Tummy Tuck with Thigh and Hip Liposuction - Denver, CO

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I'm a single mom to an 18 month-old. My stomach...

I'm a single mom to an 18 month-old. My stomach muscles never recovered from pregnancy. I'm constantly asked when my next little one is due, and I find it very embarrassing. I look about 5 months pregnant. I went over the summer for a consult with a plastic surgeon who did a breast reduction for my sister several years ago. She said yes, she could make me look not pregnant and also recommended thigh and hip liposuction.

I thought on it for several months. I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to the long recovery time, especially since it meant I could not lift my young daughter. The more I thought about, though, the more I decided I would be very happy in the long run. I decided that with several months of planning ahead of me, I could commit to the long recovery. I set Jan. 2, 2013 as my surgery date and began planning for child care. My daughter will go to my family during the initial recovery (about a week). The only reason for this is that my house is fairly small (1200 square feet approximately), and it's all one floor. I'm worried I wouldn't be able to recover as quickly with my daughter playing all day, and also that she would be able to sense that her mom is home but can't play, and I don't want to make her anxious and upset. After that, she will come back home, and I'll have full time help, either in the form of my nanny (during the daytime) or my family (nights and weekends) until I can lift again.

I had a scare at my pre-op appointment. I was having some symptoms I thought were a non-issue for the surgery. Turns out, my surgeon said she wouldn't do the surgery until it had been determined that my symptoms wouldn't interfere. Luckily her patient coordinator was able to get me in with a specialist ASAP (next morning). I needed a CT scan to rule out anything that would make my surgery a no go. It all came back normal! It was a stressful 48 hours for me! I was certain my surgery date would have to be pushed back, and that my hard work to make preparations for my daughter would be all for naught. Luckily everything can proceed as planned!

I am not exactly a skinny girl. After losing 60 lbs in the past 15 months, right now I am a solid size 12. I am 5'3" and weigh 155 lbs. I know this surgery isn't going to give me back the body I had in college, but I feel quite certain it will leave me a whole lot happier with I see in the mirror right now.

I can't decide if I'm more nervous or excited right now! I've done everything I can think of to prepare. I've rented a recliner and borrowed a walker from a friend. Over the weekend I did a grocery store run and stocked up on easy-to-prepare, low-sodium foods. I have all of my prescriptions filled and waiting on my bathroom counter. I still need to set up a table by the recliner with anything I might need-- pill bottles, water, snacks, lip balm, phone charger, etc. and pack an overnight bag for the hospital (change of clothes, lip balm, toothbrush).

I am staying the first night in the hospital. I will be on my own after the surgery as my family will be occupied with taking care of my daughter. I have hired a home healthcare agency to come in the first few days, until my first post-op appointment. Someone will come in and help me for 3 hours each day. I doubt I will need help for that many hours each day, but the agency has a 3 hour minimum. It makes me feel better to know someone will be here each day of my recovery.

My biggest worry is my daughter. I'm a single mom, and aside from her nanny in the afternoons and help when I needed it from my family, I've been her only caregiver up until now. We're extremely close. I'm worried about how she'll cope with her mom needing to recover for so long. I wish I knew what I could do to make it easier for her. I know that despite all of the work I've done to set up caregivers for my daughter and keep her at home where she's most familiar as much as possible, it's going to be hard on both of us, and that part is making me anxious.

I work from home. I've taken off the rest of this week and all of next. I'm very lucky my job allows me maximum flexibility. I can schedule my own hours and work when it's convenient for me. As long as I have in my hours at the end of the week, I don't really have a set "schedule." It's an ideal job being a mom. Hopefully I will be feeling well enough 12 days post-op to return to my work.

I've been feeling a combination of nervous and excited. Going back and forth between the two. A few days ago the nerves were really starting to get to me. I have some valium to take for muscle spasms after the surgery, and I was pretty tempted to take one just so I could calm down. I'm not sure what's changed, but yesterday and today I'm feeling strangely calm.

I think today the reality of what I am about to do...

I think today the reality of what I am about to do has set in! Less than 24 hours until my surgery. It's pretty exhilarating!!

My big day was two days ago! I remember being...

My big day was two days ago! I remember being wheeled back for surgery, but nothing after that until I woke up in the OR and they were trying to get me into my compression garment. It wasn't fitting, so they ended up needing to cut it in several places.

I was doing well in recovery and had my pain under control until they switched me over to a morphine pump. By the time I got up tony room, I was in excruciating pain. Luckily I had an excellent nurse who recognized what was happening. Apparently a select few people don't respond to morphine. What a time to discover I'm one of them! The nurse promptly called my surgeon to get me switched to a dilaudid pump instead. This would take awhile to get ordered from the pharmacy, so in the meantime, the nice nurse brought me some Vicodin tablets. I'm also on Valium to control muscle spasms.

Finally the dilaudid pump came, and I was able to get some rest. In the morning, the nurse took out my catheter. Several hours later I could really feel my bladder getting full. So the nurse helped me make it to the bathroom. I sat for almost 30 minutes trying to pee. I tried putting my hands in warm water, letting the water run, squirting myself with a bottle. Fail! The nurse had to do a catheter (which wasn't bad at all), and I felt instant relief.

In other news, I was able to pee on my own several times yesterday. I also began getting out of bed to walk the hall. It really helped to have a walker (I borrowed mine). Being all hunched over isn't exactly comfortable, but the walker helps take some of the pain off my shoulders and back.

I decided to stay a second night at the hospital. I live alone and really didn't feel ready to give up my support system so soon. So I will be discharged this afternoon and will spend lots of quality time in my recliner at home. Thankfully my sister has stayed in the hospital with me! I'm not sure I could have made it that first night without her.

Best part is, despite all of the dressings and swelling, I can tell I am thinner! It's a pretty incredible feeling. :)

I just added a few pictures. The site was giving...

I just added a few pictures. The site was giving me some problems, so I didn't get to add the picture I wanted the most-- the side shot! It's the one where you can see the biggest difference. So hopefully I'll be able to add that tomorrow as well as update my review.

Got the side shot added to my pictures....

Got the side shot added to my pictures. :)

Recovery is going well. I got home on Friday afternoon. I had someone from the healthcare agency get me home and settled. She stayed several hours and got me some dinner. I had a table by my recliner where I kept everything I might need-- medications, water, crackers, phone, remotes, etc. I set alarms all night for my medications. Saturday I had the nice lady from the healthcare agency again. Before bed, I took some milk of magnesia for the constipation. I did the all night alarms to stay on top of my medications again, which worked well.

Sunday was a bad, bad day. I had severe nausea. I hardly got up all day, didn't eat and even vomited water. I called my ps who thought the nausea was from the narcotics building up in my system. She also explained my muscle repair was one of the most extensive she's ever done. My muscle separation was so bad that my bowel was protruding into my abdominal cavity (if you look at my before pictures, especially the side, you can really see it. It's what made me look pregnant). I made a decision right then to give up all pain medications.

By Monday morning, all of my nausea was gone!! I was able to eat a normal breakfast and walk around some with my walker. The pain was uncomfortable, but not intolerable. I decided to stay on the Valium, which helps and has no nausea associated with it.

Monday was also a big day-- my first post-op visit! Yay!! I saw the PA, who removed my dressings and took off all of the special tape my ps uses. One of my drains was ready to come out! It didn't hurt (or if it did, it was for just a second...and I had no pain medication). Then she re-taped me, placed a gauze pad over where I had the drain and taped that, and helped me back into my compression garment. She also gave me the ok to shower!!! Yay!!

My daughter is now back at my house. Yay!! She and her preschool class made a very sweet card for me. Her nanny is here during the day, and my family stays at my house at night to take care of my daughter and help me with whatever I need.

Tuesday I took a shower!! It was very, very exciting and refreshing. I used my sister's disabled accessible shower. It has a bench and handheld shower. Perfect. I put my drains on a lanyard. After, I needed to replace the gauze pad and tape over the site where I had the drain. The shower was an exhausting effort, but I feel so clean and happy. :)

Tuesday night I also had my first po bowel movement. TMI warning. It was AWFUL!!! Like giving birth all over again. I pushed and strained for nearly an hour. By the time it was over, I was sweating and crying. I was also really worried I could have done some serious damage to all of that muscle repair or even popped a stitch. I'm not sure HOW I got so constipated! I was on stool softeners several days before my surgery, and milk of magnesia Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights (3, then 4 and 4 tablespoons!). Whew. This was possibly the worst part of my recovery!

Today I'm 1 week PO!! I'm feeling better each day. I'm almost standing up straight. I walked a bit without my walker today. It definitely helps keep the strain off my back and shoulders. I'm still spending most of my day in my recliner with books and television. I have yet to actually get myself dressed and do any makeup. I even went to my PO appointment in my nightgown, lol. I'm managing my pain with just Tylenol. The lipo sites are FAR more sore than the actual tummy tuck. I'm also still taking the Valium, which helps the tightness in my abdomen.

For now, my biggest complaint is that I'm having lots of trouble sleeping at night. I wake up around 3 or 4 and cannot get back to sleep. I eventually read a book for a few hours until I can get myself back to sleep. I'll be very happy to sleep in my own bed again and not this recliner! Maybe a few more nights. My bed is pretty high, and I'm not sure I'd be comfortable sleeping flat on my back. What I really want is to sleep on my side again.

So, that comment from me (below in the comments...

So, that comment from me (below in the comments section) was supposed to go here, lol. My phone won't let me copy and paste it, so I will do that as soon as I'm at my computer again.

Here's the new comment to my review I accidentally...

Here's the new comment to my review I accidentally added to the comments section earlier!

I wanted to make a list of a few things that have been very helpful to me in my recovery. At the top of the list goes the walker!! A power lift recliner (I rented mine from rent-a-center). A nice soft throw to keep me comfortable and warm while I'm in my recliner. I bought something a little bit pricey (about $175), but can't imagine being without it: a seat lift table. I got mine from Tiger Medical (http://www.tigermedical.com/Products/Seat-Lift-Chair-Table__DRI13085L-.aspx). It's a table that goes over the recliner and spins 360 degrees, so I can push it off to the side to get in/out of my recliner. The assembly is a bit tricky-- if you aren't handy, get someone to help you. If you live in the Denver area and are having this surgery, I'd be happy to loan mine to you (once I'm done with it, lol). Another thing I've done that has helped me is putting a pillow over my abdomen while I'm reclined. I feel much more secure this way. I can put (small) things on the pillow-- the remote, my phone, etc. It also acts as a barrier for my cat, who loves to sleep on me. I've needed to show her that the pillow is off limits to her, but she curls up on my legs, or sometimes right next to me on the arm rest. I'll have to see if I can get a picture. Can I also say I can't imagine this recovery without my cat?!?! I love her to pieces, and it's such a comfort to me to have her purring and sleeping contentedly in my lap. (for the record, I am a cat person. I LOVE cats. I only own one, though, and she's the best...exceptionally sweet and mellow, especially with my toddler!) Back to my list. A shower seat for when you shower. A lanyard for your drains when you shower. I'm sure I'll think of more, but that's it for now.

Here are a few photos of my ill-fitting...

Here are a few photos of my ill-fitting compression garment. I HATE it. I also HATE the drains. This compression garment is the kind that is supposed to leave the breasts free and then has detachable suspenders to keep it over the shoulders if needed. Apparently, I am too short for this size. I don't consider myself short. I am 5'3". At my pre-op, I tried on a compression garment that was one size larger than my usual size large (so it was an XL). My PS determined it was the proper size.

After surgery was another story. Apparently I had a great deal of swelling. The compression garment didn't fit me and had to be cut in several places. It caused me great trauma...it left gigantic bruising on the front of my thighs (which you can see in those first post-op pictures) and even some blisters on my thighs, as well. Unfortunately, after surgery, my PS's office didn't have the next size up, and it had to be ordered. I had to wait 5 days until my post-op to get the larger (XXL) size.

The XXL fits much better in terms of how it compresses and contains me (not overly tight!). However, clearly a woman who needs a size XXL compression garment must necessarily be XX-tall as well. The compression garment has to go over my breasts, compressing those as well. My breasts are already very small-- they do not need any help in the compression department! (I could have done breast augmentation but opted for thigh/hip lipo instead. I'm not troubled by my small breasts...I actually kind of like them. My thighs have been an issue for me since high school, and my hips since giving birth). Additionally, the garment cuts into my armpits uncomfortably. Most annoying, however (aside from the compressing my breasts), is that since the garment is meant for someone much taller than my 5'3", I have lots of excess fabric lengthwise. I am hitching the darn garment up ALL day long (probably 50 times a day). Each time I do this, it pulls on my drains and makes them burn.

I want the drains OUT and a compression garment that FITS me!

Would like to add that I am very happy I am...

Would like to add that I am very happy I am standing up pretty much straight! Just a little bit hunched in the shoulders, and that's usually only first thing in the morning and after I've been on my feet and active for an hour or more.

Forgot to add, 10 days PO today.

Forgot to add, 10 days PO today.

So, I'm trying to stay positive. The compression...

So, I'm trying to stay positive. The compression garment situation could be worse...much worse! If I had breasts any larger than my almost-A cup, I would have a serious problem on my hands! As it is, it's snug zipping my breasts in there. If i were any larger, I wouldn't be able to zip my CG all the way. I'd have to cut boob holes or something, lol. Here's to hoping a stage 2 garment will work out better for me...and better yet, that I won't have to compress my breasts into this one too much longer!

I'm 12 days PO today and am re-gaining my stamina...

I'm 12 days PO today and am re-gaining my stamina a little more each day. Yesterday I managed to be on my feet for a total of 3 hours-- 2 hours in the morning and another in the late afternoon. Most of my time on my feet is pretty active, chasing after my toddler (NO lifting, though) and doing "extra light" housework-- rinsing dishes, putting them in/out of the dishwasher, cooking (AKA microwaving, lol), tidying clutter on the counters, folding laundry (my family takes it in and out for me). Yesterday afternoon I did a grocery store run with my mom. I did quite well! I brought my walker and was glad for that, but it was really nice to get out of the house and do something normal!!

Yesterday my period arrived almost a full week early. It's what my body seems to do under stress. I was really hopeful I could at least make it until my drains came out. Oh well. My legs are swollen from the lipo, and my regular panties are too tight! I actually had to take an old pair and cut the elastic until I could get to the store and buy some stylish granny pants. They're way chic. I don't know why I don't wear them all of the time, lol.

I'm not in any pain really these days. I still find the Valium very helpful and am taking it 3 times a day. I take Tylenol as needed. My big thing is just getting my stamina back. I also find I am feeling well enough to do things I know are big no-nos, like vacuuming my house. I have to remind myself of my limitations. I certainly don't want to risk any damage!

Today has been a big success. I returned to work today. I've chosen to gradually go back to work as my stamina rebuilds itself. I was up for a total of 7 hours today, although only about 3 of those hours were up and on my feet. My work is a desk job, so I was sitting for that. It went quite well. I was excited to get back to work, lol. Something new and different to do with my time. My biggest distraction was my compression garment. I kept needing to
hitch it up about every 10 minutes. Otherwise it was great to get back to work!

I took a shower again this morning. This is the first shower I've had that hasn't left me totally wiped out! In fact, I actually felt refreshed.

Last night someone recommended a site to me that sells a stage 2 garment I think looks perfect. It has everything I need-- a side zipper, comes in a petite size and even has a built-in bra. I promptly ordered it. I'll get the link later and add it to my review.

Tomorrow is my second post-op. I am super hopeful my drains will come out! Fingers crossed for that! I think once my drains are out and I have a compression garment that fits me, I'll feel even better than I do now (I'll also be a whole lot happier!!). Fingers crossed for those drains!

Had my second post-op today. I got both of my...

Had my second post-op today. I got both of my remaining drains out! YAY!!! I am so happy! I can't move to my stage 2 compression garment yet because I have too much swelling, particularly in my legs. I'm supposed to bring my stage 2 garments back next week, and they'll help me evaluate if I might be ready then. At least it's slightly more comfortable without those tubes in there.

I got all my liposuction stitches out. Also stitches from my belly button (only a few were the non-disolvable kind). My bruising is fading to yellow. Everything is looking good! My incision is slightly high on both sides (comes up to my waist and even wraps around to my back on my right side). Fine with me, though. Whatever needed to be done to get my stomach looking nice and flat! :) I told my mom today by the time all of the swelling is down, I might even come close to having the body I did in college!!

My PS said no no to walking on the treadmill. :( I can walk around my house or outside (it is freezing here, so no way), but no treadmill walking.

I was also given the okay to sleep in any position I find comfortable. For a while longer, I think it's going to be in the recliner. I'd do anything to sleep on my side again, but the lipo bruising is pretty sore. I can't imagine I'd be too comfortable on my side for very long.

I'm supposed to start decreasing the valium. That's going to be a hard one. It's been what's getting me through the pain in my abdomen. The muscle spams I'm having are still pretty bad. I might try moving to just a half in the morning (when I'm least active-- mostly just sitting at my desk working)...or not. I'm going to try dropping the one at bedtime entirely. I really think the valium is interfering with my sleep cycle. So unless I start to get bad spasms in the next few hours, I'm going to see if I can hold off and just skip the night time valium.

All in all a successful day!

Updating this to add information for anyone who is...

Updating this to add information for anyone who is interested in it about hiring someone from a home healthcare agency. If you live alone and don't have family or a friend to come and stay with you for a few days, I highly, highly recommend it. I couldn't have done this entirely on my own! This is from a recent post of mine to the January 2013 tummy tuck board.

I live alone and hired someone to help me the first 4 days I was out of the hospital. Mostly I was in my recliner while she was at my house (so, yes, I paid someone to spend lots of time sitting and reading and doing crossword puzzles, lol), but she was also tremendously helpful. She made my meals for me, brought me water, set her alarm and reminded me to take my medications, and walked with me (even though i had a walker, I was pretty dizzy and felt better having someone walk with me just in case) when I got up once an hour to walk around my house. Walking often (even just up and down a hall once or twice), FYI, is essential.

I had originally only planned to have the healthcare worker come in 3 hours a day, but I ended up going with 8. She came in at 8 and stayed 4 hours-- got me breakfast and then lunch before leaving. Then I was on my own for 3 hours (I slept during this time but would get up once and walk carefully up and down my hall twice). Another nice healthcare lady came in at 3 and stayed until 7-- she got me dinner, walked with me and did any light house tidying I needed (taking trash out, cleaning expired things from my fridge, etc). The nice healthcare ladies also fed my cat for me. :)

A family member always stopped by around 8 to make sure I was set for the night (also to scoop kitty's box, lol). I strip my drains myself, unless my sister is around (she had drains a few years ago for another surgery and is excellent at helping me). I kept a table by my recliner stocked with everything I needed-- pill boxes, water, crackers, phone, lip balm, lotion (hands got super dry for some reason), pen and paper, remotes, vomit bag (just in case...I only needed it once, lol). I'd say at PO day 5 I started to feel less shaky and more capable of fending for myself. This was the day my toddler came home (she had been with my family). Her nannies watch her during the day, and nights and evenings I have a family member stay at my house to help my daughter and me.

So, how to find a home healthcare agency. I'd start by calling your plastic surgeon's office and asking if they can recommend a home healthcare agency. If they can't, call your primary care doctor and ask them. One or the other should be able to give you a name. If you don't have a primary care doctor or they can't recommend somewhere, call a medical supply store and ask them who they would recommend. If all else fails, Google it. Place a call to somewhere that feels like a good fit.

First question you need to ask them is if they are limited to senior care (some agencies only do seniors), or if they can provide assistance for post- surgical care. Explain there is no actual wound care-- lots of places will not take clients who need wound care. It's very similar to the assistance a senior would need. The agency I went with is actually for seniors, but they agreed to take me as a client because I didn't have any more needs than a senior would have.

When you find somewhere, they should set up a consult with you to find out what your specific needs and times will be. Yes, you'll likely be paying someone to sit around a lot (unless she could be helpful to you in doing some light housework-- these agencies won't do house cleaning, but light work, like dishes, laundry, etc are usually services they can do for you), but it is money VERY well spent. I am SO thankful I hired someone.

Right now I am super annoyed and angry with my...

Right now I am super annoyed and angry with my PS's office. When I was in for my second PO visit on Tuesday, the nurse told me I should be tapering my Valium. Okay, fine, I thought. I figured it would be a bit difficult because I know the Valium is what is giving me so much relief, but I thought it would be do-able. I thought that night I'd try getting myself off the Valium since it sounds like my PS doesn't want to keep prescribing it for me.

I took a dose at 1, which meant I could have had more at 7. I decided to skip it, especially since I'm sure Valium has something to do with my disrupted sleep. Major FAIL! By 8:30, the spasms were so bad I was hunched like I was 2 days PO! I could hardly stand still to brush my teeth (for some odd reason I find moving around alleviates my pain to some degree, or maybe it just distracts me). At 9:30, I gave in and took the Valium. Practically instant relief! Within 15 minutes, I could stand straight again. I could literally feel the spasms stop. Guess I still need the Valium.

So now I'm in a panic because it sounds like my PS's office won't prescribe me any more Valium. I was told that I could call Thursday or Friday, and they would give me enough to make it thru the weekend. Well great. What about after the weekend?!

So this morning I decided to try tapering my morning dose. My morning is limited to getting dressed, eating breakfast, and working. I figured I could handle it. I did...for about 3 hours. I took half a dose and got relief for half as long. After 3 hours, I had to give in and take the other half. I called to request more valium for the weekend. The nurse actually asked me how many tablets I had left and then said she would give me just enough to make it to my Wednesday appointment.

I intend to have a very serious talk with the PA at my Wednesday PO visit about the Valium situation. It makes me SO angry that they are being ultra-conservative about it. I understand they want me off it as quickly as possible, and that is absolutely my goal. I don't want to stay on the stuff endlessly!! However, they need to understand my situation is maybe a bit different from the average tummy tuck patient they see in their office. I'm not a mom with grown kids who works a desk job and can mostly relax at home. If I were, yes, I do think I could begin tapering the Valium more quickly.

A) I'm a single mom to a toddler (need I say more? I have nannies during the day, and on nights and weekends my family has graciously offered to stay at my house to help out and do the lifting...I'm still my daughter's primary caretaker during those times! I play with her, chase her around the house, cook, etc). and B) my muscle repair was very extensive. My PS said it was one of the worst she's ever repaired. My intestines actually needed re-positioning because they had migrated into my abdominal cavity, and I was under an anasthetic for slightly more than 7 hours.

I'm not their typical TT patient, and they need to understand that and help by giving me the relief I need (that would be Valium). I understand they don't want me addicted to it. Neither do I, lol! I strongly believe addiction forms when people abuse drugs and take them when they aren't actually needed. I think if someone actually needs a drug and takes it as prescribed, and gets off it when it's possible, there isn't an addiction risk. I got off the narcotics as quickly as I could, and I intend to do the same with the Valium.

I know they won't prescribe Valium for me endlessly, and that's not what I'm asking. I'm asking them to do their job and help a patient do what's necessary for her to make a full recovery as quickly as possible. If I have to, I will request a meeting with everyone in their office. It is simply unprofessional of them to do this to me. End of story.

19 days PO today, and I am in swell hell. Even in...

19 days PO today, and I am in swell hell. Even in my CG, my thighs and hips are larger than they were pre-op! It's really getting me down. The results from my tt are so dramatic, I think I was expecting the same immediate results from the lipo. Apparently I didn't quite know what I was getting myself into as I am not a particularly patient person. I keep reminding myself I will not look like this forever, the swelling is temporary, but all I can focus on is the present. I have a bit of swelling in my lower stomach, but it's nothing compared to my thighs and hips. I just need to be patient. This swelling is temporary.

I had a bad day yesterday trying to do too much. I went to the grocery store (just like last weekend) and brought my mom along to push the cart and lift. I was feeling pretty good and my mom was nowhere to be found. I actually stood on the bottom shelf and reached for something I needed on the top. Oops. I also walked the entire store, which was more walking than I've done since having my surgery (should have brought my walker, but I haven't used it in at least a week so I thought I'd be ok without it). I was pretty sore and quite exhausted when I got home!

I've been cutting back the Valium, and it's going fairly well. I'm replacing it with ultracet. It does not stop the muscle spasms I'm still experiencing, but it at least takes an edge off. I really still need the valium, but I'm afraid my PS won't give me any more and I want to conserve what I have for when I truly have such bad spasms I can't stand up. Right now I'm taking 1 ultracet in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. I take a Valium at night unless I've had a very mellow day, and then I take 2 ultracet. It's going better than I'd expected, but I'd still prefer the Valium. This is at the top of my list of things to discuss at my PO visit on Wednesday.

My bellybutton is really creeping me out. I try not to look at it at my PO visits, but today I had to change the tape because it was peeling away. Ewwwww! My belly button is all flat and (tmi) has lots of gross scabs and dried blood. It's also looking like its trying to close up entirely. Yikes. I doubt I'll ever wear a bikini (scar comes up pretty high on the sides), but it would be really nice to have a normal looking bellybutton! My PS says as soon as I'm healed, she'll have me tape a marble in there. Maybe I'll be ready for that at my post-op this week.

My stage 2 CG arrived and is perfect. It is a petite size, so no excess garment to hitch up all day or compress my breasts into. Sadly, I can't wear it yet because I still have too much swelling going on. I tried it on on Friday (3 days ago), and it was very snug. I couldn't even get into it without help from my mom. I could only manage wearing it for about 4 hours before I ended up needing to get back into the stage 1 CG. Can't wait until I'm ready to wear the new one!!

I'm going stir crazy sitting at home all day. I'm eager to get back to my life. I miss doing activities with my daughter-- going to museums, parks, for walks, to her mom-tot preschool and music classes. I'm so stir crazy, in fact, the other day I Googled an old boyfriend from about 20 years ago and emailed him!! Luckily he hasn't replied, lol. The weather this week is supposed to be quite nice, so I'm hopeful I might be able to get out and try a walk around my neighborhood.

3 weeks post-op today!! I'm just home from my PO...

3 weeks post-op today!! I'm just home from my PO visit with the PA. Went a whole lot better than last week. I like the PA soooo much more than the nurse I saw last week. She is fabulous and so knowledgeable. She cleaned out my belly button for me, and it looks much more normal. A little narrow, but a whole lot more like a belly button. It's no longer giving me the creeps. It has to stay taped up until next week, when I will begin using a marble to give my belly button more shape. :)

The final few stitches were removed from my tummy tuck incision. It's looking really good! It comes up fairly high on one side (both sides, really, but higher on one side) to my waist, and at least this summer I will not be wearing a bikini (could go for the high-waisted kind, but really how chic is that on someone my age?! I think not. I am happy to just look good in a one piece! No more skirt-y swimwear with a pregnant-looking stomach). We'll see how it looks over time as the scar fades. My sister had breast reduction surgery several years ago (done by the same PS), and her scars are so faint, I actually have to look to see them. Hopefully I will have a similar recovery over time.

She also showed me how I can begin to massage the lipo sites. They're pretty sore today because I tried to sleep on my side last night (something she told me she would not suggest until next week, when I am one month PO...oops). She says the very small bumps I feel are actually the dissolvable sutures. The larger hard spots, too, are normal-- they are scar tissue. She recommends another week, and then I will be ready to go to the post-op massage therapy place their office recommends to patients. The massage therapy place looks wonderful. I checked out their website last night. They seem to be primarily for cosmetic surgery patients, and they do lymphatic massage, lipo massage for the hard spots I'm feeling (and can help instruct me how to massage those at home) as well as lots of other very helpful things. I will definitely be going there starting next week.

Finally, we talked about the medications. HUGE difference from the nurse last week!!! She said "well, you're only 3 weeks post-op, today!" She said of course I would still feel discomfort at this point and said she's happy to prescribe whatever is working for me. She said my muscle repair was extensive (which I already knew), and that the spasms are normal and the Valium will definitely continue to be beneficial to me. She was also happy to give me the ultracet to take during the day and said I'd had some "aggressive lipo," and it was completely normal that I would continue to feel discomfort, particularly from the lipo sites, at this time. She said when I get more like 6 weeks out, she'd recommend tapering down at that point, but she feels now is much too soon for me. I really like her a lot (not just because she'll give me my medications, lol) and have requested all of my future appointments be with her.

So, today's appointment was a huge success. The bruising is really fading. The swelling is down enough I can wear my stage 2 CG during the day (yay!) but will probably need to switch back to the other one in the evenings due to the swelling I get then. I'm feeling quite well these days. I think I'd be feeling even better if I hadn't done the lipo, although by the time summer comes, I think I will really be glad I chose to do it. I get bad spasms in my stomach in the evenings, and the valium really gives me a lot of relief. Within 15 minutes of taking it, I can feel my stomach relaxing and am much more comfortable. The ultracet I take during the day primarily because I'm having a considerable amount of discomfort from the lipo, especially on my left hip and thigh (to certain extent, in my stomach as well). I'm not having muscle spams in the morning any more (yay!) and usually, unless I am up and active, only take one ultracet then-- all I do is get dressed, eat my breakfast, and sit at my desk working, so I find one ultracet sufficient in the mornings. In the afternoons, I usually take two. I'm more active in the afternoons, and in the early evenings, I take care of my daughter. It helps the pain from the lipo and also takes an edge off any spams I start to experience then (they're not comfortable, but I can tolerate them with the ultracet). If the spasms get bad in the afternoon, I take half of a Valium. All in all, I'm doing well. I'm thrilled with how flat and wonderful my stomach looks!! Wish I didn't have to wait so long to see the results in my thighs, but I will try to be patient!

Oops...I posted my review update in the comments...

Oops...I posted my review update in the comments section again! Here it is:

I'm wearing my stage 2 garment most of the day at this point (23 days post-op). The awful swelling I had last weekend has let up some. I still start to get pretty bad swelling in the evening, around dinner-time, so I have to switch back into the stage 1. I stay in the stage 1 garment until I wake up the following morning and then put my stage 2 back on.

My big issue with this stage 2 garment is if I have to have a bowel movement. I've been taking my entire compression garment down to have a bowel movement. I tried it once wearing the stage 1 garment, and it was pretty gross. So ever since then, I've been taking it down.

Getting myself into the stage 2 garment isn't a problem in the morning because I have no swelling then. The stage 2 CG comes from my knees and goes up over my shoulders. It has a side zipper, but it still requires lots of pulling to get it on. So if I have a bowel movement around, let's say, 1pm, I do have swelling by then, and getting myself back into the CG is nothing short of a circus trick. I have to really tug and pull to get myself back into it! If only I could time when I have a bowel movement to happen first thing in the morning when I switch compression garments, lol.

The weather here has been pretty nice. I've been taking daily walks around my neighborhood. It's nice to get out and walk!!! Going once around my block is quite a long distance, and the first time I tried going for a walk, I wasn't sure I would make it. I did, though, and it's gotten easier since then. By the time I get back home, though, my left hip and thigh really burn. It's nice to get out of the house for a change. Hopefully the weather stays nice!

Here is the petite compression garment I ordered....

Here is the petite compression garment I ordered. It only comes in black, but aside from that, it is everything I want in a compression garment. Most importantly, it is petite, so it fits my body (made for ladies who are under 5'3")! No more compressing my breasts. I find the built-in bra more comfortable than having the "suspenders" digging into my shoulders (I'm small enough on top that I can even wear my own bra underneath)...although the suspenders might not be a problem for other ladies; I had to pull mine on the stage 1 CG pretty tight to keep the garment up. It has a side zipper, which makes it slightly easier to get on, but isn't visible under clothing. It's difficult enough pulling it up, though, even with the zipper, that I can't imagine the completely pull-on styles! I don't know how I'd get myself into one of those!

Here's a link to the one I ended up ordering. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to get a picture of myself wearing it.

4 weeks post-op today!! New pictures! I had...

4 weeks post-op today!! New pictures! I had another PO visit today with the PA. She removed a few more spitting stitches and says I'm a model patient, lol. The tape is now off my belly button. It's kind of funny-looking right now. I'm supposed to use a massage cream and a marble a few times a day to give my belly button some shape. I'll just use the marble right over and kind of inside my belly button with some massage cream. My belly button looks kind of off-center now, but I'm assured this is due to swelling, lol.

Speaking of swelling, mine is coming down a lot! Finally my thighs and hips have some definition, and I can see that the lipo really did help! So that is very exciting. The bruising is fading a lot. It's almost gone entirely, just lingering in a few places.

I can sleep on my side again the day I'm 1 month post op, so February 2. I can't wait!! Although I am a little bit nervous. A week ago (before I had talked to the PA), I tried to sleep on my side. I woke up so sore I could hardly more all morning. I definitely don't want a repeat of that, but I'm eager to sleep in my own bed. For now I'm still in the recliner (which is perfectly comfortable) because I'm afraid I could roll onto my side in my sleep.

I'm feeling better and better. I've been going for walks in my neighborhood on nice days. The first few times I tried it, I was pretty tired and sore afterwords, but I can walk further now and without feeling so exhausted when I get home. Still sore from walking, though, mostly in left hip and thigh (where I had the most lipo).

I've been able to sit on the floor with my daughter for about the past week or so. She's so happy to have her mommy back. She's interested in sorting and stacking these days and also loves it when I read to her. I still have my morning nanny (am thinking of keeping her even after I'm healed because she is so wonderful; I'd originally only hired her for the time I was recovering for this surgery and couldn't lift, but she is fabulous, so I'm thinking of keeping her). The afternoon nanny is finally back from her travels. And my family stays at my house on nights and weekends to do any lifting I need. Aside from lifting and nap/bed time (because I can't lift my daughter into her crib), I am back to my usual mom duties and quite happy for it. A few months ago when my daughter had been sick for 4 solid days with a vomiting virus, I was actually looking forward to my upcoming "vacation," lol. I'm glad my vacation is mostly over now.

I just added a few other photos. One is a side...

I just added a few other photos. One is a side shot I took about 6 months ago. I look about 6 months pregnant in it, lol. That's why I never, ever wore fitted shirts. I only ever let myself wear loose, dark prints. Ever since my daughter was born, I never bought a shirt because I liked it, I bought it because I thought it hid my pregnant-looking stomach. The one after it (in the green shirt) is one I took this morning. HUGE difference!! I'm amazed and so, SO happy!

Then there are a few more in the green shirt. Then one I took of my petite compression garment. Fits me very, very well and really offers great compression.

I'm feeling upset about my belly button. :( It...

I'm feeling upset about my belly button. :( It isn't in the right place. It's too far to one side. I know, I know, I was told it's due to uneven swelling, but I took this picture this morning (when I have the least swelling), and it seems even more off-center than it was yesterday. Really sad because I liked my belly button...at least I did before I was pregnant, not so much after. I know it's a minor issue, but still...who wants an off-center belly button. :( I'm sad about it.

An eventful day today. When I looked in the mirror...

An eventful day today. When I looked in the mirror this morning, I discovered my swelling is down A LOT, and since the bruising has faded, I can now see my old stretch marks!!! Not the ones I had on my stomach. Those are gone (unless I have some swelling in my stomach hiding them), but I can see the ones on my hips! My TT scar is higher than most, which is completely fine with me, so my hip stretch marks didn't go away with the TT. I never thought I would be happy to see my stretch marks again, lol!!

Today I went to try a massage therapy place that my PS recommended. If you're in Denver, they're called Soulstice; definitely worth checking out. They specialize in post-surgical massage therapy, specifically massage for cosmetic surgery. The person who did my massage was male, which some ladies might be uncomfortable with (although there was no "exposure," it was all very modest, in case anyone reading this is hesitant), but it was irrelevant to me. I most of all wanted to see someone who knew what they were doing, and he definitely did.

The massage itself helps with lymphatic drainage (AKA swelling!) and also the scar tissue that builds up after lipo; it is over the surgical areas (like my entire stomach and hips/thighs), but is doing using extremely light touch. I have a few large lumps on my left hip from the lipo, which have been kind of giving me the creeps...I've always thought lumps are bad (I tried to get over this fear when I was breastfeeding, but everytime I felt a new lump in my breast, I was uneasy), but mine are scar tissue from the lipo. I discovered that I have more feeling in my stomach than I believed (I thought I was numb all the way from my breasts to my pubic area, lol). I told him at the very beginning I had no sensation at all on my stomach. The first side, I felt nothing. The second side, as soon as he touched me, I jumped, lol. I was NOT expecting to feel anything there, either, and was totally caught by surprise. I even learned things I can do at home to help the healing process. So I am super happy about all of this. I am going back next Wednesday.

I am feeling better about my belly button today (although I actually brought it up during my massage today, lol). I think all of the support from the wonderful ladies on my January board helped me a lot. I just need to give everything a chance to settle down. I'm sure I still have lots of swelling going on and healing to do. I'm only a month post-op. And if it's a little off-center in the end, I've decided I don't care (although I'd prefer a centered belly button, lol). There is NO way I want my old flabby, 6-months-pregnant looking stomach back just because I had a perfectly centered belly button. I much, much prefer my beautiful, flat stomach with its off-center belly button. :)

In other news, I am feeling very thankful I asked for a diflucan prescription when I had to do a second round of antibiotics. I finished the antibiotics last week and was thinking the other day how odd (and exciting) it was that I had managed to escape a yeast infection. Luckily I hardly ever need antibiotics, but they always give me a yeast infection. :( I started to feel like I was getting one last night and knew for sure this morning so got out the diflucan. Very glad I asked for it! It's something new every day with this recovery process, lol.

So I posted another update in the comments...

So I posted another update in the comments section, lol. I just discovered it. Here it is:

Yesterday (2/2), I was officially one month post-op, and my PS said I had to wait to sleep on my side until one month out. I was so excited last night to sleep in my own bed! I've been sleeping in the recliner (which is quite comfortable) I rented out of fear I would roll onto my side in my sleep. Last night was a major FAIL. My incision is up pretty high (almost to my waist) and on one side, wraps around almost to my back. Sleeping in my bed was very uncomfortable. It was painful lying on my incision, and the lipo sites are still quite tender. I woke up probably every 90 minutes needing to roll to my other side (which made my stomach muscles burn) and reposition my pillows. Around 4am I gave up on the back and forth rolling and decided to just sleep on my back with a pillow under my knees, but it was still nowhere near as comfortable as the recliner. Tonight I will get my beauty rest in the recliner!! After the fail last night, I can't wait to get back into the recliner tonight. I won't be trying my bed again anytime soon, lol. I'll rent the recliner clear until June if I have to (although I really hope I'll be sleeping in my bed long before then!). The recliner might even top the walker on my list of must-have items for recovery following this surgery, lol. A few hours after the massage on Friday, I started to have strange tingling sensations on areas of my stomach and hips that were numb. Since then, I've noticed I have sensation in those areas! I'm not completely numb (certain areas still are numb, though)! It's pretty exciting. I'm sure it's from the massage because until then, I was almost completely numb everywhere (stomach, hips and thighs). Yay! :) Massaging my belly button with a marble doesn't seem to be doing anything. I can only tolerate it for 5 minutes max until it starts to get painful so I stop. I'm tempted to just tape the marble in there. I feel like that would do a lot more to open my belly button up than just massaging it with a marble 5 minutes a day (I supposed I could add another 5 minutes, but it just doesn't seem to do anything except get painful from all of the movement across my bellybutton). I'm tempted to just give it a try.

I have given up on the marble massage. Every time...

I have given up on the marble massage. Every time I use it, it makes my belly button really red and irritated. I can only stand it for 2-3 minutes before it actually gets quite painful. Plus, it doesn't seem to be helping at all. After reading on this site about belly buttons and opening them back up after this surgery, I decided on the foam earplug method. Yesterday I went out and got a bunch of foam earplugs and have been keeping one in my bellybutton around 15 hours a day. I put it in the afternoon and take it out first thing in the morning. This is only my second day, so obviously too soon to know if this is helping or not. At least I can say it is completely not painful. Feels a little bit weird to stuff the earplug in there, but once it's in and taped up, I forget it's there. :) Hopefully this will work for me.

I got another CG that I love. I washed the black one, and it got kind of stretched out? Or maybe my swelling is just down enough that it's not compressing me like before. In any case, I've been wearing this CG for about 5 days and really, really like it: http://www.makemeheal.com/mmh/product.do?id=11187
I also got this one without the built-in bra, but I didn't like it as well, so I returned it: http://www.makemeheal.com/mmh/product.do?id=10217
It's a bit difficult to get into because it's a pull-on style, but once it's on...dare I say it?! It is comfortable!! I LOVE wearing it!! They're going to have to stage an intervention to get the CG away from me (only somewhat joking, lol). I'll probably wear it long after it's no longer needed...I imagine the only thing that will get me out of it will be when warmer weather rolls around later in the spring.

I'll be 6 weeks post-op tomorrow. Last night I was...

I'll be 6 weeks post-op tomorrow. Last night I was finally able to sleep comfortably (very!) in my bed for the first time since I had the surgery. YAY!! It was a blissful 8 hours. :) I'm so happy to be out of that recliner and back in my bed again.

Today was a big day. I accomplished a lot. In addition to waking up in my bed, today I also officially gave up the shower seat (I've been showering without it for about 2 weeks, but today I officially moved it out of my shower). This was also the first time since my surgery that I styled hair. My hair is very long (halfway down my back) and curly. Since my surgery, I've been wearing it up in a bun, but today I styled it straight again. This is a very long process-- takes me nearly an hour between blowdrying and using the flat iron, and I haven't felt like I've had the stamina to straighten my hair until now. I also had my first glass of wine since about December 20th tonight! I figured after all of those accomplishments, I deserved to celebrate a little bit. :)

Tomorrow I go back for my 6 week post-op visit. I'm sure they'll tell me I need to start giving up my CG, which I don't intend to do. I love wearing it, and right now I'm still having quite a bit of swelling in my thighs and hips that starts around noon. At least the CG contains the swelling a little bit; without out it, I imagine I'd swell up like a balloon. I'm definitely not ready to give it up quite yet. Last night I had to wash my favorite CG. I didn't feel like myself until this morning when I could put it back on (I had to sleep in a different, less comfortable one).

It's been a while since I updated this! I am 9.5...

It's been a while since I updated this! I am 9.5 weeks post-op and doing quite well. I am still swollen in the evenings these days, but in the morning I'm hardly swollen at all. It kind of builds throughout the day, and by evening I'm pretty swollen.

I'm feeling good these days. No more pain or muscle spasms. I'm still numb in areas, though. I started cardio exercise last week, which for me is swimming (I can't stand the feeling of being sweaty, so I do my cardio in the pool). It felt really good to get back to exercising (not just walking on the treadmill!). I did about half of my usual time, so just 30 minutes. I didn't swim the entire time. I could do about 4-6 laps at a time, then I needed to take a break and do 4-6 with a kickboard, then laps again, then kickboard. I'm swollen after swimming (I jump from the pool to the shower to my CG) as well as the next day, and last week felt a little bit sore Friday night. I'm not sure if that's normal or an indication I'm over-doing it. It feels really good to be back in the water and able to swim again. I'm also lifting hand weights up to 10 lbs. I can lift my daughter again in less than a month! I'm very excited about that!!

These days I'm finding I'm doing alright wearing regular clothes, such as my skinny jeans, in the morning until around 2 or 3pm (unless I went swimming the previous day...in which case, it's yoga pants). I start to swell a lot by mid-afternoon, so I need to put on looser clothes then. But in the morning I can wear my skinny jeans again!!! That's a major accomplishment. :) I have lost 16 lbs since the morning of my surgery, and I'm finding my size has changed slightly. Some of my very skinny jeans I still need my old pre-surgery size, but other styles I'm needing a size (or even two!) smaller, which is a great feeling.

I'm still wearing my CG 24/7 (except swimming and showering). I can stop wearing it (except in the evenings) at 12 weeks post-op (which is when I can lift my daughter as well). I also have to keep wearing the tape over my incision areas until 12 weeks post-op, at which time I'll be able to start wearing the silicone sheets. I'm excited for that. :)

Adding a few new pictures I took today. Those are jeans I never would have even thought of wearing in the privacy of my own closet prior to the surgery! I bought them on a whim a few days ago.
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