42 - Breast Reduction, Tummy Tuck & Liposuction Oh My! - Atlanta, GA

I've wanted the breast reduction since I was 16. ...

I've wanted the breast reduction since I was 16. I am currently a 36 HH and I've suffered 2 slipped disks in in the last 5 years (one in the lumbar region and one in the neck). I had it approved by United Healthcare in 2007 but opted not to do it then because I wanted to do a tummy tuck at the same time and my ex-husband and I were renovating our house (which we ultimately had to short sale after we split in 2008 so yes, I am still kicking myself). Last time I ran it by the insurance (about 2 years ago, still United Healthcare) they denied it, but I didn't fight. It just wasn't a huge priority at that moment.

Husband has planted the seed that we should try to get it done before the end of the year because our oldest needs some surgery (nothing major, but $$$ all the same) in December and we can really save on the deductibles. That is assuming that UHC will cover the breast reduction. The second slipped disk was since the last time I tried. We are on cobra now so we could change, I've heard BCBS is better about it but we'll see.

I will definitely do the tummy tuck at the same time. So excited about my first consultation, I feel like I should do at least 3. Still undecided on the other two surgeons. Didn't have a great feeling from the last one I consulted with and she wasn't willing to go to bat for me with the insurance so I've ruled her out for now even though she is top rated on this site.

I have a lot of mixed feelings, I want to skip ahead to 6 months post op! I know I can't though. I recently had lasik with great results and I was terrified of that too, not the same but I'm glad I took the risk there so it helps me conceptualize this too.

Thanks for all the folks who have posted detailed journeys on here!

I've got a consultation set for August 20, I can't wait!

First steps first

Ok, this is taking some courage but here are two "before" pics. I'll have to work up to posting the girls in their natural state! They are larger (and much saggier....nipples, meet belly button. Oh wait, ya'll are already acquainted aren't you?) than they look in this sports bra. This was the first week I began working with a personal trainer and changed my eating habits. He suggested I pull out an old pair of favorite jeans that I loved but could no longer wear and then try them on again every 2 weeks instead of focusing totally on the scale. Those are the jeans I attempted to squeeze into for this picture. I'm overdue to try them on again but I'm scared. I've only lost 2.4 lbs so far but I know I shouldn't focus totally on the scale. When I got married 4 years ago I was 20 lbs lighter than I am now (and I actually wore those jeans comfortably the weekend of my wedding), I want to get at least that far before surgery. I could stand to lose another 20 on top of that, I was pretty happy with my body (other than my boobs) when I was 40 lbs lighter but I haven't been that small since before my son was born 13 + years ago!

So I've been meeting with the personal trainer 3 days a week at my house. The first two weeks I was really good about doing my homework cardio on the days he didn't come (for 5 days / week total) but this past week I totally failed. I'm juggling two jobs right now and I didn't make the workouts a high enough priority. That's what I love about having the trainer though, even if I get slack I know he will be at my door at least 3 days a week and I don't have the balls to refuse him to his face! :-)

I know how to eat right. Years ago, before I got pregnant, I even worked for Jenny Craig! I also used to work out a lot around the time of my divorce until I blew out my first disc in my back from running with my behemoth boobs. But in the last year I had gotten really bad about food. Lots of stress from work, my husband and I bought a business (we are both now self employed) which was a really stressful process etc. etc. yada yada yada. Now we have 3 overweight teenagers and we've both put on 20 lbs since we said our "I do's", most of it in the last 12-18 months.

So, if I want to do the surgery before the end of the year, I've got my work cut out for me. My 41 year old body is giving me some hell about it and my husband keeps eating candy, burritos and fries in front of me but what the hell, I'm not doing this for him anyway, there is some satisfaction in feeling morally superior at the dinner table!

The recovery stories I've been reading seem so much more positive for the folks who were working out and had lost a decent amount of weight before their surgery. I'm so scared of recovery, I'm a baby, I want to set myself up to make it as easy as possible!

I think I've found the second surgeon I want to set up a consult with, I'll call him tomorrow. Anyone have any good lists of questions for prospective surgeons they'd care to share?
TIA!

Insurance

So I have three consults scheduled now, one on August 20, one on August 29 and then the third one they asked me a lot more questions over the phone and scheduled me for October 7. I had said I wanted to do the surgery in December and she let me know that if the insurance approves the breast surgery there will be a 90 day window within which they will require me to complete the surgery. I'm going to go ahead and keep the earlier consults but with the understanding I may need to update them closer to October before they submit my insurance information. I hate having to wait so long to know whether insurance is an option or not though!

How have other people's experiences been with getting the breast reduction covered by insurance?

First Consult Done!

I had a great experience with my first surgical consult with Dr. Earl Stephenson in Snellville, GA. I really liked him. My husband says I always like people though! I know I still need to follow through with my other consults as well before I make a decision. I currently have them scheduled with Dr. Song, Dr. Davoudi and Dr. Yagueros but not soon enough! I'm impatient! After talking to Dr. Stephenson today I'm ready to schedule already! He didn't bat an eyelash at my 4 pages of questions and he was not at all condescending.

I also had lunch today with a friend that just had a tummy tuck with lipo three weeks ago with Dr. Davoudi and she encouraged me to consult with him too so I just set that appointment but his first available isn't until September 18, argh! She hadn't publicized her tummy tuck but she referenced a "surgery" on facebook and her husband posted a picture of her where she looked AMAZING so I put 2 and 2 together and invited her to lunch. She is doing well, meeting me for lunch was the first time she drove herself since the surgery. She is very happy with Dr. Davoudi and his office.

I feel like it has taken so long for me to mentally and financially get to the place where this is possible that I'm ready to move forward already!

Obsessive much?

Whenever I decide to do something I go all out. I love learning things and my friends and family joke about my obsessive need to know everything about anything I am doing. After planning our family trip to Disney this past year I totally could have become a Disney travel agent!

I'm treating this the same way and it's kind of all I want to talk about. My husband is so supportive but also really grossed out by the after pictures and the idea of drains etc. I have my friend who had surgery recently but we aren't that close typically (although I know I could call her with any specific questions). She had a gastro sleeve a year prior to her tummy tuck and her surgeon for that put her into a support group of other patients who were having bariatric surgery around the same time. I wish there was something like that for invasive body contouring surgeries, I'd just love to have a group of other folks to spend a little time with as I prepare for this. Does that sound nuts?

Gotta run, my trainer is coming over and we are measuring my body fat today, really want to get below 30 BMI before surgery, I THINK I'm at 32.7 according to the calculators I've played with but apparently he has a devise that will be more accurate. I sure hope it doesn't come up much higher than that!

There's a Song in my head....

So I had my consult with Dr. Song today. Absolutely loved him. He spent over an hour with me even though I made it very clear from the beginning that I was shopping around for the right surgeon and that I might not book with him (on second thought, maybe that is WHY he spent over an hour with me! LOL). I am a research hound, as I've said before, and I really thought there wasn't much a surgeon could tell me that I wouldn't already know from my research. I was very wrong, he taught me so much during this consultation, I was very clear that I liked to learn and guess I asked good questions because he really got into explaining his particular favorite methods and why he uses them. He said he doesn't go into nearly that much detail with most patients but since I wanted to learn he was happy to teach. I also liked how clear he was with his reasoning as to why he did certain things over others (i.e. why he places drains where he does, how he decides where to place the incision line, why he doesn't use pain pumps etc.). He also recommends that I do an overnight in the hospital because of the extensiveness of what I want done at one time but he feels it will probably be covered as part of the breast reduction. I liked that too, I know most people go home the same day but I really like the idea of staying overnight just to confirm there are no complications right afterwards. Also I like having the IV pain meds for those first hours. The icing on the cake though was that he was extremely price competitive. I really like both surgeons and Dr. Stephenson is definitely a lot closer to my house but a 30 minute drive for post op visits isn't too bad.

He said I'm a great candidate for both surgeries which is what everyone has said before. I'm ready to get going already!

Still hung up at between 4 and 5 lbs of weight loss and feeling frustrated. Had my physical earlier this week and I am eager to get my lab work back so I can see if there is anything funky going on with my thyroid.

Happy planning and healing to everyone!

Ready to pay my deposit!

So, I met with my third plastic surgeon today. I am completely fascinated by how entirely different each surgical consult has been. I find myself wondering about why each surgeon structures the consults the way they do and wondering about the planning that goes into the order and the physical layout of the office etc. I'm glad I did the three consults but I'm ready to go with Dr. Song so I'm going to cancel the fourth consult which is set for next week.

I had a mammogram yesterday (I'm very overdue for my annual screening, like....by a year or two since it was due) since I knew I needed a new baseline before my reduction anyway. I was chatting with the mammography technician and she wanted to see what surgeons I was looking at. Two of them she hadn't heard of, one of them she shrugged and said, "he does pretty good work, I know someone who used him and she was happy.". And then I mentioned Dr. Song. Her face lit up, she confirmed that I speaking about Dr. Song from Prima Plastic surgery and then she began gushing. She said that he is an artist and that he does BEAUTIFUL breast work. She just kept nodding and saying, "I have seen his work and it is gorgeous."

Then, if that wasn't enough, the surgeon I met with today actually asked me what other surgeons I was consulting with. When I mentioned Dr. Song she lit up and said that she likes him so much, they were in the same fellowship and she helped train him. She kind of shook her head and smiled and said, "I have to tell you, he is very very good.......VERY good." I was tickled, it was obvious that she was inwardly kicking herself but like she couldn't help gushing about someone she so genuinely likes and respects.

Her quote was right in between the other two but I still felt strongly that Dr. Song was the surgeon for me as I left the office. And it also seemed that God was trying to beat me over the head that he is the surgeon for me so alright already! I tried to catch Wanda (oh, and as an aside, I swear every plastic surgeon's office I've spoken to has had a Wanda on staff.....it's crazy!) but it was late in the day and the office was closed so I emailed her and can't wait to talk to her in the morning to get the ball rolling! I feel so at peace with my decision and can now transfer my anxiety to the insurance approval process, the next hurdle!

Beginning the Insurance Approval process

Spoke to Questria at Dr. Song's office today (Wanda was out) and she seemed really knowledgeable about the insurance approval process. She wants me to get some things together for her before they submit everything so I started the ball rolling with that by faxing records requests to both of my orthopedic dr's (who treated my two herniated discs) and my family physician and the places where I've had my mammograms. Until I get approved they won't take my deposit or schedule my surgery. I just had my most recent mammogram on Wednesday so I'm thinking it will be about 10 days or so before they have all the records and are ready to submit. I have a United Healthcare PPO plan that has a specific exclusion for breast surgery (except in cases of cancer). However, I've found anecdotal cases online of other people with the same exact policy and language who got approved because that exclusion doesn't rule out MEDICALLY NECESSARY breast surgery, even for reasons other than cancer. But I think they probably have a lot of people just give up when they issue the initial denial and the policy holder hears the word "exclusion". That's exactly what I did in 2011. It's not happening this time UHC, I'm not going away! I've been very eager to find information about this process so I will do my best to document it on here for those who come after me. Twinmama24 went under the knife this morning with Dr. Song, dying to hear from her and hoping all is well!

Feeling hopeless about insurance

Nothing has been submitted yet but I took the time today to actually pull up the full policy online and wade through it. Under exclusions it says: "Breast reduction surgery except as coverage is required by the Womens Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 for which Benefits are described under Reconstructive Procedures." When I look at the Womens Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 it ONLY covers procedures that arise out of cancer, which, thankfully, I don't have to deal with.

I found one anecdotal account of coverage despite this language but the poster isn't responding to questions now and it was posted 3 years ago. An exclusion is an exclusion is an exclusion right? I also thought we had paid more towards our deductibles and out of pocket maximums but we have not. I would owe coinsurance of 50-80% of anything the hospital charged and I have an out of pocket maximum that has been barely touched of $4000 and a deductible of $1500 that hasn't been touched either. So even with coverage it seems I'd still have to pay most of it myself.

I've given all the policy language to Dr. Song's office to see if they can tell me if they've ever gotten something covered despite that language and I've asked them for a quote on doing both procedures private pay just so I can see what I would be dealing with. We are on cobra so we could change plans but I don't know how that would change the time line. I don't know when in 2015 I'll be able to take the time I would need for recovery and I'm mentally prepared to do it in the next few months. ARGHHHH.....

On the one hand I want to kick myself all over again for not going forward in 2007 when I WAS approved but who knows how that would have turned out. I was so glib about it then, had done no research, only met with one surgeon etc. Who knows how that may have changed the path of my life and I am so happy with where I am now in terms of my husband (who fell for me notwithstanding saggy boobs and belly) and my career etc. If any of the twists of fate that brought me here might have been changed by that decision 7 years ago then I'm glad I didn't do it then.

So ready to have a date set already!!!

SURGERY BOOKED!!!!!

So, my insurance does have an absolute exclusion. I am a lawyer and when I began practicing I actually worked for insurance companies so I know my way around contract language. I found the specific language and researched it and it is very clear that our policy doesn't cover breast reductions at all, period, end of discussion, unless there is cancer present. Thankfully, there is not (my recent mammogram came back good).

If I had any doubts about that outcome they were inadvertently confirmed when the first surgeon's office I visited somehow forgot my specific instruction NOT to submit my paperwork for coverage until I confirmed I was hiring them (which I ultimately had decided not to do so they had not heard back from me) and sent my stuff for approval. It was denied. Due to the exclusion. And now even if we wanted to switch policies I will have to report a denial of coverage which would likely impact our new premiums significantly.

I asked Dr. Song's office (Questria is great) to do a new quote combining everything I wanted as a private pay patient. The quote was surprisingly good (less than 12,000 including an overnight at the hospital). The other surgeon's office did a revised quote as well (again, NOT requested by me, and yes I did let them know how unhappy I am) which would have been about 19,000 total so I feel very good about the value. Not that cost is my top consideration in this but I'm so happy that my favorite surgeon comes combined with my favorite price!

DH and I had a heart to heart about it last night and with my mental and physical preparations over the last few months and the timing considerations in terms of recovery and work etc. we decided to go ahead and do it.

So, I just got off the phone with Questria, paid my booking deposit, and scheduled everything. Pre-Ops with Dr. Song and the hospital will be November 18. Surgery will be November 25 @ 8:00 a.m. (NO chance I'll be overeating on Thanksgiving - extra bonus!). Dr. will see me in the hospital day after so my next post op appointment will be December 2. SO FUN TO PUT IT ON MY CALENDER! Getting ready to download a count down app for my phone :D

One more bonus, I was able to button my favorite old jeans this morning. Still way too much muffin top (hell, it's more like double layer cake top really!) for me to actually wear them but at least I am seeing progress from the working out.

Planning begins in earnest

66 days till surgery but I sent a list of questions to my surgeon today, things I'd like to know before my pre-op appointment November 18. The surgery coordinator said she was mailing me a packet next week that will have a lot of info, can't wait to get it!

Did our biweekly trip to costco today and I picked up a pair of XL DKNY soft pajamas with a button front top, some very soft camisoles to go under my binder, and a super soft pair of sweat pants (very soft on the inside and without much elastic, they are drawstring so I can leave them very loose) and a matching zip up hoody. I also got a good women's multi vitamin as I've been bad about keeping up with vitamins before. I looked at turmeric and B-12 and D3 etc. etc. but it was overwhelming. I would like a nice concise list of vitamins, supplements etc. that I should start taking ahead of time and/or during recovery. I'm a little overwhelmed by all the options.

Also talked to my neighbor (also one of my best friends) and she will thankfully be in town for Thanksgiving and is willing to do something combined with my family so I can premake some stuff before surgery and then she and my step-mom and my DH can do the actual work to put food on the table on Thanksgiving day so our kids should still have a pretty normal holiday. We only have them every other year for Thanksgiving so I'm relieved that it won't all be on DH's shoulders. I'm hoping I will feel well enough to sit at the table with everyone for at least part of the meal but I'm giving myself permission to flake out if I'm not feeling it. Everyone can come visit with me in the living room in my recliner :-) I'm sure I'll still be hitting the narcotics pretty hard so if they are smart they will video tape me saying ridiculous things, my family is sweet like that! ;-)

Shopping

I'm going to start hunting some things, get any supplements, scar treatments etc. that my surgeon recommends (or at least doesn't mind, placebos can be good!) this week and then try to set everything aside and not obsess for the next 6 weeks. Not everyone in my life wants to talk about this and only this for the next 9 weeks and it would be bad to annoy the crap out of everyone so far ahead of time when I will be relying on them for post operative care!

There are some lift recliners for sale on Craigslist for $150-$200. They don't look bad and it would be way cheaper than renting for two weeks at $279 and if I wanted it longer I'd have it. Of course I'd want to steam clean a used one and I'll be putting protective pads on the seat and covering it with a blanket anyway so I think it would be ok. Anyone else done that? Then I could resell it after.

Dreamed very vividly about recovery last night. On the plus side my incision healed miraculously fast and the scar looked beautiful after only a few days. But then I started panicking because I realized one of my drains had fallen out and I didn't know what to do! It was SO vivid.

Getting packages is fun!

Earlier this week I started filming some video diaries. For now they are unlisted so they can't be found on youtube via the search function but you should be able to get to them through this link:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4kZ6GEcksaLPSVedDOPwBZ7pr_Li6gBS

I also discovered Dr. Reath's website (he is a board certified PS in Knoxville). Love his website, there is a great (and often funny) blog as well as a store that sells plastic surgery recovery items. I purchased his Breast Reduction recovery kit (there was also a Tummy Tuck recovery kit but there was a lot of overlap so I just added the things I wanted for the tummy tuck ala carte). It includes a surgical bra, vita medica surgery support supplements (start 2 weeks prior to surgery and continue 2 weeks after), probiotics, a therapearl cold/hot pack, anchor shaped and circular silicone strips. I also ordered a bottle of arnica, a bottle of bromelain, a tummy tuck silicone strip and an extra abdominal binder (the basic post surgical one). As a bonus they sent me a 40 page booklet on preparing for plastic surgery. I wasn't expecting much from that but it was really informative, all color, well put together. It will be great for my husband and my step mom (who will help care for me the first few days) to read. I'm posting a picture of everything other than the surgical bra and the binder.

I also have my grabber (for when I drop things and I can't bend over) and the pj's, sweats and camis I bought last week. I found a rubbermaid box to put everything in to keep it separated from my other stuff and so nothing gets lost in the next 60 days.

I had a wonderful lunch with a friend yesterday who had her tummy tuck 8 weeks ago. She is doing wonderfully, her scar is healing great, she is standing up straight, she isn't wearing a CG anymore and she isn't having much trouble from swelling. She didn't seem to be swelling at all when we were together and she was rocking a skin tight pair of skinny jeans. Her belly button was even beautiful. I sometimes feel like folks are more apt to post pictures or detailed reviews when there are problems so I sometimes wonder if I get a skewed perspective with all the time I am spending online. It was great to see such a recent success story in the flesh. She is going to give me another spare surgical bra, another spare binder (I had already ordered the ones that just came in the mail or I probably would have skipped them), as well as a walker and a cane that she used.

Inundated my surgeon with new questions by email and got a wonderful reply from him with an invitation to email him new questions directly anytime they come up. We are going to use experel which I am excited about (he doesn't usually use it because it doesn't mix with his normal irrigation solution but since we are operating at the hospital he is happy to use a different solution and let me have it) and he told me he does do some progressive tension suturing. That makes so much sense to me and I'm so happy that he is already on the same page that I am on.

Yay!

Package

Photo wouldn't upload, trying again

Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm 42 today. Which means I am officially the answer to life, the universe and everything! (you get bonus points for being geeky enough to understand that!).

We went and picked up my recliner last night, so excited. We bought it off craigslist for $350. It is practically brand new. They bought it because a great aunt with mobility issues was moving in, she came and stayed for 5 days before she was hospitalized and then ultimately put in a nursing home. I'm attaching photos. It's still in the back of DH's suburban because we will need help to get it through our back yard and up the back steps and into our house but hopefully we can get it in place this weekend. 53 days till surgery! I just hope my kids don't wear it out playing with it before then! It is so quiet and smooth and it's much nicer looking than a lot I've seen. We can resell after or we might just keep it, I think it will fit into our living room pretty well.

42 Days to go!

Just purchased a shower seat, lap desk for in my recliner, selfie stick (an idea from facebook for before and after pics), and a new travel pillow for my neck (I wanted memory foam). I will be borrowing a walker and a cane so no need to purchase those.

Trying not to obsess but I'm plugged into so many tummy tuck and breast reduction feeds on facebook and instagram as well as here so it is hard to put it completely out of mind. I have been a bit less obsessive about checking them constantly. I want to know stuff, and I want to see lots of different experiences so if something happens to me that I've seen before I'll have some frame of reference and knowledge. BUT I worry that folks who are having a tough time post more than folks who are breezing through and that I'm getting overly inundated with feeds about complications or dissatisfaction with results. I have to remind myself that I am healthy, I've never had healing problems before, I have no risk factors for healing problems, and I'm very positive and easy going and calm in a crisis. All of these characteristics should help me. And I have a wonderful support system so there is absolutely no reason I can't have fantastic results and a great recovery experience (knowing there will be pain, discomfort, swelling, itching etc. within the normal range).

I am mentioning the surgery to more and more people although I haven't gone fully public about it. I'm just not shy about it and I tend to live my life in a very transparent way anyway. I have decided I will post about it right before hand on facebook without a lot of detail but just to let folks know where I'll be (and why I may be posting nonsensical things while I'm on drugs) with an invite that they can message me if they are interested in talking about it more. I know a lot of folks have negative thoughts about plastic surgery but I feel very confident and grounded in my decision and the people closest to me already know and already support me so if random facebook friends get snarky about it I really don't care. It's not like it won't be noticeable (geeze, if I don't have a noticeable change then something will not have gone right!) so I might as well be up front about it. I just have to remember that not everyone wants to hear about it in detail or repetitively. I'm trying to censor myself a little bit so my friends don't get tired of me droning on and on. I know some of them wish they could do something similar and aren't in a position to do so or wish they had done something similar when they were younger and I don't want to be rubbing my good fortune in anyone's face. I suspect I will want to run around naked everywhere after I'm healed so hopefully I can keep that in check too!

We are planning a trip to St. Maarten with my family in June and there IS a nude beach on the French side of the island to which my husband and I could sneak away! I so hope I have that kind of confidence!

Thinking about some inner thigh lipo and I'm going to ask my surgeon about it at my pre-op appointment, only 35 days until that!

Thinking about asking my doctor for a month worth of phentaramine to help me with these last stubborn 10 lbs I really want to lose. I'm definitely smaller but not any lighter and I know that is a good thing but I want to see a lower number! My trainer is really working me in the ab department, he wants the doctor to be surprised by my awesome muscles (separation notwithstanding) when he opens me up.

Anyone else want to get pictures and videos of the surgery itself? I would love to which is really bizarre because I'm normally very squeamish!

Swimming nekkid

I can't believe it's been so long since I updated. My pre-op appointment is tomorrow afternoon, my husband left the office early to run errands, including picking up $11,034 in cash so we can pay tomorrow. Yep, that makes it really really real right?

This past weekend my husband surprised me with a trip to Negril, Jamaica. He wanted to get my mind off surgery and get one last trip in before I'm laid up and not feeling up to travel for a while. The resort we stayed at had a clothing optional section. I don't feel like I despise my body, it just frustrates me. We checked out the clothing optional side of the resort and the thought of letting my girls free in the ocean was just too tempting. So I ended up strolling around butt nekkid amongst all kinds of folks and had a wonderful time. Interestingly my husband was more shy than I was. Once I saw that the place wasn't just full of Victoria's secret models I got over myself. There was an enormous variety of body types and ALL ages and everyone was kind and wonderful. I realized as I saw other ladies walk by with saggy breasts and bellies, with cellulite and wrinkles, that I was very forgiving of them, I wasn't critical or judgmental. Why do we always assume everyone else will not give us that same kindness? It was so healing to enjoy that freedom in my "before" body, to honor it and to luxuriate in the wonderful feeling of skinny dipping in the Caribbean sea, with all my flabby bits floating! Forgive your "before" body, treat it kindly, love yourself and know that surgery will not change the most important parts of you. I am ready and I am looking forward to the improvements I hope to gain but I'm glad I didn't put my life on hold until it was over. Oh, and we had a lot of sex which was wonderful. :-) We have a pretty good track record but we've both been working long hours and juggling house and kids and pets and jobs so it was really nice to intensely reconnect on that level and to know again, deep down, that my husband loves me just the way I am now. Even after watching me stride down the beach in the sunshine with no artful lighting or shape wear. We will both enjoy the new me I'm sure but I know my marriage doesn't depend on it.

Now that I'm home and just have one more week to get everything work wise wrapped up as tight as I can I'm starting to stress a little. Not a lot, mostly still just excited. I stopped taking ibuprofen a week ago and Tylenol has been working fine. I got some Tylenol PM to help me sleep if I need it. I also started taking the Vita Medica recovery support regimen a week ago, you are supposed to take it 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery. No issues with that although it does turn my pee fluorescent yellow which was a shock the first day or two! I've had a lot more alcohol than usual the past 4 days (we were at an all-inclusive resort so lots of small weak drinks but still). I'll probably finish off the Mike's ultra lite hard lemonades in my fridge tonight then no more till the company christmas party if I'm feeling up to it!

Very excited about my pre-op appointment tomorrow. Have to fill out all my consent forms tonight and make sure my list of questions is complete. My husband and step-mom are coming with me so they can get their questions answered and my step-mom can find out what she needs to know to take care of me the first few days since hubby is too squeamish.

I'll update again tomorrow after the appointments (1 with the surgeon and 1 with the anesthesiologist at the hospital). Surgery day will be here before I know it!

Pre-Op appointment!

My pre-op appointments were yesterday! First we (me, hubby and step-mom who will be caring for me the first few days) met with Dr. Song's assistant who gave us a great presentation on what to expect after surgery in terms of incision care, dressings, and drains. She also talked about not forcing myself to stand up too soon and making sure I walk around the house regularly but also get plenty of rest. She also talked to us about my prescriptions (which I dropped at the pharmacy later) which were Percocet, Valium, Phenargan and an antibiotic (name escapes me at the moment). The biggest surprise was finding out that I will be giving myself blood thinner injections for the first week (I think, maybe it was 10 days?). I thought that was only for folks at higher than normal risk for blood clots but apparently he wants everyone to do it. No biggie, I just wasn't expecting it. I used to give myself allergy shots years ago and it seems like the same size needle and procedure. I didn't get that prescription though, apparently I will get that at the hospital before I'm discharged.

Then we did the lovely "before photos" and I got almost naked in front of my step-mom with no problem which surprised me a bit but I guess after Jamaica I just don't care anymore! LOL! I'm planning on having her help me shower so we got that awkwardness out of the way early!

Then we met with Dr. Song. He was awesome per usual, very patient. He made me very happy by offering to lipo my bra rolls as part of this surgery before I even had a chance to ask about it! He also agreed to take photos during the surgery (he just said to remind him the morning of) and agreed that he could pierce my new belly button for me when it is all healed. So, he will be doing quite a bit of lipo included which makes me so happy and makes sense for him because I will have the best possible result and will be the best possible walking testimonial for him! He will lipo under my arms, my bra rolls, my flanks, and my mons pubis. They will provide a surgical bra and a binder so I don't need to worry about that and they will work with me to pick the best stage 2 garments when I am ready for them. He approved my supplements and said I can start taking arnica and bromelain now if I want. I'm going to wait until Saturday though because the bottles I got give me enough to start 3 days pre-op and continue a few weeks post op.

I left there and went to the hospital to get interviewed by their pre-admission department. I thought they'd want labs but since I recently had a physical and had the records sent over to Dr. Song he hadn't ordered any. They also didn't ask for a chest x-ray despite my history of asthma. They listened to my lungs and asked if I had any problems with strenuous exercise and seemed satisfied that my only "problem" with strenuous exercise is the involuntary whining that accompanies it but it doesn't send me to the ER or anything!

The only thing that bothered me was I didn't get to actually meet the anesthesiologist. The nurse said that I absolutely MUST stop taking the vita medica supplements and seemed unmoved when I explained what they were. She said the anesthesiologist would not allow it because he can't be sure how much vitamin E might be in them. I explained that they are supplements designed for plastic surgery so there is NO vitamin E in them but that just made her get snarky and tell me that she can't force me to follow directions but she's just telling me what the anesthesiologist would say. So, at this point, I'm going to ignore the directions and not be honest about it if the anesthesiologist asks me point blank the morning of surgery. Dr. Song is the one doing the cutting so I'll go with what he said / approved. I just hated being talked down to like that! After that little spat though she settled down and was nice when she explained exactly where to go (she even gave me a map) and what time to report and what to do / not do the day before and morning of surgery. Hubby can spend the night with me and they encourage that but he's really NOT a fan of that idea. I like the idea of him being there but we will have family in town and he has a business to run and my surgery will already impede his ability to juggle everything that week anyway so I don't want to demand. My step-mom would stay if I asked her to but then she will get NO sleep (she struggles with sleep in her own house) and won't be fully on her game the next day when I need her to help me at home. I'm sure I'll be wiped out from drugs and anesthesia anyway so I shouldn't stress it!

So I report at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday the 25th and surgery is supposed to start at 8! Dr. Song said he'd come see me the next morning at 7:00 a.m. because he has another procedure scheduled that morning so that will be my first post op visit and I will hopefully be discharged and home by lunchtime on Wednesday. I'm abuzz with nerves but most of it is about getting work stuff done and house stuff done. I don't think nerves about the procedure will hit me until Sunday or Monday. I'll keep ya'll posted!

2 more sleeps!!!!

Hello all, can't believe surgery is day after tomorrow. Finally going to post some more before pictures. I've (very inexpertly) blocked out my tattoos and my nips, sorry to be paranoid but once pics are upload they are on a server somewhere out of my control so trying to maintain my anonymity. Not enough hours left, haven't even started making my nest yet, still have to do more disenfecting and laundry, still have to pick up some stuff at the grocery and I'm at work right now (after 7 on a Sunday) and have a full day with both my jobs tomorrow. Oh well, if I stay up late on Monday night it's not like I won't get plenty of rest on Tuesday! :-)

Wow, that was something else.....

Well everyone, my grand plans of constantly keeping everyone updated evaporated pretty quickly. I am 5 days post op right now and feeling almost human again. There is such a wide range of variability in how people recover from these procedures but I must admit I was feeling pretty cocky going in. I'm in good health, I was physically and mentally uber prepared, I have a great support system, I had all the right "stuff", if anyone was ready for an easier than normal recovery it was me. Did I eat pie this holiday? Yes I did.....Humble Pie, and a lot of it. God bless all the ladies who had an easier time of it but this thing knocked me on my ass and held me there for 3 full days at least. I'll break this up day by day now that I feel like I have the energy, and I do have a few pictures (and I'm very excited by the results so far so that's good at least!).

Night before and day of surgery

I left too much too late in terms of work responsibilities and I didn't leave my office until 10:30 p.m. Monday night so my grand plans of having a super healthy "last meal" devolved into a bowl of honey nut cheerios at 11:00 p.m. and a guzzled last bottle of water at 11:45 p.m. I had done a good job of hydrating myself all day and I had a decent breakfast and lunch but nothing special. I had started taking colace that Saturday and I took senakote Sunday night and Monday night but in hindsight I didn't do enough soon enough to make sure my bowels were cleared.
I was full of nervous energy Monday night so I was up until about 2:30, washing things, arranging and then rearranging my nest with my recliner, giving the downstairs bathroom a once over again, and spending time with my step-father who had come into town that evening to spend Thanksgiving with us (and do all the cooking, thank goodness). He drinks too much so when I finally got ready to go snuggle with the hubby I had to guide him to bed because he was too drunk to find his way. *sigh*. He's a great guy, but it scares me how much he drinks, especially since he lives alone now (my mom passed in June). I'm glad I got that one on one time with him though even though I don't know how much of it he will remember.

Took my last shower with the antibacterial soap, resisted the urge to slather myself with lotion like I normally do and went to bed, luxuriated in stretching out on my stomach and side and snuggling with my husband. Morning came very quick. I felt lazy, like I didn't want to get up. None of it felt real. I finally hauled myself out of bed, threw a toothbrush, toothpaste, granny panties, spare pair of pajamas, face wipes and my phone charger into an overnight bag. I had taken off all my jewelry the night before. I put on clean panties, my surgery day tracksuit and put on one of my old 36HH bras for the last time. I considered just going braless but I didn't want my nipples hanging down by the pockets of my hoodie while walking through the hospital.

I had had a bowel movement the evening before but felt that I was not emptied out. I had hoped the last dose of senakote and colace would bring me one more before surgery and I kept feeling that I sort of needed to go but nerves was keeping me all bound up. The one regret I have is not being more vocal about that prior to surgery. I mentioned it to one of the nurses and she said I'd have a chance to try again but then I got caught up in the whirlwind of presurgery stuff and I kept thinking I should ask but I didn't so I went into surgery knowing my bowels were not empty, I really think now that was a mistake.

They needed me to pee so they could do a pregnancy test (hospital protocol), luckily they were able to work with the 2 drops I was able to produce. I stripped down and they put me in a hospital gown, the white compression socks, the grippy hospital walking socks and the air compression leg wraps. Dr. Song came in and did all the markings. I was kind of goofy at this point, it all still seemed really surreal, like an out of body experience. I made him laugh when I said I felt like I was on a plastic surgery reality tv show. I am very ticklish by nature and I thought the marking would be torture but the pen was actually kind of sharp on the tip so it felt like he was scratching me which wasn't very comfortable but was better than feeling tickled, the only part that got ticklish was when he marked the lipo areas for my flanks and my bra rolls. He really took his time and kept stepping back and cocking his head. I really felt that the aesthetic side of the process was of paramount importance at that point and I felt reassured by the confidence of his pen strokes and the time he took to consider them before making them. They got me back into the hospital gown but then I remembered I wanted pictures so I reminded Dr. Song of all the pics I wanted him to take during surgery and he agreed and left. The nurse took some photos of me with the markings while I had a big goofy grin. I hadn't had any drugs yet, I was just feeling silly! They got me back into the gown and back on the gurney and then they brought in my husband and my best friend who is also a minister. Then the OR nurse came in, asked me a bunch of questions to confirm either that I knew what in the hell was going on or that they knew what in the hell was going on or possibly both. They started my IV. I asked for an opportunity to pray and my husband, friend and I all held hands with the nurses watching as my friend said a prayer over me. Then there were hugs and kisses all around and the nurse anesthetist came in (I forgot to say earlier, the anesthesiologist came in we had talked as well, he had the nurse give me a motion sickness patch and he listened to my lungs and checked out my throat and declared all was good to go.). Just as I was asking when I was going to get some happy drugs the nurse said she had just started them, all of a sudden I felt the drugs in a rush and I smiled and said "There they are!" and everyone laughed. My husband took a picture of me looking goofy and that is the last thing I remember. Apparently I was still conscious when they wheeled me out to the OR but I don't remember anything after that until I was waking up in recovery.

I woke up in recovery with a slightly sore throat, very dry mouth, and significant pain in my abdomen and right breast. I remember being surprised because we had agreed to use experel and I had expected to have no significant muscle repair pain for the first 3 days as that is a numbing agent. In fact Dr. Song said the biggest concern he had with using it is that I would be too active too soon because the pain wouldn't be holding me back. It felt like they hadn't used it at all. I was also very curious about the time, it was about 2:30, I later found out they actually started surgery a bit early, closer to 7:30 than 8 so the doctor's estimation of time had been very close to the actual. I was very groggy and in and out while the nurse kept asking about my pain levels and giving me ice chips. I think I started at a 7/8 on pain and got down to a 5/6 by the time they told me they were wheeling me to my room. They said I apparently had a "party" waiting for me there but when they got me to the room everyone had stepped out so it was empty. They had put me in my hospital bed in the recovery room so I didn't have to be moved again after that. I still had my catheter in and the air compression sleeves on my legs and I was very in and out of consciousness. My "party" arrived which consisted of my husband, my best friend (who had apparently stuck around since the morning), my dad, his wife, and my step -mom (my dad's last wife - actually everyone is very amicable so its all good). For the most part everyone visited with each other, I occasionally participated in the conversation and intermittently slept. They kept bringing me water and they brought me a liquid dinner of which I ate the jello and the smoothie. I was too full to eat any of the broth. Dr. Song came to see me in the evening, he was very surprised that I was using the PCA (morphine pain button) so much and that I didn't seem to be experiencing any of the effects of the experal. Luckily he'd gotten it approved for me to use it without paying extra (that hospital has not been using it for plastic surgery, only orthopedic surgeries) so at least it hadn't cost me an extra few hundred for nothing but both he and I are baffled as it seems to have not worked at all. Pain was remaining significant in the abdomen and the right side of my right breast but no pain at all in my left breast. The doctor checked under the bandages on my breasts to check blood supply to the nipples which looked good. From that angle my boobs looked great already, much smaller and very perky. He said he did a LOT of work on them (more than half the surgery time was just on my breasts) but he didn't know why the right hurt and not the left. He was pleased with how everything looked though, he did not check my tummy incisions. He said he removed 12 lbs from my stomach, not including the removed breast tissue! I didn't think to ask about the breast tissue, I was a bit spacey during the conversation so he was directing some of it to my husband. He did say he took a lot of pics during surgery but that he wasn't going to share them right then (my husband was very relieved!). I'm thinking I'll see them at my post op appointment on Tuesday. He said he was very very happy with how I looked after surgery and that he thinks I will be thrilled with my results. He said with my pain and the amount of work done he wanted me to stay off my feet that night and since I still had the catheter in and the air compression stockings on that was possible. Everyone else left and hubby and I settled in for the night. My main concerns at that point was not sleeping so long that I was in pain when I woke up (i.e. pushing the pain pump often enough to stay ahead of it) and dealing with the phlegm in my lungs and throat because coughing was unbearable. It couldn't be avoided a few times and it brought me to tears when it happened.

Ok, this is really long. I will continue in another post but I'm ready for a break from the computer now. Bear with me, I like making this detailed but it will take me a little time to get caught up!

Finally continuing - Post Op Day 1

Sorry guys, I've just felt unbelievably lazy this past week but at some point updating this has GOT to be a more worthwhile use of my time than watching Bridezillas 3.0, Where are they Now? (mostly divorced - just FYI).

So, night in the hospital. Nurses kept doing what nurses do in hospitals. Waiting till you are finally resting peacefully before bursting in, turning on lights, assaulting you with cheer and checking vitals etc. The nurses were all perfectly sweet and I'm not complaining but they seriously have that shit down to a science. They kept checking my drains and got concerned because they weren't, well, draining. So around 3 a.m. they contacted Dr. Song and he gave the order to get me up and walking. I was very glad my husband was here for this part. Getting out of the hospital bed seemed completely impossible and the nurse on duty at that time weighed about half what I do, even post surgery. I was very happy to have his muscle although I had to snap at him a bit to get over being afraid to touch me. With him lifting me from the back and rolling a bit we got me sitting on the side. At this point, despite all the morphine, I freaking hurt. I wasn't crying but it took my breath away on a regular basis. And I still felt like I couldn't fully inflate my lungs (common side effect of the general anesthesia combined with the tightness of the muscle repair making it feel like there simply wasn't room for my lungs anymore) so taking my breath away felt pretty freaking serious. I made it to my feet, nurse on one side, husband on the other, foley bag hooked onto my IV pole. They tossed another hospital gown on backwards to keep me decent but at 3:00 a.m. on a post surgical hospital ward I really didn't feel like I gave a damn who saw my ass. My first instinct upon standing was to vomit. I stood there swaying and trying to telepathically communicate that if I opened my mouth to respond to their chirpy encouragement I was going to vomit all over both of them and then I would obviously split in half and die right there on the floor with my guts sliding all over the place (I watch Walking Dead, sometimes it is not a helpful counterpoint to my own imagination). I managed to mouth the word nausea and they both shut up. I stood there teetering on the edge for what felt like 15 minutes but was probably like 15 seconds and somehow WILLED the nausea away. There is nothing like the fear that a single retch will literally kill you to suppress that urge, just saying. So we began walking. They kept wanting to talk to me about how far I wanted to go. I like to think I wasn't entirely rude when I suggested we just put one foot in front of the other and see where we ended up. So we did a half lap of the floor. And then I opted to do another one. It wasn't so bad once I got going although I was bent in half and leaning heavily on my husband's arm and I figured if I needed to walk to get the drains working then walk I would because I felt very swollen and tight at that point and I knew that fluid needed to come out and that it would do better to come out through the drains than to explode out my incisions like the walker in the well (if you aren't a Walking Dead fan, you are welcome as you now DON'T have that awful image in your head). Getting back in the bed was almost as bad as getting out of the bed, it just had the whole appeal of not moving anymore as the ultimate goal which was motivating. And, lo and behold, next time drains were checked, they were draining. Like a lot. And so we slept for a bit.

Dr. Song came early in the morning because he had another procedure that day. He didn't remove gauze from my tummy so I couldn't really see anything there but he checked my breasts again and I was again amazed at how small and perky they looked. He declared himself very pleased and that I would be thrilled. There was discussion, mostly with my husband, about meds and the blood thinning injections and when I could shower etc. etc. I was in a fog. They brought me a regular breakfast and I had a bite of grits, a bite of eggs, a bite of biscuit and half a piece of bacon. I had been feeling the beginnings of hunger. At that point I felt like I had consumed 18 lbs of food and had to stop eating. For a moment I glimpsed what a life of not caring about food might be like and it was a glorious vision. I kept drinking water, I loved (and still love) my 30 oz giant hospital mug with the straw. Then I got hit by a momentary bout of nausea. It was a sneaky bastard, no one was in the room for some reason. I wasn't trying to move from one position to another. Nothing had changed except I had dared to swallow solid food. Luckily there was a vomit bag within reach and yes, I vomited. By all that is holy that hurt, but simultaneously there was mercy because the entire event was accomplished in one single retch. Agonizing yes, but just one. I've never vomited everything I needed to vomit in one single movement. I held my breath, bracing for the heaving that never came. I cannot express my gratitude for the briefest vomit of my life. And the vomit bag was very well designed and I managed to not make a huge mess. I pressed my call button, announced I'd vomited, and received the resulting tender ministrations with grace and dignity, feeling that I'd survived some momentous tummy tuck right of passage.
At 7:30 a.m. they removed the foley catheter. The scripts for my blood thinning injections were written and my husband took them to get them filled and go on to work. My step-mom arrived to take over the caring for me duties. All discharge orders were given, final instructions initialed etc. And then we all gathered around the proverbial pot (my bladder) and waited for it to runneth over. It did not. I could not leave until I peed on my own. Apparently my bladder had enjoyed this whole general anesthesia foley catheter experience and had declared itself permanently retired. Opening, closing, cutting things off mid stream. Who needed to worry about such things with that lovely catheter just allowing everything to flow through, for my body to become at one with the rhythms of the universe? At least that is what I imagine it was thinking (I clearly suffer from delusions that my body parts are separate sentient beings....I know, I'll ask my therapist to schedule me in a workshop or something).
We tried walking some more. I kept drinking water. Not only was I drinking water I was still receiving IV fluids. I walked, I drank. I pumped my magic morphine button. I sat on the toilet with my phone playing candy crush. I sat on a chair. I lay in the bed. All of these transitions were agonizing and all of them involved the life and death struggle with momentary nausea. By 4 in the afternoon I still had not peed. The nurse declared she was going to do an ultrasound of my bladder. I raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. She returned having discussed it with her supervisors and having remembered that the area that needed to be ultrasounded to get an image of the bladder was a post surgical trauma site. So, the call was made to recatheterize me. It isn't that I didn't feel like I had to pee. I very much had to pee, it's just my bladder wouldn't release. I hummed, I cajoled, I made ridiculous bargains, I threatened. Warm water was poured over my hand. Songs were sung about waterfalls. To no avail. I've never been awake while being catheterized (well possibly during labor and delivery but I was in that whole birthing trance state where I was completely unaware) but it really wasn't bad, not painful at all. My poor step-mom had to watch so that the nurse could explain to her how to remove it again the next day. Yep, they were sending me home with it. I briefly stressed about how I was going to put my cute surgery day track suit back on with the catheter in the way and then we all collectively decided to f~~~ it. I went home in my hospital gown, with another one on backwards, my lovely compression socks and my sneakers. Totally commando.

This is now the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The drive was bearable, it felt good to be out of the hospital. I made it up the 3 steps into my house from the garage and to my waiting and glorious electric lift recliner. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH. Yes. This chair may forever and ever be my most favorite possession. I got settled. I had this idea that I was going to visit. That we were going to watch some cool TV and movies that I had saved up on all my streaming channels. I apparently was relatively chatty initially. Someone made me a mug of homemade chicken veggie soup of which I ate 2 bites. Shows were put on. Guardians of the Galaxy was watched. And I was comatose throughout almost all of it. Seriously, the rest of that day was a total fog. No, that's not right, it was a trippy FOG. I liked the percocet. I liked the valium. I was exhorted to get up and walk when my foley bag had to be emptied but otherwise I was left blessedly alone and I began to think, I have this thing licked. I even got up by myself in the middle of the night to empty my own foley bag, leaving my husband's walkie talkie silent. Little did either of us know, it was the calm before the storm. Next up: Thanksgiving Day, First Shower, First After pics, screaming bowels in the abyss from hell. Till next time! Ta ta!

Post Op Days 2 - 3

So, it was Thanksgiving. We had plans to combine festivities with our neighbors since it was just going to be the 4 of them. They made the turkey and gravy and my step-dad and step-mom made the other sides and desserts. The morning was low key, I watched the Macy's Parade and got only mildly annoyed that people kept wanting to chat with me during it. I still had the foley catheter in, Dr. Song wanted it in a full 24 more hours so we were planning on removing it around 4:00 p.m. I started to feel crampy. I hadn't had a bowel movement yet but I'd been taking the stool softeners and laxatives and I had barely eaten anything so I wasn't really worried about that yet. The crampiness intensified. Now I have a very regular menstrual cycle and I knew I was on target to begin within a few days after surgery but I had fervently hoped and prayed that the trauma of surgery would have thrown things off a bit. This was, quite simply, a ridiculously foolish thing for which to hope. My period is regular except when it would be exceedingly inconvenient for it to NOT be regular. Then it likes to play pranks on me. I'm serious. The DAY OF my first wedding. Which had been planned to avoid my cycle. Then again, the DAY OF my second wedding. Which had also been planned to avoid my cycle. The DAY we left for our first anniversary trip. Which had been planned to avoid my cycle. Perhaps it is now clear to you why I didn't bother to try and schedule surgery around my cycle. I thought maybe I'd psych it out with a bit of the old "I don't f'ing care when you come you little beeyotch" attitude. Nope. Here it was. Getting out of my chair (which luckily had one of those waterproof surgery pads in it), so I could walk past my step kids with a bloody stain on the back of my hospital gown? Priceless. I couldn't deal with tampons so my step-mom helped me in and out of clean underwear and I got pad in place. So now she and I both had to look forward to the trauma of her removing a foley catheter while I was on my period. Bless her heart. She actually sighed at one point and said (in a very loving way mind you), it's a good thing I love you hon cause this is a lot more than I ever signed up for! Just before 4 we dispatched the hordes next door to eat Thanksgiving. We locked all the doors, lowered all the blinds and checked the walkie talkie we'd sent next door with my husband. It was just me and my step-mom in the house now and everyone was under strict instructions to not set foot back in our house until the all clear had been given. Of course my husband's way of dealing with that was to buzz us about every 10 minutes on the walkie talkie wanting an update while we both screamed at the damn thing that our hands were full and we were a little too busy to be communicating!

Thank god for percocet and valium. The catheter removal went smoother than either of us could have hoped, thank god!. Then we stripped me down, reclined me all the way back in the chair, and began removing all of the tape. My step-mom's facial expressions freaked me out more than any actual views of the incisions because she could see all of the intense bruising on my sides and back that I couldn't see yet and she looked thoroughly spooked. She started pulling tape but I had to keep stopping her so she would start it and then I would be in charge of tape removal so I could control it. I don't like having it just ripped off fast, when I've done that in the past it sometimes cause blisters. So it was a slow process. I was freaking out inside and trying to hide it and she was freaking out inside and less successfully trying to hide it. Somehow we got me bandage free but we managed to pull one of my drains a bit too hard in the process (they had wrapped the gauze around it and taped it so that the only way to get it off was to find scissors and cut through layers of cotton around the drain tube, I did complain to Dr. Song about that later because it bothered me for days after since the stitch holding it in place was partially yanked out in the process). Then I used my walker to get my naked self across the downstairs to the shower, into the shower and onto the shower seat. I was only supposed to let water run over the incisions at that point so that is all we did, I washed the bits I could reach and step-mom helped everywhere else. I washed my hair but didn't bother with conditioner. I put on clean panties and a new pad in the bathroom but the downstairs bathroom is tiny that we then traipsed naked back across to the living room so I could blow dry all of the incisions. I snagged a couple of pics before leaving the bathroom though which I'm attaching. We ended up just using small kotex pads inside the spare surgical bra Dr. Song gave me for my breast bandaging and that worked well. I didn't stick them to anything, just stuck them inside. The bandaging of the TT incision took a while and I was exhausted and shaking by the time we finally got me redressed in clean pajamas, back in my binder and back in my chair. I did use a lanyard for the drains (see in the pics). All of the incisions at that point were still covered in yellow tape that I wasn't supposed to remove which was a relief because I wasn't sure I could have handled the raw incisions yet, the whole process was incredibly psychologically and physically draining. BUT, I was freaking thrilled with what I saw!!!!

We gave the all clear and I proceeded to nap through much of the remaining afternoon conversation. As the evening wore on I began experiencing more cramping, a different kind of cramping. A horrible, evil, straight from the bowels of hell there are little demons painstakingly dismantling every internal stitch from the inside out kind of cramping. I took deep breaths, I told myself that the colace and senakote and milk of magnesia I'd added to the mix had to work at some point. I sent step-mom home, everyone went to bed and I settled into an uneasy sleep. At that point I could get to the bathroom on my own with my lift chair and my walker so I figured I could handle whatever may come (and surely, something must come, right?) during the night.

What came during the night was pure, unadulturated agony. It was like trying to birth a baby but never getting to the pushing stage. If I could have gotten someone to do a c-section of my bowels I was on the verge of asking for it. At 2:00 a.m. I woke my husband via our trusty walkie talkie's, crying and shaking. He came down. I was sitting on the toilet shaking and practically in hysterics. I said I was so so so sorry but that I was desperate. That I needed him to go to the 24 hour kroger and bring home a fleet enema. He asked some completely idiotic questions that suggested that perhaps I hadn't thought of ANY other options but that but before long the looks that could have killed sent him scurrying on his way. He returned. I was still in the same damn spot. He deposited the goods on the counter next to me and turned to leave. I cleared my throat. "Ummm, what do you expect me to do with that?" He turned around and looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "There are directions on the box." I took a deep breath. "Honey, I am so so sorry. I never in a million years ever imagined having to ask this of you, or of anyone. I know you didn't sign up for this. I can't reach. I just can't, there is no way I can humanly lean back and twist to make this happen without you. I had even tried to see if I could do it going forward but that was a no go as well. He stared for a moment. "Are you sure you can't reach?" At that point I almost started screaming at him that no, I had secretly yearned for this day and that of course I hadn't tried, in the interminable hours of pain that had preceded me calling on him in the first place to figure out every possible way I could do this without him. But because I think sometimes I might legitimately be a saint I simply said, yes, I'm sure I can't reach, I'm so so sorry. Please help me.

And so he did. Not just once, but twice over the course of that never ending night. In between there was a blow out which necessitated that he bring me clean pajamas and undies and do a foul load of laundry. AND STILL there was not total relief. I suffered through Friday with continued discomfort though not quite as acute. At one point I even contacted Dr. Song convinced I had a bowel impaction. God bless him, he was always so responsive and so calming. He said it was too soon to worry about that and suggested miralax. So Friday evening it was miralax and even a glass of warm prune juice (actually surprisingly not disgusting). And during the night Friday night relief was mine. Everything started working again and my body finally decided that it had punished me enough for what it probably perceived as a perfectly inhuman and uncalled for trauma the few days prior. So there you have it, the unvarnished, ugly, smelly truth of the first few days. I know it isn't that bad for everyone and God forbid it is ever worse but I survived and writing this about 9 days after the events described above I even smell a little bit of humor.

First weekend and one more unexpected late night freak out

So after all the drama of the first few days the first weekend went really smoothly. Things seemed to be back on track internally, I was getting around better. I had my second shower and conditioned my hair on Saturday (4 days post op). The incisions were still covered in yellow tape so I could enjoy the results I was seeing without having to be freaked out by the actual evidence that I was cut open. My appetite even started to pick up a bit. Then Sunday evening I began feeling more discomfort. I felt tight, was more hunched than usual, and the binder was really hurting me. I loosened it and felt underneath and realized I was suddenly MUCH more swollen than I'd been to that point. I had been draining my drains on my own for a few days now and they were draining well over 100 cc's per day still at that point but the last two times I went to the bathroom Sunday evening they were both practically empty. I then realized that the main drain (the one draining the most (the other only had been draining about 30-40 per day) was completely clogged right at the entrance to the bulb. It looked like it would be simple thing to simply pop the bulb off, pull the clot out and reattach but I was paranoid. Everything I read said that if milking the drain didn't clear the clot you should call your doctor. I called the on call doctor for Prima and after waiting 30 minutes with no call back I texted Dr. Song. He confirmed I shouldn't do anything more than milk it but told me he had clinic day the next day and I could come to the office first thing. So I tried to calm myself, figured it was statistically highly unlikely that my belly would fill with so much fluid that I would undo my internal stitches and explode, took another percocet and valium and went to sleep. Until 2 a.m. when I woke up absolutely convinced I was about to explode. I woke up my husband demanding to go to the ER. While I was waiting for him to get ready I found something from a Canadian website about clearing clogs from drains and it instructed to do what I'd wanted to do in the first place. So instead of exposing myself to the ER I made a judgment call and my husband cleared the clog for me (Bless his freaking heart, but honestly this seemed a whole lot easier for him than dealing with the other end of me had been!). He wore gloves, used alchohol wipes and we got the drain working again. I walked around a lot but it still wasn't draining a lot and I still wasn't getting relief. I became convinced that it was clogged inside my body somehow. We did NOT try to do any home doctoring to address that problem though (despite any impressions I may have left here I had not completely taken leave of my senses). Hubby made himself a bed on the couch and we both fitfully slept until it was time to leave to see Dr. Song. We got there as soon as the opened and he came out to get me almost immediately, he seemed so concerned (although he may have just wanted me out of the waiting room, there were several ladies there looking at my pajama clad, hunched over pale and pathetic hobbling self with downright fear in their eyes) and kept apologizing for my discomfort. Something about his manner an Ilenka's (his assistant) instantly calmed me. They got me undressed and on the table and he and Ilenka went to work on me, I literally put my hands behind my head and felt like a race car that had just pulled into pit row. My husband literally planted himself in the corner with his face toward the wall. He kept up a witty dialogue but there is no force in nature that could have compelled him to turn around.
Dr. Song reassured me that I was a bit swollen but not dangerously so. The drain which was causing difficulty had been pulled a little loose already and he decided to remove it, that scared me because I wasn't sure the other drain would pick up the slack but he reassured me that they were located in the same space inside me. Removing it was very quick and felt slightly strange but was hardly noticeable. Fluid started draining out of the hole immediately and he palpated my abdomen to push more out. I felt much better immediately after that. They said I didn't need to do anything special with the drain hole, that it would continue to leak some fluid but should dry up and seal itself within about 72 hours. In all actuality it sealed up much faster than that but I still had the other drain in at that point.

They removed all the yellow tape. They removed a lot of glue from my breast incisions cause he said it had done its job and wasn't needed anymore. I occasionally glanced down but mostly just stared at the ceiling. I was so relieved to be in their capable hands that I was chatting a mile a minute and cracking jokes like I was on stage. He declared that everything looked fantastic. That he saw no causes for concern. He said I could start actually washing the incisions with antibacterial soap when I showered using just my hands, pat dry, blow dry and then re-bandage. He didn't want me to apply anything on the incisions, just dry gauze. He seemed, frankly, extremely pleased with his work! And there is absolutely no reason for him not to be! I could tell at that point that my results were going to be everything I hoped if not more.

The next night I took my first shower by my self with hubby outside the door just in case. It was exhausting and nerve wracking to bandage the naked incisions myself for the first time. But it finally gave me a chance to take some full on update photos which I'm attaching for you. These are exactly 1 week post op.

I have a youtube channel too (Newshape 2015) and I just uploaded a video this morning where I show off my 2 weeks post op shape so if you are too impatient to wait for me to catch up to myself here feel free to go check it out. :-)

Post op days 6 - 19

Ok, things have gone very smoothly after the first 5 days. I pray they continue too.

A few observations in list form:

2nd drain removed day 10. hlad to be free but lower abdomen swelling does, happen more now than when they were in place. Not a biggie though and being further along in the healing process it isn't painful, just annoying. It ebbs amd flows with activity, compression and diet.

After about day 12 I was done with tape and gauze. It was irritating and time consuming. At that point I just started lining my panties (snug cotton briefs that were high waisted) with kotex pads. Also put one under each breast inside my sports/surgical bras. Much more comfy, convenient and easy to change.

As of yesterday I'm no longer using any dressing. Most of the scabs have fallen off. There is rarely any oozing anywhere so now I just frequently change undies (switched to bikini style today, booyah!) And bras and wash everything on the sanitary cycle. So much more comfortable and I feel much more free!

I had 3 binders, I spare I purchased online, a loaner from a friend and the one I wore gome from the hospital. I hadn't worn the hospital one in a while so I decided to wear it today. The day of surgery the doc had marked a line on it as a reference so my caretaker and I would know hiw tight to make it and it was a struggle to get to that line. Today I easily tightened it 2 inches past the line and it still felt looser than my other 2 binders. I won't wear it again but that was exciting to see!

I wore a faja for the first time to our company Christmas party Saturday. It fit but I was not a fan. Too uncomfortable around the thighs (crotchless boy short style) and under my breasts (felt like it was bruising my ribs it was so tight there). Damn thing was a size large too! I'm gonna look for some compression camisoles for when I need something less bulky than the velcro binders.

Wore my old favorite size 16 jeans today and they fit loosely and comfortably over a velcro binder! Can't wait to go jeans shopping in a couple months!

Boobs are achy but looking great. Liposuction lumps are going nowhere, got a referral for a massage therapist who specializes in lymphatic drain and post surgical massage. Apparently I'm not massaging the lipo spots aggressively enough.

Love my bb but it was getting flat so doc told me to keep a silicone earplug in there. It works well and isn't uncomfortable, just keeping it in place with the binder for now.

Posting from my phone, will attach some update pics in a separate post.

Update pics

In no particular order. The dress is what I wore to the party Saturday.

It's not killing me, so it must be making me stronger! (Right?)

So, here I am, crawling back to you with an update, finally. I've been working a lot more, and I've been discouraged and I don't like to be a whiner. Also the struggles I've been having the last few weeks didn't seem to lend themselves as much to comic interpretation as those first few days filled with potty humor gold.

The Christmas party was where we left off I think. In my last update I was going on about not wearing gauze anymore feeling "free" and blah de blah de blah. Yep, I was apparently tempting fate. That Monday I didn't have a clean bra so I actually wore a workout tank with a built in shelf bra. I was so excited at this prospect, I haven't been able to wear such a thing without extra support since I was 13 or so! I graced EVERYONE I encountered that day with the news that I was braless. I was delighted with myself despite the looks of bewilderment this random piece of news seemed to elicit, especially from strangers. I was soaring high, as one often is just before a fall......

The next morning after my shower I noticed something strange on the underside of my right breast but couldn't see it clearly cause of the angle. I got the camera out and took pictures of the undersides of both breasts and, to my horror, the incision had opened on both sides. I knew enough from this site and from my other plastic surgery groups to recognize that there didn't seem to be any signs of infection. And I know that such openings are common and not cause for panic. They were not large. But I had been feeling so relieved and full of myself for being a "really amazing healer" and thought my incisions were out of the woods, that I'd be bathing in bath oils in no time and obsessively experimenting with scar therapy treatments (what a cool science project for my son......no?). So I was completely freaked. And I don't know if not wearing a bra caused it or not but I was filled with guilt and self-loathing for being so irresponsible. The shelf bra provided some support but they were free to shift side to side during the day and the fabric was probably sliding over the incisions. I emailed and texted photos to Dr. Song and bless his heart, he texted me back in 5 minutes and called within 20. We chatted and he said I didn't have to come in but if I wanted to he had clinic hours the next day. He asked about stitches and I had a couple poking out (but not where the openings were) and he said we could deal with those and he would check the wounds and debride them if necessary. A friend who had her TT back in August had given me a huge jar of Silver Sulfadiazene that her PS prescribed prophylactic-ally and of which she had only used about a quarter. I told Dr. Song I had it and he said I could use it on the wounds. It is apparently typically used for burns but the silver does a fantastic job of killing a variety of bacteria.

I went in the next day terrified of what "debridement" would be like but they were looking better already after one night with the silver and he left them alone and said they would heal, that I just needed to continue to keep them clean with soap and water, dry thoroughly and use the silver and gauze. He also pulled out several bits of stitches and one knot that were sticking out, nothing painful. He showed me how to deal with spitting stitches so I could handle them on my own and not come running to his office every time. (Basically, grab it with tweezers and pull gently, if it is going to come out it will come, if it feels stuck then pull it up and clip it close to the skin, it will gradually work its way further out and you can repeat until it comes out completely). He went over every inch of my incisions and basically just cleaned them up, pulling off remnants of glue and in some places bits of scabs that were half hanging off but still felt too attached to pull off completely (he cut some of those and left the attached parts on). I felt much relieved and headed home ready to get those wounds healed in a day or two! And....that.....was......TEN......yes.......TEN days ago.

Ugh. So the wounds on my boobs would get better, then worse then better then.....yes, you guessed it worse. They never got worse than the first time I noticed them so I knew that I was on the right track but it has been maddening. I'll check them and think, oh, another day tops! And then the next time I look at it we are back at square one.

My tummy tuck incision was not having it, all the attention being paid to my boobs, so I've developed 3 small holes there as well. None of them very large, none looking infected, but just taunting me......."Haha, you thought you were an amazing healer did you? Whatever! You AREN'T healed! You AREN'T whole! A trip to a hot tub would likely kill you! You can't go more than a few minutes of your day without being aware of the trauma to which you subjected your body! You just thought we'd quietly heal ourselves all back up without any muss or fuss? How freaking arrogant of you! NOW you know better!"

So, I've noticed that the less I move the better they look. So in the morning if I've had a good night's sleep they look much more closed, after a day of work they are all gaping again (OK, gaping is a bit of an exaggeration, I just mean by comparison to the morning). I also noticed that the tummy tuck incisions look much better if I can spend some time reclining without the compression garment, I think it irritates it (even though it is protected by gauze, my underwear and a tank top).

We are not having a Christmasy Christmas which had me kind of bummed but it is a blessing under the circumstances. We are a blended family and this is the year we don't have the kids until next week. Hubby did get them to put up the tree as a surprise to me while I was at work last week but in true teenager fashion they did a thoroughly half assed job of it and so I appreciate the gesture and am also depressed by it at the same time. I had to work through the weekend and through Wednesday (and on Tuesday I actually had to go to court despite my medical leave because of an emergency with one of my clients, the Judge is a friend of mine on facebook and he was all, "btw you are looking fantastic!" which was nice) but I have been glued to the recliner since Christmas eve. We did go next door for Christmas dinner yesterday but other than that I've not gotten up except to clean and dress my wounds, go potty and change clothes. I'm hoping that 48 hours of near immobility will be enough time for everything to close up. Things looked good this morning, everything was smaller and less oozy than yesterday. I'm going massively stir crazy. In every other way I'm starting to feel more normal again and I'm just desperate to have my skin be whole so I can slather myself in lotion and snuggle with my husband and not have to deal with f&*^%$ing gauze and tape anymore.

My poor husband is in constant motion, that is just his personality, so this has been hard on both of us. I LIKE to relax but this is a bit much at this point and watching him whirlwind clean and re-organize our entire house while I sit on my ass is not as much fun as one might think. He gets it though, he refuses to look at my incisions, but he understands what I am trying to do and he fusses at me if he catches me poking around in the kitchen. I'm hoping that I can sit still long enough to will them shut so that I can be more back to normal next week than I would be if I am still nursing these little holes. And I KNOW it could be much worse, and I'm very grateful for the fact it is not.

So there you go, if ya'll want pictures I'll post them in a separate update, just let me know. I photograph them 2-3 times a day to monitor the progress.

Quick update

Almost 8 weeks. Big turning point for the better at 6 weeks. Breast incisions all closed now. Tummy incision virtually so, just some tiny spots that still feel scabby and one spitting stitch that I've trimmed but am leaving for Dr. Song when I see him Monday. Off pain meds, feeling much better. Had a blast shopping for clothes last weekend!

Revision

Just walked out of Dr. Song's office for my pre op appt for revision procedure next week. I will post updated pictures and an update tonight or tomorrow. In summary, I LOVE my body now. Enjoyed frolicking on a nude beach in St. Martin recently, something I never would have enjoyed before. Still struggling with swell hell but that seems to be the norm so I'm not stressing it. Wear compression of some kind most days. Dr. Song is fixing very slight dog ears and doing some supplemental lipo on my love handles and under my arms next week. He was willing to do under local but seemed happy that I was willing to pay for the anesthesiologist for an hour so he can be a bit more agressive with the lipo. I love Dr. Song so much, I feel so free now. All the self doubting thoughts I used to always carry around are almost gone. I'm not perfect but I love so much more than I dislike in the mirror now.

7 months post op

Here is the long overdue update. Pros: loving my body, feeling confident, feeling sexy. Shopping for clothes, even bathing suits, is fun.
Cons: swell hell. I just started a pretty intense diet last week and I'm seeing a big improvement now that I'm not eating bread or nearly as many carbs as before so I am feeling more encouraged. I occasionally wear just a compression tank but I usually wear a binder/waist cincher that I found on amazon. I love them, brand name is curvi. They are effective but they breath and don't dig in. I also love my Ann Cherry workout waist cincher but I only wear it to work out. Activity also increases swelling.

Here are some update pics, including one of the dog ears Dr. Song will fix.

7 months post op pictures

Here are some pics (wearing a little something I picked up from Victoria's Secret, 36DD!) including one of the dog ears Dr. Song will take care of next week.

Revision surgery done!

All went well, took a little over an hour but I was under general so I didn't mind him taking his time! He said he was very pleased with the results. I did struggle with nausea after. Made it all the way to our driveway before using the barf bag they gave me which was embarrassing because the landscapers were there, ugh! Also, when we got out of the car we saw my left hip had been bleeding thru my clothes, Dr. Song had told me to expect some bleeding and oozing. It was more than I expected but I just put towels down and applied some pressure and ice. Last night I changed out the gauze on both hips (some bleeding on the right by that point too) and everything seemed to have stopped. Loved the shape of my hips but I didn't have my phone in the bathroom with me. I'll post update pics soon. Didn't see any bruising yet last night. Pain was worse than I expected when I first woke up but it's all surface pain, NOTHING like the original surgery! Just more of an aggravation. No bleeding from the incisions under my arms but I do feel a bit restricted, I am going to wait a bit before trying to lift my arms over my head. I am sleeping in my recliner just because I didn't want to roll or sleep on my sides and I don't enjoy sleeping flat on my back. Don't expect to stay in recliner more than a few days.

Love Dr. Song, I had told him about my nude beach experience at the pre-op appt and while he was marking me up yesterday he said I had inspired him to put visiting a nude beach on his bucket list! He also was cracking me up admiring his own work, commenting on specifics as he went and finishing with "you are looking great, girl!" While stepping back, cocking his head a looking me up and down! :)

43rd Birthday at Hedonism!

Yep, to celebrate my 43rd Birthday and our 5th anniversary we spent a week at Hedonism in Negril, Jamaica. I've been naked in front of others before but never for 7 days on end, in the sunshine. It was glorious. First of all, the resort was fully booked and it was full of ALL ages (and I mean all, there were people there from early 20's all the way up to early 80's!) and all races and all sizes and body types. It was a wonderfully welcoming and affirming environment and I don't think anyone ever felt judged. The resort is mostly clothing optional but with a bit less than half devoted to the "nude side" beach and pool and hot tub area where it is required that you be nude. That way there are no gawkers but everyone is just as vulnerable as everyone else. It was almost all couples and though there were plenty of swingers there and it was a very sex positive environment the men were all gentlemen, I actually felt less creeped out than I have in normal bars. And I felt so gloriously free, and beautiful. I'm still struggling with swelling but strangely it wasn't an issue there. Maybe it was because I was drinking a ton of water (and alcohol but I was trying to keep a good balance) and I was eating a good mix of veggies and fruits (better than I do at home to be honest, it's easy when someone else is doing the food prep and cooking!) or maybe it's because I drank almost exclusively pineapple juice with my Grey Goose but I had very little trouble with swelling all week. I threw on a sarong for breakfast and lunch but otherwise was naked almost all day. We did dress up for fun theme parties at night. I literally felt like crying when I had to put on my bra and my binder and my pants the morning we left.

Anyway, I want to thank Dr. Song for helping me to feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have EVER felt in my life. And I also got to meet several other ladies with BR and TT scars! There was no stigma or judgment about those either, we enjoyed checking each other out! I'm posting a few pics, enjoy!
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

After several consultations I picked Dr. Song. Sought insurance coverage for my breast reduction but it was specifically excluded under my policy. Bit the bullet and did private pay together with a tummy tuck. He spent so much time with me during the first consultation, after I got dressed we sat at a table in the exam room with a big monitor on which he showed me power point presentations about both surgeries and before and after pics that were similar to my body shape. I love to learn and had already done a lot of research so I asked a lot of detailed questions about why he does or doesn't do things a certain way. He seemed appreciative and started drawing me illustrations to explain things. He acted like he didn't have another place to be all day and I felt so comfortable with him. His prices are extremely competitive. I would highly recommend that you check him out. He is young (my age although he looks younger) but his training is impeccable (Harvard, Emory, Stanford) and he is double board certified in general and plastic surgery. Not at all condescending, very down to earth and very approachable. He has been fantastic throughout. So responsive during the first very tough post op week. He never left me hanging when I needed him. Totally thrilled with my results. Actually kind of sad that my next appointment isn't for a month since things are going well (currently 19 days post op).

5 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
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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