37 Yr Old Mom of 3. Major Muscle Repair, TT w/ Lipo, & Fat Grafting to Face. Chicago

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8 days until my surgery. Have been so swamped...

8 days until my surgery. Have been so swamped trying to get ahead on housework, errands, shopping, and all the other mom stuff that I haven't had too much time to be nervous. My kids are 8, 7, and 14 months. I'm a little worried about the no lifting requirement. Hard to not lift a toddler! I thought about waiting until a better time but it seems like this is my window. I can't imagine it would be easier with a 2 or 3 year old? Several people have told me that the recovery works best when the youngest is still a baby or to wait until they are in full-day school. So, unless I want to wait 4 years, this is my time.
I will post before/after pics soon!

2 more days--getting nervous

Now that all the preparations, errands, housework, etc are basically done, I have time to be nervous. Guess I should have scheduled more on my to do list! I don't even know what I'm nervous about. It's so many things...
-The pain
-The recovery time
-How everything with the family, the house, and everything else I take care of will go while I'm recovering.
-that I won't be happy with the results or won't look any different.
I just want to be done with it. The last few days before a planned surgery are always the worst.

Tomorrow is the big day!

Today was craziness! Just when I thought I was all done with laundry and changing sheets... Baby was throwing up and 7 year old got sick this morning! Kept him home from school. It was actually nice having a day with my little guy. He and his sister were fine by noon :)
Just sick long enough to require 2 loads of laundry and a little TLC from mommy. I think it was kind of God's way of keeping me from being nervous today. My husband made it back from his business trip without any delays at O'Hare tonight so I think I now have everything I need for tomorrow. He's really being helpful and supportive. I'm feeling really blessed :)
I check into the surgical center at 7 tomorrow. My surgery is at 8:00. Fingers crossed. I'll post as soon as I can.

Surgery is done!

Had my surgery yesterday. Woke from the anesthesia in quite a bit of pain but they gave me Demerol which helped a lot. After it kicked in my pain level was at about a 6. I was sipping juice and getting IV fluids so I needed to go to the bathroom. I was so scared to move and get up. However, my best advice to all of you who have your procedure coming up is the sooner you get up, the sooner you'll feel a little better. I know it is so counterintuitive, I was shocked at how much it helped to just SLOWLY (and with he nurses help) get into the wheelchair and use the bathroom. After that I decided to go home rather than get bak into bed in the recovery room. I felt like this was my "window" to get into the car and make the hour long drive home. Their was crazy traffic so it took more like 1 hour and 45 minutes so I was feeling pretty bad by the time we were home. Train tracks and potholes are horrible! It felt good to be home. Getting up the stairs wasn't too bad. I didn't rent a recliner but instead settled into my old upholstered nursery glider which has on ottoman. It felt good. The vicodin helps with the incision pain but the Valium really helped with the muscle pain from the repair. I took one (10 mg) after I got home and it really helped. So I'm staggering the 2 meds and it it keeping the pain manageable. I have 2 drains but am having a little bleeding from the incision between them. The surgical center sent me home with several chuck pads to protect my bed and chair. I'd definitely recommend asking for some.
Today I'm having a little more pain, probably from the swelling. I need to make ore of an effort to drink more fluids. I had pineapple juice yesterday which really seemed to help with the swelling. Will definitely have more of that today :)
Not much else to report. I'm just so happy to have the surgery behind me and be getting better. Oh, one last tip...if the residual betadine on your skin bothers you like it does me (I get really itchy from it) it comes of with rubbing alcohol.

Pain kicked in

Halfway through day 2 post-op and the pain really increased. The incision pain is ok, belly button is really sore, but midline muscle repair is pretty intense. Also, lower back pain kicked in. So glad I have my husband here helping me get up to go to the bathroom. I'm not a baby about pain but definitely can't imagine not having help for the first few days. Face is only a little bruised feeling from the fat graft but it looks awesome. I totally recommend it!
Praying tomorrow is better.

Day 2 is a little better.

Last night was really rough. My blood pressure was low from the meds. Getting up to go to the bathroom hurt a lot. I've had breast surgeries, a 24 hour labor, a c-section, lipo, and tis was the worst pain I've ever been in. I was regretting having the surgery, pretty delirious. I think part of the pain was caused by ow tight the ace wraps were now that the swelling was setting in. My ps had said we cold remove them if they were too uncomfortable but I'd been scared hat it would make it hurt worse. My husband finally convinced me to give it a try. We took off 3 ace wraps and just put 2 back on (a little less snug). It helped a lot. Voter that I was able to sleep for a few hours! Woke up feeling a lot better today. Still very sore but the pain is under control. Today's advice...avoid salty foods nd carbonated beverages. I haven't had much of an appetite but can't take all the meds (vicodin, Valium, and antibiotics) on an empty stomach so have had toast, a granola bar, and applesauce. I tried crackers yesterday and the swelling was almost immediate. As for the carbonation...gas pains would only add to your discomfort. Pineapple juice with lots of ice is a nice treat. Anyway, that is what is working for me. Hoping the worst pain is behind me now!

Advice needed

I'm supposed to take a shower later today. Any tips?

Shower wasn't too scary

Shower update from yesterday...
So I used a lanyard from a disney trip to pin the drains to. It worked well. The Dr's office had suggested pinning them to a towel around the neck but the idea of a big wet towel around my neck sounded uncomfortable. Anyway, my husband helped me remove the dressings, including the gauze that was stuffed into the new belly button. Gauze was kind of stuck to the incision area. Go slow removing it to avoid pulling off the steristrips! I didn't wash my hair. I'll wait and do that in the sink later today or tomorrow. It isn't really dirty or itchy yet. I've kept it in a braid since the morning of the surgery. Anyway, the hot water hitting my sore back felt amazing! Even just letting the warm water run over the incisions and crusty new belly button felt good. After drying off, I put a layer of fresh gauze over the incision and a small, cotton ball sized, piece of gauze back in the belly button. Then I put on the compression garment. It is soft and adjustable. All in all I felt pretty good. Started to feel a little light headed as I sat there while my husband emptied my drains. I guess the shower took a lot more energy than I realized. Took a long nap afterward. My suggestion to others would be to take a pain pill 1/2 hour before and definitely have some help showering. DO NOT try to shower on your own the first time!
As I was sitting on the shower stool I looked down to check out the tummy and I had no rolls! I'm still definitely swollen but I already look so much better. The fat graft to the face looks awesome!!! Love that it totally removed the marionette lines by the mouth and gave me amazing cheekbones. I never liked my face with no makeup before but do now! It is nice to have something that looks better instantly whle going through the long lipo/TT/muscle repair recovery.
Will post pics soon. I took before pictures but hate them so much that I was too embarrassed to post them until I had after ones to put with them.

Hair washing proved to be much harder than anticipated

So last night I sat in my shower seat, let the warm water run down me, and I felt so much more comfortable. Warm water on a sore back is heavenly! Then I decided to wash my hair (while sitting). It went ok. I troweled off with my husband's help and got out. I sat on the side of the tub while he emptied my drains and I combed out my wet hair.
I HATE THESE DRAINS more everyday! They are gross, and they hurt/sting where they exit my body. Any tugging feels like a fresh stab wound.mIt is like having 2 pencil sized flexible tubes coming out of your pubic hair (just below the incision) I get to have them removed on Friday the 9th. I can't wait!!! I am a little nervous that the removal will hurt but at least it will be one sharp pain, not constant pain every time I bend or twist.
Anyway, as my DH was emptying the drains and then helping me get my compression garment on, I started feeling clammy and nauseous, I began seeing spots and got light-headed. I knew I was moments from passing out. He quickly helped me into bed and had me sip some water and elevate my legs. I started getting my color back and felt better again.
So...today's tips...
1. Keep the shower/hair washing short!
2. Only try to shower while washing your hair if you have a shower seat and a hand held sprayer.
3. NEVER try to do it all by yourself!
4. Once out, dry off and get settled quickly. You can empty drains, apply lotion, brush hair, etc from the comfort of your bed.
5. It is surprising how quickly you can go from feeling ok to being ready to pass out so don't take any chances!

Before pics

Here are a few pictures taken the night before my surgery. As I mentioned in a previous review, I had polyhydramnios with my most recent pregnancy 14 months ago. This means I had way too much amniotic fluid to I measured huge and to very stretched out. I delivered my daughter at 37 weeks but was measuring 42 weeks. When they broke my water, I had to lay flat on my back to keep the cord from flushing out. More than 2 gallons of amniotic fluid came out. Nurses came in to watch! I felt like a circus freak show ). Anyway, my lower abdominal never recovered and the muscles and abdominal wall were in desperate need of a repair. But on a happier note ... I have a beautiful baby daughter :)

Pictures from Day 5 (right before the hair washing fiasco)

These photos show the bruising and still some surgical markings (they are really hard to clean off). I'm still very swollen. Everything feels tight. Hoping it will look good when it is all healed. Not feeling sexy or beautiful in any way but I do see some improvement. Like no "apron of skin" and no rolls when i sit. I'm trying to stay optimistic. We'll see...
Oh, the bruising you see in spots is from the lipo to flanks, hips, and abdomen. Oh! Guess what! When I put on my bra today, I had NO bra bulge coming out the top or bottom on the sides! I think the muffin top is gone too!

I Hate Drains!

I get the 2 drains out in less than 48 hours! I swear, once they are gone I'm sure I'll be in soooo much less pain. Having drains where they are (under the incision, hidden in the pubic region)is such a tender spot. It tugs and stings every time I get up out of bed or a chair. If it moves, it hurts. So with them gone I should be feeling amazing! I'll let you know on Friday. Plus emptying the blood and other fluid out several times a day is pretty gross.
I really have been able to cut back on meds. I don't set an alarm to take doses in the middle of the night anymore. Staying "ahead of the pain" isn't an issue after the first couple days. So, today I took half doses of both the Norco (5/325) and the Valium (5 mg) every 6-8 hours instead of 4-6 hours. I had a little more discomfort but was a lot more lucid. Unfortunately I interpreted this extra energy as being almost all back to normal. I went downstairs, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and made my kids' beds. Horrible idea! My blood pressure dropped, my drain output tripled, and I felt so sore and sick for a couple hours. Don't push yourself! Take it easy. Rest. Catch up on simple stuff...knitting, writing thank you notes, emails, anything you can do while in bed or in a chair. My nurse at my doctor's office said that most patients mess up their repair and create scar tissue (and future adhesions) not by lifting but by just pushing themselves to do too much, too soon. She said that if it is getting your pulse up or making you light-headed during the first 2 weeks then STOP. At the very least wait until you go to your post op visit with the PS and see what he or she okays you to do. I got the message loud and clear today. My OCD and mommy guilt have to wait. I have to just rest and figure it will all be ok without my constant help/management. I need to let more mess slide and get better at asking for help. My family needs for me to get better soon, not for me to be 75% and then need another repair. So R & R... Here I come!

First the good...

Day 8...Able to do more or myself each day. Sore but my nurse/nanny told me to just try taking 1 Norco every 4 hours instead of 2 Norco every 6 hours. Also, I started taking 5 mg of Valium instead of 10mg. These changes helped a lot, it made me a lot less loopy, less constipated and able to get up and made the near fainting spells from the low blood pressure stop. The best part...it controlled my pain just as well! The worst pain is coming from the drains (where they enter the body). every movement tugs at them and hurts. Cant wait to get them out tomorrow!
Here are pics from Day 8 post op...

Got my drains out

Got my drains out on Friday, May 9. Definitely suggest taking a strong narcotic 30 minutes prior to your drain removal appt (and DON'T DRIVE yourself!!!)

Dr.Byun snipped a couple of stitches that held the drains in place and took them out one at a time. He told me to take a deep breath and blow it out while he pulled the drains out. It hurt! Not excruciating but definitely hurt. I had no idea the drain tubes inside the body are so long. He explained that they have little holes in them to collect fluid from all over the abdomen so they kind of snake around. The tube was probably 14" long! I couldn't watch. I kept my eyes closed and focused on my breathing. My husband told me later about it. The second drain hurt more but not at the skin entry site. As he pulled it out I got a sharp pain by my upper ribs. The PS explained that perhaps a scab had been holding it there and had pulled loose when he pulled the tubing out. I will say that once they were out, I felt a lot better. He put Neosporin on the 2 puncture wounds left behind from the drains and covered the area with gauze. I had a little oozing for the rest of the day. Nothing major though. I am almost walking completely upright! I just get tired a lot faster lately. I'm sure it is because my body is using a lot of energy on healing itself! Dr. Byun says I'm healing well and wants to see me again in 3 weeks if all continues to go well.

Now the bad...

So the first pictures were taken right after getting my drains out on the afternoon of May 9. The last picture is of what happened after my allergic reaction started later that evening. I'd felt ok all day. On pain meds, but ok. I started to notice around 6 pm that my incision was a little itchy but figured it was just part of the healing process like when a scab itches. Then, around 10 pm that night, the itching got unbearable. I removed the compression garment to see what was going on. I had started to get hives all around the incision. I couldn't scratch enough, it was terrible. I remembered that I have a mild bandaid and plastic tape allergy and thought that maybe it was a reaction to the steristrips covering my stitches. We texted Dr. Byun at the number he gave us and told him what was going on. Even though it was late at night, he got right back to us. He told my husband to gently remove all the surgical tape and to try to remove any remaining adhesive by flushing the area with sterile saline. We used baby oil to remove the stickum that was further away and not in danger of getting into the incision. He told me to take 2 Benadryl every 4 hours and apply 1% hydrocortisone wherever it itched but NOT on the actual incision. He warned us that things might get worse before they got better because the paper surgical tape he used had been reinforced with surgical glue and that it could be the glue also causing a problem. Also, reactions get stronger with each exposure! The surgical glue he used had entered my bloodstream and now my entire abdomen felt like I had poison ivy. My husband was worried I would tear my incision open with my scratching so I put the CG back on to avoid hurting myself. I put ice packs underneath it & waited for the Benadryl to kick in.
Dr.Byun was wonderful. He kept in contact with me & my husband via phone and text all weekend. He had me text him photos so he could assess the situation to see whether it was a bad infection or an allergic reaction. He decided to put me on another course of antibiotics because the wound was starting to look and smell infected by Sunday- probably from all the scratching and now raw-compromised skin.

The treatment regimen worked pretty much except that after 3 hours the Benadryl would wear off and I was sooooo itchy just waiting for that last hour to pass until I could take more. The hydrocortisone and ice definitely took the edge off during that last hour. This was pretty much the routine through Monday. Thank God my mother arrived on Sunday (Mother's Day) to stay and help me for the week. My husband was back at work and she was a lifesaver! Back when I'd arranged for her to come I had thought I'd just need her help with the kids by the time she arrived (11 days post-op) but with this complication I was the one who needed her most! This is why if you are having this particular surgery I strongly suggest you have help available, even if you don't end up needing it, for at least the first 3 weeks. Things happen. Better safe than sorry :)

Please read before surgery - Important Advice!!!

I saw the PS again today because he wanted to see what was happening with my allergic reaction/infection in person. He had requested that I text him photos on Sunday and after looking at them, put me back on antibiotics and had me make an appointment for today.
The infection is much better but he wants me to finish the course of antibiotics. The redness is from my allergy to the surgical glue he used. I have been allergic to band aids and all types of hospital tape except for the paper tape for about 10 years. I told the anesthesiologist about it as he was putting in my IV because he was about to tape it down with the regular clear thick plastic type tape and told him I needed the paper tape instead. But I never mentioned this allergy to anyone else. I was asked if I had any drug allergies and it just never occurred to me to mention a stupid bandaid/plastic tape allergy. This was a big mistake. If any of you have this allergy (apparently it isn't all that rare) you need to have it written in your chart. My PS explained to me today that yes, he used paper steri strips over my dissolvable stitches but that he also used surgical glue. It is the surgical glue which is similar to the stickum on band aids that I am actually allergic to. Had he known about my allergy, he could have made different choices while closing me up and all this suffering and the additional meds could have been avoided. So...today's advice, probably the most important advice I've given so far...
TELL YOUR DOCTOR EVERYTHING! Don't assume it won't matter. I know someone with a shellfish allergy who never thought to mention it to her doctor before a CT scan and almost died because the contrast dye that they use contains iodine which is closely linked to shellfish allergies. Maybe your food or drug or tape or glue or plastic or whatever else allergy won't matter. But... better safe than sorry (and itchy). This recovery was hard enough without adding in wanting to rip into my skin because it itched so bad!
On the bright side, the reaction must be getting better because now it is completely under control using Benadryl every 4 hrs, hydrocortisone, and aloe Vera (to cool the stinging sensation and speed healing). Before those things only helped lessen the itching but didnt completely make me feel comfortable. FYI- do not get hydrocortisone or aloe directly into the incision! Just near it :)

Feeling so much better!

The allergic reaction from the surgical adhesive is all better and the antibiotics have completely cleared up my minor infection so I'm feeling much better now. For those of you following my updates and progress to try to figure out your own timeline for how long you will feel crummy, please keep in mind that my recovery was easily set back by several days due to the above issues. But, that being said, now that I am just over 2 weeks out life is getting back to normal. The main things that remind me that I recently had surgery are...
1. I have a 15 month old (she turned 15 months today!) so most of the additional help I require from my husband and older kids involves lifting her out of her crib, onto or off of the changing table,highchair, etc. She weighs 22 pounds so it will be at least another 2-3 weeks before I can lift her at will.
2. I can stand upright for awhile but if I am on my feet too long, or just running around doing too much, I start to notice abdominal swelling (and slight mons swelling) which pulls on the incision and stings. Then I find myself walking a little hunched over again. Just a little bit, nothing like before :)
Luckily this usually happens someplace like the grocery store or out with the baby in her stroller so I can just lean over the cart or stroller a bit and no one would really notice. If it happens at home, I rest and use an ice pack.
3. Aside from the increased activity/time on your feet causing swelling, I also notice that I just get tired faster. This was major surgery so naps and early bedtimes can really help speed up feeling and help you recover faster.
4. Cut back your dose of painkillers and Valium starting around day 3 or 4. I know it goes against what you'll think you need but, trust me, you will start to feel so much faster. Plus it is really nice not to be in the drug haze. It will be easier to move around and moving even just a little really helps you heal faster than just laying in bed constantly.

At this point, I still have occasional muscle spasms. It happens whenever I try to go completely off the meds and 12+ hours pass. They remind me of labor contractions. Usually it is just down one side but it is intense. This is where Valium is the best. I am down to 2.5 mg twice a day and they have stopped completely. My PS recommends I just stay on this dose twice a day until I see him again next week. If I have incision pain, tylenol controls it fine now. Being off narcotic pain pills feels great :) I was told that weeks 2-3 are the most likely times to do damage. You're feeling better, your household chores may be building up and you try to do or lift too much. Even if you don't tear a stitch or reopen the wound, you can create scars where the muscle was repaired. These can cause adhesions which can cause you discomfort and complications down the road. So just keep taking it easy so that you don't need to have revision urgency in a year or 2 or have to live with results you are unhappy with.
I feel like I'm looking a lot better, too! Will post pics tomorrow. Too tired tonight!

Day 18 pics!

Feeling better and better! Incision is healing nicely. I don't like the way my belly button looks right now but my doctor assures me that it will look great as soon as the swelling goes down. There is still a LOT of swelling, my entire abdomen feels pretty rigid from it but it doesn't hurt, it's just tight. I am only on ibuprofin for pain when the incision hurts which is usually just at night or if I've been on my feet too long. I haven't had any more muscle spasms in a couple days so I'm off the Valium. All in all, I'm feeling great! I still get tired faster than before the surgery but that is to be expected. I am feeling optimistic. Everyday I get a little more energy, need less medication, less help, less ice packs, and look a little better. I am in no pain now- just occasional discomfort. And...I've lost 5 pounds since the surgery :)
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
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5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
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