38 Year-old with Three Children - Tummy Tuck with Complications - Wound Opening - Atlanta, GA

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While I'm not completely past this ordeal, I am...

While I'm not completely past this ordeal, I am now on the other side thanks to God's Grace. I hope it can be helpful if others find themselves in a similar situation. I will warn you, some of the images are graphic.

I had surgery at the beginning of November and all seemed well at first. My surgeon advised me not to wear a compression garment (CG) for the first 24-hours post-op just so that it would not impede blood flow to the incision area. Upon closer inspection a couple of days later, I found I had a vertical scar intersecting with the horizontal incision that went from hip bone to hip bone. Just a couple of days after that, I noticed this area had red and blue discoloration. (see November 6th photo)

I called my surgeon's office and they had me come in the next day for my first post-op appointment. The doctor advised me to not use the CG at all as it affected the blood flow to the area. Evidently, this is common among smokers and diabetics (which I am neither). And, due to my long torso, my old belly button was not able to be cut out but instead stitched together (the vertical line).

I was a little rattled by this development but considering my good health and the fact my DH had taken over all childcare and housework, I felt like things would turn out okay.

Fast forward a couple more weeks and at my next doctor's appointment, things were looking better. I dressed my vertical scar daily with ointment and I was managing well enough. I was still in pain but started back to work about this time. (see November 16th photo)

Two weeks later, things were still improving.... (December 1st photo)

Around the second week in December, I went for a Dr. appointment and the report was great! I could wear my CG to help with swelling and my next appointment was scheduled for six weeks later.

But after two days of wearing the CG and an increase in drainage, my scar line started to open. (See December 12th photo)

I was scared. I didn't feel anything but seeing this unnatural situation (I'm not even sure what to call it), it was almost like an out-of-body experience. I could actually see through the scar opening to the inside of my body. I called the doctor's office immediately and was seen that morning. He cut open the scar as that was the only option. Stitching it back together would not hold since the skin on either side of the scar was not strong enough to hold the stitches. The dr. advised me to pack with wound with viscopaste (gauze with zinc oxide) twice a day and see him the following week.

So, at this stage, I was FREAKED out. There, I said it. As long as I kept the wound covered, I could almost pretend this was not happening to me.

That weekend, I came down with a sinus infection - fever, sneezing, runny nose, etc. Coupled with the fact my wound was bigger and draining a yellowish goo, I felt awful. At this point, I started to get scared that people with this size of a wound might just....not pull through. I ended up going to an Urgent Care center for my sinus infection and showed the dr. my wound. While I think she was perplexed how this all started (and not wanting to get involved in another drs. case), she did calm me down and assured me I would eventually be okay. (See December 14th photo)

You may be asking why I didn't go to the ER. I was stubborn and just did not want to cost my household any more money for a cosmetic procedure. Considering the amount of money I had already spent, it just pained me to spend another cent. All of this compounded by the fact medical care resulting from plastic surgery complications is not covered by insurance.

I was back at my drs. office on Monday morning. After an hour and a half later, with tears and then hugs, I came out with a much larger wound (the fatty tissue had to be cut away). I was to pack my wound four times a day with dry gauze which would help clean out the wound area. The wound would heal from the inside out. However, wound healing does not happen overnight. It take weeks, and in my case, months.

I came home after this appointment and I constantly watched the clock because I had to change the dressing every four hours. I made it through the first dressing change, scared to death to look and touch something that looked so disgusting.

Four hours later, I needed to change the dressing again. I kept putting off by starting a load of laundry or unloading the dishwasher. I finally had to "screw my courage to the sticking point" and march upstairs to take care of business. I said a prayer and asked God to help me get through the dressing change.

It then dawned on me, should I be asking to just make it through another dressing change or should I lean on God to get me through the whole ordeal? I'm a believer, but my faith has never been tested. Before opening my eyes I asked God to send me a sign that I could trust him and undeserving as I am, God gave me what I asked for. I opened my eyes to a beautiful sunset reflecting back at me in my bathroom mirror.

(See December 17th photo)

From that point forward, I have not worried about my outcome. I am committed to doing everything within my realm of control like regular dressing changes and drs. appointments, but the rest is in God's hands. And I'm not the least bit worried.

Over the next couple of weeks, my dr. advised me to alternate dressing changes but using Dakins solution (similar to bleach) and viscopaste. Even though I had a couple of other holes opening on either side of the main wound, there was some wound healing. The white section in the December 17th photo is muscle with visible stitches. In the following photos this area begins to be covered with new tissue growth. In addition, the depth of the wound, which is hard to see in the photos, is starting to get more shallow. (December 22nd and 26th photos)

I'll post more about my recovery as well as more pics in a couple of days.

Part 2

I went for my weekly dr. appointment on December 26th and my PS was very pleased with the amount of progress made during the prior six days. The viscopaste was working but it also made my wound produce a good bit of yellowish drainage. I decided to switch over to gauze with saline for my wound packing. Up to this point, I was still in pain - pain that comes from a tt recovery but I think my wound was also a factor in how poorly I felt.

Later that same day, I got a call on my cell from my PS. He was reviewing my file that evening and saw that the labs taken a few days before Christmas had literally just come back. I had MRSA. I had to sit down. He went on to tell me that he didn't think the MRSA infection was the culprit with my delayed healing since I was making progress before we had the lab report. We are not even sure if I might have been a MRSA carrier even before surgery. However, there is always the chance I may have contracted it during surgery or at any point once my wound opened. I want to point out that I have taken all the precautions recommended for wound care - daily hygiene with antibacterial soap, gloves, sterile materials, scissors and tweezers cleansed with alcohol. I started taking Doxycycline (an antibiotic commonly used to treat MRSA) for two weeks.

I really started to feel better the weekend after Christmas. It was almost like a light switch (maybe the antibiotic?). My mom said she could tell how much better I felt simply from the sound of my voice. I felt like picking up my 2-year old and playing in the yard with my older boys.

I decided to switch back to viscopaste during the first week of January. I used it at night, and as strange as it sounds, it made my abdomen very achy and tender. I would use gauze with saline during the day and I thought about stopping the viscopaste. That is until I noticed just how much I was improving from day to day! Look at photos from Jan. 5 to Jan. 12. The knot of suture string in the left corner has tissue starting to cover the area. In the right side of the wound, it appears to be skin/scar like growth starting from the edge.

In some of the photos, the wound looks bright red - this is because I have just removed the saline gauze before taking my evening shower. In photos with the yellowish tent, I have just removed the viscopaste gauze from overnight.

At this stage in my healing process, I have virtually no pain. And, I think my photo from yesterday shows great progress.

As I have said before, I gave my health over to God and he has seen me through. I am also very thankful for a supportive family - my husband is my ROCK and he took care of our young family and household for nearly two months. My mother-in-law helped out on many days by watching my handful of a two-year old. My parents and sister were so sweet and concerned for my well-being. My boss and co-workers were very caring and understood my temporary lack of drive.

I'm unsure if I want to have another surgery to either close the wound or revise the scar. At first, I did not want ANY further surgeries. Now, I'll let it sit on the table for consideration. How could anything be worse that what I've already gone thru? ;)

At Last

Today is the first day I have not had to pack and cover my wound! My scar isn't pretty but so glad to end this chapter.
Name not provided

My PS has been fantastic even though my healing circumstances have not been ideal.

4 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 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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