Going for It! - Dallas, TX

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How I got here: So a bit about me. I am an almost...

How I got here: So a bit about me. I am an almost 34 year old without children, but a big extended family with several youngsters which I help support. I work in health care and have always taken my health seriously, but as it does for most of us, life got in the way. I began to gain excessive amounts of weight. I found that after turning 30, I had a significantly harder time losing weight with implementing the same strategies that were successful when I was younger. Once I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and an increasing blood sugar level I decided that it was time to put-up or shut-up.

I decided to get a gastric sleeve in April 2015 with Dr. Chad Carlton (GI Surgeon). I was fearful as I had never had surgery before, but my experience went extremely well. No major complications. The worst part was the first day when there was so much gas on my chest (with laparoscopic procedures, chest is inflated to complete the procedure), I could not find any position to get comfortable. I was out of work approximately one full week, but it took another two weeks of working half days only before I would say I was back to normal. I lost about 80 pounds to this date. I currently am 5’5 and 145 lbs.

I began to worry that even at goal weight (another 20 lbs to go), I would not be able to get my desired shape. I have had flabby arms since middle school that make me self-conscious, and my belly was still present. Under clothes I look good, the additional loss would put me at my ideal body weight for my height and still well within a healthy range for me. Nevertheless, coworkers have told me not to lose more because they feel I am getting too small (their unsolicited opinion).

To Plastics or Not to Plastics: After many prayers, I decided to live this life to its fullest, so I put my fears aside and started my research on tummy tuck and arm lift, semi-considered breast lift, thigh lift, and butt lift. I originally was very much considering doctors in the DR from reviews on here, but after further consideration decided it was not for me. I went for my one year follow-up with Dr. Carlton. I told him I was considering plastics to at a minimum address tummy and arms and he referred me to his partner Dr. Thomas Roshek (GI Surgeon). Dr. Roshek has been collaborating with Dr. Matthew Trovato (Plastic Surgeon) to help their clients with reconstruction after weight loss. I had my first visit with Dr. Roshek and he found another hernia. He recommended surgical correction that could be combined with tummy tuck procedure if deemed appropriate, he then referred me to Dr. Trovato. A few weeks later I had my initial visit with Dr. T. The visit entailed a full photo shoot in the nude, which was awkward to say the least. Dr. T recommended Fleur-de-Lis abdominoplasty (horizontal and vertical incisions tummy tuck with muscle correction) and would allow one additional procedure as well which he recommended the brachioplasty (arm lift). Perfectly what I had in mine!

Booked and Ready to Rock: I started to panic the week before surgery about the postop pain, the more I read on here and watch YouTube videos, the more scared I got. I do NOT have a high pain tolerance by any stretch of the imagination. Day of surgery was typical, no major issue. I was well-medicated so pain was controlled. In my experience the pain was reasonable, way less than what I thought it was going to be. I did stay the night in the hospital at my MDs rec for pain control. The MD had to pull my left arm tighter than expected so it blistered quite a bit. Although swelling was to be expected, my left arm was quite larger than the right. I had a panic attack thinking that I would lose my hand (health providers make the worst patients) which produced the first tears and kept me up most of the night at the hospital. The RNs were awesome and Dr. T PA saw me the next day and said everything looked great so I went home.

Once home, I took meds every 4 hours on the dot and had no real issues until my postop BM. I did everything to prevent a horrible for first poop, but still took several laxatives, suppositories, and enemas to get my bowels to move on Sunday (4 days postop). I did have two drains, which were annoying but again doable. After that, it’s been a good recovery. I am 2 weeks postop, still way swollen in the abdomen, but I think everything is coming along. Dr. T’s RN confirmed everything is looking beautiful during and drains were removed during my first postop visit this week.

The Cost: Combining the surgery meant a discounted price as insurance would cover costs associated with hernia procedure in my case. The hernia repair was covered by my insurance so I paid $1500 deductible, $1500 for my 20% coinsurance per my policy, $1500 facility fee (this is charged for cosmo procedures), $6200 (deposit was subtracted) Cosmo fees to Dr. Trovato’s office for a total of $10,700. Now with FSA and other prepaid health accounts paying the non-cosmo parts, I am left with about $5000 out of pocket. The whole process from initial visits with both docs to surgery date was 3 months. I thought this was awesome.

Feeling Tipsy :)

I took most of the advice I read on here. House was clean, all supplies stocked, groceries stocked, and meals pre-prepared and frozen before my surgery date. MDs ordered meds via mail order that were sent to my house about a week before, so I was able to organize these ahead of time.
My additional tips:
• BEST DECISION: I rented a lift chair from a med supply company for about $150/month. Its vinyl (leather appearance) so easily cleaned with lysol wipes for germaphobes like myself. The lift helped the first few days in getting to my feet. I also sleep in it to keep correct positioning.
• WORST DECISION: I thought I would be able to care for myself when I got home. I was wrong! During my freak out a week before, I asked my aunt if she could stay longer, so she has worked from my home since surgery. THIS WAS A BLESSING! Make sure you have help for at least a week. I could walk (hunchback style of course) and use restroom by myself but that was about it. I needed help getting showered, changing the dressings, monitoring medications, microwaving those precooked meals, and anything that required bending down or reaching up higher than your tippy toes can get you.
• I increased vitamin/protein intake to make sure that postop wound healing would be optimized. Made sure I was stocked for a month at least for all of those.
• A couple more pillows and a body pillow. I needed 5 pillows and my lift/recliner chair to sleep. I used 1 behind back, two under knees (must elevate to reduce strain to abdominal section), and a pillow under each arm. Plenty of white pillowcases so you can bleach out any stains. White towels if you don’t already have them for the same reason. I used clean towels daily. My wonderful aunt did laundry almost daily to ensure no infections!
• My aunt made me get a shower chair. She was totally right, during the first week or so when I needed help showering this was a invaluable and has continued to be helpful. I would recommend this especially if you have a garden tub.
• I bought additional gauze pads (I rec Bandaid Gauze sponges they do not stick), cheap overnight sanitary pads, plenty of body flushable wipes.
• Heating pad and gel reusuable gel ice pack. I used the heating pad day in/out across my stomach and the ice pack at night on lower back. The walking around hunched is murder on your back.
• Big supply of Lysol wipes….Got to keep EVERYTHING clean!
• You are not to use deodorant for some weeks, so I dabbed baking soda to kill some of the odor which eventually returns despite spending most of my day in the recliner.
• Not many posters discussed work logistics, so I wanted to add a note about my leave. I received FMLA given the hernia procedure. I had approximately one month off covered with extended illness paid time that I could take off at work. When I return, I will probably return half days for a couple of weeks before returning to full schedule. I had my MD add this to my FMLA paperwork as well. I chose not to apply for short term disability since I had paid sick time to cover, but it was an option according to my HR department.

So far I am happy with my decision. My progress is going well, I am another 7 pounds down. I am anxious to see what things will look like once swelling has reduced. I have fairly resilient skin, and have my scar regimen locked and loaded once cleared to begin, so I am not too worried now about scars. I did not get many pictures from immediately before surgery or during the time I had drains, but I attached a few so you can see the problem areas and my current status.

Wow that was a lot :), but hope it helps! Every detail I could get, I soaked up during this journey. I am happy to answer any questions. Thanks to all of you that posted your journeys they were invaluable. You are all so amazing!

My physician team (Carlton, Roshek, and Trovato) were all great overall.

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
4 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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