Australian Mummy of 4 Makeover Post-op Blues - Australia, AU

I have been reading a lot of posts on this site...

I have been reading a lot of posts on this site and found them helpful with answering some of my own questions. I am now sharing my story. I am 12 days post-op. I had a tummy tuck that was skin work only. No muscle work. Also breast augmentation to give back the lost volume and also to halve the size of my nipples which had been stretched from breast-feeding my 4 babies.

I am finding the process very difficult. On the upside, because I had no muscle work done, the process was simpler. I had surgery late afternoon and left hospital the next morning. I have only taken panadol, which is good because then I have not been dealing with constipation or other complications caused by medications.

But on the downside, I am unhappy and frustrated and feel sad and teary. I am dealing with massive swelling so am uncomfortable and look far worse than before the operation. I am thick in the waist whereas I was much thinner before. I know this is temporary but I just feel bummed about it and hate how I look right now.

I am surprised how tired and lethargic I feel. Maybe this is partly mental because I cannot even do any exercise, and I always get grumpy when I can't exercise.

I look forward to recovering further so I can start to 'enjoy' the outcome. At this stage it is just hard work because I feel awful, can't do much, and look awful too. So I have gone backwards. But I do realise that sometimes you have to go back before you can go forwards. I'm surprised about how low I feel as I am a positive person. But hopefully I start to pick up soon as the swelling subsides further. As a tip that may help others, I ditched the binder thing 8 days post-op and in its place started wearing those very ugly high waisted compression briefs by Nancy Ganz (boy leg style but high waisted to go quite a bit above the belly button). They are the black things you can see above my tights in the images of me in tights and a sports bra. The ugly undies helped heaps as I felt more comfortable, looked more normal (the binder added so much girth and looked plain silly even under clothing). Also, the swelling did start to go down after I started wearing the ugly undies as the compression quality is far superior to the binder. My swelling peaked at the 5-8 day mark with my waist measuring 11cm more. It has reduced since wearing the ugly undies but is still 6cm bigger. i am not expecting it to get smaller than pre-op because I didn't have muscle work done (those planks and push ups came in handy after all). But hopefully I get my old waist size back soon. And I hope my energy levels return soon. It's a more complicated and challenging process than I realised.

2 weeks post-op today

Well today marks the 2 weeks post-op date. I am taking every day at a time. Each day there is some improvement and I am moving more normally and less like a 100-year old woman. I have taken a couple of photos this morning. There is still bruising and swelling but I think the bruise is a little lighter now. The swelling is still bad but is more so in the lower tummy area. My waist measurement is now only 4 cm bigger than pre-op but the shape is less defined than pre-op. In one more week I can take the tape off although I am not looking forward to it as I am afraid of what I might see. When the bandages came off after 1 week I felt so sick at what I could see that I fainted. Literally.

Day 15 post-op and compression / binder free

After 8 days wearing a velcro compression binder and a further 7 days wearing firm compression high briefs (Nancy Ganz) I am enjoying by first day without such garments. This marks an additional turning point for me as I feel more normal. I took a few photos this morning. My bruise is not as coloured. I am still swollen but it is coming down. My waist is now only 3cm bigger than pre-op. Without the discomfort of the compression garments I feel a lot better today. I read that a lot of surgeons don't recommend the compression garments and referred to it as 'voodoo' practice. Interesting. So much variety in how surgeons conduct their work.

A photo of pre-op me

I found a photo of me taken before the surgery. Probably hard to judge but the belly button wasn't a proper full circle and I called it an unhappy belly button because it sort of had a down turn. People on the outside wouldn't have seen what I saw. They said I had a wash board stomach. What they didn't know is when I bent over all my skin wrinked like a 90 year old woman I felt hideous. That they couldn't see what I saw was irrelevant. I felt ashamed of myself.

20 days post-op tape and bandage free

This morning I removed the last bit of tape left on my tummy incision. It is a bit frankenstein-like at the moment. There are 'blobs' on either side of the ends of the incision mark but I am thinking that is caused by the swelling and as the swelling goes down the blobs will too. They are hard not spongy so I think it is just swelling. The psychology behind this is interesting. Somehow I feel more fragile with the tape gone.

Frankenstein photos

I have attached this morning's photos of my incision - at 22 days post-op. It is very Frankensteinish for me and I find myself feeling a bit of neausea when I see it. The right side is worse than the left with a ridge thing going on. I rang the PS nurse about it yesterday and she said it is common and is because I don't have much body fat; if I had more there would be less of a ridge. She said it may take 3 months to start to flatten. Thank goodness it is not summer - easier to hide this stuff when wrapped in bulky winter gear. Anyway, feeling more normal each day and can gradually do more and feeling less exhausted at the end of the work day. So that is all very good.

23 days post-op and starting to feel normal...gym time

Every day there is noticeable improvement and I have managed 2 days of exercise starting when I it the 21 days post-op day (which was the day I was told I could start running again and lifting weights up to 5kg). I haven't run yet but did introduce myself to an exercise bike for 5km at enough of a speed to build up a sweat, which felt wonderful. Yesterday i went for a 6km walk at around 6km/hr. Not exactly brisk but not slow either. I did a few basic things with some 5kg weights (tricep curls, bicep curls, hammers). Today I might try a gentle short jog on the treadmill. So much of my recovery is based on my self-assessment and it is important for me to feel normal. I am trying to ignore the Frankenstein scar as it makes me feel worse.

3 1/2 weeks post op and the top half has healed really well

The top of me has healed well with no visible scar; this included nipple work done as they were so stretched from breastfeeding my 4 kids that they were too long so got halved. I bought a fun sexy bra, which is something I haven't bought for a long time. I can't wear it yet because it is underwire but it was fun to try it and buy it nonetheless. :-)

1 month post-op and able to run and be normal again

At one month post-op normality starts to come back. This photo was taken after I returned from a 13km run. Fitness is naturally down from avoiding exercise this past month but at least I can start to be normal again. All functioning well and from the outside things all look smooth and good. One side of my incision is not smooth though and has little bulges but I am hoping that if I keep massaging it every day it may resolve itself. I really don't want to have surgery to fix it. I'm over it.

5 weeks post-op and struggling with tethered skin

At 5 weeks post-op things are largely going well, although I am pretty annoyed with my TT incision that has tethered on one side. It constantly pulls and is uncomfortable and I am completely over it. This is apparently caused by my top layer of skin sticking itself to the muscles layer because my fat layer is inadequate. Apparently the less body fat the higher the chances of this happening. If I can massage the incision adequately to untether it then the suture layer will drop so that my incision line is not so uneven. If anyone has experienced a tethered incision or knows anything about it please let me know. The techniques I have been told could assist are firm pressure around the incision and activities such as sprinting since the longer stride length of a faster pace pulls on the area.

Tethered skin remains so scar requires revision :-(

Despite my rigorous attempts to beat my tethered scar into submission, I have failed to get it unstuck. It drives me crazy - constantly pulling like someone constantly pulling at my skin. It wakes me up during the night and I resent it. I checked with the PS today and apparently if it hasn't resolved by now then it won't. So, I require a procedure to revise the scar and untether it. Booked in for December. Very depressing thought to have to have more surgery and be put to sleep again. What a disappointment. :-(
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