH! I honestly knew going into it that my stretch marks would not all disappear, but I thought that skin would be flattened out. And the thought that it will get worse as I heal makes me want to cry. I'll see PS on Thursday and see what he says. =(

Today I'm 16 days post op and would love to say...

Today I'm 16 days post op and would love to say I'm doing super well, but I can't! Went to see the PS two days ago to get my stitches out and he said it looks like I've developed a hematoma. I am pretty bruised, which I thought was normal, but when I look at other pictures on here, very few people seem to have the same kind of bruising. I did not have any lipo so the bruising is from the surgery and now the hematoma. He said he does not like to asperate the hematomas and we would just monitor it, because most often the body reabsorbs the blood but it will just take some time. So most of my swelling is located near my incision and is actually just the blood that has pooled and clotted. Ick. I am ok right now with waiting to see if it resolves itself because the thought of going back to surgery to correct this is not at all appealing.
I also brought up my concern about my wrinkling stretch marks, and he completely agree with what I said, although he also said that he pulled me as tight as he could, and he hasn't really seen anyone with stretchmarks above their belly buttons that looked like that. I told him that wasn't very reassuring, and he said that it should be because maybe others did look like that early on in recovery and then by 6 weeks they had flattened out. We also talked about the idea of a revision if I think I need it after I'm healed. He gave me some pads to place on the area and we decided I should wear my spanx more and when I wear my CG I should velcro it in the back, instead of the front which was causing the skin to bunch in toward my belly button.
I'll admit it's very frustrating to be unhappy with my results right now when most people seem to be so excited. I would just like to speed up this whole process up.
This week I went back to work on Wed, which I now realize was too soon. On Monday (Day 10) I really started to do all my regular stuff around the house, minus the extra cleaning. I went to the grocery store, made dinner, cleaned up, took the kids to swimming. Then on Tuesday I was in my son's classroom teaching a lesson. Wed-Fri back to work along with making dinner, cleaning up, putting kids to bed. Well my body sent me the signals that it was way too much because Friday afternoon I started to feel like crap. I was feverish, and achy and tired and on top of that I developed a head cold. So I've now decided that I need to rest more, which should have been my priority before. Honestly it's just so hard because I had been feeling better and felt like I could do more than I should have.
So today I've been in bed and plan to do the same damn thing tomorrow! I took Monday off work, so I only work two days next week and when I'm not working I shall be laying down! So frustrating but I think it will help.
Lesson of the day- Don't push yourselves ladies!

It's PO Day 20, and I saw my PS yesterday. Our...

It's PO Day 20, and I saw my PS yesterday. Our new plan for the hematoma is to attempt to drain it next week. He said the blood is the consistency of jelly right now, therefore draining it now would be futile. It needs some time to liquify and it will hopefully be ready by next Thursday. There's certainly a chance that he'll get nothing and we'll have to wait even longer. He said it is extremely rare that he's taken anyone back into surgery to remove a hematoma; they almost always just resolve themselves. I like that we have a plan to attempt to drain it though. It's really not causing any pain, just some pressure here and there.
We also addressed the stretchmarks I am concerned about. He gave me a piece of surgery foam that I'm placing on the area which will flatten out the skin. I have no idea if this is going to work, and I also wonder if I'm perhaps being too critical? He does agree that they do not look ideal, and he thinks they will settle down once more time has passed. I truly hope he is right!
I told him I'm frustrated because right now I can't get excited about my results, and I said I'll be mad if in a few months it doesn't look good. He said, "I'll be mad if it doesn't look good! I'm not happy if you're not happy."
I really appreciate that he said that. I know that the hematoma will resolve either by draining, or just slowly reabsorbing. I'm cautiously optimistic that my stretch marks will relax, and also know that if 6 months/year from now I'm really unhappy, I'll be able to correct it with a second surgery (he doesn't not charge a surgeon's fee for revision), but the thought of another recovery might just allow me to deal with my slightly imperfect skin.
So for now, I'm trying not to think about things, and luckily we have a busy weekend, and next week is packed! It should be enough to distract me from constantly thinking about my stomach!

I can longer feign a positive attitude. My...

I can longer feign a positive attitude. My stomach looks awful and keeps getting worse as the swelling goes down. Patience is not going to help.
The good news: Either I didn't have a hematoma or it's already reabsorbed. It's amazing that I'm close to flat. Also, I'm feeling really good. I feel tightness in my abs when I do too much, but it's not bad at all.
The bad news: The skin on my stomach looks like crap. It's really wrinkled now, and looks saggy. I really don't understand. Maybe my skin was just so completely wrecked, with NO elasticity left. It just looks horrible. I can't even look at my stomach without wanting to cry. There is no way I will wear a bikini. There no way I go without a tight tank top under a shirt for fear my skin might show.
UGH. Honestly the muscle repair is fabulous, and I knew that I was not getting rid of the stretchmarks, but I've never seen an after picture that looks as awful as mine.
So sad.
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