40 Year Old Mom of 2 - Full TT with Exparel - Atlanta, GA

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I had a full TT with umbilical hernia and...

I had a full TT with umbilical hernia and abdominal muscle repair on February 4th, so it's been exactly 10 weeks. I am 5'3" and weigh 100 pounds. Basically, my small frame wasn't meant for having children as my first child pretty much did all of the damage. I had severe separation of abdominal muscles, so a full TT was the only option to repair. Prior to the surgery I was an avid crossfitter training 4 days a week (I was a competitive gymnast my entire child/ adolescent life). I was in extremely good fitness going into the surgery.
I mention my fitness level, because the surgery itself and immediate recovery was very easy. One of the reasons I wanted to share my experience was because it was extremely good and I myself had put the surgery off for years due to fear. During the actual surgery, I was given a shot of Exparel directly into the abdominal area. This is a 72-96 hour nerve block. As a result, I had the surgery...stayed in the hospital one night...came home and never had ANY pain. In fact, I never took any of my pain meds because I didn't need them. I did take an occasional muscle relaxer to sleep better. I consulted with a few plastic surgeons and only found one practice actively using Exparel. In the end, that's why I selected my practice....it is a total game changer!
Another notable piece of information is that most of the time when umbilical hernias are present with muscle separation the need for a "fake belly button" (floating belly button) is pretty much unavoidable. It is important to select a PS that can create a natural looking "fake belly button" (ask for pictures...etc). This was a huge deciding factor on selecting a plastic surgeon. I love my new belly button. : ). While I have a few stretch marks that could not be removed in surgery, I am very pleased with my result. I am currently in the process of having a series of 1540 Lux laser treatments to minimize the appearance of the stretch marks. I will create a separate blog for that later.
Now - jumping to the present. It's been 10 weeks today and I still have significant limitations. The immediate recovery was a breeze - I was driving at 2-3 weeks and walking 100% upright around 4 weeks. My scar is healing beautifully (I continue to keep covered with the tan micro tape), but I am still extremely tight. When I move I still feel tugging sensations. I'm assuming this is a result of the severe muscle separation and abdominal plication. I can walk for exercise, but there is no way that I am even ready for light running. Coming from my athletic back ground, this is limiting. Now is where I realize that everyone's recovery is different depending on how much internal damage was repaired (muscle repair and hernias). I also feel compelled to say that my umbilical hernia was a result of my first pregnancy....not crossfit (as some have suggested).
While I have no intentions of returning to crossfit until at least 6 months....I am wondering when I will be able to be active ( according to my standards) again? I would love for anyone to weigh in on this for me. : )

10 weeks

Progress at 15 weeks

The above picture was taken around 10 weeks. This is also after having one laser treatment to smooth stretch marks. I am about 15 weeks out now and doing great! I am running about 3 times a week (3-4 miles). Still a little stiff. My arms won't quite reach 100% overhead yet, so no pull ups/ hanging on a bar or barbell work yet.

15 weeks

So this is a 15 week update. I have had 2 fraxel laser treatments to minimize residual stretch marks. In terms of overall healing, I am doing great! Just trying to improve the outcome as much as I can. : )

4 months PO

So I never thought I would ever wear a bikini again.....and then this happened....4 months to the date....I put it on and went to the pool! I think it takes a full 4-6 months to get a good picture of final results. 95% of the swelling is gone and non-ablative lasering has done wonders for any residual stretch marks.

Six months!!

So it's been a little over six months since my surgery. The time has flown by! At this point I almost feel like I have never had surgery. I am still numb....so that part is what is different, but everything else is great. I think numb is the new normal, so I'm not really bothered by that at all. I haven't returned to crossfit yet, but I have been running since about week 8 or 9. I wore a compression garment while running until about month 4. I wore it because I think I thought something was going to move out of place. Lol. When I finally stopped wearing it, I realized my abs and skin are so tight....nothing is moving out of place. My scars are healed well, but are a little darker than I would like at this point. They will lighten...it just takes longer with my olive skin. I did have the little scar from my old BB lasered and it made it smaller and completely smooth (no indentions). My stretch marks have remained at minimum since having them lasered.

Almost a year!!!

Well it's almost been a year! I started back Crossfitting in December (I only ran and did boot camp up until then). I think I pretty much feel "normal". I say "normal" because I am still numb (it's like the Experal never wore off...haha), it still feels funny when I sneeze and certain exercises just feel wrong (like hanging from a bar for pull-ups). I still have the irrational fear that my muscles are going to separate again, so I am very cautious. During my first crossfit workout I remember going to the bathroom just to make sure my belly button was still there. LOL! : ). Overall I have no regrets and would do it again tomorrow. I only have one more appointment with my PS on Feb. 4th (exactly 1 year) to officially close this chapter. : ). I will do my best to upload new pics including my scar which is barely there at this point.

New Pics!

More pics!

Brighter lights

Before photo

I had my one year post op appt. last week. Appt. was great - no concerns. My PS did ask my before I left if I had any questions.....and I was like....umm, yeah...I want some Botox! Not sure where that came from, but I have been very curious for a while about it. So......I was able to make an appointment and try it a few days later. Now this ladies...is weird. I have 100% sensation in my forehead - but it is frozen! I must say I do love the results! Eek! I was also able to get a before photo for ya'll, since I didn't have any personal before photos.

17 months!

What a difference a year makes! I have been back in the full swing of exercise for a while. It is truly like I have never had surgery as my body has adjusted and I am able to 100% do all workouts that last summer were impossible.
Dr. Diane Alexander

Dr. Diane Alexander and everyone at Artisan Plastic Surgery made this experience completely pleasant. I would do it again tomorrow. I was 100% cared for from start to finish with lymphatic massages, multiple post op follow ups and scar treatment. I would certainly recommend Dr. Alexander to anyone considering abdominoplasty.

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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