3/9/15: Surgery day. I drove with my husband to Nebo, NC to the Complete Laser Clinic to have my surgery. I was a little taken back as the "clinic" is a lone small building in a rural area surrounded by very little and the building itself looked rustic on the outside. Thankfully, it was fine on the inside and I didn't have any concerns once I met the helpful staff. I was offered Ativan when I signed in and decided to take it since this procedure would be done only with local analgesia which basically means you are awake for the entire thing. "Before" pictures were taken and Dr Hamel marked up my stomach and flanks for the lipo and the mini TT. The entire procedure took a little over an 1 hr. After being injected with lidocaine in the abdomen and flanks, and given two injections of an antibiotic in each thigh, the lipo began. I talked to my husband and the physician through the whole thing. It was uncomfortable at times, but not really painful. I was actually surprised and how quick and easy everything went. The medical assistant who had been with Dr Hamel for 9 years took pictures for me of the excised skin from the TT, the fat in the suction container and texted them to me while they were doing the procedure, which I thought was kinda fun. Everyone was really great. When I was sewed up, a binder was put on and I was handed a baggy of drugs (antibiotics, Ativan for sleep, Phenergan for nausea and Vicodin for pain) with my discharge instructions. Honestly, I probably could have driven home, but I was glad my husband went with me. We even stopped and had lunch afterwards. The most painful thing of the whole day was where they injected my thighs with the antibiotic (Clindamycin), and I will say, it must be seriously acidic, cause both sites really hurt when I tried to walk. But if that was the only really painful thing on surgery day, I'll take it!
We got home in the afternoon, and I basically took some pain medication and slept most of the rest of the day.
Post OP Day 2: Today I removed their binder (which was not comfortable at all) and changed into a Marena ComfortWear Bodysuit (Stage I). When I was preparing for my surgery, I had read a lot of reviews on compression garments and this one seemed to be well liked by physicians and patients. This was a VERY GOOD call. The garment is comfortable and easy to get on and off. You also can use the toilet without removing the garment easily and hygienically. I really recommend getting one of these that fits well (mine was a large) before your procedure. Instead of using thick menstrual pads for bleeding/fluid (which I found really bulky), I bought some CVS brand Underpads, which are 23"x38" thin waterproof sheets from CVS Pharmacy. Basically you can cut them longways and fold them to protect your incisions between the compression garment and you skin. They have a little bit of absorption, so they work well without making you look like the Michelin Man. I posted my Day one "after" pictures (with the brown undies) which I took when I removed the first binder. I couldn't believe it, my belly was G-O-N-E. Yippee! I couldn't be happier with how my "tire" has been deflated, and my extra skin removed! Other day one observations included some abdominal pain that I took a few Vicodin for. My thighs had recovered from the injections, thank God. Otherwise, I didn't do much, just moved slowly from couch to bed and bed to couch. I was having trouble finding a comfortable position to sleep in at night. I like to sleep on my side and that hurts a bit and I've just overall uncomfortable.
Post Op Day Three: My belly hurts and has a burning sensation at times and I am taking mostly Arnica 2000xCV tablets for pain since I like natural pain relievers more than narcotics. They work really well. Be sure to get the 2000x strength, not the 30x which is for less painful things like headaches. I am also taking Bromelain tablests for swelling 3x/day. I am pretty bruised, especially in the groin area where most of the old blood has settled. One thing I didn't realize when I researched this procedure was that they pull up your VJ area to meet the abdominal scar to have a tight, taunt belly. Not a big deal, it just seems odd to look down and see anatomy that has been out of sight before. My scar looks to be fairly long about 11 inches. Seems like a lot, but that's to prevent dog ears at the end of the scar. I figure in for a penny, in for a pound. I'd rather have it be longer and flat, then shorter and have a ridge. Today I went to see Dr Hamel and his assistant changed my bloody steristrips for nice clean ones. He said everything looks great and I agree. I can't help but smile when I look down and see a 20 year old's FLAT stomach. I'm so glad I did this and wish I had years ago. I did wear my jeans to the appointment which apparently is a no - no. His assistant told me he recommends not wearing jeans for up to 3 months to allow the scar to heal. Oops! I'll wear a skirt next time to see him. I am secretly relived to be able to fit into my jeans as I've read many accounts here where women couldn't get back into them for weeks or even months. My right rear incision (from the flank lipo) is still leaking quite a bit. Since I didn't have any drains I figure this is my personal drain for all the tumescent fluid used for the lipo. I mentioned it to Dr Hamel, he wasn't concerned. I'm changing my thin pad twice a day to keep the area clean. Also, I took my first shower this evening. Glorious. I started using an Arnica cream which is supposed to help with the bruising as well.
Post op day eight. I went back to work yesterday, and it wasn't too bad. I took the Arnica tablets for occasional pain, and sat most of the day. I'm still taking the Bromelain for swelling, but unfortunately, "swell hell" has set in. I read about this and it's not unexpected, I had just hoped I'd skip this part. I noticed it starting slowly a few days ago, and it's been increasing just a little bit each day. Right now I just look "thick" across the middle. Not pregnant looking as many have described it, just wider across my upper and lower abdomen from a side view. My thighs are really feeling it too even though I didn't have any lipo there, they are just reservoirs for all the fluid that my compression garment is squeezing down. Fortunately, my incisions have stopped leaking fluid and I got to stop using the pads today. Also I had an "Accent" treatment today at the clinic, which is a radio frequency thermal treatment to help tighten skin and decrease swelling. Dr Hamel discounts the treatment for post op patients. One thing I have noticed is I have a small bulge next to my belly button that has been getting bigger. I don't know if its fluid under the skin (called a seroma) or just swelling. Dr Hamel used a syringe but couldn't aspirate any fluid out of it during my appointment. He said just to keep an eye on it. I have read about bumps and bulges occurring after lipo. Again, I'd just hoped to be one of the folks who skipped this. :-) Oh well. It's really nothing big in the scheme of things. When I see how flat my belly is, it's hard to complain about little things. So, other things I've learned this week:
Sleeping is hard. I'm uncomfortable when I lay down. I don't have a recliner, but I bet that would be a good alternative to the bed. Sleep medication doesn't do much good when you are rolling from side to side constantly. This is my one big complaint if I had to state one.
Buy a few pairs of sweat pants and plan to live in them.
I'm wishing I had research lymphatic message to see if it could help with this swelling. I may do so if it doesn't go down soon.
Arnica cream for bruising is the BOMB. Almost all of my very dark bruising has resolved in one week. Amazing. I got all of the homeopathic stuff (arnica cream, arnica tablets 2000x, Bromelain tablets) on Amazon.com.
Not really sure if the Bromelain tablets have helped with the swelling. On the other hand, it may have been a lot worse without it. I'm still taking it just in case.
I'm still really liking my Marena compression garment. It's streamlined and you can't tell I'm wearing it under my clothes for work.
So that's it, all I've experienced and learned from this first week post op. I am happy to answer any questions anyone may have.