First, due primarily to my pregnancies, my stomach had some laxity. Generally, I could wear a bikini and it was OK, but it was a little poofy...It was mainly in private situations when it was hanging down that I would feel embarrassed. My husband never said anything, but I felt like things could be improved on that front...
Second, my breasts had all fullness of before I had kids. I had always been smallish, but when I put on my wedding dress, there is this big empty space where the bust is. Hope my kids have that additional point or two of IQ that I was promised from all those years of breast feeding!
Third, there was laxity on my inner thighs that was visible when I wore a swim suit and in private moments. Again, I think I noticed it more than anyone else...
Finally, I've always liked to wear sleeveless and shoulder-baring tops, and my upper arms have had minor stretch marks and laxity since puberty, and they've probably gotten worse as I've gotten older.
I've always worked full time. I used to work in the US, but now I live abroad in a developed country. You hear all about medical tourism and how the doctors are great and also cheap, but when I did extensive research in my region (Asia), it was clear that the US is the place to go for doctors with experience and expertise in body-related cosmetic surgery. For me, I'd much rather spend a lot more money (including transportation, accommodations, etc.) to go with doctors who know what theyre doing. That's my background.
20 days ago, I had a tummy tuck, BA with lift and thigh lift in LA. Here are some things I wish I had done differently. If you're reading this, you would, by definition, avoid some of these...
1. Do more research.
2. Take more time off from work and remain close to my doctor's office longer.
3. Not plan any travel for at least 4 weeks after the surgery.
4. Wear the compression outfit without the big hole in the bottom/ tell the doctor to provide a compression outfit without the big hole in the bottom - the one I was put in originally had hooks and zippers on the sides and went down past my knees. There were two problems with it. First, the reinforced hole for going to the bathroom was too large and crossed the area of stitches where the tigh lift was done. Therefore, the edge of the hole rubbed against the stitches irritating that area and prolonging healing there. In addition, the compression garment hole in that area made it so that thigh lift area made it so that some of the stitches were under the garment and the there was a bulge of my thigh closer to my crotch that stuck out of the garment resulting in uneven compression for my thigh lift. Second, the tightness of the compression garment below my knees on my calves was uncomfortable and started to give me a rash, particularly annoying when trying to fall asleep.
5. Ask the doctor and pay for a second compression outfit so that I could have one to wear while washing the other.
6. Ensure a good supply of Neosporin, gauze (bid and small squares and rectangles) and rubbing alcohol and band aids and surgical tape. When strange bonobos appear from having your tubes rubbing against you, you get bruises and scrapes and its bice to just slap a band aid on these and let them heal so you can focus on the real recovery.
7. Buy Milk of Magnesia in advance. I didn't go to the bathroom for four + days and was starting to think I needed to go to the hospital. I can't find MOM here in Asia and sure wish I had some!
8. A more supportive bed with one of those stuffed pillows with the arms that you have in college - wish I had gotten one of those!
9. I wish I had taken more "before" photos.
Now, what worked out well? Most of this was serendipity, btw...
1. Really wonderful caretaker away from all children and responsibilities for about 2 weeks.
2. Really understanding husband who took the kids away so I could focus on recovery.
3. Keeping drains in (this is a tbd) but after having three drains in initially, i had one removed in Los Angeles and I ended up returning to Asia with two drains still in. They are a huge hassle and I hate them. I removed one with my surgeon's approval at the 2 week mark. I still have one in.
4. Having one of those name badge cords/ necklaces you get at conferences to hang my drains when I shower or change clothes.
5. Putting Neosporin on weird boo boos, scrapes and rashes that have developed on my abdomen around the top of my rib cage where the top of the compression garment rubs or by the ends of my thigh lift stitches.
6. Buying this oil changer funnel for $1.19 from Walgreens that I still use to go #1.
7. Getting my toes pedicured right prior to the surgery so they make me happy whenever I look down at my tummy :)
8. Taking a 2-4 hour nap in the middle of the day for the first week - turned off all phones, etc. also wore ear plugs at night.
9. Washing hands religiously and using alcohol whenever going close to my stitches or drains.
10. Still on antibiotics until drains are completely removed. No infections (knock on wood).
11. Not going out. I went to work one day after 2 weeks and decided to work from home after that so I could lie down, wear a loose t- shirt, sit on the toilet for an hour to wait for a miracle, etc. I've read a lot of doctor responses saying you can return to a desk job after 10 - 14 days. My experience is that that is not realistic. If for no other reason, it takes a while to get in and out of the compression outfit if and when you go to the bathroom, and you don't want it touching the unsanitary floor or walls of the public bathroom. Also, it hurts / is uncomfortable to sit down and get up, and if you're like me, I'm still hunched over because it's uncomfortable to walk straight up from the tummy tuck. So save yourself some grief and don't push yourself to go to parties or restaurants or the office too early.
12. Letting my kids know in advance that I had a big boo boo so they couldn't jump on me or hug too hard.
13. Drinking lots of water.
14. Using suppository laxatives for the first five days.
15. Video recording the nurse and doctor when they were changing bandages, milking drains and removing drains so I could do it myself later.
16. Picked a surgeon who responds to email immediately so I'm not fretting...
17. This one is my favorite. I asked the doctor for lives references so that I had someone to talk with before and after the surgery. My contact was a great source of support!
Photos are of:
1. How I look after about 16 days post surgery. Still is strained on right leg so that's why it's bent. Also, breasts look uneven because I'm holding the iPad.
2. The handy funnel I bought.
3. The second drain that we (mainly my husband - how romantic!) removed ourselves. Yes- those things are long. From th black stitches all the way to the end of the white rectangular rubber is all inside the body!
Will post more updates and photos later.