I've been body dysmorphic much of my adult life...
I've been body dysmorphic much of my adult life and was happily cured of my self-destructive behaviors by the birth of my two wonderful children, one who is in kindergarten and the other who is in preschool. I've never had any cosmetic surgery of any kind, nor any major surgeries, but I always jokingly referred to my savings account as my "plastic surgery fund". It wasn't until my recent birthday (I am approaching 40) that I realized:
- I am done having children
- I am no longer breastfeeding
- I'm approaching middle-age
- My body has been pretty much the same shape and weight for most of my adult life
Given all of these things, I also then read a blog post by another mom who recently had a tummy tuck, and realized ... hmm, I could do that. However, I literally had no idea what it entailed, what the scarring would look like, or what the recovery would be like. I also was somewhat concerned that I was having unrealistic opinions about my body type, so I went into my first appointment willingly ignorant. (I can't be the only person on this site who has over-researched in advance of doing something!)
I found my potential doctor by asking my mom's board if anyone had any suggestions, because... I just don't run with a group of people who talk about, or who get, cosmetic surgery (in fact, I work in an office of all men). One doctor was recommended by three different people, and when I researched the practice online, their Yelp reviews were outstanding -- even the hidden ones were 4+ stars.
My first meeting with the doctor was illuminating. She recommended two routes:
- bilateral mastoplexy, abdominoplasty with flank liposuction, medial and lateral thigh liposuction, or
- bilateral mastoplexy, liposuction to the abdomen, flank, medial and lateral thighs
Honestly, I was relieved that the mastoplexy wouldn't involve an implant. The recovery time of the abdomen liposuction makes it attractive but knowing myself, I would ultimately be disappointed in the results, because my hips have widened as a result of pregnancy and I have enough of an "overhang" of skin that having it after such an investment is challenging.
I'm sincerely worried about two things:
- being comfortable with the incredible scarring of the TT
I'd love anyone's insights or reaffirmations. :)
Starting to layout a rough timeline...
Part of a mechanism of coping with the idea of this whole endeavor for me is planning out a timeline. I told my boss that I would need to take at least one week off and one working from home as a side-effect of some surgery I had been postponing but which my doctor and I agreed that it was time to move forward with, in order to get an idea of an appropriate timeline from him. The two options: mid-Feb to mid-March, or late April. Knowing what I know about the work coming up, I think late April is probably the better bet.
So, I mapped out a timeline, from when I have the surgery through the second week, marking a few days where we could hire a babysitter to come over and help with the kids in the evening, so my husband would feel less saddled with all the work. Things seem more approachable in that context, really...
Anyway, seeing that makes me feel a little more like this could be something I can handle. That, and of course, the idea of wearing shirts and having them fit properly (or even, dare I say it, hotly!).
the two frustrations I have with this site are...
1: The fact that so many people seem to stop updating a couple of months after their surgery. I feel like it's reading a novel that abruptly ends before you get to find out how things turned out! The fact that people don't heal fully from many of these procedures for up to a year means that we should all commit to writing until then, for the sake of those who come after. :)
2: The doctor that I've spoken to, and feel like I've chosen, has so few reviews here. It would be amazing if I could see images of more of the shapes of TT incisions she and her partner have done, for example. Since they do not post images of their work online I may ask to stop by and look at their book more, but generally, I would just love to see more "real" talk from people who have had work done by them.
In general, though, this site has been amazing -- it's really normalized the concept of this surgery for me, to an extent. In my mind, plastic surgery is in the purview of the rich Beverly Hills housewives, and I love seeing so many other women choosing to do what makes them happy. It makes me realize that being moderately vain isn't a terrible thing. (Especially if you can make these decisions without causing your family significant sacrifice beyond the time involved in watching you lay there being sore and puffy :) )
So, I might be some sort of idiot...
First off, here are a couple of pics of my stomach. I know I indicated in my review that I'll be getting more work than this done but... yeah, I'm not comfortable sharing breast shots. :D
So, the reason I mention that I might be some sort of idiot is this: I do not exercise routinely. The reason is PURELY time-related -- I work a full-time job, then I spend time with my kids, to the point that the only "me" (or "us") time I get is at 9:30pm. Considering the fact that I then usually get up again at 5-6am, and that this sleep includes waking up at least once for a kid, there is no way I'm going to wake earlier to sleep. My time with my kids is entirely focused on them, and their needs, and I'm totally comfortable with this. My work day is crammed with meetings so I'm usually lunching while working, in a way that is not stressful, but is also not conducive to exercise, either.
Since I have no issue with portion control or snacking, really, I've tried to increase my latent exercise: standing in meetings, walking long distances to/from parking.
Am I an idiot thinking that a tummy tuck is going to work here? If my procedure is months out, should I be concentrating on my core strength?
A second opinion
I had my yearly today and was talking to the Gyn about general body stuff, and she mentioned that she used to work for a plastic surgeon. So, I told her a little about what I was considering, and she had a recommendation for a surgeon who lives in my area. I immediately looked him up on this site after she gave me his name, and was saddened to see that while he has a lot of reviews, there are no photos or progressive updates that I would expect from someone who was here other than to provide a passive review. However, his site has many photos on it, as does Yelp (side note: if I find a photograph of me anywhere on the internet post-procedure, I will have someone's balls in a vice), and I can see that his work seems to be very good.
I made an appt for a consult with him, which I think will be telling mainly from the point of view that it will provide me more insight on whether or not he thinks I need implants to get the ladies perky again. (I'd prefer not to have them, but it seems like the recovery from implants vs a lift is lessened... I dunno.)
Just met with the second doc...
...and pretty much, that was what was keeping me away -- it's hard to update when you have nothing to say!
I'm sitting in my car outside of the doctor's office. I was TOTALLY blown away by this guy. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect about a man in this role -- I have nearly all female doctors for no particular reason other than that's how it's played out, and for some reason, the mental image in my head of how a male doctor would be was set (most likely) by the fallacies of television. (CURSE YOU NIP TUCK.) However, this guy and his staff were just ... stunning. He showed me how to see my muscle separation, which was cool, just to start, and even showed me some surgery illustrations.
He recommended to me separating the lipo and the abdominoplasty/mastoplaxy procedures because he feels he really can't have an accurate view of how the flank will look until after the TT has healed, and because it makes a difference in healing. Makes 100% sense from what I understand of the procedure. He also has patients stay overnight at the hospital, which my husband will just absolutely adore, I'm sure.
I think I'll probably decide between the two docs by Friday.
I booked yesterday with Dr. Beck (the second of my consults) and secured the date! I realized that he had a special on here that expires today (which is Saturday) so I booked it out of work to lay a check at the feet of his practice manager, Jasmine. I truly enjoyed meeting her -- I want to be friends outside of this experience! Heh! I'll take a moment later today to write a little more in-depth about my initial consult there in order to provide others investigating Dr. Beck to get a full understanding of this process under his practice's care.
details of the first consult
At the time of my appointment, Dr. Beck's office did not charge for the first consult, but did ask for a credit card in case of cancellation (at which point they would charge $150). Considering the amount of time they spent with me, I can understand the need to do so, especially if there are a lot of last-minute cancelations in this industry (I'm not familiar enough with it to know, but the fact that my other consultation at the previous office also charged makes me assume that there are a number of no-shows).
My appointment started with a meeting with Jasmine (Practice Manager) in her office. She is clearly well-versed in talking about Dr. Beck's experience, and does so passionately -- she believes in him, and his skill. She asked me what I was looking for, which was surprisingly difficult to talk about, since these sort of discussions are not my normal wheelhouse :) She is extremely personable and frank, and talked about her own experiences. I gave her a bit of feedback on what I thought would be the best types of reviews their clients would write on here (and now I can do one, ha!) and then she took me into an exam room.
After a brief wait, Jasmine and Dr. Beck came in. I will say now that since my first consult was one-on-one with a female plastic surgeon, it was different (not in a bad way) that Jasmine accompanied him -- but it's obvious on reflection that it is to protect both the doctor and the patient. I reviewed much of what I had discussed with Jasmine at a high level, and we also spoke a bit about his practice and areas of expertise. He then left so I could disrobe and we could go over the specifics.
Much as my first consult above, he counseled for the mastoplexy and abdominoplasty. He first started by showing me how I could see my own muscle separation in my abdominal wall -- I guess it's not until you move the skin around on my tummy that you can see that is where much of my problem lies. (Who's kidding, I'm sure a lot of that is good old-fashioned pooch!) I had never been able to see that before, so it was both cool and ... strange to feel the separation there. When I added in the question of liposuction (on the outer/inner thigh), he asked me which I prioritized between the two sets, and then went on to say that he would prefer to space them out, both because flank liposuction, when combined with an abdominoplasty, is harder to do well because you're estimating how things will look (since the abdominoplasty hasn't healed up yet), and that really, any additional procedures combined with something so major were upping the risk of infection. I fully appreciated this honesty (and it's smart, too!). He gave me a LOT of detail about both procedures, which was really fascinating to me (I thought hearing about it all was actually very awesome). He also told me a bit about the healing process (he has patients stay overnight in a hotel, he uses drains and standard compression garments, etc). And, since I have some concerns about scarring, he talked to me about Embrace scar therapy and how it works.
After this, Jasmine let me look at her own healed tummy tuck. I saw that she did this with other patients on RealSelf but it was still sort of cool that she did it (but I felt vaguely guilty because I was prodding the tummy of the person who works for the doctor I was essentially interviewing, ya know?). Guilt aside -- seeing how it looked on someone 10 years out was cool. She looks amazing!
I then went to Dr. Beck's office, where he showed me some example patients with body types like my own. He also showed me a drawing of all steps of the procedure and explained to me about how the incision works, how they relocate the belly button, and how they shear off the fat layer between the two fascia above (please let me be remembering this correctly) Scarpa's fascia.
Right. I'm a nerd and I eat this stuff up.
After that, Jasmine showed me some photos of her mom's own procedures (her mom is just stunning). And then I had to run back to see my day -- it was after 4:30.
(As a quick aside: they offer a blood screening that gives information on, I believe, the free radicals in your blood? Antioxidant quality of your food? It's an easy opt-out, and there is no pressure.)
The interminable waiting game...
Now we're doing the waiting thing. I have to get a mammogram before the procedure, which I was planning on doing anyway (as I need to get a baseline done), so I'll be having my first next weekend. I just scheduled to get a haircut two days before the surgery, which seems like really good planning. I'm excited! (And nervous!)
That wasn't so bad!
I had my first mammogram yesterday, which is sort of a funny way to celebrate Valentine's, eh? Last year at my yearly exam they offered me the option to do a baseline, but I was still nursing my youngest at the time, so I declined. This time, I had stopped a few months earlier, so I said I would, and it happened to correspond with my PS's need for a mammogram.
I had always heard that mammogram compression was awful, but not only did it not hurt, I barely found it uncomfortable. The technician asked me if I was there for a baseline and I told her my plans for April, and she asked me (non-judgmentally) if I was planning on implants. I told her no, and she sighed with relief and went on to tell me that implants block around 30% breast tissue from mammogram machines, and then a story about a woman the previous day who had had a biopsy of a lump they only happened to find directly behind her implant because the technician had decided on an additional view. Considering that my friend is currently dying of stage IV metastatic cancer, I can tell you I have no inclination to make any breast cancer harder to find. :/ When she was doing the shots she said I had great tissue to work with so that was encouraging :)
... it turns out that I had an irregularity in my mammogram which required a follow-up. So, I had another, high-resolution mammogram, and the irregularity requires a biopsy. The combination of emailed lab results and Google is a bad one for a person like me, because I read through a couple of studies about the BI-RADS rating I received and now I'm a bit worried.
I sent an email to update the PS's office on the need for the biopsy but not the actual result. I figure that the important update will be the results from the biopsy.
The worst irony is that my friend passed away from Stage IV metastatic cancer which started as breast cancer four years ago on Monday, at 40, with a funeral on Thursday, which overlapped with my mammogram. I knew she wouldn't want me to have skipped and now I have that in the back of my mind as I go forward.
The biopsy hurt.
Hopefully I'll be getting results on the faster side -- by the end of the week, if I have my way.
I got the all-clear, my biopsy was benign! WOO!
Mostly paid up...
I have paid half of the surgeon's fees, as well as the hospital and anesthesiologist fees... my bank account looks woeful.
Today I plan on picking up most of my supplies, hurrah! Target, here I come! I've also loaded the Netflix queue with lots of good stuff. (Considering that I have 23 days to go... lol.)
pre-op appointment: done!
When I first scheduled my pre-op appointment for 3/31, it seemed really far away... I'm surprised it came so quickly!
As usual, everyone at BAAS was incredibly nice and easy to work with. My husband met Dr. Beck, and we sat with him talking about my two procedures. He stated that I would be really happy with the results of the TT after inspecting my stomach again, we talked a bit about my biopsy and how the lift would effect the placement of the marker possibly, and then we talked about my existing medical conditions and medications I take. He wrote me a number of prescriptions, and then I asked him some recovery questions and he talked me through what the day of surgery will be like. Having never been under general anesthesia before, I was amused by our conversation about what some people have said coming out of surgery (predicated by my husband's story about his own anesthesia experience).
We did before pictures and that was it! I was sort of surprised at how fast it was all over! All I have left to prepare is:
- get the required blood tests
- clean off the sofa and set up my rest area
- make sure I have enough boring, bland foods
- get 14g retainers for my piercings :)
- get through the next 19 days
- talk to the anesthesiologist
In the meantime, I'm watching doubledidi's recovery with baited breath -- from what I can tell from RS she was in for her first checkup on the day of my pre-op, I wish I had seen her!
On Monday night I felt that tell-tale throat tickle that you KNOW means you're about to slam head-first into a cold, so I stayed at home on Tuesday night with a kid who was sick, too. I wasn't feeling too badly, so I went in for my pre-surgery blood test, and dropped off my prescriptions: colace, scopolamine patches, valium, cephalexin, and oxycodone. I also picked up some MoM because Dr. Beck said that I should take some with every pain pill, yay?
The next two days are a total loss. I was super sick and pretty much stayed in bed all of Wednesday and Thursday, and somehow made it to work for part of Friday, but I was sweating halfway through the day so I went to pick up the meds. DANG, I normally don't get that many things at once, so ... those went right into my bin of "stuff for surgery!" My husband said that he hasn't seen me that bad for a long time. He and the kids were generally great, but I have to say... watching him deal with the kids in my absence makes me certain that I am not allowed to die during this procedure, because he'll just yell at them until they move out. I guess a mom's patience really is magical. :D
I had a lot of very odd dreams while I was laid up. I feel like I could write a sci-fi novel on many of them... and I also dreamed about my surgery! In my dreams my breasts looked awesome. I'm stoked! Only 8ish days!
pre-surgical interview done!
I had a great conversation with the nurse at the hospital where my surgery will be at as part of the anesthesiology and pre-surgical interview. As I'm still feeling off (ugh), I worked from home, and ran up to the hospital over lunch to get some of the surgical soap that I'll get to scrub down with. She walked me through the entire day-of:
- get there at ridiculous o'clock (7:30am)
- make sure to take lorazepam because I'll want to ;P (I mentioned that I had a prescription as part of the med review and then she said, "Do you want to take one of those on the morning of?" I responded, "CAN I??!?!?! I DO.")
- get into some silly hospital clothes and then go under a warm blanket for vitals
- try not to flip out
- talk to nice people
- get an IV and wake up 6.5 hours later
She asked me what my #1 concern was for the day-of and I responded, without hesitation: NOT DYING.
I also told her that I am super motion sick girl and that they'd better be ready because I don't want to be nauseated and barf on anyone :)
I also gave my husband power of attorney and told her that if he seems a little too eager to pull the plug on me, to remind him that he'd have to be a single dad. :D
Only one more day!
I had my first surgery-related dream last night; I can tell that the anxiety is really starting to build up, ugh! Hopefully we're doing some fun family stuff today that will take my mind off things!
warm and nervous
20 Apr 2015
Day of treatment
Under a warm air blanket, on scopalamine and ativan, feeling pretty nervous. Eep!
I was sooo drugged last night that it's not even funny. I did get up to walk around 7pm, which would have been impossible without the help of the two great nurses here. This surgery center is great -- everyone down to a person has been extremely accommodating and helpful.
I am in a lot of pain. They also give me a catheter, which was a godsend, as I can't imagine having to go to the bathroom a bunch of times right now
Yesterday was definitely the worst, and I can't thank my husband enough for helping out. My ab muscles were killing me yesterday but I've noticed that burping is helping... I guess that's better than farting ;)
I started off having four drains -- two in my breasts and two in the abdomen. They took the breast ones before I left the hospital, which wasn't too bad. Right now the biggest concern is my belly button, which I think might be dying :( I'm going in to have him check in an hour.
I really appreciate all the comments! You guys rock :) It's been hard to look at stuff because my meds are making me so horribly woozy, but I am starting to back off of them now.
My kingdom for a poop
This is probably TMI but who the heck cares :)
I've taken tons of MoM, stool softener, and even a suppository and nada! I can swallow much of anything because it's not draining out if my stomach fast enough. I'm so uncomfy :(
A more substantial review!
Today is the first time I've sat down at a computer, which will make typing this much easier. First off -- HOLY COW. This surgery left me so much more incapacitated than I ever expected, and immensely thankful that Dr. Beck has patients stay overnight at the hospital as opposed to recovering at home, because I think that would have been far too much for my husband to deal with on that first day.
I got to the surgery center bright and early, feeling a bit woozy because of the scopolamine patch, and downed an ativan for good measure. Everyone I spoke with was super kind, and I kept thanking them all for everything. :) Eventually they called me back, had me put my bag down in what was to be my room for the night, and then I disrobed, put on some compressions socks, and waited under the heated blanket for Dr. Beck to come and mark me up. Afterward, I spoke with a very kind anesthesiologist, and then played the "against the clock" game because my husband was stuck in the world's slowest cab, trying to get there before I went in, and I didn't want to go without saying goodbye.
They had me lay down on the surgical table and placed an iv in my elbow crook as opposed to my arm because I have poor hand circulation. They also put those inflaty-socks on my legs, and then I literally made one joke and woke up 6 hours later.
My time at the hospital was spent asking for food or drink, trying to watch a little TV ("Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", but I kept falling asleep), and at one point complaining that I had to pee (my catheter wasn't draining correctly). The nurses and CNAs who worked with me were great, except for one CNA, who would NOT listen to me -- which was particularly frustrating because it was hard for me to talk and catch my breath, and she kept pushing me in ways that made me extremely painful.
The next morning, Dr. Beck came and checked out my incisions and pulled the two drains from my breasts, which is when he noticed that my belly button looked "dusky" and mentioned that he was concerned about it. (He looked at it again on Wednesday and thinks that it might pull through but it's really just a wait-and-see thing.) He told me about my surgery, including the fact that he didn't have to do a vertical incision (which we had talked about) in order to remove my bellybutton piercing, which was good to know. :)
Leaving was hard, partially because, like I said, I couldn't catch my breath, and Pushy CNA kept talking over me when I was trying to describe the fact that some of my clothes were still in a locker and that was where my shirt and shoes were. Getting into my car was AWFUL. And, getting into a med schedule with hubs was hard at first because he wasn't sure what I was supposed to take when, but once we figured all of that out, my main issue was pain and constipation.
So, I've pretty much spent the resulting days sleeping or eating a little (not much until yesterday), talking to my kids when they're home (they are being awesome about giving me space), and sleeping more. There have been a couple of bouts of severe nausea, and the obligatory draining of the drains, but otherwise I've done a lot of nothing and depended heavily on my husband (which is hard).
Two other things that happened...
- Sleeping with my mouth open in the recliner meant that I had mucus I had to cough out, and HOLY HELL WAS THAT THE WORST PAIN EVER. EVER. EEEEVVVVERRRRR.
- The belly numbness is so weird and gross. I hope it gets better because yucky.
post-op appointment #1!
I had my one-week post-op appointment yesterday. I also had a doctor's appointment for one of my kids earlier in the day, so it was my first time behind the wheel, and then walking around in public looking like I'm a 90yo woman who needed a cane. :) It's really bizarre how easily I get exhausted, because I have so little pain now, other than that in my back caused by hunching over.
Anyway! Dr. Beck and his staff were great as usual, and holy cow, I have to say: everything looks amazing for only being a week out. He told me a little about how he did the breast lift -- watching him describe it reminded me of someone making hand pies, lol. He also removed one of my drains and poked my stomach a bit. I seriously am skeeved out by the numbness right now, when someone else is touching my stomach, and I can't wait for it to start to resolve (although I know that may never happen), or at least to get used to it. Yech. I told him that I had been thinking about the Embrace scar therapy and he said he didn't think I'd need it, partially because my scar is so low (it really is quite low) and because it's fairly expensive therapy -- yet more proof that he is the type of doctor who will counsel you to what is best for you, vs what will net him the biggest financial gain. My bellybutton is looking awesome and like it pulled through, which is exciting! Apparently my belly button anchor is WAY to my right from the center, which he said was surprising, and he had to center it as best possible while not disconnecting it.
In general, I feel amazed at how much better I'm doing just a week later, considering how significant the procedure is. I was pretty worn out by the end of the day, which is pitiful because I feel raring to go!, but I'm trying to take things slowly. I slept in my own bed Sunday night and that was great, although I am not sleeping on my stomach. I got a free shower stool from Freecycle in advance of the procedure and I'm still using it , but now I don't need help. :)
Here are the top things I used for this surgery:
- hydrogen peroxide (for the bb)
- shower stool
- Milk of Magnesia
- meal replacement shakes
- a big cup with a lid and straw
- pj bottoms
- a lanyard (for the drains while showering)
- small frozen lunches
I want to post another update pic but I have to figure a way to keep 'em modest :D
I know I'm not showing breasts. I can't help it! I'm not a boob picture poster! :)
things to totally avoid if you've had a tummy tuck
So generally confine yourself to a room without allergens, where you eat and drink everything extremely slowly, and do not talk to anyone amusing, or watch anything funny, or thing anything even remotely humorous, and you'll be okay. Otherwise, you will find yourself screaming things like "OH MY GOD THAT WAS EXCRUCIATING" to an empty house (or at your office if you're at work) at random times throughout the day.
11 days later...
These pics sort of approximate my "befores".
My husband told me today that I look 15 years younger.
Also mentioned that he's not sure how the heck people at work aren't going to notice that I look so different (unless I wear baggy clothing).
I think this has been a success! Woo!
Oh, here's the pic that prompted that comment.
The funny thing about this pic is that I look slightly like a teenage boy trying to feign slackitude because of my posture. :)
ow?! and a belly button question
Last night my youngest had a night tantrum (woke up, flipped out for reasons no one knows, least of all said child, who said this morning that "an earthquake caused it," lol) and kneed me in the incision on my right breast. Now it is aching so much -- and it seemed fine most of the day otherwise. Agh! I've been totally off painkillers but now even the two Tylenol I took are not up to par.
In other news, my belly button is still looking strange. It's very closed on the inside -- is that because of internal swelling, and can I expect it to open up a bit? I'm not overly stressed about it because I know there are always options but I am wondering a bit.
This is my bellybutton this morning after a shower and gentle cleaning with a q-tip. You can see that it's pretty close in on the inside, but in general the color is so much better than it was post-op.
two week checkup!
Saw Dr. Beck tonight and he pulled my final drain, which had been outputting 30ml a day -- I am SO thankful to be rid of that thing! I love the added insurance of having drains but the fact that I constantly, and I do mean CONSTANTLY, got the tubes caught on anything was killing me, because it was super painful to keep yanking on the stitches.
Dr. Beck showed me how to check for fluid build-up and told me that now we start the "most important" part, to make sure that doesn't happen. So, I need to go back in on Thursday to be checked, and he doesn't want me twisting.
I went back to work today but the fact that I can't stand up entirely straight was getting me a lot of pity from people. I am feeling pretty good, though.
I asked him about a second stage garment and he said that some people use Assets by Spanx at Target, and I also asked him about the shape of my bellybutton and we agreed to let it heal for a while longer. He removed all of my tape and then told me that we could start doing bioCorneum, which his assistant then applied -- but she put it on way too thickly and when it wasn't dried 30 min later we removed some and then I left. :)
SO happy to be drain-free, hurrah!
I pulled Spanx on under my binder yesterday for some added support and noticed two things: now that the tape is off, my incisions are MUCH more tender, and they weeped all day into the Spanx. I ended up needing to take an oxycodone for the first time since my operation by the time I got home, I was so sore (and Tylenol was doin' nothing).
bioCorneum TAKES FOREVER TO DRY. How much do you all apply?! Like, the teeniest amount?
review: Maidenform® Self Expressions® Women's Suddenly Skinny! Firm Control Hi-Waist Boyshort
I got a pair of these for $16.99 from Target. They are GREAT! I love that they essentially act as undies, and that I can wear them under the binder makes it easier to tighten it and not have it pull against my skin. The are pretty great in terms of control -- definitely comparable to my Spanx, but since they don't go down my thighs there are two bonuses: 1, they are easier to put on, and 2, you can pull aside the crotch to use the bathroom, so you don't have to entirely remove them every time you pee :)
The price point is good, too. I bought a pair of Assets Women‘s High-Waist Mid-Thigh Super Control Shapers, as well, which I'll try out tomorrow, and I'll compare them -- they run $23 and look more like a traditional pair of Spanx.
talkin' bout boobs
I saw Dr. Beck today to confirm that I had no seroma. I met his wife again, who really is just amazingly nice... it's so good to meet such great people in the world. :)
Anyway, Callygal made the (very very good) point that I was focusing on my tummy tuck in all my post-op updates and giving like, no breast info whatsoever! So, this post is to talk about the ladies :) Like I said in my original post, I breastfed for over 6 years straight between my two kids. I started out a C, then was up to a DDD/E at the height of my breast feeding career, and then leveled out at a 36DD.
The reason that I haven't said much about my breasts post-op is because of the two procedures, this has literally been the easiest part. The post-surgical sports bra that I have is a 36B, although it's tight on me at that, which could either be swelling or because I'm on the cusp between sizes. I'm actually really pleased with the perky shape as well as size of my breasts, which fit my frame well (I didn't have any concerns about size before-hand, just shape generally).
I've had little to no pain for the lift other than after my kid kneed my incision on the right side, which continued to be problematic for a couple of days. The issue with where he kneed me is that this is the same part of the incision that receives a lot of stress when you raise your hands above your head, which I think continued to irritate that area for a couple of days. My nipples never lost sensitivity, although my areola have a different shape now (owing to where they were on my breasts pre-lift vs post-). I feel for the first time in a long time that I could probably go out without a bra, which I think owes to the lack of that area at the bottom of the breast where it rests on your chest :)
I am not sure how much swelling/settling I have to do, and in fact I asked him today if I was swollen, because the shape of everything on my body is so new I don't know what is normal vs swollen. I think it's pretty frickin' amazing that I have had no appreciable swelling to the point where I've gone, "Hm, wow, I'm swollen!" I credit the fact that Dr. Beck doesn't combine lipo procedures with the TT to this in part -- and it's definitely made a difficult procedure's recovery much easier to not have to worry about that as well!
As an FYI, I couldn't get the Spanx on, which is just as well -- I think I'll return them and get another pair of the boy shorts :D
I went out to the mall as part of my mother's day (with my own) and ended up trying on a dress for a cocktail-level event I'm going to on the 29th. Holy crap, I'm down to a size 6 from an 8-10 -- and it looked frickin' amazing on me. I also have lost between 8-10 pounds since before the surgery, which has to be more than just flesh removal because I didn't have THAT much to remove. I'm so happy with how things are progressing!
I am still not gaining a seroma, which is awesome! However, I'm developing a ridge above my belly button, and when I flex my abs you can see there is some unevenness there (they are noticeably more concave on my left). Since I'm just three weeks out, and this has only developed recently, there are a few options -- the suturing of my muscles could have relaxed, I could have swelling (although it's pretty firm), or something else. We're going to keep an eye on it.
ridge update, and removing my own stitches
I wonder slightly if the ridge is actually swelling from irritated ab muscles. Look at it this morning...
Also, I have been having major pain with one side of my incisions under my right breast (so the long incision near my arm) and I looked and noticed that the skin was growing over a stitch, and otherwise totally healed. So, I had my husband pull it with some tweezers and cut it out. SWEET, SWEET RELIEF.
comparison, before and 16 days PO
I made a little grid... since I can't stand up straight the side view looks a little off.
This is from this morning.
The Ridge -- updated
These photos are taken while I slightly flex my abs. You can see the ridge even when I'm not flexing, but when I flex, it becomes more distinct -- if I was to flex hard you'd see a very obvious, further distinct separation.
38 days later!
I had a checkup today and everything is looking awesome! Dr. Beck said that I can stop wearing the abdominal binder, but warned me that I may be sore at the end of the day as a result. He warned me away from underwire bras until I am closer to three months out, but did say that I could go and purchase a different one if I needed to. I must be healing very well, because he often forgets how recently I was operated on. :)
I can tell that things are getting better because I can nearly stand up straight, although it becomes harder as the day goes on, and because I spent this weekend doing some of the most physically exhausting things that I've done in a long time with my kids. Tomorrow I'm going to a formal event where I get to wear a new dress that I got, and I'm super excited to do what is essentially a reveal (well, except that not many people know what happened, ha).
I had to buy a second container of bio corneum because I have nearly run out of the 50 grams I had already. I tried to include photos of my scars in this latest update, you can see that they are healing very well. I have sensation in most of my abdomen, and in entirety of my breasts, but the areas around my abdominal scar in my belly button are still fairly numb.
Overall, I'm feeling very positive about how things are turning out right now.
the ridge update, boobs, party, work
So... the party I wore that dress to was not only super fun, but I looked pretty good, if I do say so myself. ;) For reals, though, I felt pretty awesome, and I didn't have to wear my binder, which was nice -- but I did wear the boyshorts which are now a staple of my wardrobe, and felt pretty sore at the end of the evening. So, even though I am not wearing it as constantly, I am still using The Awful Velcro Binder Thing for support.
I've also changed over from the pretty awful post-surgical bra to sports bras. The issue? It gave my breasts such a frickin' weird shape that it nearly constantly looked like I was sporting headlights. Totally not a great look with the tighter tees that I figure I could be sporting now that I'm all svelte. :) My breasts hurt when they are pushed on, though, which happens when... I hug people (and I can't explain that away since umbilical hernias usually don't affect the boobs), when my kid pokes them (holy crap whyyyyyyyyyyyy), the husband even looks remotely in their direction (apparently he's quite the fan, which is very satisfying considering the "I love you no matter what" pep talk he gave me so I knew that he didn't think I needed this surgery at all).
Yesterday I was looking at my abs when I was flexing and I am now more convinced that the ridge is probably mostly related to swelling. Things seem to be calming down significantly, and things seem flatter, but I will take a pic tomorrow morning so we can verify with real proof!
And finally, did I mention that three people at work today asked me if I lost weight? (One of which sees me nearly every day?) Score! Combined with the constant compliments hubs is giving me about how much younger I look, and how hot he thinks I am, this is really turning out well. :)
This post brought to you by Multitasking While Watching Amy Schumer (and thus wow, totally fragmented and awful).
Sometimes I can't stand...
So most days since around day 38 I've been able to stand entirely upright, but on days like this it's a struggle. i don't know what leads my upper abdomen to sometimes be stiffer and more swollen, but I had to wear my binder on top of my pseudo-Spanx all day, unfortunately, and when I took them off to wash them I had to hunch over for the rest of the night.
In other news: the scar is flattening out nicely! Woo! Dr. Beck is pretty awesome with how amazing these scars look (and everything, really). My breasts are relaxing a bit, which I can mainly tell because of the location of the scars on the underside as I put the bioCorneum on them. (FTR, since I went through a container of that stuff in like 24 days, I won't be buying more when this second container is out -- I think 48-50 days of scar treatment is going to have to suffice, although they recommend three).
The ridge, updated. Blah.
12 Jun 2015
2 months post
I thought that the ridge between my upper and lower abdomen was decreasing, but now it is much worse than it ever has been. Additionally, I've stiffened up and can't stand up straight anymore most days; people who forget that I had abdominal surgery (chalk me up to the people claiming "umbilical hernia") keep asking me if my back is okay.
Attached are pics. I have no idea what's going on.
12 Jun 2015
2 months post
Just in case anyone ever had the need to send me another message like this, stop yourself in advance. Grow up and stop creeping on women on websites. The best part about this is that I talk about my husband repeatedly in this review, I can't even really imagine what would make you think I have any desire to have anything to do with a cretin like yourself.
Swelling is out of control...
14 Jun 2015
2 months post
... But in some ways I can't tell if it's because the lower abdominal swelling is reducing. Ugh.
I feel crazy bloated today, which isn't helping.
Obligatory bikini shot!
14 Jun 2015
2 months post
I got this sit last week, BTW... Yay Target!
Roxicodone, and scar treatment
15 Jun 2015
2 months post
I somehow set weirdly on the sofa over the weekend, and as a result my muscles in my back have been spasming like crazy and very painful, to the point where sometimes I can't even take a deep breath. Today I decided to use one of my leftover roxicodone, and the fact that I am well enough to have eaten a full meal before hand means that I got all the good benefits and none of the nausea. The bad part is that I can understand why people get it take to do these things, because dang, this is like drinking without the calories. My back feels much better, at least.
I am so far into my second container of bio corneum that I decided I would look into getting some scar tape once this runs out. the problem that I have with the bio corneum is that it is way too easy to use too much, and when that happens you can't get it to dry, but using too little makes it feel like you're not putting any on. I don't understand why people like this stuff better than scar tape to begin with, at least you don't have to sit there and reapply it twice a day because it just ... stays stuck to you until it needs to be replaced, at which point you just pull it off. I also saw something on Amazon that is essentially 100% silicone in an applicator that looks like a deodorant applicator. I figured that trying both wouldn't hurt. I do think that my scar would be as flat as it is even if I wasn't using scar treatment, it seems the scar treatment generally affects just the color. At least, in plastic surgery cases.
this post brought to you by roxicodone.
No longer bound!
29 Jun 2015
2 months post
I've stopped, for the most part, wearing the binder I received after surgery... I tried it on a lark one evening because it was hot and I didn't want to wear it, I woke up feeling good, and decided that I would only wear it under duress (like when I was feeling particularly bloated or whatever). So, I've been wearing my support garments (mainly the Maidenform boyshorts) and noticing that a lot of my stiffness is going away.
Attached is a current progress shot. (I'm wearing scar tape over my bottom scar and bb... it doesn't adhere well under my breasts because I tend to connect dampness there from the heat, so I'm saving the biocorneum for there until it runs out.) Having investigated "the ridge" more, I'm starting to believe that, once I'm allowed to do abdominal exercises, that might help... mainly because when I flex those abs I can make a difference. So, it could just be general muscle laxity.
My breasts are relaxing and looking pretty good, woo.
One of the things that Dr. Beck said to me that I keep recalling was that my umbilicus was strange -- it was connected to the right when he did the surgery. I've noticed now that I can tell my abs are also skewed to the right -- it feels like the vertical MR goes to the right as it descends from near my breasts down to my bellybutton. Very interesting, strange, but not terrible, and it doesn't look bad.
I've been using Mepitac silicone tape that I got from Amazon recently. This stuff STICKS, and since it's plastic-backed, it can go on in water much better than the old Neutrogena Scar Solution tape I was using. I am interested in seeing how my scars develop using it -- it's certainly more convenient than bioCorneum (no need to reapply), and the color blends into my skin really well!
Updated ridge/scar pic
11 Jul 2015
3 months post
If you look at my upper abdomen you can definitely see what the problem is here. :/
a particularly bad day
18 Jul 2015
3 months post
I still have days of upper-abdomen stiffness and pain. Not sure if that's standard this fast out or not... but it's also paired with an inability to do things like lift things over my head (like putting my kid on my shoulders). I have an appointment next week, so I'll find out more.
Here is another pic of my buldge. Sigh.
As an aside, I'm still pretty happy otherwise, my breasts look great and my abdomen overall is so much better than it was before! My scars are all healing really well and mostly flat. :) I regret nothing! I just want to know what is going on with this buldge!
3-month checkup, and a chance meeting
21 Jul 2015
3 months post
I've had a major problem with traffic getting to Dr. Beck's office in the past, so this time I left work an hour early and happened to get there with 20 minutes to spare. I saw a woman being photographed in front, and then I saw her again inside his office, and it occurred to me that she was probably one of his facial feminization patients. We ended up talking (I have a habit of talking to strangers) and it turns out that her name is Jessica Lynn, and she told me the story of what happened to her and her family when she decided to transition. It left me in tears, honestly... at one point she apologized for changing my mood but I honestly feel like we need to hear about what happens to people like her, as they work through the government's inability to recognize them as fit parents and functional adults.
She started a non-profit, their website is here: http://www.yourtruegender.org/
As for how the appointment went -- besides the fact that it started with me in tears from Jessica's story, we talked about my breasts, which are looking great! and about whether or not we'll need any scar revision on them in the future (everything looks good other than some raised scarring on the outside of my left side, which also skews larger but not in a way that is bothering me).
Then we focused on my upper abdominals. He's worried that I may have popped stitches, internally, but we can't find any sign of diastasis recti like we could before the surgery, so it seems like the MR may be holding. I'm going to start doing gentle upper abdominal exercises and see how things resolve over the next three months, which is something I'm comfortable with, especially since I can tell that I'm still healing -- for example, I was very, very stiff today, and have had a few moments of actual pain resulting in the need for some of the drugs I had left from surgery. (I opened a box in such a way last weekend that I actually felt an intense, extreme pain, which may have been me injuring myself, on the left side... FROM OPENING A BOX. A BOX.)
Anyway, the fact that he seemed to go with the idea of muscle laxity was fine with me... and I know that we can, of course, look into addressing things if they continue to look questionable in three months. I wish I could ultrasound my abs inside to see what was going on!
4 months later!
15 Aug 2015
4 months post
I'm finally starting to feel less stiff internally, which is awesome. I think it's time to consider a workout regimine, but when I've tried things (like joining my kids' taekwondo class) things are still a bit too rigid to really push myself. However, I do feel really great, and I sized down my jeans from a 10 to a 6! :D
a couple of updates
10 Sep 2015
5 months post
I'll add photos tomorrow, but right now I am in front of my laptop thinking about updating so I figured I might as well :D Generally, I'm feeling good. I'm not wearing any support garments anymore, and I recently decided to try out an underwire bra... which is going well until I get to the end of the day, and then I have excruciating pain under my right breast for hours. Today I even popped a leftover pain pill because HOLY OW.
I have been getting some insistent reminders from my doctor's office about my need for a follow-up mammogram, since it's past the 6 months I was supposed to go until my follow-up. Considering how frickin' painful any pressure on my breasts still is (thank you, children, who think it's hysterical to face-bonk me in the chest), I'm not looking forward to it.
I have been offhandedly considering some lipo for my love handles and thighs still, which were areas I wanted to approach as part of my MMO but didn't because Dr. Beck (wisely) counsels to separate these things for the best results, but I need to think about timing and cost. I'll ask you all for your input when I add photos!
18 Nov 2015
7 months post
I had my 6mo checkup with Dr. Beck and I was waiting to post about it after they send me the before/afters, but they're moving fairly slowly on that, so...
If you go back to when I was making a decision between doctors, you'll recall that Dr. Beck purposefully doesn't link lipo and tummy tucks because it's hard to know how the body will heal from the more major procedure, and it's also easier to heal from one big thing at a time. So, at my 6mo, we looked at some of the areas that are now looking like they could use a little attention -- my flanks and outer thighs.
As I wanted to work on these areas to start, now that I have such high confidence in Dr. Beck's skill, I am signing up for these as a next step. I was also considering doing the inner thigh but am holding off for a couple of reasons:
- He only does 2 lipo sections at one go in-office, a third would require a day's break and then a return visit
- I know that the inner thigh is a delicate area and I'm not as entirely concerned about it; my general shape in clothing is what I'm concerned about
So, that's all very exciting! Although to be honest, part of me is feeling like a plastic surgery addict in that I'm going back for more work. I know it's not really like that, but for someone who never thought she'd do this... it's a big deal to do it again. :)
As for my healing, my TT scar is looking great -- nice and flat, although a little dark. My BL scars are a little more questionable in that they are hypertrophic on both sides under-breast. I'm supposed to have had my follow-up mammogram after the scare from earlier this year by now, but considering how much it hurts to put pressure on my breasts, there's no way in hell I could tolerate a mammogram. I spoke with the office, though, and they're fine generally following the advice to put it off until January (Dr. Beck said a year, this will be 9 months instead).
Hopefully I'll have those pics to post soon!
20 Nov 2015
7 months post
For Kristie, pics of my abdomen!
In my opinion, there ridge was most likely swelling related to my MR. If I actually strengthen those muscles furthet it will also probably make a big difference.
26 Nov 2015
7 months post
I'll be adding before and after photos once I get them all back, but I'm starting a new review for my next procedure:
It's been a year!
As you can see, the results are looking really good. I can feel a certain amount of tightness in my abdomen, as if I have an internal girdle, which is strange but not terrible. I still have some residual numbness around my bellybutton, but it's not uncomfortable, just strange. On my breasts, the scarring underneath is hypertrophic enough that I need to have an 18m appointment just to see if they've flattened, but the scar on my stomach is looking nice!
I have literally 0 regrets. None.
Flexed and relaxed
This shows the difference in my laxity depending on if I engage my abdominal muscles.