1 year - TT, MR and lipo

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The Buddha, my Buddha, and I have been life long...

The Buddha, my Buddha, and I have been life long frenemies. I've had a belly my whole life and have always wanted it to be gone. But I fear pain (will whine about paper cuts) and am cheap. Also, when I cross my arms, I like to rest them on my belly so I may miss that. But after running a marathon a few weeks ago (my one and only) and still having my stomach fat bouncing while I run, I decided to go for the tummy tuck. I haven't worn a bikini since I was 4 years old and don't think that will be changing after the TT, but I would like to know what a flat stomach is like and not have to wear mu-mu shirts for the rest of my life. I am 36 with 2 kids, about 5'3" and 126 pounds. I met with Dr. Niki Christopoulos. She was great - knowledgeable, professional and down to earth. I didn't feel judged (I feared it would be like the cosmetic counter at Nordstroms). I have never "blogged" in my life, but I am thankful to all you ladies who have shared your stories and hope mine will help someone too.

Some before pictures... I've been struggling with...

Some before pictures... I've been struggling with feelings of guilt and embarrassment for wanting to do this. Your stories have helped me, but please feel free to share any advice. My parents were once supportive, but now are not. My husband has been awesome and supportive. But I feel guilty for making him take time off work and taking on all the household/kid stuff and guilty that I won't be totally available for my boys.

Had my pre-op appointment. I have been so anxious,...

Had my pre-op appointment. I have been so anxious, nervous, freaking out about recovery time, money, pain, swell hell, burden on my family, etc. I have been telling the people who know about my surgery that if I die (and I know logically chances are lower than low) during surgery to tell my boys that I was a cool and loving mom and that I was not a totally vain person who died to look better. I am mortified by the idea that my boys would have to tell friends that their mom died getting a tummy tuck. Silly, crazy brain of mine.

It was SUPER comforting to talk to Dr. Christopoulos. She took the time and answered all of my questions, even my admittedly out there ones. For example, I am afraid if I gain weight after surgery that the weight gain will go to my already round face. Weird thing to worry about.... I know. But flat stomach and huge chipmunk face. I fear that. I know these outcomes are unlikely, but I needed to ask them or I would fester on them. Also, it was comforting to hear from a board certified plastic surgeon that no, you will not grow chipmunk cheeks. Anyway, I feel so confident in Dr. Christopoulos that I'm really not worried about my results. I know they will be good. One less thing to worry about. I feel lucky about that!

Sending positive thoughts to you ladies healing or in surgery today! You all have helped me so much with your experiences! December 13th is my day!

Tomorrow is my day! crazy! I'm dealing with it the...

Tomorrow is my day! crazy! I'm dealing with it the way I have dealt with all major stressful events in my life (getting married, having kids, the marathon), I am pretending it's not happening. Not super healthy, but this way of coping has worked okay so far. :) See you girls on the flat side!

Hello, ladies. Sorry I have been MIA. I'm on post...

hello, ladies. Sorry I have been MIA. I'm on post op day 5 today and physically I think doing pretty well. Emotionally, not so much. Kinda weepy and feeling nuts for doing this to myself. And add a huge heap of mommy guilt. I want to fast forward 3 months to when I can sit up straight, no drain, my back doesn't kill and I can care for my own children. While wearing a string bikini... right.

Anyway, let me tell you about my experience since all of yours helped me so much.

Day of Surgery
I was scheduled for 7:30. Everything was on time. Dr. Christopoulos was great, making sure all of my questions were answered. Very calming, warm presence. It was exactly what I needed. Was in the recovery room before I knew it. Dr. C said that the MR was much bigger than expected so she fixed that and that she is really pleased with the results. Drive home was miserable, but didn't throw up. Thank goodness. Although felt nauseous the whole time. I slept in a bed with pillows propping my body up and my knees up. The bedroom is on the second level. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do stairs, but was okay.I was taking the pain meds, antibiotics, anti-nausea medicine (which I think saved me). I needed help in and out of bed. Getting to the bathroom was tough because of the nausea. After the catheter, it's sometimes hard to pee. The nurse at the surgery center and my mom who is a nurse turned on the faucet water. Apparently hearing running water helps you pee. Seemed to work, just thought I'd pass the info along. The doctor called me personally that night to check how I was. Thought that was nice.

Went for my post op appointment. The doctor looked at everything and said it looked great. I really wasn't ready to look, but I did peek and the buddha is gone. I couldn't look at it long bc although I've seen all the stitches and cuts on this site I had a really hard time seeing the incision and drain coming out of my body. Dr. C was super concerned about how I was doing. Maybe it's just me, but I like the empathy that women doctors provide. I also liked that I got to see the doctor and not a PA or nurse. Once I got home, basically took my pain meds, read until the meds made me dizzy, then slept and hour or two, woke up, went to the bathroom, ate a little, started the process again. Every 4 hours. repeat. Also, was really itchy. Not sure why. My mom thinks the anesthesia. Also, I coughed bc I drank something too fast. No one is lying when they say that REALLY hurts.

Pretty much the same as day 1. Although I able to get out of bed on my own. Not easily or pain free, but on my own. I don't like not being independent. This has certainly showed me that. I really hate being on the receiving end of help.

Made myself to go downstairs to have meals. PO 3 night I was able to sort of sleep on my side, not as propped up. I also started taking 2 extra strength tylenols every 4 hours bc my head was so dizzy with prescribed stuff. The doctor said she'd get me different scripts if I wanted, but the tylenols are working fine so I'm going with that.

The doctor said I could take a shower on PO3, but I wasn't ready. Plus that would mean I'd have to take off my CG and see my stomach and incision. I really thought I would be better at documenting this experience for you ladies and taking lots of pictures, but I guess I've been trying to keep distracted. Sorry! Anyway, took pictures before the shower. When I can figure out how to crop out the crotch shot I'll put it up. My stomach was flat. The incision is low. The drain (only have one) looks disgusting coming out of my body. It was good to wash my hair. I didn't have a chair. My mom was close by, but I didn't want her help and could do most of it myself. She did have to blow dry my hair.

Standing up a bit straighter. Was able to sleep with only one pillow under my head and slept sort of on my side. Pillows and blankets to support me. Spending more time downstairs. I'm able to get up and down them pretty easy. Went to a movie today. It was hard to sit in one position for that long. My back aches and my butt hurts from sitting on it so much. My stomach feels really swollen. Again I am annoyed that I have chosen to do this to myself. I tried to wrap some presents, but it was too painful. I know that this will pass, but right now I'm just feeling down. Thanks for listening.

I feel so much better since my last post. I've...

I feel so much better since my last post. I've been reading your posts religiously to help me get through the whiny, why-am-I-such-an-idiot state. So thanks. Also I had my second post op appointment with the doctor and she said everything looks as it should. It definitely helped my mood so I guess I just needed reassurance that my recovery is going the way it should. She said I should start trying to stand straighter and walking more. I've been afraid I would tear the stitches and that I would be in pain. But it hasn't been terrible. Just totally a weird, uncomfortable sensation. I still have the drain (or as I lovingly call it, "the blood bag"). I will be so happy when it is gone.

Today I actually haven't taken any pain pills. My back feels better from standing straighter and my butt feels better from not sitting on it so much today! Happy healing!

Added a picture from PO 3. Will try to get more...

Added a picture from PO 3. Will try to get more recent ones up. The doctor said my belly button looks like a slit right now while it heals. It's due to all the muscle repair she had to do.

Sorry, had to remove the picture. Thought I had...

Sorry, had to remove the picture. Thought I had cropped out the crotch shot in the image. It didn't work and then my dad walked in the room! I panicked and removed the picture. I felt like I was 16 again and getting caught doing something naughty. Anyway, I'll try to figure it out or put some different pictures up.

Ok, got some rated PG pictures up. Post Op Day 10

Ok, got some rated PG pictures up. Post Op Day 10

Drain (aka blood bag) is out! Stitches are out!...

Drain (aka blood bag) is out! Stitches are out! Yippee! the incision is so thin. I am so impressed by my doctor's work! I am starting to get excited by how I might look in a few months. My husband said "wow, you actually have a waist". I've never had one before. I may even have to get rid of my favorite shirts! Sadly they are maternity... my youngest is 3.5 years old.... Or I may actually purchase and own and even wear a belt! I have never worn one because who wants to see a sausage with a rope squeezing the middle.

Anyway, not all is hunky dory yet. I'm itching like crazy. And I'm not good at controlling myself. when I get the "after drain" pictures up, you'll see blotchy red skin. Actually you can see it in the PO 10 pictures a little. It is not bruising, that's just me, scratching myself bloody. I'm also the person that squeezes the tiniest zit (even though you are not supposed to) and it turns into a mountain on your face for months. I know these things I do are not in my best interest, but can't help myself. I've been taking benedryl at night, but can't handle taking benedryl during the day.

Also, now that things are looking up, I have to find something to pre-worry about. Right now, it is seromas. I've read up on them - who is at risk and why (people who are overweight to start, people with 4 or more pounds of skin removed, people that didn't have the quilting done and one more thing I don't remember). Again, I know the risk is low and that it is not really a big deal if it happens, but I'm obsessing about it. Feeling my stomach to see if I have one. Mentally willing my skin to adhere to my abdominal wall.... think that will work? :) I swear can tell where the drain was bc my swollen skin doesn't feel as attached in those spots. I'm also wondering when it is more likely to get one. I think I have concluded from my internet research that it can occur anytime, but post op weeks 2 and 3, the probability is a bit higher. The drain hole is also a source of worry. Seems like an open wound, like I should be doing more for it. Luckily my doctor is a saint and answers my questions. But alone in my brain I keep thinking what if...

By the way, take some pain meds for the drain removal. I took 2 extra strength tylenols before my visit today just in case. Everyone on this site has said it doesn't hurt, but I like to avoid pain if at all possible. The drain removal hurt me. Maybe it's my incredibly low threshold for pain. But it was like a burning/searing sensation. It lasted only seconds and then it's over and fine, but, boy, I was glad I took those pills! The stitches coming out didn't hurt at all. I kept expecting it to hurt or to feel something, but I didn't feel a thing which seemed wrong. The doc says this is normal bc we haven't regained feeling in those areas yet.

I'll get some pictures up soon! Happy healing! And to those going through rough times, it gets better.

Anyone know how I can rate my doctor on the site? I just think she is a genius and want to give her those 5 stars!

PO 20 wow, almost 3 weeks! My doctor said I can...

PO 20
wow, almost 3 weeks! My doctor said I can just wear spanx now, but I am still wearing the binder over the spanx. I just feel better with it and feel like it will help me from getting a seroma. I'm still itchy as hell. I've been taking claritin in the morning and then benedryl at night. As you can see from the pictures, I am only moderately successful with controlling my itching. I am super swollen still. My doctor says that is normal. I'm mostly annoyed with the swelling because it prevents me from standing straight up and walking like a normal person. Looking at the pictures, it looks like I am standing crooked too. great.

The steristrips can also come off, but I feel safer with them on. I'm not worried about scar therapy since the incision already looks good from what I have seen (thanks, Dr. Christopoulos!) and my stomach never saw the light of day before so camouflaging a small line seems like nothing. Dr. C said that regular lotion is sufficient for the scar. I'm more afraid of them splitting apart. Again, irrational fear, but the tape makes me feel better.

I'm looking forward to the day that I can see my belly button the way it will look, but I guess I must be patient. Since I really have no choice. :) good night! May we all wake up tomorrow with flat, unswollen bellies.

When does coughing or sneezing stop causing discomfort/cramping? Everyone is sick in my household. I fear getting "the cough" so much that I have been using my 6 year old's asthma inhalers. I was surprised by a sneeze and thought I ruptured all of my MR!

The plague is upon me!! Quarantine my house! My...

The plague is upon me!! Quarantine my house! My husband came down with a fever on Monday, then my mom, then me on Thursday, then my youngest son. Both my sons are being treated for ear infections and my youngest tested positive for Influenza A. So at least we know what kind of flu we all got! Now my husband has the runs. Yuck-o. My fever broke today so I disinfected all the bathrooms, light switches, everything I could think of. Laundry in hot water. I can feel the tummy swelling now. I'm going to rest and drink some water with lemon after I post this.

The coughing has been miserable, but I feel like I should thank my lucky stars that I have it PO day 21 rather than PO day 3 like some of you poor girls (Melissa in Cali, thinking of you! how did you survive it??). I did call my PS about the fever, just to let them know. But I wasn't really worried about an infection since everyone around me was feverish and sick. Also, my stomach didn't have any red tender spots. With my little guys sick, I've been having to pick up my 35 pound 3 year old to put him on the doctor's examination table and to potty. Kinda makes me nervous that the coughing and picking up my heavy child will affect my results, but what's a person to do? This is the time that I feel really guilty that I got the TT. My poor mom who nursed me to health and cared for my kiddos now sounds so miserable and sick. Why? so I can wear half tops to the mall? ;) I feel like I can't help my family as much as I should and when I do help, I'm worried about me and my flat stomach!! I can only say this to you all!!

Still waiting for my belly button to show its face!

Hey gang, some big steps for me this past week -...

Hey gang, some big steps for me this past week - I took of the steri-tape and don't use my binder nearly as much. I've been wearing Spanx and flexies. Some are panties and other tank tops. I prefer the tank tops but don't feel it provides as much support. Some of you other girls have those Madera CGs in your pictures that look like something I would like, but now I'm wondering if it is worth the money for another 6 weeks. I wear a cotton tank at night under my my binder. My skin can't breath under the spanx and needs a little break at night. I have sensitive skin and it starts getting itchy when i am wearing my spanx too long.

Another big step for me is that I worked out twice this week on the elliptical for 30 minutes and no tension. And yesterday I wore jeans! yeah! ! am still super swollen. I guess if I ate better (less salt), drank wine less, and wasn't as active this would go away, but not sure I have that will power. I want to start light jogging next week after I am officially 5 weeks. Advise on how to start? Should I do a "couch to 5k" program? Or just try to run 2 miles? I am getting cranky without my runs. And I think I'm pms-ing.

I've been putting lotion on the scar. It's a crazy thing on my body. I'm worried about those sutures that people say try to get out of your body. How do I know if that is happening? I'll get a picture up soon. My scar is pretty dark compared to many of you. I wonder if it is because I have olive skin.

Got some pictures up. I'm still super swollen,...

Got some pictures up. I'm still super swollen, but I guess when the doctor has to fix an over 4 inch muscle separation I should expect it to take more than a few weeks to heal back together. As for the scar, I think the incision looks great. My skin was sensitive to the tape so is still all bruised up from that. I've been rubbing lotion on the incision 2 to 3 times a day. My doctor says I could do the silicon if I want, but that lotion works too. I did 30 minutes of elliptical today and 5 pound weights. Yeah, endorphins! I really need them during the winter blahs. Feeling pretty good. Swelling seems to just be a part of my life for now.

Yesterday I went for a 2.5 mile jog. I just...

Yesterday I went for a 2.5 mile jog. I just wanted to see how it would go and told myself to stop and walk if anything hurt, but it was fine. I was surprised and thrilled. I really need the running for my moods, especially during the winter. Nothing else really does it for me. People assume I love to run. I really don't, but it is like crack now! If I don't have it, I get jittery/withdrawal. Guess I could be addicted to worse things.

Anyway, it felt like it did when I first started walking after surgery. A little heavy in the scar area. My stomach also had those weird little contractions for a bit and felt tight. I wore this binder that I had from hurting my back a few years ago. (http://www.amazon.com/Maxar-Airprene-Breathable-Neoprene-Lumbo-Sacral/dp/B000WFWOHK/ref=pd_sim_sbs_hpc_3) I thought I'd really pay for the run today with soreness or super swelling. But my stomach feels fine. It's my shin splints that hurt! I am also exhausted today. I may try to run once again later this week. Trying to ease back into it.

Also, my swelling has gone down. I don't know if it is because of the bromelain I started to take last week or just that it is finally starting to go down. I'm continuing with the bromelain just in case. Even after yesterday, I haven't had a lot more swelling. Yippee!

And guess what?? I bought a bikini today! I'll get a picture up when I can. I feel super uncomfortable in it and can't imagine wearing it in public... but it's really fun to own. ;) Hope all you ladies are doing well!

I had my 6 week post op appointment today, a week...

I had my 6 week post op appointment today, a week late due to the stomach bug invading my household. I swear this winter has been the worst! Anyway, I'm still swollen which the PS says is normal. I find the swelling annoying, but mentally/emotionally I'm not freaked out about it. Which is different for me. I think because the PS was so clear that final results can take 3 to 6 months. Now if I get to 6 months and am still in swell hell, then I'll be freaking out. But for now, it's just part of life. I stopped taking the bromelain since I was already having GI issues. I'm going to start again once I feel like my stomach is ready. Hell, I got them, may as well try. The PS said the belly button will widen out with time.

The PS did say to try to wean off the binder. She said spanx provides better uniform compression. And for my beach vacation in March, she said to put sunscreen on the scars even if I wear a one piece.

I was going to post pictures, but they look exactly the same as the ones from week 4. Not sure how that is possible. Guess I have to be patient. With all the viruses that keep infecting my household, I've been really too distracted to obsess. Which I guess is a good thing. Hope everyone is well!

Here are the new pictures. I'm still swollen. ...

Here are the new pictures. I'm still swollen. I've been weaning off the spanx, trying to wear them every other day and not at all at night. I would continue to wear them daily, but I leave for a beach vacation on Tuesday (yippee) and want my body to get used to not wearing them. I've definitely noticed more swelling and I feel like I have been more swollen than most. I included a picture of me in my marathon shirt. It is SO AWESOME to wear it and not have fat rolls pudging out.

I've been jogging or doing the elliptical machine pretty consistently. It's diet where I fall down. Hope you are all well!

I am the funny friend. I am the friend with the...

I am the funny friend. I am the friend with the good personality. Once in awhile, someone will say I have nice legs. Today at the beach a woman stopped me and asked my secret to my great body after 4 kids (my boys had made 2 little friends). I was shocked!!! And at first she was making fun of me. Still in shock! THANK YOU, DR. CHRISTOPOULOS!!! Will post pictures when I get home but had to share with people who understand how shocking this is to a girl who has always had the buhhda belly.

I put up the bikini pictures from my recent...

I put up the bikini pictures from my recent vacation. I actually wore the bikini most of the week. Still swollen, but I'm not embarrassed like before. I even ran in just a sports bra and shorts. I've never done that. Crazy! Love my lack of buddha belly, but now I start to see the armpit fat, flabby arms, etc... Anyway, I'm not looking at the pictures anymore, just wanted to share the belly pictures. Unfortunately with a fabulous vacation, I managed to gain 5 pounds (literally) in 7 days (gee, I think it could have been all the croissants with nutella...) whoops.

I saw my PS this week for my 3 month appointment. I asked if all my swelling and the 5 pound weight gain would mess up the results. She said that active women who exercise take a little longer to resolve all the swelling, that there's ultimately no difference in end result. She said to remember the sunscreen under the swimsuit. I love my PS. It always makes me feel better just to hear that she thinks everything looks as it should. I'm hoping by summer the swelling will be gone (as well as the additional 5 pounds from vacation!).

Hope you all are well!

1 year Post Op - SO HAPPY

Just wanted to update everyone on my almost 1 year anniversary! I see my PS tomorrow so I wanted to remember you all who were part of my journey. I am SO HAPPY with my results.

I'm down a jean size although I weigh the same. Clothes fit me better and I am way less self conscious. I thought I had come to terms with having a Buddha, but now that I don't, it makes life so much nicer. Although I am still critical of myself, like the little roll over my work out pants or my man hands in the pictures, it's like a different life not being concerned about my belly. Weirdly, I think the tummy tuck has made my boobs look bigger. Bonus! I have worn those workout tanks that I have wanted to wear my whole life. And I look good!!

What else can I tell you? I still am running on a regular basis, but added boxing (with punching bags, not people) to the mix. You do A LOT of ab work which really freaked me out at first. I was still afraid I would rip the MR (sometimes still am), but have been amazed how strong I have gotten. When I started in July, I couldn't even do 1 sit up. Now I even do V-up sit ups (and I didn't know what those even were a few months ago!).

The scar is still big and long, but to be expected. It doesn't really bother me. I won't wear bikinis really around the neighbors, but on vacation for sure! With chasing my younger kids around, I get self conscious that the bikini bottom will shift and my scar will be hanging out there. The scar is covered by most bikini bottoms. It's more my comfort level.

Another thing I notice is that when I eat too much salt, I feel swollen around my belly. That never happened before. It's actually not a bad thing. I kind of like my body telling me something isn't good for me. I don't have all the feeling back on my stomach. It's not numb, but not as sensitive to touch as the rest of my body. Not sure if that makes sense. But again. No biggie to me.

To those thinking of starting the journey, the first couple months are rough. I do feel happy with my results on all levels - physically, emotionally and mentally - and feel like it has a positive effect on my life. I didn't really expect anything other than a flat stomach, but am grateful for the side effects. I'm going to hug my PS tomorrow!
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Friend recommendation. My friend had a "mommy makeover" from Dr. Christopoulos and looks amazing. My experience with her has been great. She is knowledgeable, professional and down-to-earth. Highly recommend!

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
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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