Hey, let's face it. We all want to have a "hot...
Hey, let's face it. We all want to have a "hot bod". It's true, I'll admit it. I hate on others a little bit when I see them prancing around in what I assume to be a bikini, with a perfectly oiled and tanned belly, yup, I am confessing. But here's the thing. At 45 and with all I have suffered through. Taking on a more significant procedure only because I want to measure myself against this impossible image society keeps shoving in our faces......ahhhhhhhh Skip Please..................... .
Look there is nothing wrong with just doing the essentials and being very happy with that and not take the extra pressure. At 45 I am not trying to be seen on the beach like I was 20 years ago. But moreso, I made this decision based on my overall health. I want to be happy, healthy, and confident. But not at the cost of risking things unnecessarily. And no I am not slamming people having a tummy tuck. Its an amazing dramatic surgery. Lots of Wow factor.
I also am not in the financial position to fork over $8000 for something that is not going to do a whole lot for me. When you've had a huge flappy hunk of skin in the way, that being gone is transforming itself. You're not losing by only having only a panni. So if you are feeling cheated...STOP. It's cool and you are going to look stunning.
I Decided to have the panni and bi-lateral thigh tuck. Medicare paid for both. Yes, they really did. I took some planning on my part. Taking pictures of infection sites. Getting into my primary for documentation. Even when they were minor skin rashes, and even got into a dermatology specialist and that seemed to really do the trick. Getting to a higher level of skin medical treatment was seen with more intensive importance. I made sure to get copies of pharmacy print outs. That showed all the months of prescriptions were filled with creams, ointments, oral medications etc. It really helped. For other who had gastric bypass surgeries, you know that our thighs rub, get raw, and rash up during even mild exersize. Be sure to take photos and express that at visits. I had to ask my Drs to notate all discussion with specifics. And because my inner thighs would get boils especially during the summer, I requested a different medication for that area. That was the factor that got my thigh surgery. ANd for those taking notes. Get to know your PS biller. They can give awesome tips too. I listened to mine and it was a huge help. Through her I called Medicare and learned that although they had approved the thigh lift and panniculectomy, if I added a procedure I was paying for, that they did not approve, none of it would get covered. SO it was either wait on surgery until I could pay for all of it, just to get the TT, or realize the panni and thigh tuck really were going to give me enough of that "hot bod". The final factor was my health. As having had a major spinal fusion and being disabed with spinal compression. TT keep you bent over for quite a while and my spinal neurosurgeon was concerned for that generating a flare up that result i intensive rehab all over again.
Well that's a ton of info.
I will be coming back to update for sure.
Panniculectomy pictures 4 days Post op
Hi there. It really helped me to see the photos of other people's surgery incisions. So I am uploading some. I won't sugar coat it. It's gonna hurt. It will burn as the pain meds wear off and it will feel numb. A bothersome thing for me is my skin is very hypersensitive. I have to really pad them well to tolerate the edges of the binder pressing on my hip to hip incision.
A few tips that helped me:
-I padded my recliner chair with a big folded memory foam pad. It let me comfortably sink into chair and tolerate how things felt.
-A walker to assist me in transitioning. You will still need someone to help at first, but it is a best friend in those first 3 days. Trying to lower myself to the toilet was impossible.
-A grabber, for all those bothersome things you drop. Bending over hurts to much and I am avoiding it.
-Pee standing up for a few days. It gets better. For me, my thigh lift made this part hell.
-Buy lots of extra incision bandage supplies. You will appreciate the little areas that poke and stick out. Some padding helps.
-For a thigh lift you really need short night gowns. For a panni you can manage with pants, but they need to be roomy and elastic waist.
-Buy some broth ahead of time. I had both chicken and beef and was so glad I did in fact have them starting out.
-Ask you Dr to give you your pain med script so it can be waiting for you at home.
-Warm fuzzy socks
-Swelling prep, its gonna be worse than you think. Our bodies are amazing. But don't worry, you will see it decrease every day.
-Big tip here. I never suffered any constipation. Mirlax is your friend. My son has GI disease. Constipation is a real problem for him. Putting him in the hospital many times. We finally beat that cycle using Mirlax in specific ways. I tried it and it worked.
==Take one cap full of Mirlax in 4-6 ounces of your favorite drink with each pain medication dose. Be faithful with this. Drink plenty inbetween and you will see the necessary results. No worry about getting loose stools, it will balance. I took 3 solutions day before surgery and ate very light. I had a bowel movement just before leaving for hospital. I am still constipation free . It really makes things more comfortable.
-Wet wipes for the bathroom
- Get some very smooth silky tanks to go under the binder. You will thank me later
-Lots of pillows and a soft throw to melt into for comfort.
-Make sure to have underwear that edges are very soft and not elastic edged. No line panties are softer.
-Take the 12 things I wish I knew tips to heart. And they are right...no comedy...
-Hand sanitizer everywhere, especially if you have school ages children. Getting a GI bug from your kids school would suck. Get everyone to clean up before hugs for the first few days especially.
I am sure I am forgetting things, but those will help for sure. I did buy some bathing cloths pre-packages. Mine could be warmed in the microwave and were a nice refresher. Walmart sells some and they worked great.
Forgive the typos...pain meds are wonderful for pain, bad for typing
Panniculectomy - 14 days Post Op
Checking in to update everyone on my 2nd post of visit. But before I get into that. There is something important to discuss.....BELLY BUTTONS. For some reason while searching this site, over and over again there are mixed messages as to what happens with our belly button during a panniculectomy. Many report having lost theirs altogether, while others state theirs was lowered to such a degree it was nearly in the pubic space. Even more confusing is the fact people have posted questions to Drs and the responses have been inconsistent and down right misguiding. So for the record here is how it goes!!
Standard, you will indeed lose your belly button in the process of your panniculectomy, or it may move downward significantly. Where the confusion comes from is that there are a select few Drs who will take the time to pull a belly button back through, or use alternate incision style to leave it untouched. But the most common practice is for it to come off with all the excessive kin and fat. Keep in mind, every patient presents differently and there can be something unique in you anatomy or size of pannis that creates circumstances that dictate action one way or the other. Be very blunt and straightforward when speaking to your surgeon and make sure you understand the method he/she will use and if you will have a belly button or not, and where it will be placed. This is important, because the level of shock and trauma that can occur when you wake up to suddenly have no belly button can be intense. Even with advance knowledge there is a period of loss as one tries to resolve what is seen in the mirror—celebrating a smaller, less hindered self, against a abdomen that appears alien to some extent.
Onto my 2nd post op visit-
It went fairly good. I got both abdominal drains out. It was wonderful to be free of at least a few of the drains. My hip to hip incision is healing well. Dr was not ready to pull out any stitches, staples or surgical mesh. Deciding to wait another week until he felt secure. Next week all of that comes out along with the one in my thighs.
Onto part two....I have a belly button. Yup, I do. I was told I would not have one. The nurses that assisted him said they were stunned. According to even his claim specialist, he has done that very rarely. Why? He just didn't want me to wake up with another thing to be disfigured with. My scarring from accidents is extensive. He took some mercy on me and I am grateful. I have 2 special needs boys that take alot out of me. I do it alone with no family and no friends as I am sitting bed side in the hospital with my boys alot. I guess it was a Christmas gift. I am humbled and know I am very lucky. So the pictures I post are ones that show me with a glorious belly button.
I am wearing my binder less and can switch to a Spanx type garment. The swelling is still quite bad but improving and if you bend over alot it gets worse fast. So do what you can to avoid that .
I am wiped out. Took my 1st shower which was awesome, but it did take alot out of me. As always, feel free to ask questions. I will do all I can to answer. Supporting eachother is important.
Happy Healing to all!!!!
Belly Button Quick thought
Just an after thought. I received a message, no surprise about belly buttons again. I think the only way to be sure is to ask YOUR surgeon. There are so many factors, that you will drive yourself nuts looking at picks wanting to know. And because people post in wrong areas, or have additional things done during surgery it just gets to be a big mess.
Ask your Dr, and be comforted that you are in control of your body. My personal thought is that not leaving the belly button intact is a lazy short cut. But that is an unfair assumption practically speaking. I just don't see the need to leave people in such an unnatural state when you have the ability to do things correctly. Again, I have not heard a reasonable explanation from a plastic surgeon for this. It concerns me.
Bu still, do not worry, nothing can happen without your permission. Just ask and inform PS what you want. Certainly enough people have B B after a panniculectomy that it is a discussion worth having.
Hope this helps ease the fears...YOU are in control.
Day 20 post of
This is my 3rd time writing this same update. For some reason the page keeps shutting down just as I am finishing. So sorry this will be much shorter as a result.
I am post op 20 days. It has been both slow and fast at times during recovery. Overall I feel good. Pain is manageable and the swelling still quite bad. I have noticed that activity can increase swelling alot, especially bending over. I find I still need my grabber most of the time to pick things up. Carrying anything heavy, even the 5lbs hurts. At times reaching up or twisting causes hot zinners to shoot through my abdomen. But I don't need any pain killers for it. I am still sleeping in my recliner but about to try the bed. Getting up is still a bit hard.
My incision looks pretty good and I am very happy will my results. I am so glad I did this. I feel blessed to have this done and be more comfortable with how my body works. I still need to do a breast lift with implants and some lipo, but I a very happy.
I posted updated pictures from today.
Thigh Lift Photos
Several people have asked if I am adding my thigh lift photos. I got to admit, I really didn't think of it. I had posted my thigh lift journey under that treatment specifically because I wanted to be sure people researching thigh lift could find it. There is so little information about those and it's hard to get the complete story. So sorry, it just didn't sink in that would feel like a gap here.
So here are all the photos I have posted on that posting string. Happy to answer questions. And I have to be blunt...thigh lift hurt way more than the panniculectomy and continues too. That part of my recovery is brutal and its a challenge everyday. But the results are great so far, even with the pain.
I apologize, I do not have the best before photos. I literally forgot to take current photos before surgery morning, being a complete nervous wreck. Believe it or not I had to do all the house shopping 3 hours before surgery arrival time because my check auto deposit was not available until 5AM that morning. It was a mad blur to get as much done as possible. The only photos I have are from about 10 months before surgery and my panni flop actually hang past the worst part of my thighs. It never crossed my mind to lift that and then click a photo. Duh.
Hope this helps. For the best description of all the events and each photo you may want to skip over to that specific procedure under my profile. But hopefully this makes things easier for everyone. Please ask as many questions as you want. I a pretty open. And insurance did pay for my thigh lift. Under this criteria
- unnatural, restrictive walking gait impeding normal spinal movement secondary to excess thigh skin and fat (specialty criteria not customary to patient population)
-primary and secondary skin infections present for period greater than a continuous 6 week period
-unresponsive skin infections of greater than 3 continuous months
-Hidradenitis suppurativa present for greater than 12 months
(multiple abscesses in groin/pubic area. This is a slam dunk diagnosis if it can be documented. Getting a dermatologist to do that is the only way..and it is not fun to have. Proba ly most have at one time or another. Going for authorization during an active phase is vital. Oh and this skin infection is difficult to treat with antibiotics and so treatment requires a surgical procedure to remove the involved sweat glands in order to stop the skin inflammation and removing excess skin and fat is required to prevent future infections. Hey get educated so you know what and how to drive conversations with your doctors. When you do that Drs are more likely to refer educated patients)
-Staphylococcus aureus resulting in carbunculosis despite aggressive treatment (reoccuring boils with chills and fever)
-stenosis secondary to chronic inability to reach normal spinal position from weight of excess skin and fat pulling on critical areas (something like that. This will also be used to qualify breast surgery. Working on that) (condition not typical to patient population and I had to do it through my spinal neurosurgeon. My spinal cord injuries are extensive but serious back issues can truly be used if worded right by your doctors)
Well I hope that helps. Lots of info. Not sure if I spelled everything right, I tried. Some of the chronic infections happened on and off for years even before my gastric bypass 10 years ago. I didn't realize how important it was to go to Dr every time. So when I wanted to do these surgeries I had to start over essentially. My primary was not even will to initiate the referral until the infections started again. As soon as they did I got into a dermatologist who took over and he drove the need from there. Him plus my spinal neurosurgeon handled the rest and in the end my PCP did not need to do anything but say I was healthy enough for surgery. He was surprised I was approved. He's an older Dr and had not had any patient manage approval. He was not up to speed on criteria and thought it had to be years. When it only has to be 6 weeks to 6 months depending on situation. Some of my boils with fever and chills moved things along. And fever did NOT have to be present at every appointment. Reporting fever and chills, especially over weekends when I could not get into Dr was documented and helped. ANd let me say this, these work for your panni too. A dematologist is more receptive and understanding of skin problems. They want skin perfect where a primary Dr is more concerned with your heart health as example.
Forgive typos...I am not a great typist or speller at 6AM, not sure when this will actually go,live
Honest Talk About the Appearance of Pubic Areas Following Panniculectomy
Post-Op Day 27 - My status, sore, swollen, still need binder for comfort, sleeping in bed now, belly button painful for some reason, pubic area very swollen near thighs and abdominal incisions. Still have lots of scabs slowly dropping off-eeewwwww, sharp pains shot through my abdomen if doing too much. Overall okay to day, very easily wiped out.......AND very happy with results so far.
Here's the blunt truth. Many of us needing to have a panniculectomy, have not seen our pubic area without a mirror or some very talented contortion movements, lifting the panni flop or laying down. I remember during pregnancy not being able to see my feet the last 6 weeks. It was literally that type of experience for me, until I had this surgery. It was one of those things I no longer thought about. I had become accustomed to lifting up the skin to clean, attend to monthly cycle needs and maintain pubic hair growth. Forgetting that need was not normal. In fact one of the main criteria for insurance to cover surgery is that the skin has to hang past the pubic area.
So after my surgery, drying off from my first shower I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It suddenly hit me that I was seeing my pubic area without the aid of antics. I saw myself mouth the words...I have a vagina after all ! Not only that, but also that the size and length of my vulva was a bit shocking to me. Yup, I said it. I would apologize for the graphic visual description, but mentioning this is important. Seriously, I had forgotten what I looked like when that private area was exposed. And that is just it. I felt more exposed than before—weird. I am sure someone out there reading this can relate. I can only guess that a person's romantic partner would also be in for a surprise. But think about it. We have become used to so many adjustments we are out of touch with the level of accomidations made for our left over obesity issues. So looking in the mirror, basically having that switch turn on in my head...it hit me.......how different my body really is now.
So to those who are yet to have your surgery, give this part some thought. It may be at the forefront of your mind already. I was far from it. Blame it on being single since my divorce, the pressure of being single parent of 2 special needs kids, or all the other stresses I am facing. I did have specific things I was excited for, but the pratical ones that came as default were not an intentional thought at all. I just had not anticipated unhindred veiw of my pubic are striking me so profoundly. I think it was also more dramatic for me because I had a thigh lift as well which means I can see between my thighs for once. I just didn't see this one coming. But I want to mention this to create a conversation. With yourself, your Dr, or your partner that is intimate with you. How your intimate anatomy will look following surgery. You may be surprised once the "goods" are uncovered. It's worth having that discussion ahead of time.
For me specifically, I came to realize that my vulva is larger than I remembered and for whatever reason I felt shocked. Such an odd reaction to what I now see. I had to pause a moment and process how I felt about this new appearance, and what would be involved with surgically adjusting that. Yes they do have specific procedures for that. My point is, it would be a shame for a spouse to be suddenly critical of their partner, positive or negative. And what other things would be a surprise along the way. Intercourse-different, hugs feel different (my youngest son tend to hug my waist and commented on it felt different to him), there are some others changes yet to spring forward. I even had to work through how I will trim and care for things.
But honestly, I do apologize if this discussion made you uncomfortable. I truly believe being open helps us make more informed decisions and help us be better assess what we are wanting to do. I want to validate how others I am sure must be feeling, wondering if something is wrong with them to be concerned or awkward...or any other number of emotions.
If you post comments or questions, let's just keep it respectful. I want people to feel okay being vunerable and that is pretty hard when it comes to these subject.
What things have you notice about your body now? Are you happy? Surprised about? As I often say...I am here to support your journey and answer questions about my own. Hey I learn form people here. This would be impossible without the community support here.
31 Days Post Op Panniculectomy and Thigh Lift
Can't believe it. It's been a solid month already. 31 days, 4 weeks, tons of tears and frustrations....but way more cheers.
What I can tell you is that when people say recovery is a emotional roller coaster...they are right! Over all I have been doing okay. The 1st 2 weeks it was all about surviving the pain and figuring out how to move my body with 4 drains. Then it was the staples and peeling surgical tape combined with swelling. Now it is just frustration with how swelling comes and goes, and makes it hard to assess how you feel about your body. But even with all that....there are so many wonderful new curves and less unwanted ones...I am happy.
Day 31.....my greatest foe right now is seromas. Most people have family and friends to help out during recovery. I have no one. I literally had to hire someone to bring me home from the hospital. I didn't even know I was supposed to have been inpatient for 2 days until 20 minutes before they rolled me into the OR. Having been told by Drs office I would be going home at or around 3PM, I only had a sitter till 4PM and a person from a home health aid to be with me until 8PM that night. Needless to say the recovery has been really rough. I have 2 special needs boys, and I have repeated that to the point some may be sick of hearing it. But if you are a parent of a special child like that you know how demanding it is. It was a mini miracle to pull off the surgery at all. I am disabled and was blessed to find a surgeon who was willing to work with my Medicare and not charge me upfront. I was blessed to put away just enough money for 3 days of home health aid (insurance would not cover that sadly). But past that, even with drains in, I had to carry on and do way more than what is safe to really. My Dad, who is 78 years old and 1500 miles away, was worried and helped me get a few more days of care, but that all the help I had. And my Dad is all the family I have. He is too far away and even if he was here, he is not able to step in with my boys at all. I spend too much time at the hospital and Drs office with my boys to have made personal friends, those die hard gal pals...which I really really miss in my life. The kids father is a very unhealthy dangerous person emotionally and physically so he is not around. His family have no intention on being supportive, so it's just us three. Sacrifice is all I know. In fact, I had been sleeping on the floor on a foam pad for 3 years up until the 26th of December when Easter Seals NC surprised me and had a bed delivered. My boys case manager found out I was on the floor and couldn't imagine me on the floor recovering. So there is another incredible thing. So believe me when I tell you, to have accomplished this surgery at all was a complicated, brave and foolish thing to get done. But I wanted to reclaim just a little bit of me. So far, these 2 procedures have done that. I really didn't care anymore that I had to get very sick to have any hope of insurance coverage, or that Drs were fearful because the complications from old injuries from a spinal cord trauma had piled up, or that I was supposed to have done 4 other surgeries 2 years ago and made things worse not being able to do any of them. None of that mattered once I got the word this was possible and I was not waiting for it to disappear even if it meant a wickedly painful recovery. It was worth it.......every painful tear.....worth it ! Just to get even a little bit of me back.....20 years of an abusive marriage.........losing myself in abuse...I needed some of me back. AND I GOT IT. Whoever says it's a superficial thing and shallow to need plastic surgery to feel good is an idiot. There are dozens of reasons to make these procedures life saving, physically and emotionally. I got a bit of both.
Opps, okay where was I. Geeze....common girl....31 day post op update.....
Okay. I am doing alright. My biggest complaint is the swelling and pain with the seromas I am fighting. I get weak really fast and the pain is usually when I am doing far too much...which is all the time. But really, I feel as though I am doing better than expected all things considered. All 4 drains are gone, 30 staples pulled out, umbilical stitches were taken out and some of the internal ones are now pushing out as they should. The incisions are beginning the long process of flattening. I have not started using any lotions or creams. Just don't have the money to invest in extras. I still wear my abdominal compression as much as I can tolerate. It is starting to fall apart. 2nd phase compression garments run $100 and I can't afford those. I wear a extra firm shapeware at Drs suggestion when I take the binder off. My thighs are a big problem. No compression garment, wrap or legging seems to work. Mainly because of the seromas I have and the way it is shaped. But I do wear a very tight ace bandage around the seroma itself and that helps with the pain. I am back to wearing my AFOs which are for my chronic ankle swelling and weakness as a result of my spinal cord injury. They happen to help prevent my lower legs from swelling right now which is a bonus.
I am frustrated with the left side in general. All my swelling issues are on that side. Most of my pain is on that side. I notice that if I do too much bending the abdominal swelling gets really bad fast. And it does not resolve as quickly as it was. I am positive it is from doing to much. Things like shopping and cleaning up are the worst.
Moving on...so far this post reads depressing. On to the awesome stuff. Even with swelling I have literally shed tears looking at a silhouette I had thought was gone forever. Funny how it also makes you crave more as you can finally see the promise of a body you dream of getting back and even better at that. Having missed out on life for 20 years, gaining any of that positiveness back would be life infusing. But seeing a belly that no longer drags a huge flap of fat and skin is transforming. I want to cherish and protect this investment and treat my body well. Or at least as best I can with the demands I face. I do not regret a single thing! I would do it again.
I will post a numbered list later that is compact and to the point. Today I just wanted to share where all the jumble of feelings and thoughts are. And they may not all make sense. It would take writing a book to share the depth of my life's challenges and what I have had to overcome alone... but sharing just a portion feels right. So many storied in the background here. So many things to celebrate in one another.
I posted updated pictures. I included some with the seromas highlighted. My Dr is monitoring them so don't worry for me. I will let you know if something foreboding comes up. My next appt is Thursday. I am anxious to get my left thigh under control though. It is becoming more painful and problematic. So far however, he has been supportive and reminds me to be patient. Thankfully no new infections have popped up so I am keeping fingers crossed a solution will be found this week........other than needing to rest which simply is not an option for me. My boys will be admitted to hospital Monday or Tuesday, and that is not going to give me any rest. The pictures may help others wondering what seromas can look like.
I'll answer whatever questions I can, as I constantly say. Hopefully my next posting will be a bit more focused. I am far from that right now. Thank you for your patience and interest. It means allot.
Pictures posted include thigh lift . Several requested I post them here as well. Full thigh lift review is under thigh lift treatment area.