In any case! Photos to come! This is just the beginning.
Belt-lipectomy without muscle plication on an athletic male - Boston, MA
I'm a little over a month away from my surgery...
In any case! Photos to come! This is just the beginning.
Three weeks to my surgery
One! The ideal recovery position will be in bed flat and straight as a pencil - this is because of the 360 incision and lack of additional frontal muscular tension.
Two comes back to the idea of being strong ... I've read it in other reviews on here, but! Going the gym, even if it's simply for the month before a TT or 360 lift will help immensely with recovery in that it becomes easier to get up and down and move around.
I'm attaching pictures! I forgot to mention that my PS is also doing an areolar reduction on me in conjunction with the BL.
I'm nervous, but so unbelievably excited to finally have this done - I've been particularly more self-conscious about my body in knowing that there's a set date when my issue is going to be addressed.
I've cut-out salt from my diet, have been hydrating like a mad man and have lost a good 5 pounds in the past couple weeks - I retain water like a mad man, and it's been great to flush my system out. I was told by my other BL friends that they both pushed to lose as much fat as possible before the procedure and think it helped with recovery ... In any case - there isn't much fat to lose in the front, and I think it won't hurt.
I'd love some direction as far as tried and true scar therapies / regimens, etcetera. I want to do all that's possible. As of now I was thinking silicone sheets and either a silicone gel or Mederma. Any advice is always welcome!!! Thanks to the sweet and thoughtful comment with the pre-op checklist! AMAZING!
18 days out!
I'm also nervous about ensuring I'm completely hair free for my procedure. My PS wants me to use a depilatory cream to ensure I'm smooth as a baby. I'm a very hairy guy and actually trimmed my body today as a pre-prep for the big event. I have tons of time but wanted to be a better peak at what my PS will be looking at in the pre-op marking session / on the table. It's amazing how much more defined one looks after removing all body hair. It's gotten me much more excited about the results ...
Two more days! 12/01 is the date
I still have to use a depilatory cream on my body, which I'll do on Sunday night / Monday morning to ensure my skin isn't irritated on Tuesday morning.
I absolutely love my PS - I had some questions that I emailed to his assistant - he called me to answer the personally. I really feel at such ease with him and feel like I'm with a true pro.
I did some digging into EMBRACE scar therapy ... If anyone can chime in about anything they've heard -
Let me know ... My PS was hesitant about it ... They're silicone sheets that have a sheering force to them before they're applied which allows them to remove tension from the incision line ... However - my PS is hesitant to use them as too much of a sheering force can cause blistering ... I'm going to call the people at EST and see if there's an MD on PS I could ask about their trials, etc. I'm not going to go behind my PS's back - but I do feel that his hesitation stems from it being such a new product with only good (and probably curated in that manner) reviews ... My PS's scars already look great - so I'm not worried - just want to do all I can - it is nearly 2016 after all!
Wow! Something just hit me ... Exactly a year ago, I couldn't have dreamed that by the end of 2015 I'd have a new body ... I'm have MY body ... The body I was meant to have all along.
Off to the surgery center!
3 hours post-op!
Honestly ... To anyone who's worried ... It's really not that bad ... Totally manageable ... I've never had a period but can't imagine it's much worse than that. ;-)
I've gotten up to use the actual restroom twice now (very slowly) - I first peed into a urinal ... A catheter would have been annoying, but would have made life a little easier. I last took my Oxy at 10:30p so it should be wearing off around now and ... Well, luckily I'm not really in any pain. The incision / drain sites are sore (obviously).
I've eaten a bunch! I'm so impressed with my anesthesiologist. I had a disastrous lipo experience where I didn't wake up for nearly 6 hours and had to have my lungs aspirated ... I didn't eat for a week and felt like death. I've had three "Muscle Milks" over the course of the past 12 hours, a BIG bag of GF chocolate covered pretzels, and two chocolate pudding cups.
I'm pretty bored in recovery and have been sleeping on and off. My nurse here is THE BEST. We spent a fair but chatting and she's been SO attentive. Bless her. Seriously. That is someone who is truly compassionate and does her job well. She's made this all much easier.
Now! My main worry going in ... It DOES feel like I putting pressure on my rear stitches ... When I get up and down I worry a bout busting stitches ... I asked my PS and he said - "it would take a truly Herculean feat to bust your stitches." Sooooooo ... That put me at ease. I think that's the main source of any anxiety. The pain is tolerable when it's bad - it's the psychological worry of the stitches that's bothersome.
A little before 6am
The pain came back around 5:20am (7 hours after the last dost) it's not unbearable and not awful but ... Is unnecessary ... It stings a little bit - sort of like a duller version of what it feels like to put alcohol onto a cut.
To those of you who are scared or worried about the pain, or the procedure ... The truth is, despite not having seen my incision or body yet, ever since waking-up from the procedure, have felt so unbelievably happy and proud of myself for what I've accomplished and THEN! having the bravery to go ahead and have this done FOR ME. That joy outweighs any dull stinging.
It's been over 24 hours since I woke up to head over to the surgery center and I honestly didn't think the first day would fly by.
My family is picking me up a little over an hour from now, by which time the Oxy will have kicked-in. I'm mostly worried about this car ride back (getting in and out, but fingers crossed I'll be okay with 3 people helping along the way). AHHH.
I tried sitting in our recliner - wasn't really happy with it ... I changed to my bed with a foam wedge beneath my upper body and pillows under my knees. Watching TV in the background and keeping hydrated / moving around every couple hours.
REALself 2:00am ... Evening #2
The main reason I was in less pain at the clinic was that my PS used a longer lasting local anesthetic before closure - this was fantastic of him, and maybe gave me the expectation that the worst was over. I still maintain that I'm happy and have 0 regrets. I'm in pain, but ... Completely manegable. My only hesitation for keeping with the Oxy is constipation, but I've been taking Colace - and honestly, I've been passing gas and hear rumblings - so I'm not too worried about a BM happening ... Probably because I've been having protein shakes and sources of fiber.
Otherwise - I have a system of getting in and out of bed - I take little walks every 2 hours (I avoid stairs because I simply don't want that added risk) - and am looking forward to getting better soon! I know those days are nearby.
Shower tomorrow (probably in the evening). I understand what one of the forum members meant when he said - scary pain - in the sense that he worried about it not ending ... I get it ... And I'd hate to do this all for the next two days ... But! Truth is ... It's all not that bad.
I AM very anxious to see my body - literally, anxious - I'd rather not yet! Haha, however - I need to shower in order to keep my drain-sites clean. I took a peek from the top of my binder and could, somewhat, glimpse my new little belly button.
I will say the back of my neck is hurting a ton. A ton a ton. Maybe an airplane pillow would fix that problem - but I think the "damage" was at the clinic ... A lot of straining and leading myself up from my neck. They're sore. Very sore
One more thing ... I've been having stressful dreams ... Mostly about taking off my binder and finding that my body is saggier than before or deformed. I then wake myself up and realize it's all a dream. You don't have to be Freud to interpret my dream - however - it's happened a couple times now and thought it was worth mentioning.
Oh! I've also been listening to bi-aural relaxation and healing tracks with my headphones on. It's really helped my sleeping and calming. There was a woman at the clinic with me who was having a very rough recover - VERY - I felt awful and am still worried about her. Moaning loudly all night, vomiting ... Crying ... She had a tummy tuck from what I could surmise - different PS. Having my soundproof headphones helped me tune her out and stay positive / peaceful. One's mindset going into a major operation like this / the healing process is so important. I'm not VERY new-age and hippie dippie, however, I do believe in the power of our minds over our bodies.
My Oxy is kicking in again which means it's bed time again. The routine is. Take my Oxy, get up and walk-around, pee, get back in bed, apply ice by which time the Oxy starts to take effect ... Sleep for 2 hours ... Get up and pee ... Come back and ice and sleep for another 1.5 hours and repeat. Colace 3 times a day these first couple days. Antibiotics every ... I don't remember 6 or 8 hours ... And arnica every 4-5 hours (because, why not ...)
In review - last night was rough - my drains are clotting so googled how to properly strip them - any advice is welcomed ...
I don't like being "high" on Oxy all day, but it's necessary at this point.
I had no muscular repair and was at 8% body fat going into the procedure and am still having a rough time. It's bearable ... But not easy. I couldn't do this without my support system ... The people who do this alone go through a much bigger ordeal - as witness on this forum - it's not uncommon - but, *I* couldn't have done it. A true hats off to those who do it on their own.
Day 4 - BMs - shower
Big step - my first (and dreaded) shower. If there's one thing I've learned - all the things I've been dreading have been nowhere as difficult or awful as I had anticipated.
-I measured and tied a theraband around my neck - length was to my pubic area
-pinned my drains to it
-layed down and had help removing my binder
-had help sitting up and waiting a moment before
-placed theraband around neck
-lowered my undies and
Took a not-too-hot and not-too-long shower. I felt fine simply using water - maybe I should have used my baby shampoo, but I'm fine ... I just needed to make sure I wasn't getting too crusty.
I had help drying off ... Particularly between my legs and my back. My fiancé helped - I'm lucky. It might be worth biting the bullet and hiring help with your first shower if you're alone. I overheard the nurse at the clinic say their rate was, on average, $50 an hour. It would be worth spending $100 on some piece of mind / some TLC at this point if you're alone ...
Now ... The moment I've been waiting for my entire life. The moment I've been waiting for since I was a chubby 4 year old ... I'm not going to post a picture because I was more focused on getting through my first shower ... Photos to come soon.
I'm SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY. I'm so, gosh-darn, ridiculously happy. I'm so happy with myself that I waited as long as I did to have my BL done by a surgeon who I knew was "the one." The scar is circumferential, but gorgeously places and, the truth is, it was 0.0000000001% traumatizing to see the scar. I have been having fever-dreams / opium-fueled hallucinations of undoing my binder and being horrified that I was still deformed, or that the surgery was a distaster ... They were quite convincing. I'm happy to say, my life is changed for the best. I'm beyond happy ... I'm truly ecstatic.
Woke up feeling pretty good
I've been challenging myself more and more ... In a couple hours I'll be at the start of day 5! Amazing how time flies. I've realized everyone heals differently - some people are fine to go back to work at day 6 ... I'm still hesitant to sit in a chair ... However, I'm walking farther in the house - don't need help getting in and out of bed (don't have any more pain doing so), can change my sweatpants / boxers on my own. Small victories.
I've been weaning myself off of Oxy - I took two before bed to help with sleep - they're wearing off, I just took two Tylenol ES. My BMs still aren't great. I've been taking Colace like a fiend - I took Sena early yesterday evening and one more just now. A fellow RSer suggested LBS. I've been going - but - I can tell I'm quite bloated.
My drains are really not producing that much output - I'm honestly to freaking scared to strip them because the last time I did one of them backed-up into my abdominen and had me welping / screaming for a while. The tubes aren't full of clots, so I think I'm okay ...
My Friday range was 11cc-20cc.
Thursday was 26cc-36cc.
Wednesday was 32cc-40cc.
I hope I'm not making a mistake ... At this rate, from what I've read, my PS could probably take them all out on my follow-up next Wednesday ... We'll see. I may end up stripping them in the AM for safe measure ... I'll have to take a double Oxy dose beforehand if so ...
So! I took my first shower ... Does this mean I can now shower every day? Should I ease into things? Showering was an ordeal - I'd rather wait another day, I think ...
My binder is starting to get itchy and the main source of pain I'm having is a my scar on my hip bone - gorgeously placed - but would putting a piece of sterile gauze between it and my binder do harm? Will the dry gauze stick to my incision? Hmm.
Otherwise - I'm still in disbelief about it all. I'm so happy and so proud of myself ... My butt looks cute as ever, and my chest is slowly starting to look back to normal but with smaller areolae. Yipeeee
Woke-up again in pain
I also need to wash my garment / no dryer - only a hair dryer I was told ... How long would you guys have yours off to wash them? I snapped a couple photos while I was readjusting my garment:
Later in the day - day 4/5
My BMs aren't normal yet. I'm going ... But I know I'm bloated.
My output on my drains has been lower than 30cc a day for the past two days ... I'm PRAYING these drains can come out on my follow-up this Wed. The fluid is more and more yellow. Yay.
I've been keeping my protein intake up - taking it easy and resting. My ADD has gone away and I've been able to focus on actually reading / watching TV.
My family is noting that I'm walking with more ease. I had an easier procedure and to those who said they made it back to work by day 6 ... Wow. How? Small meal and antibiotic time now!
I think I'm going to take a shower tonight and ask my mother to wash my binder. I've said it over and over again - a true "hats-off" to those who got through this alone.
I had weaned myself off of Percocet but have needed to take it regularly again. I just took two - it's been days since I've taken two during the daytime.
I HAVE been more active, though ... Walking around the house more, joining my family in the kitchen for dinner ... My drain output is going down. I'm walking with more ease. Showering every other day (by myself yesterday). I'm still afraid of busting a stitch whenever I get in and out of bed, but, then again, that was my huge concern before even having the surgery done.
I have my post-op tomorrow.
My binder feels very tight - it's as tight as it's ever been but my ribs feel quite sore from the compression. Really sore.
Also, my left nipple has started to get little zaps of sharp, sharp pain. They're quite sporadic, but alarming because I had had ZERO pain in them until yesterday.
I upped my caloric intake yesterday in case I wasn't eating enough to assist my body in recovery (i.e. Really forcing myself to eat more / adding an extra bowl of oatmeal, protein powder, PB, and blueberries to my regimen.
Emptying the drains has become a part of life - it doesn't gross me out / nauseate me like it did the first couple days. The fluid went from an opaque red, to a more dilute red, to a translucent red, to a clear distinction in the tube of yellow fluid and translucent red.
I'm still swollen and bloated. I have to use suppositories to get things going despite taking stool softeners, MiraLax, etcetera. I have a feeling that taking MiraLax on day one or so wouldn't have actually been as bad as an idea as my nurse had made it out to be ... It's what a lot of people on here recommended to get things going from day 1.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow to ask my PS how mobile I'm allowed to be, whether there's an alternative binder I could wear, whether there's a muscle relaxant I can take for my back pain, and how strong the wound is at this point.
To those who say they returned to work one week post-op ... Incredible ... I thought I'd be a little farther along by now given the fact that I had no muscular repair. I'll keep you guys updated with how I'm feeling on two Percocet and whether that does the trick. I have a feeling that a muscle relaxant would be more helpful with the back pain.
I'd like to add - to those who may be hesitant about this all - I still feel that is worth it %100. The thought that it might not because of the recovery has literally not crossed my mind. Not at all. The discomfort is a part of the process ... Thinking about how I'm going to feel in a month when I can go out and try on and buy whatever I want, and not having my skin obfuscate my result at the gym makes me absolutely giddy. It's simply a part of my journey. In the meantime, I think I need to revert to my day 3 mantra. More pain pills and laxatives until I'm farther along in my healing ... I wouldn't have any pain if I weren't so worried about my Percocet stopping me up. Oh well ... More MiraLax it is!
9 days later! The day after my "one week" post-op visit!
I had weaned myself off of Percocet but had to start taking it again. I was sleeping terribly because I was waking up with (what felt like) a very inflamed incision. My binder was really squeezing my ribs and hurting. The Percocet helps, but really makes my BMs not so great. I had some incredibly generous help from a fellow RealSelf-er who sent me out a bottle of a tried and true laxative along with a very sweet note. This community has made this experience SO much easier. I recommend anyone who may be planning on having a procedure to start chronicling the adventure.
So! Sleepless nights and my drains were really starting to irritate me. I was continually icing - and trying to sleep and finally found a NEW sleeping position that I'm still using. I'll describe it here and will try to take a picture. The truth is - my most sore spot is right above my sacrum - where my back lift incision comes together as a V. The incision looks fine I've been told, but it's sore.
I'm sleeping on a foam wedge with a very soft pillow behind my neck - and then a medium pillow right under my butt at the base of the wedge - which I sometimes shift right under my butt, and then two pillows under my knees / legs. It's what works for me at this point and, truth is, everyone is different! Better to have options.
My new piece of advice ... Buy plenty of ice packs - the squishy gel type or the "peas" type - the clear packs with the cooling beads in the them. We have two gel packs at home that I've been using on back and using an ice "bag" on my front side ... The gels don't last too long and the bags don't work as well / you can't put them behind your back and they leak ... I've been through three now. I asked my mom to return the bag we bought and exchange it for two new gel packs. Use a gel pack on the front and one on your back and keep the others in the freezer - then swap them out when they're done. SO WORTH IT. Heck, buy 6! I'm at a week post op and still icing.
Let me be clear - I don't want to pain a picture that I'm in bed all day struggling to get past my pain. I'm pretty mobile at this point. Joining my family for meals, walking around the house, watching TV / playing board games in other parts of the house. The pain happens when I've been sitting / lying down for a while ... In the middle of the night / the morning.
I wouldn't want to be back at work this point - I, mentally, wouldn't be ready to back at this point.
Big news! Yesterday was my one-week (and a day) post-op! Wahoo! My PS said my incisions looks great, and was happily surprised by how well I had taken care of my drain sites ... I had taken 3-4 showers up until that point (If you have one with a detachable / handheld shower head - that'll help a lot) which helped keep those ports free of crusted blood!) That morning and the evening before my drains were outputting between 3.5-7cc of fluid PER DRAIN, so a total of around 40-45cc total ... I had read that's drains would be pulled then the number dropped to 25-40cc but didn't realize that was a per drain number, not a total fluid number! Wahoo! Therefor! I had all of my drains removed. ALL!
Let me say this ... Did it hurt ... Not exactly ... Was it painless ... No ... Was it painful ... Not exactly. It's just ... Weird. The front drains are very quick and simple - no fuss. It's the rear drains ... You literally feel the tube make its way around your flanks from your back. Take two pain killers before going as I did ... It took the edge off of things. I expected it to be painful ... It really wasn't ... Just weird. Almost like being tickled from the inside - but not pleasurably. Ha.
The truth is ... Everyone says it ... You'll feel much more back to normal once the drains are gone. It was an instant transformation. I'm so much better. I'm a little sore from having them removed (I think) and my body is adjusting to doing some extra work to drain the fluid ... But, I'm moving around much more easily, using the bathroom isn't as difficult, not having to measure out the drainage fluid makes me feel like a normal person again and I'm much more mobile. It's easier to move around / less painful without the drains in place.
I'm happy happy! One step closer!
So, in review: take your painkillers whenever needed (don't be a hero), be VERY proactive with bowel meds, ICE ICE ICE, ask for a muscle relaxant from day one (whether or not you have muscle repair), take it easy and your drains will come out sooner than later!
Day 10 was my magic number
Well - I'm at home and they're delivering. So here's some information:
Shirts before surgery: M / L
1-2 weeks after: Wearing an L / XL for bagginess
Shirts before: L
1-2 weeks after: XL-XXL
Jeans before: 34
1-2 weeks after: My stretchy 34s JUST button. 36 / 38.
Sweatpants before: L
1-2 weeks after: XL
My jeans barely buttoned - I put on a button-up ... It was baggy to begin with, but just looked so unflattering. I don't have access to my full closest, so options / layer options were limited. I sat down at home to slip on some shoes - pretty uncomfortable to sit down in those jeans with my binder ... I bailed. Had it been a different restaurant, I would have put sweatpants on (and my family insisted), but I wouldn't have felt like pulling off that look tonight.
The truth is ... I could have ... But ... I looked so fat in my clothes. I hated it. I know I'm swollen, I know it'll go down ... But ... I hate that I went to that old "fat-boy" body place in my head when I saw myself in the mirror. I don't want to call this my PO depression ... But ... I just want to fast forward through this swelling. At least a little bit ...
Today is the day after my 180-degree day. I woke up with a little more soreness ... My drain-sites sting. I took a shower. I checked myself out for a good 10 minutes in the mirror.
There's some slight rippling in the back - very normal at this point - I know it'll relax over the course of the next months, but ... It's still scary ... Some of my incision looks amazing ... Really thin ... No red even ... Wild ... Other parts look like just it did on day one ... Some parts are pink.
No Percocet since my 180 day except to help sleep. He prescribed me Ambien but I'm worried about sleepwalking / hurting myself in my sleep.
Dinner time ... Update later!
12 days post - first outting
Bad night of sleep - tried sleeping without my wedge. I felt too much tension on my incision and kept myself up - switched to my wedge again ... I really want to be able to sleep on my stomach / side again. I tried laying on my side and was able to but felt tension right on my hip bone / right behind.
My back muscles are so darn sore. I'm so swollen. I'm going stir-crazy. I haven't been to gym in 12 days (which is the longest I've ever gone ...), I haven't had any caffein in a month now (well, I had two diet cokes at lunch today ...) and used to have A TON of caffein between my pre-workout supplement and diet soda ... Now that I'm off of Percocet entirely - it's just not as satisfying to lie in bed all day watching TV. It was fine for those first 10 days because is be sleeping on and off all day and when I was awake, everything was a big blur. Now, I feel every tug on my incision ... which doesn't hurt - but gets my mind going ... Am I going to cause it to rip open? Am I widening my scar? What if my internal sutures dissolve at that very moment and the tissue didn't hold? These are my thoughts ... They're not always or necessarily rational, but ... There you go!
So! We went out to have lunch - it was nice to not at home. We then walked around and shopped - it's only been a couple hours and I'm DONE. I'm ready to go home and LIE DOWN or something.
I received a new binder today ... An Amazon purchase. It's the Dale brand binder. Thinner than my PS's binder so not as supportive while sitting - but - it was nice to wash my other one and let it reaaaaaally dry out. I had been so worried about having it off for too long so it never got completely dry before putting it on again (they're tumble-dry only).
On the way home now with more arnica and quest bars. Yum.
I'm on Tylenol XS as needed with Bromelain and Arnica. I'm going to take Benedry tonight to help sleep.
Part of my writing on here is (1) theraputic ... I guess that's pretty self-explanatory ... (2) I want to give back to community that prepped me for what to expect with my surgery. I really wasn't able to find any reviews by men (let alone close to my age) who didn't have muscle plication other than one of another RealSelfer who had his done only a couple weeks ahead of me. I was so thankful to have his words, but, it's not YET the glamorous post swelling OMG-IT-WAS-SO-WORTH-IT-LOOK-AT-MY-ABS review. I have no doubt that is to come, but, I'm surrounded by so much ... recovery ... It's this limbo.
I don't mean to scare anyone off with my words. Everyone heals differently. I expected to bounce back more quickly. That doesn't mean I'm bedridden, ringing a bell for water, and peeing into a chamber pot. I'm writing what is my truth.
I want people going into such a procedure to view my experience this as an outsider and learn from my mistakes.
I know I'm repeating myself ... Indulge me.
Get a good sleeping pill so you don't have to relly on opiates to cushion your sleep.
My PS never gave me that muscle relaxant I requested during my post op ... However, he had a point - I was much better after the drains came out - however, that first week would have been much easier with them, and even now - I wish I had them - back sleeping wouldn't be so bad.
Were my BMs awful that first week ... What BMs? Learn from my mistake and don't mix-up Milk of Magnesia for MiraLax. I took MiraLax on day 4 thinking it would do the trick. Nope. Another RSer recommended a pill "LBS" ... Amazing. Take it from day one.
Don't even try to put on your presurgery clothing on day 11. Don't. You're swollen - not fat again. But, as I believe 99.9% of people having this surgery were significantly heavier at some point, it's not good for the brain or soul. You'll feel weird looking at yourself in something a couple sizes bigger. But ... It'll pass.
Simply plan on wearing something baggier - no shame - you're recovering. If you can do it, wear sweatpants and sweaters.
I'm glad I bought an elevated toilet seat, but I really only needed it for the first 4 days. The elevation makes it nice and easy to sit down and get up for a taller guy like me - but - that much elevation puts your body out of optimal evacuation positioning. I used a small step-stool beneath my feet to get into a more comfortable position.
In regards to feeling ... Restless ... Blue ... Simply put ... I'm stir crazy, but, that's mostly because I'm a very ACTIVE guy. Not only do I spend an hour lifting at my gym, I probably spend another hour a day stretching, doing cardio, etcetera - and then spend most of my day between school / work and then seeing my friends ... Cooking at my place ... Going thrifting ... Going to museums ... Hiking ... Exploring ... Traveling. Almost every day. So! To go from that sort of a lifestyle to being in bed watching Game of Thrones all day ... Yeah. I'm itching to get back to normal. Yeah, I'm feeling a little locked-up. But, I'm ecstatic. I wouldn't call it depression. Again. It's a limbo.
To those who may be questioning whether or not to have the surgery ... Only do it if it's what you really want and need. If you can live without it, and still be happy and comfortable in your own skin ... Why?
For me - I couldn't continue living with my extra skin. It was paralyzing. It occupied 99% of my thoughts. I couldn't have non-terrifying social encounters because of the anxiety it caused me. I had cried myself to sleep almost every night for the past 4 years, plus.
It all stemmed from a place where I knew the people around saw a handsome and fit guy ... But I felt like a liar ... A pretender. So, to their surprise, when I'd turn down invitations to go to the beach, or pool parties, or birthday parties, or OBSESS over my outfits and appearance, they didn't get "it."
This surgery was my liberation. I'm so thankful for it and well, it's what keeps me happy throughout this long recovery process.
I took two Benadryl last night and slept through the night without any disturbance! Yahoo! I had also been a little itchy the past couple days - as I had read in other reviews - the Benadryl helped. Two birds!
I handwashed and then machine washed my original binder yesterday and wore my new Dale one while the other was hang-drying. I don't recommend the Dale in early stages of recovery. I needed something sturdier and the Dale left me feeling that it wasn't doing its job if I weren't lying down or standing ... Sit and it'll bunch up.
Up until 5 minutes ago, I had gone 24 hours without any pain killers. I'm still taking Bromelain and Arnica - which - who knows if they're helping ... No harm done!
I woke up around 11, made myself some protein pancakes (the batter was waiting for me) ... It was nice to make my own meal!
I spent a couple hours watching TV, spent some time playing piano, worked on a budding hobby of mine, and then after a late lunch / early dinner went to the mall with my fiancé. This was my biggest outting to date. The shopping center I went to yesterday was a lot smaller - this is a moderately sized mall. It was good. I was in my sweats and a bigger jacket and a baseball cap to feel slightly more incognito. I'm not 100% and despite feeling SO MUCH better still walk with a slight affect because of the binder. I didn't mind ... I went to a couple stores, spent some time at Brookstone where I enjoyed a calf / leg massage ... Which reminded me of the leg circulation cuffs they put on me in the hospital ... Those were amazing and it was a nice feeling. I sat in a massage chair and tried isolating just my shoulders but go a little worried when the rollers starting to inch down my back - I hit the stop button quite quickly. No harm done. I'm no physician - however - I do want to say that the shoulder wrap type neck messager I used on myself was AMAZING ... A couple weeks of recovery and you're going to feel like you need a good massage / chiropractic appointment (at least for your neck and shoulders if you're anything like me). I'm seriously considering going back and buying it ... Which brings me to a point I'm noticing ...
This surgery is really going to require me to adjust my posture in general. Because of my loose skin, I tended to have a swayback (jutting my booty out) in order to stretch out and minimize the roll above my belly button ... This wasn't conscious. When I stood in front of a mirror and corrected that swayback and stood with better posture by belly button was entirely covered by loose skin ... My point is ... I'm really looking forward to all the ways this surgery is helping me ... Psychologically, and physiologically. I think it's going to really help alleviate my lower back issues!
I spent two hours walking around the mall and that was IT for me. I'm making strides! The issue isn't my incisional tissue - it's my back muscles - it's totally fine and not really a problem - but I need to baby-step it.
I've been eating awfully - lots of celebratory eating over the past couple days - amazing Thai one night, Chinese the next, and pizza yesterday afternoon. Today marked the first day of my really getting back on the ball. With the amount of energy that my body is using to heal itself right now, I'm not worried about binging - but - being as active as I was beforehand, I need to be conscious of my caloric intake. %20 over one's BMR is what I keep seeing and hearing ...
I'm about to take a shower - yay! I've been showering every other day ... Does anyone have any input on how often they showered post-op? Is daily showering too much? I'm still using baby shampoo as directed in my pre/post-op instructions and wasn't sure if there's a point where I should switch to something else.
I'm also still on the fence about using EMBRACE. My PS is looking into it and I have an untouched box in my closet with a two month's supply of it ... I wouldn't mind saving the $1,200 - but - I'm willing to do anything to get this scar looking as thin / good as possible.
Oh! And ... I just asked my fiancé to remove the booster from our toilet seat! Slowly but surely feeling completely back to normal. Oh! And I got word from the host of our Christmas dinner (small but sweet gathering at a family friend) that I'm allowed to wear my sweatpants if need-be. ???? Too sweet! That made my night. I imagine I'll be able to fit into those jeans I could button (but weren't too comfy) 10 days from now ... But ... Then again ... Sweatpants are COMFY!
Day five of going out!
The glue on my incision is continuing to slowly fall off, piece by piece. Most of it is off of the back, but it's nearly all intact in the front. I'm quite happy with how the scar looks where the glue has come off. I honestly thought I'd have external sutures! It wasn't until my post-op visit that I truly realized that it's all internal suturing with glue on the outside. Amazing.
My swelling has gone down - I tried on those pants again ... Same issue ... They buttoned, however, I still have license to wear my sweatpants ... So ... ;-)
I'm going to try to take things easily tomorrow - I have a small errand to run, but don't plan on another big shopping / errand running day. It's never been strenuous, and I've been careful, but, I'm pretty tired! I DO still wonder how much of the fatigue is because of my continued caffeine withdrawal. I'm telling you, I would literally drink the equivalent of a two liter of diet soda a day, PLUS an energy drink, PLUS two scoops of a pre-workout supplement which, in total, has as much caffeine as 8 cups of coffee. I'm pretty darn sure my heart and body are thanking me ...
So! Three week post-op visit next Tuesday ... 4 days away. I'm going to ask my PS about EMBRACE again. I called EMBRACE's customer service ... They're quite awesome. I asked and received answers to every question I had:
Q1: Will trimming body hair be enough ... Is laser hair removal actually necessary?
A1: Trimming as close as possible without shaving is optimal. Nothing to irritate the skin before applying EMBRACE. I have LHR done on my shoulders and back which requires that I shave the area first ... So, I'd have to shave the area, then have it zapped and wait a couple days ... But ... The truth is ... LHR is painful as hell ... I realize it would only be one session - possibly two total - and a $200 additional cost. I guess I'm spending $1,200 on EMBRACE anyways, so I may as well do all I can in my power to maximize the results ... However, my concern is having a laser targeted that close to my new incision. It makes me nervous. If my PS were wielding the laser ... Different story.
Q2: You can see this question in my profile history ... Can the sheering force applied by the EMBRACE product cause puckering / blistering in a tight incision?
A2: The sheering force - no. The silicone itself ... Yes, in people with a sensitivity to silicone products.
Q3: How difficult is it for an non EMBRACE trained person (i.e. my significant other) to apply the product and what help can they provide if while applying this $150 an application product disaster strikes ...
A3: They sent me an email filled with tips and tricks - other than what's published on the website / pamphlets, and also said that they'd be absolutely happy to have a FaceTime / Skype session with me / my SO to discuss application / help with the application over video call.
Needless to say ... I'm impressed. I'm also still unsure of how my body hair will affect the product ... The person I spoke with said it shouldn't be an issue ... But ... Let us review ... $1,200 I wasn't really planning on spending up until a week before my surgery.
Who knows! My PS may simply be thrilled with how fair and impressive my scarring is, and is going to simply tell me to save my money. I may just do that. I really do trust that man with my life. If he thinks silicone tape / re-taping the scar is going to be enough ... (Do they ever reglue the scar? Hmm ...) then I'll probably do just that. My only pause cause from how active I am - I'm worried about stretching the scar out. Then again ... I have a fairly easier schedule the first couple months of 2016. I'll have to behave at the gym, but ... $1,200 is a significant amount of money. I've discussed having filler injected into my upper lip / around my mouth to address some wrinkling / lax skin from my weight loss ... That will probably run me around $500 ... I'd rather put my money towards that if my scar is going to good on its own ...
Oh! And I also ordered Bio-Corneum to apply to my areolae ... I may also apply it to the spots on my incision where the glue has fallen off.
I'm attaching a couple updates pictures. I hate taking pictures, and apologize for the delay in doing so.
Also: I've said this in my previous review: my reviews are entirely types on my iPhone - forgive any spelling / typing errors.
Things have pretty much remained constant since my last update. Sleep hasn't been great - but that's because I refuse to take Ambien - it's not from pain, but from the awkwardness of sleeping on my back and the worry of putting too much pressure / tension on my sides. The truth is - I learned this today in my post-op visit with my doctor - is not going to harm me at this point. I will feel tension and pressure, but that will be the case for the next couple months.
The glue is starting to slowly come off my incision. I occasionally get a very quick sharp pain somewhere under my binder - most of the time it's an ingrown hair not even close to my incision. I'd say this happens once every two days. It's nothing I actually worry about but after such a procedure one tends to notice every little thing that goes on.
I had a little protrusion on my left side - I initially thought it was glue and then assumed it was a dissolvable suture / staple. We're talking 2mm of a fingernail clipping ... My PS removed it today in 2 seconds and told me to keep it clean as to prevent a suture abscess. Done and done. He said I may have another present itself in the middle of back because he could feel it was close to the surface and may not dissolve before then. Eek. I have my fiancé to help me keep an eye on it - my PS said it was normal, and nothing to worry about.
I can now use whatever body wash I want - I'm going to move away from baby shampoo at this point - maybe the remaining glue will actually come off now! Ha! He said it's all well healed and that I have nothing to worry about.
He said that one week from today I can stop wearing my binder and start going to the gym. I ordered the pair of shorts / tummy spanks that were recommended to me by mlan85 and will switch to them a week from today. I hope to god the size small is right ... I used their sizing chart and should be between a small and a medium ... I sized down.
I went out in non-sweats a couple days ago - I wore my stretchy jeans - looped a rubber band through the button hole and double wrapped it around the button to make them stretchy. Haha. I wore a looser fitting button down. I felt good and comfy.
My scar looks good - it's thickest on my sides and is quite thin in the front. Once I'm free / clear of all glue I'll start using Embrace. I'm going to possibly wait on the side that had the exposed stitch / simply not cover that 2mm ... My doctor said he doesn't say anything to make him think I'll have any hypertrophic scarring - so my only reason for using Embrace would be to stop the widening of my scar. I've chatted with a couple people now who've used Embrace and are a year + out ... They all recommended it. The only hassle is going to be shaving. Otherwise. I can't wait to feel like I'm offloading some tension. Maybe then I won't be as much of a spaz as I currently am about all my movements.
I'm so happy I had this done. I'm still in disbelief. It's such a weird thing for me really - in that, I look in the mirror and rather than break down in tears of joy it's more like "Thank God, this is what I'm supposed to look like." It SO had to happen. If you're considering this procedure, have the resources to do it, and the scar is your only hesitation ... Living with a little pink line that's going to turn white in a year FAR OUTWEIGHS the burden I carried with my loose skin.
Oh! BTW! I bought and applied BioCorneum ... Don't apply it to any areas with any surgical glue on it ... Even if it's little flakes. I THINK it reactivated the glue to an extent which is why it's not coming off in the spots. I applied the BC everywhere, then gauze, the my binder and went to bed ... When I undressed to shower - the places that had some glue residue were suck to my gauze despite being bone dry for weeks ... They're still tacky. The other areas were great and smooth.
What can I say? Things have been uneventful - hence my "radio silence."
I tried running for the first time today and could only handle 40 seconds before my entire midsection starting tingling very uncomfortably. It's probably the sensation of things being inervated again - but it's weird.
I've been lifting 4 times a week - it take a BIG effort to get to the gym.
A couple days before the one month mark, a suture surfaced on my side and has left me with a significantly widened scar there. My PS snipped it and I the. kept it covered with damn gauze and it healed up ... For a week, and then it resurfaced ... I tugged on it to snip it my self and the entire knot came out ... It was actually a relief ... No more irritation and it closed up by the next evening.
Otherwise - the difference in swelling from morning to evening is significant. My back especially gets quite swollen. I was quite slim from the get-go, so there's no change in clothes sizing. I'm so so so happy I had it done. It seems like it was ages ago. The pain's entirely forgotten. My scar looks good - minus the widened area from the spit suture. I messaged my PS and am going to plan a scar revision. Parts of the scar are nearly invisible. The back and sides gets the most movement and are slightly wider than the front ... But all in all ... Worth the trade off.
10 month mark - depressed / distraught - planning revision
It's been a while, huh?
I'm sitting around home, in tears, because I'm really feeling conflicted about my surgery. 10 months have passed. Looking that those pictures from a couple weeks post-op I realize my body has come a long way since, however I'm really not happy with how my scar has healed.
My front looks great. My scar is wider than it was those first weeks / months even .... but I no longer have that rippled / deformed skin. The issue lies on my side where I have a huge wider scar, and my back side where my scar is quite irregular and there is still unevenness in the fat above and below the scar.
I saw my PS in March and he said we should do a revision of the widened section on my side and when I asked about why my lower back looked puffy, he said it was residual fat that needed to be liposuctioned. Well, it turns out that if I want the scar revised and the liposuction done I'll have to pay close to $5,000 - nearly $2,500 for his fee and $2,500 for the room and other fees. I feel numb. I feel heartbroken. I'm at home crying my face off because I'm still struggling with my appearance, after everything I've been through ... after saving ever penny I've had for the past four years, here I am, still embarrassed and worried about my body ... now it's the unevenness in my back and wide scar ... I don't have that kind of money and assumed the revision would be complimentary (I was ready to pay the facility fee ...)
Part of me wonders if I made the wrong decision in doing this surgery ... sometimes I wonder if I should have simply lived with loose skin. Part of me wonders why that fat (back and flanks) wasn't addressed in my original surgery. Part of me worries that I'm going to once again end up with saggy love handles / a saggy backside if I go forward with the lipo.
I'm waiting for my PS to call me and answer my questions, but in the meantime I'm having a very hard time finding the strength to go forward with my life. I haven't felt this sad in a very long time.
10 month update - part two
This is making me question if I made a mistake in working-out so "hard" this past year ... Maybe I shouldn't have pushed it - maybe I shouldn't have done anything or do any movements that could stretch out my scar ... that being said ... that would also mean not lying down the fetal position ... and not sprawling across my sofa with my side stretched out ... There's simply no way to maintain that "razor thin" scar you get coming out of the OR. I tried Embrace ... my pictures are all post-Embrace ... I can't imagine what I would have looked like without it. Now I'm asking myself ...
Do I take out a loan / do whatever is necessary to pay for this revision ... Do I need to spend another $1,000 for two months of Embrace to cover my entire waist?? Do I need to consider spending $2,000 for four months of embrace??
Well, if I'm not having the front touched up the figure might be closer to $600 for two months and $1,200 for four months ... $1,800 for six months, but I won't lie ... Embrace doesn't come without its issues ... I have some discoloration above my scar on the back that occurred because of some horrible blistering I had because of using Embrace. I had plenty of issues with Embrace and I'm starting to really wonder if perhaps that's the price to pay for having a thinner scar.
Perhaps I should consider getting the lipo and the significantly widened portions of my scar touched-up and consider getting a circumferential tattoo over my scar. Nothing crazy - perhaps something simple ... then again ... it's times like this where I break down into tears and simply wish I were born with the body I dream of. Then again, I'd be a completely different person - my journey has played a big part of the person I am today and I wouldn't be me ...
Dr. Darrow is truly exceptional. I feel like I won the plastic surgery lottery in finding him. Not only is he incredibly talented, intelligent, honest and clear, but he's incredibly comforting in a very genuine and assured way. All my expectations are truly exceeded and the quality of my life has already drastically improved. My choice to have cosmetic surgery was a monumental one for me, and one which took years of hard work, saving money, and finding the right time and resources to make happen. The results are truly life-changing. I'm so happy that whenever I look at my body, for the rest of my days, I'll think fondly about Dr. Darrow, his assistant Helen, and the nurses at the Boston Center. I couldn't have dreamed of more.