I was always a chunky kid, but when I was 13 I...
I was always a chunky kid, but when I was 13 I suffered a major injury that left me depressed and unable to walk for most of a year--when I was 14, I stepped on a scale and realized I'd hit 205 lbs. Thereafter I threw myself into sports and committed myself to my diet. By the time I was 17, I was 5'10" and 139 lbs. Since then I've fluctuated between 145 and 160 but have been approx. 150 for the last several years of my life. I'm pretty happy with that; however, the weight loss in my childhood left me with a "butt in front" as I call it. I never talk about it. I never show it to ANYONE. I almost never even look at it myself. That's sad. I wish I could get in the shower without averting my eyes from the mirror!
I've been planning to have this surgery since I was 17. I finally decided to stop putting it off (under the guise of waiting until I was in the same shape I was in when I had hopes of being a professional athlete--now I have a desk job but I do yoga and play soccer) and just do it.
Pre-op: I found I was completely terrified (despite repeatedly telling myself how illogical that was) and was REALLY glad my mother was there, even though the doctor said I really didn't need her. Everything in my apartment is prepared. Pillows set up on bed for legs up and seated position. Tons of bottled water, low sodium home-made soup is ready, lots of high fiber foods, tylenol, cenecot (stool softener), sodium free crackers, and fruit.
Post-op day of treatment (28th): I woke up in the surgical center and immediately stated that the incision burned. The doctor came in and said the nurse had made my compression garment too tight, gave me a pain killer, and I fell back asleep for a short while. My mom took me home and I slept fitfully the rest of the day (waking up every two hours). I took oxycodone once the surgical pain killer stopped working.
Post op day 1 (29th): I felt okay and was REALLY glad my mother was there to help me. I didn't rely on my muscles at all to lay down or get up (my mother put me in and pulled m out of bed) and even then the incision site burned. I took 800 mg Ibuprofin every 6 hours. I took the prescribed oxycodone every 4 hours. The pain was fine. I woke up every two hours and was awake for the day starting at 9am. Began to suspect this was side effect of oxy. I made myself walk around the apartment for a couple minutes every two hours. I was out of breath doing so. I was concerned that the compression garment didn't go low enough to cover the incision. I saw that the incision was flat and pretty straight (maybe 6-7 inches) and VERY low like I'd asked; however, one side was decidedly puffy and dog-ear esque. My legs and hips are ENORMOUS!! They are bruised and puffy and my back swelling has made my butt look squished and horrible. Feel pretty bad about that (logically know this is probably going to go away). I look fat.
Post op day 2 (30th): exactly like day 1 except my sister arrived to help my mom and she helped me shower. Showering and removing the garment was pretty darn painful and very weird. I needed to sit in the shower as I was exhausted and shaking. I passed out a bit on my sister when I got out of the shower--decided this was the result largely of the oxy. Decided to stop taking oxy. Replaced oxy with 50 mg Tramadol (a much less powerful painkiller and one with less severe side effects). After 4-8 hours, began feeling more like myself. Saw my scar in full for the first time. Saw that now both edges (1/4 of an inch on either side) were puffy on either side. Definitely concerned about this. Googled it incessantly. Apparently this goes away for many people--that being said, about 20% of people later require a revision. I really hope that's not me. I look very fat right now!! My body just looks so freaking odd!! Hips are gigantic and wired with bruises. Ass looks tiny. My abdomen looks curved (like theoretically one would want, but I have always been very rectangular and athletic looking so it's odd). My arms have always had this extra layer of fat that people tend to mistake for overly built arms. Now that they're all thin (which is obviously what I wanted and basically the only outcome I'm happy with already) they look so weak! That's so odd to me. I never voluntarily lift with my arms because they get gigantic (I was a D-1 athlete--I know!); now I'm going to have to lift to make my arms look like I'm not a weakling!
Post op day 3 (1st): My sister left but my mom decided to stay to make sure I was able to get myself in and out of bed. I slept last night on the couch which was WAY BETTER!! Staying put here for sure. Today was the first day I managed that. Swelling remained pretty intense if not more so today but had decidedly more energy and independence. I massaged my hips and legs where bruising and swelling is to try to get it to go away. Obviously my back is starting to kill me. This happens to everyone. We are bent over walking a bit (though I really can walk straight at this point--I'm just a little afraid to) and laying on our backs all day! Ice is a god send.
Post op day 4 (2nd) : I felt pretty darn good waking up this morning! Felt more like myself for the first time today. Swelling magically almost gone in hips and legs. Decided I could walk to the starbucks (located in my building) today. Mom went home. I wish she could have stayed! I cut out all painkillers (excepting ibuprofin) last night because I cannot go to the bathroom (#2)!! Starting to feel nauseated with the need to go. Still feeling very weird about the shape of my body even though swelling is down in legs. I look curvy... I don't know how to feel about that--like I have alien body. I'm generally all hips and ribs! I have giant bones and my waist never dipped in in between. At least not from the front (it does from the profile when I'm on the lower range of my normal weight). I don't know that any of my clothes are going to fit normally any longer. I loved looking athletic. That's who I was. I am still 5'10" and I have big shoulders, so I assume I probably still will, but this will be an adjustment.
Post op day 5 (3rd): Worst day thus far. So incredibly swollen. Finally had a bowel movement this morning after taking a laxative last night (along with my 10th dose of stool softener). I crashed after this and din't wake up for 10 hours (during which period I didn't even take any ibuprofin!!). Woke up felling awful awful. Took ibuproin and 25 mg tramadol. Felt pretty good by evening. Took a walk around half the block a couple times. Have showered every day since first day my sister helped me. It really makes me feel better when I'm feeling awful. Ice ice ice.
Post op day 6 (4th): Today was a much better day. I took a couple doses of 25 mg tramadol and was glad I did. I don't feel plugged up and the slight painkiller really helps. Absolutely did not miss my ibuprofin doses. I continue to ice and feel it really helps my back. I also walked a decent amount. I was wandering around in the apartment and standing and walking around the building for almost an hour today. The incision did not burn today.
Post op day 7 (4th): Happy fourth all! I'm sitting up (Yes, up!) and doing working today. I think I may have exhausted the entirety of all netflix episodes of hgtv shows. I feel less swollen but that could just be the feeling (or the fact that I've been walking a couple blocks over the day). The incision still looks the same even though I feel less swollen :/. I know that everyone says that the incision will flatten out and I shouldn't decide that I have dog ears until 3 months or so, and I totally trust my doctor and believe she's awesome, but what I don't know is if even awesome doctors sometimes create dog ears when doing this procedure. I know that my tummy was a little off center and wonky, and it stretched out a ton when I was laying down, so maybe she was off by half an inch overall? I don't know. Feeling like I should resolve myself to getting a revision. Okay, now I'm up to date and will, from hereon out, post daily updates in separate posts. Ice and walk all!!
Post Op Day 7 (5th): Swell hell / water retention
Sorry for the confusion re the first post on what day post op I am. Apparently I split days into two... I'm not really sure which ones.
I am so flabby in the middle today--water is just being retained everywhere!! I'm not sure what to do about it. My legs every day look thinner which is good as I keep thinking they're back to normal and I need to work on them, but then each subsequent morning they look a little thinner. The compression garment is making me lumpy (probably made worse by some of the underwear I've been wearing below it), but I look flabbier (if flatter) than I did before, which I won't believe is permanent--just touching my sides hurts so she clearly liposuctioned me thoroughly and I'm sure I just have to wait. I haven't had a bowel movement again since day 5 post op, so I may have to do something about that today. I took a laxative (which worked last time) so hopefully that resolves today. I am going to upload a picture of the scar from Day 5 here as well as one from today (Day 7). If there is a difference it's because I fashioned an ace wrap/bandage that puts pressure on the incision without rubbing against it since my compression garment didn't go low enough.
Post Op Day 8 (6th): First Dr. Follow Up and First Full Day Back at Work
I took a full 50 mg tramadol before I went to sleep today which i haven't done for maybe 4 days--I woke up at 4AM very nauseated. I felt nauseated all morning and didn't get to the office until 11AM because I was nauseated and constipated. I decided to walk across town the mile or so that it is to the office and what a great idea that was! I was no longer constipated soon thereafter and soon after that, no longer nauseated (though I do blame myself a bit for the nausea for taking that tramadol). By the way, the Dr. did confirm that Tramadol is a good step down from Oxy for people who can't handle Oxy (like me)--if you're getting nauseated and dizzy, think about asking for Tramadol. The side-effect of "euphoria" doesn't hurt the recovery process either (though I have to say it feels more like calm than euphoria). I found my desk chair to be no problem and, though overwhelmed by all the work to catch up on, had absolutely no pain all day as well as plenty of energy (until about 5pm--at which point, I wanted to curl up and sleep on the floor in my office).
At around 3, I walked from the office to the Dr.'s (maybe another mile), and by the time I got there I felt VERY hot (in all my wraps and big button down to hide the wraps) and a little extra swollen. The Dr. commented that I had healed uncommonly quickly (though maybe she says this to everyone--I don't know--regardless, it is a nice thing to say :). I asked her about my incision and the bunching on the sides. She explained that she had tried to keep the incision as short as possible and that it will likely flatten out--however, if it doesn't flatten out, it will only take her 20 minutes to make a minor in-office adjustment to it to fix. I pointed to the flab I still felt was on my belly just to see what she had to say, and she said that it was all swelling and I had only gone down about 10% in swelling thus far from the lipo. I begged her to let me stop wearing the arm compression since I have yet to swell (maybe I should have told her the arm compression sleeves feel loose... that just occurred to me. I'll call her and tell her tomorrow). She said that if I am going out and wearing clothes that don't hide the wrap, I can wear a tight compression spanx garment that goes up high.
I immediately went and bought spanx on my way home (honestly, kind of a bad call as I am more exhausted today than I've felt in months and I was swollen and sore and not in the mood to try things on) but I found one that worked for me (actually, not the spanx brand) and since then I've been wearing it UNDER the compression wrap. It is superly ANNOYING to get on and off to go to the bathroom, but when I take it off, I can tell it is working really well and finally reaching the area right above my incision (my torso is really long). That being said, I'm feeling like I cannot sleep in the spanx --a little hard to digest my dinner I think. I'll take photos tomorrow of effect of spanx under the compression wrap plus full work day.
Post Op Day 9 (7th)
So I was up and about all day yesterday and was in a pretty decent amount of pain last night when I tried to go to sleep. Realized I definitely couldn't sleep in the spanx (I must have been swelling) so I removed that but I was still in a lot of PAIN on my sides and back and I just couldn't lay down and sleep. Thus, I took my ibuprofin and 25 mg of Tramadol and put a huge ice pack on my back. Sleep then took me and I was fine when I woke up. I was pretty darn swollen last night (obviously) but was a lot less swollen this morning. I don't see any improvement in the incision but maybe I won't until the stitches come out and the glue comes off? I don't know but I'm starting to worry about it despite thinking I was fully prepared to have this scar on my stomach. Maybe it's being made worse by some really unsupportive family members right now. It never occurred to me that someone would judge me for removing the extra skin off my stomach that I only have because I worked hard and lost a lot of weight as a teenager. Sigh. Oh well.
Post Op Day 12
Really not much to update. I look pretty good in the morning. I feel like myself again except when I'm trying to stand for 3 + hours or when I'm starting to jog. I have gone back to walking a couple hours every day and I feel no more exhausted than normal. By the afternoon, I look SO fat--it's very depressing. I am trying to convince myself it's swelling and that I don't look exactly like I did before.
Also, I'm trying to convince myself that the weirdness of my belly button is from the compression garment and not from the stretching. It looks like the north star not like a belly button. :/
I think wearing the spanx (generally in addition to the compression wrap) is really helping flatten the scar.
When does this purple gunk go away and when will the sutures dissolve? I'm ready for that to just be a normal scar!!!
Ugh. So puffy in front and from the side and it feels so hard!! My stomach should feel hard, right? That's just the swelling?
Post Op Day 13
Scar update. Looks the same basically :/ It isn't straight... most of you seem to have a really straight line. Why don't I? I guess it's okay as long as it doesn't turn into a really bad scar, but I do wish it was straight and low like the sides. The sides do appear to be flattening out slightly. I'm going to give that time.
Still bothered by the "north star" belly button. Also, I have this weird skin pigment above my belly button I never noticed before. It makes it look like I have lots of blonde hairs above my belly button but I don't... I don't really understand that.
Also, I never really saw those stretch marks on my belly before!I guess the extra skin obscured them somehow and now I'm looking at myself and thinking "Lord, now do I need to figure out something to do about reducing the appearance of these stretch marks? Is there anything that can be done?"
Obviously, this is bad lighting, so maybe it makes my whole tummy look worse than it is but... Guys, I'm feeling a little down about this today.
This is a seroma isn't it?
Two Weeks Post Op
It's my two week anniversary of surgery here and I'm so incredibly swollen that I look more swollen than even the day of and day after surgery. I'm so swollen that the incision site is painful and tight and when I walk it feels like I'm pulling my sutures loose.
Why did swell he'll have to be real?!!
Fish Oil, Bromelain, and Tumeric
So, prior to this surgery, I used to regularly take fish oil because I have arthritis-like symptoms in my hands and sometimes other joints. Now that I have started taking fish oil again after surgery the difference seems pretty darn substantial--pain and swelling down.
I'm going to start taking Bromelain and Tumeric this week as well. I'll check back in in a week with my conclusions.
Daily List of Concerns:
Swelling seems down, but I do look very FLABBY today... A lot of people look very tight and thin after these surgeries and that's not how I look... I look basically the same with extra skin above the belly button and 80% less loose skin below the belly button. There is even an indentation right now on my lower abdomen which looks like a little remnant of my butt in front (this comes and goes based on swelling--afraid it might stay . Things simply look loser and fatter than I expected. Maybe it's just a BAD DAY, but right now I'm not super happy with the look and feel like I looked thinner on Day 7 than I do today--maybe this is because the swelling obscured the fact that there was a lot of loose skin left... Everything is just flabby not hard... My Dr. said that not all swelling is hard but I don't know about this.
All, thoughts?!!! Did you have days where you looked fat and flabby but really it was just swelling??
Three Days Ago to Today...
What is going on here? Look at my ugly north star belly button and that weird skin formation above my belly button... has swelling gone down and left me with weirdness or is this a different kind of swollen weirdness??
12 Hours a Day!!!!
OMG I totally forgot. Today is the day I get to start going 12 hours WITHOUT THE GARMENT!!! I'm freaking out right now I'm so happyyyyyy!!
Scar Update. It is a VERY tiny scar but the scar itself is raised and still a little bunched in places and there are two "nobs" aka "dog ears" on the ends. What do you guys think of the state of my scar at 19 days post op?
Oh, also, is it normal to be having increasing abdominal pain? I know I'm swollen but I'm not sure I'm swollen enough to warrant the pain. Certainly my sides hurt more now than they have since week 1. That can be attributed to swelling I assume, but the sharp pain in my abdomen... I don't know. I certainly have a lot of fluid there--enough that the Dr. thought I had a seroma but she couldn't get anything out. The fluid is distributed all across my abdomen. Could this be problematic?
Three Week Anniversary and MAJOR scar improvement
Guys... I put those strips on my scar and then lots of pressure on it and massaged it a lot just the past 3 days and it looks so much better!!!
And Guys, look at that tiny bikini!! Never in my life have I been able to wear something like this :o
Starting to feel paranoid about keeping the momentum going and preventing widening. Definitely think I'm going to buy embrace despite the fact that my doctor said any silicone strip/cream is just fine.
Four week update
I've been using silicone strips and vitamin c serum. I've also been massaging twice a day with Vaseline. Additionally, I try to keep as much pressure on the scar as possible. It's generally less visible than even these photos suggest because one looks down at it. You can only see the scar clearly I'd your face (or camera) is even with it. Working on getting those outer knobs to go away but they're already better. I find that my flanks are still swollen and a little painful and my lower tummy is basically constantly a little pouffy which is a little annoying. I definitely have obvious skin above my bb but I don't particularly care about that.
Vitamin C Serum
Ignore my advice to use vitamin C on your scar. Should NOT be used on new scars. I am an idiot. Obviously, vitamin c serums are acidic. Still-healing scars, do NOT like having acid put on them.