I had my consultation with Dr Joseph Woods...
I had my consultation with Dr Joseph Woods yesterday. He's the chief of plastic surgery at Piedmont Hospital here in Atlanta. He came very highly recommended by ladies here on Real Self as well as my personal friends. I have to say I was quite nervous (and excited) because it's not everyday that you go to a doctor and say "can you do something about all this junk hanging off my body?" Because that's the way I feel about it - I've lost 120 pounds or so after a gastric bypass, and I have a lot of excess skin and fat that just sort of hang there, proving gravity exists.
Dr Woods was extremely calming, professional, and knowledgeable. The first thing he got out of the way was my weight. He asked me if I was happy at my current weight and when I said "yes - it's not my weight I'm concerned about, but my shape" you could tell he was satisfied with my answer. I can see how losing a significant amount of weight after PS could ruin the result, so I totally get why he asked that question. He then went on to ask about the procedures I was considering, which of them were priorities (he asked for four priorities), and what I hoped as an outcome.
One thing which helped with the last question were some photos that I had printed out to show him of models. "This is the type of image I want to project," is what I told him. They were all plus-size models (and we all know that even "plus size" models are pretty darn tall and perfectly proportioned!) but were very curvy. "You want that hourglass look!" he said immediately, and thanked me for bring the pics because it gave him an idea of what I was seeing in my mind as best possible outcomes.
I had also printed photos I took of myself naked (these are the photos I'm including here) so that I could show him immediately what my priorities were and why. That had the danger of being REALLY embarrassing but he was so nice! "I like these - they are so candid. They are what you see when you look in the mirror." He understood things so well. I was very impressed.
Dr. Woods told me he likes to keep surgeries around 6 to 7 hours, and I had more than could be done in one go. We took my four priorities, that came out to about 15 hours, and he asked ME how I would like to split them up! That was unexpected, usually doctors just tell you "Here's what we're gonna do." I appreciated having input, though I loved his first suggestion - do the two biggies of the extended abdominoplasty (removal of pannus, tummy tuck) and the extended mastopexy (I have a lot of excess skin and tissue in the bra-band area, that dreaded "overhang".) I was very happy to be told that I have enough breast tissue to not need an implant. Yay! :)
Four months after I'm fully healed from that, I will return to have a bilateral baschioplasty with lipo (upper arm lipo and skin removal), lipo on my sides/back and transfer of the fat to my butt (it's sort of flat but still lumpy at the moment, this will be my "butt lift"), and a medial thigh liposuction. (For those keeping score, the price on the second surgery is $17464).
Insurance covers absolutely nothing, so it's self-pay all the way for me. Sigh.
Last night I was so happy! I lay in bed and counted off things I will do after I recover from all of this. Sleeveless shirts. Tucking in blouses without worrying about "muffin top". Being able to sit in the leg press machine at the gym without my belly getting in the way. Buying nice workout clothes instead of trying to cover up as much as possible. Shopping for pretty lingerie that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Being able to look in the mirror when I get out of the shower without getting depressed.
For those who think PS is simply vanity, I wish they could walk a mile - hey, even a YARD - in my shoes. I've been fat since I was 3 years old. I have worked HARD just to look 'normal'. I want to be invisible unless I want to stand out. I think finally, with the PS, I will have my chance at just that.
Should out to all you veteran ladies on this 11th of November, Veterans' Day!
p.s.: Should I post a breakdown of charges?
First small hurdle to overcome - my husband.
First update only two days after my consultation? Absolutely! Mainly because of a conversation I had with my husband before work this morning. I had been told by friends that anytime a woman 1) gets a better job; 2) increases her education; or 3) improves her appearance that significant others have a tendency to get very nervous. And sure enough, I was asked this morning, "So... are you going to get all smokin' hot and then leave me for another man?"
My husband was smiling but it was a weird smile. At first I thought he was just teasing so I gave him a flippant answer ("I prefer older men to younger!") but then I saw that he really meant it. I tried to make him feel better about that, reassuring him that I wasn't going to be "smokin' hot" in this lifetime anyway, and I didn't care because as long as *WE* like the way I look, I don't care about anything else. But it has to be BOTH OF US, not just him. (He's still in the "I don't know why you don't like the way you are, I think you look fine!" - Just look at my photos and it's obvious that I don't really look fine!).
Anyway, I think we're okay on that front but I want to revisit his question now and then to do some more reassurance. It's something that I didn't think would be an issue, but apparently it is!
Pre-op tomorrow afternoon, first surgery in one week.
I am not certain what to expect at tomorrow's pre-op, as all doctors seem to conduct them in different ways. Before my weight loss surgery the pre-op was mainly just vital signs, the nurses making sure I understood the procedure and any possible complications, things of that nature.
My husband is going with me, and will take the first week of my recuperation off from work. He seems to relish the idea of me being homebound for a couple of weeks, and also that I won't be able to have the two cats walk over me and so on. In a way it's funny, but he mentions it a lot and I'm trying not to be annoyed. He seems to find the idea of me being unable to be completely independent as very satisfying. I'm trying hard to not be annoyed and just think of the upcoming surgery, my recovery, and the awesome way I will feel in three months!
I have mentioned to a few of my friends my upcoming surgery and they have all be VERY excited for me and, surprisingly enough, have whispered "I had a boob job too!" or "I want a butt lift SO BAD!" I think there's a master's thesis or two in just why women are supposed to look good all the time, but are never supposed to admit that we don't just get up in the morning looking perfect.
Anyway, I will post what happens tomorrow!
Pre-op seemed okay until I hit a snag.
I went to DeKalb Medical Center this afternoon for my pre-op. Two tubes of blood, an EKG, and some interviews with nurses and I thought everything was set. I got a call about 7:30 this evening from Dr Woods telling me that my potassium is too low at the moment to go ahead with the surgery on Monday BUT he called in a prescription for me to start taking in the morning (six days out) and they will test my blood again on the day of surgery to see if it can go ahead.
At first I was like "no sweat!" and then as I lay in bed last night I kept thinking "oh no, oh no, what if?" I'm trying to squelch those thoughts, though.
So I'm off to the pharmacy, and while I'm out will stock up on potassium-rich foods that my doctor recommended. I've planned out my menus and WOW, that looks like a lot of food just to get enough potassium but hopefully the prescription will help.
Other things I was told to do to prepare:
1. Given some Hibiclens for washing the genital area the morning of the surgery.
2. Regular eating is okay through Saturday, but Saturday night I'm to take a laxative and eat no solids on Sunday. Not just clear liquids though, I can have smoothies and so on, it's just that because of the risk of infection Dr Woods doesn't want any bowel movements for as long as possible.
3. Nothing to eat after midnight Sunday. Report to the hospital at 5:30am for the blood testing, and if everything is okay on the potassium front, surgery will begin at 7:30.
Estimated times of the surgery are:
Panniculectomy, adominoplasty, and monsplasty: 4 hours
Breast lift with side extension trim: 3.5 hours
So I'm up reeeeally early this morning drinking V8 juice and eating a banana! I WILL GET THIS SURGERY!
Strange to think how such a small thing can potentially throw a monkey wrench into my plans, but at least it's something I can actually work to improve, I just hope I can make it in time. The idea of even postponing the surgery for a week makes me want to burst into tears. I want this so much!
Home at last. Successes and failures, short version.
A short update. I went in for my procedures Monday and got the go ahead for potassium levels, temperature etc. Surgery was lengthened to eight hours but everything seemed to be fine.
Recovery did not go too well. Details later but long story short went Code Blue that evening and was in ICU for two days. No word yet on why I began having seizures, possibly a reaction to anesthesia. One "episode" lasted almost three hours. It was quite simply the worst night of my life. I do not blame Dr Woods for this, please note. Just one of those things which I may never really have explained.
Discharged around 1am Thursday morning and have tried to be active as requested but feel like I was mauled by a bear so do a little, rest a lot.
More later as I get more details on what happened as I apparently was unconscious most of the time before being taken to ICU.
With hydrocodone there is little pain, mostly discomfort from surgical tape that was put directly onto blisters (?) which I will ask about at my followup appt tomorrow.
Nitey nite for now.
- Ariel, a.k.a. Meimi-chan