Nice BA. TT Nightmare. Ann Arbor, MI

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First a bit of history: I’ve had two children...

First a bit of history: I’ve had two children via c-section, both weighing over 9lbs. I'm 5'4 and 130lbs. Healthy, athletic. After my second child was born, I had severe diastasis with a prominent bulge. My small breasts had also stretched out and deflated. I consulted with two plastic surgeons in the Ann Arbor area for a mommy makeover.

I felt I could go either way for the tummy tuck portion, but I settled on Ann Arbor Plastic Surgery because I thought Dr. Malhotra’s breast augmentation portfolio was better than the other doctor’s. I was offered lipo and an areola reduction. I declined and didn’t feel pressure to have the procedures. After your procedure, AA Plastic Surgery offers you an expensive scar treatment. I declined and again, they didn’t push it. I would have hated to go somewhere where they were pushing hard for a whole bunch of extra procedures and products.

I had the surgery in August 2015. My breast augmentation results are great. I was right on the border of potentially needing a breast lift. Dr. M was able to do a “donut lift” and to use a shaped implant to fill me out. It also had the bonus of cutting out some splotchy dark dots that had appeared outside my areolas after my pregnancies. I’m very happy with the result. The only negative is that it appears that I was cut unevenly on my right nipple, so while my left nipple is round, my right one has a little jagged edge up top. I’m not sure what happened there, but it was a small price to pay for what is otherwise a great result. The surgery itself was a lot more painful than I thought it was going to be. During surgery, they inject you with a solution to ease your pain while you’re recovering. I’ve since had a few follow up consultations for a TT revision (more on that below) and in reviewing one of my surgical reports, one of the doctors commented that he was surprised so little of the solution was used as he typically uses more. My breasts were throbbing for days and I must have pulled something in my upper back during the procedure (perhaps when they sat me up?) because I had terrible shooting pains in my back for 2-3 days. Dr. M prescribed muscle relaxers. They didn’t help so I just went back to my regular pain meds and waited it out. Within a week, things were better. I’m now I’m 4 months out and feeling great. I’m doing pushups and bench press and everything feels fine and looks great.

Unfortunately, the tummy tuck portion of the surgery was a disaster. A few days after surgery, when I took my binder off to shower, the bottom of my stomach was flat and the top part was bulging badly. Since I had a lot of extra skin, Dr. M had to make a small vertical incision above my horizontal TT scar. The skin at the vertical incision was all bunched together and sagging. It looked terrible. To be frank, it looked like a vulva between my belly button and pubic hair line. I also felt like I still had some loose skin and I had a dog ear on my left side. Instead of a nice, round belly button, I had a weird little slit. I tried to be positive since it’s tough to see your final result so close to surgery, but these are things that wouldn’t have gotten better with time.

At my one week follow-up, I could tell that Dr. M looked concerned about my upper abdomen bulge, but he didn’t say anything. I knew that the sutures hadn’t held and my abs had pulled apart. I could feel it, so I knew he could when he did my exam so I don’t know why he didn’t say anything. While I was waiting for my 4-week follow-up, I found out that we’d be moving out-of-state. I let Dr. M know this during my appointment. We discussed the possibility of me traveling to have a revision at 6 months post-op. Given the cost of travel and the logistics, I let him know that I was probably going to have a revision done by a local surgeon so I’d like my surgical reports. When he heard that, he presented the option of doing the revision right away. The second surgery would have a complete vertical incision so he could re-suture the fascia and remove more skin. He’d also fix the dog ear, redo my belly button, and fix the bunching skin below my belly button. As is typical of many surgeons doing these kinds of revisions, he didn’t charge a fee, but I did pay the costs of the surgery center and the anesthesia.

I saw him a few days later and everything mostly looked great. My stomach was flat, he’d excised enough skin, and fixed the dog ear. It’s a shame it took a revision to get the result I should have had the first time. Unfortunately, this is not a happy ending. I was extremely swollen from the lipo on my hip which was done to fix the dog ear. I was so swollen that I now have a stretch mark where I didn’t used to. His patient care coordinator gasped when she saw me. She thought I had a seroma. Dr. M reassured me that the swelling was normal. I know it’s normal to swell during lipo, but I can’t believe how swollen and bruised I was since he only removed the equivalent of a few ounces of fat. It throbbed for over a week and the bruising lasted weeks. I was taking my pain meds to dull the pain from the lipo more than the pain from the TT. I am 4 months post-op and I still have some dark spots near that area, like old bruising. At this point, I’m afraid it might be permanent discoloration.

If this had been the only complication, I’d probably be happy, even with the weird discoloration on my hip and even though it took two surgeries to get the result. Unfortunately, at 3 weeks post-op, I woke up to realize that my upper abdomen was bulging again. I knew the sutures had torn through my fascia again. They must have torn through slowly because I didn’t feel it and it gradually got worse over the following week. Dr. M recommended that I see someone with experience doing abdominal wall repair. Thus began my search for another surgeon.

After much thought, I wrote AA Plastic Surgery requesting a refund for the money I paid for the TT (not the BA as I was satisfied with that). I felt that I paid for a service, followed all post-op instructions, and yet still received an objectively bad result. I definitely need another surgery. The bulging is terrible and my belly button has turned to an outie. Before surgery, my abs were spread super wide and I had a bulge, but at least it was uniform. Now it’s like I have two stomachs. My lower abs are flat almost to my belly button and then all of a sudden, there is a huge bulge. I have to wear spanx and loose shirts.
They denied my request for a refund, stating that they didn’t feel my result was due to poor surgical technique, but rather “anatomy.” Basically, they stated that my tissue was too thin to hold sutures. I wrote them back stating my willingness to negotiate the amount. I was willing to negotiate despite the fact that I feel Dr. M is the expert. He was in the best position to determine if I was a good candidate for a TT in the first place and if he had the skill to take on my case. He also had the benefit of actually seeing and suturing my tissue, so he was in the best position to assess tissue quality, yet he still attempted a second surgery instead of referring me elsewhere. If “anatomy” really is to blame, why would he operate on me again after actually seeing my tissue. That second surgery cost me $2,000. My new surgeon has seen my before pictures and reviewed my medical records. He stated that he finds it hard to believe that a young, healthy person would have tissues so poor that it wouldn’t hold sutures. He thinks there was too much tension on the sutures and he will be able to bring my abs back to center with less tension.

Anyway, we went back and forth a bit about a possible refund. I ended up requesting about $4,600, which is a little over half of what I paid for both surgeries. It also meant that AA Plastic Surgery would cover their costs and still profit. Yes, they would still make money on my jacked up TT. Instead, they offered me less than $1500 as their final offer. About $250 of that included an overcharge for the anesthesia and surgery center fee from my second surgery. They only upped their offer to $1500 after I requested my billing from Allegiance and realized I’d been charged more than what AA Plastic Surgery paid for anesthesia and the surgery. The refund was also conditioned on my signing a non-disclosure and release of claims. It included a 100K liquidated damages of I broke the deal. I didn’t take it. Yes, I could use the money to put toward my next surgery, but I'm not signing a release and non-disclosure for less than 1/5 of what I paid for these surgeries.

In a nutshell, get your BA here, but cross your fingers that everything goes well so you don’t have to get into any other dealings with them. Don’t go here for a TT. Even if my sutures had held after the first surgery, I still would have needed a revision to excise more skin, fix my belly button, and fix the bunching skin below my belly button. I wish I hadn’t had my surgery here and I definitely wish I hadn’t consented to the second surgery (hindsight is 20/20). My new surgeon says I’m at risk of losing the blood supply to my BB since I’ve had two surgeries. He might have to build me another one sometime later. So I’ve had two surgeries and I’m out over $8,500. In two months I’ll have another surgery and I’ll be out more money. My new surgeon is optimistic about my result. I’m proceeding with caution. I’ve learned some hard lessons and I hope I can prevent others from having to go through a similar situation.
Ann Arbor Plastic Surgeon

1 out of 5 stars Overall rating
3 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
2 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
1 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
2 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
4 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
4 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
4 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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