Tummy tuck, lipo to back and sides, fat grafting to butt/BBL

I have surgery scheduled with Dr. Fatima Almonte...

I have surgery scheduled with Dr. Fatima Almonte in the Dominican Republic, on January 18th. I will be going there with my cousin. I will arrive in DR on January 17th and will stay for 11 days. I am hoping to get a tummy tuck, lipo (stomach, side, lower back), Brazilian butt lift and a breast lift with augmentation. I have not had a consult yet with Dr. Almonte so I'm not sure if I can get all of these surgeries at once, but her assistant had told me that since I didn't have too much fat, they can do it at once. However, I have read reviews online saying that until Dr. Almonte sees you in person and checks your hemo levels, you may not get all of the procedures that you want done. She is a good doctor and will send you away and refund you, if she doesn't think you are healthy or strong enough for the surgery.

I have 39 days until my surgery and am taking blood builder iron pills to raise my hemo levels. I am planning on documenting my experience on Real Self so that it can help other people make choices.

My history: I am in my late 20s, no children, have lost over 120 lbs over the years, and have kept it off, but was left with sagging skin and really flabby jello-like fat right underneath my skin, that just never seemed to ever go away. I am planning on getting my TT, BBL, lipo and breast lift & augmentation with Dr. Almonte, and have plans a few months later, to get an arm lift and possibly also a thigh lift, probably with another doctor in Mexico that specializes in reconstructive surgeries for post weight loss patients. It is a LOT of surgery and I am trying to mentally prepare myself for the journey. Honestly, for the amount of weight that I lost, I don't have that much sagging skin, and underneath clothes no one even knows that I have problems. But I feel so self-conscious when I am naked or when I'm not wearing enough clothes, plus I hate how my body feels (how saggy and jiggly I am).

Currently I am in Europe and will be flying back home to the States in a week, and once I get there I will get some blood work done. I am nervous about that and am hoping my hemo is at a good level, since I don't have that much time to bring up my hemo count. I have been taking blood builder pills for 3 weeks, but I haven't been too consistent with it. I'm planning on taking 2 of them per day now, up until surgery.

Some clearer "before" pics & a rant about annoying people commenting on my upcoming surgery

My first pic was not very clear, so here are 2 clearer ones. The 2nd one is pretty graphic, but I personally like to see clear photos in different angles etc on reviews here, so I thought I'd post it.

I want to mention something: Some people think you can get rid of this without surgery, but you can't. Which drives me nuts! I need surgery to remove the skin and the hanging fat. It's not a matter of diet and exercise. I've been there and done that. I have lost 100+ lbs without surgery, so I know. I also HATE IT when people tell me I should be satisfied with the body I have, and that I don't need surgery. 1st of all you are not in my body, so 1) how do you know how I feel or should feel? and 2) it's my body, so I can do what I want. And not just that, but I lost so much weight with hard work, I deserve to have surgery if I want it. THE WORST ONE is when people tell me to wait until I have kids before getting surgery... Seriously how is this ANY of your business? People's opinions about plastic surgery are so annoying. And don't even get me started with how they think it is dangerous just because it is overseas. I don't even bother to tell people where I'm getting it done. Sorry, but I don't want to and can't afford to pay over $20k for surgery in the US, when they do great work overseas, even better than US surgeons in many cases. I have done my research for over a year, so I know. Research is your best friend. Do your research, and by that I mean spend MONTHS on research, not days or weeks.

Researching Embrace scar therapy

I am in no way endorsed by this company (I wish! lol), but I wanted to mention it, because I discovered this new scar therapy treatment while researching silicone sheets a few days ago. Basically, Embrace is a new type of silicone sheet, that relieves tension in scars. This is really important, because tension is what causes the scar to widen, get raised and to heal badly. Regular silicone sheets, silicone cream, BioCorneum, massages, etc don't do anything for tension. Embrace is the only scar therapy that helps with tension.

There aren't many reviews or before and after photos online, but the ones that I found, looked really promising. The scars heal pencil thin, are flat and some even fade so much you can barely see them! The science behind this is also solid. If you guys are interested, please take the time to research Embrace therapy for yourself. It is expensive, for a large area, such as your stomach after a TT, it will cost about $300 per month for the sheets, and you should do the therapy for at least 2 months for the best results. I'm definitely planning on using Embrace after I get my surgery.

"Deceptive" in clothes, here is proof

Posting a pic of myself in my Halloween costume to demonstrate how “deceptive” my body is with clothes. I can look good with clothes on, but underneath clothes, especially if I bend over…it’s a disaster. In some ways this is worse than being bigger, because at least when I was bigger, I looked the same with clothes on and off. No surprises. People just don’t expect me to have a sagging stomach or a jiggly body, when they see me in this costume.

I am not trying to be skinny. I have never been skinny. I want to be curvy and toned, and not have sagging skin or jiggly fat right under the skin (that doesn't go away with diet and exercise!). My wish is to just look good without clothes as well as with clothes on. An added bonus is that I know Dr Almonte can make my shape even better. There's no denying that's a huge bonus, to have a more feminine, hour glass shaped figure. But I am primarily getting surgery to remove the excess skin and to fill out my deflated breasts with implants.

More pre-op pics & some older pics

Posting a few more pre-op pics, just so I can be thorough. The first 2 were taken yesterday.

The rest were from about 2 years ago, when I weighed about 30 lbs less. I'm thinking that a combination of skin removal, implants, lipo and getting back down to this weight, will make me look and feel amazing. :D

If you see my second to last picture, that was my all time lowest weight. I may have been more than 35 lbs less than I am now in that pic. At that point I had a lot of skin all over my abdomen, inner thighs and all over my arms. My breasts were completely deflated. As you can see in that photo, I have a narrow body type that is ruler shaped. I am currently more curvy in the hip area, but the more weight I lose, the more narrow and ruler shaped I get. I lose my hips, my butt, and my breasts! All the wrong areas. That's why I'm choosing to get liposculpture. Because with weight loss, you cannot spot reduce.

I was actually traumatized when I got down to that weight, and saw what I looked like. I was small in clothes, but the skin problems I had were surreal to me. I wasn't mentally prepared for it like I am now. This time I am educated about PS, know exactly what steps I need to take to look and feel how I want, etc. This is a long and difficult process, but I believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Got my blood work results, finally

I finally got my blood work results, and my hemo is a 13.2. This was my hemo count on the 2nd day of my period, so my hemo count looks great. Yay!

18 days until surgery

Have a little more than 2 weeks until my surgery. I am anxious but feeling optimistic. Yesterday I had a lot of anxiety but today I feel more positive about it. I'm currently trying to reduce my intake of salt and am cutting back on carbs and increasing my intake of protein, so I won't be bloated when it's time for surgery.

Implant sizes, list of supplies I'm bringing & cost of everything so far

13 days left.... yay!!

I keep looking at implant pics and thinking of what size I should get. I'm currently a C cup but when I am 30 lbs less my breasts go down to a B cup. With skin removal they'd be even smaller. I'm probably a natural A/B cup at my ideal weight. I don't mind having small boobs, I just want them to be perky and have a nice shape, and not look deflated!

I like the look of medium size perky boobs, flat stomach and a big butt. I don't have the body type that can carry larger breasts and I'm afraid of getting implants that are too big. I think I'm going to go for 350cc. Anyone here got implants before? What size did you get?

And this is a list of supplies I'm bringing with me. I'm about to purchase everything now on Amazon.

- bromelain
- arnica montana 30x
- abdominal lipo board
- compression socks
- alcohol wipes
- disposable underpads
- donut cushion
- go girl urination device
- master lock portable safe
- blender bottle
- syntha 6 protein shake powder
- a couple of packs of hanes granny panties
- gauze bandages
- 650mg acetaminophen
- triple antibiotic ointment
- tena heavy long pads
- female adult diapers (was told to bring these because of the drain on the back from back lipo/BBL)
- arnica gel
- baby wipes

If there is anything that I might be missing, let me know in the comments!

My supplements:
- vitamin c powder, blood builder, folic acid, B12, prenatal vitamins

Clothes & other stuff:
- gonna bring big maxi dresses, a robe, tank tops, yoga pants, slippers, shower items & toiletries, ebooks I downloaded on my phone

Pain meds:
- my cousin is getting us hydrocodone and another med that's even stronger, so I think we're good with the pain meds

Scar therapy:
- I know it's too early to do scar therapy while I'm still in DR, but I'm bringing my Brace sheets with me if Dr Almonte lets me put them on after day 9-10 or so (that's the earliest you can put on silicone sheets once the incision is dry and the drains are removed, every person is different)

In case anyone is curious, here is a rough breakdown of what I've spent so far and what I may spend...

$350 - deposit to secure date
$6,000 - surgery (this includes surgery, consult, 1 night at the clinic, 10 days in recovery house, meals, transportation to and from the airport/clinic/consults, pre-op cardiovascular evaluation, EKG, blood tests, x-ray, post op medications, and 1 post op garment)
$300 - supplies I'm bringing (not everything I got is necessary, so this depends on what you bring)
$300+ - Brace scar therapy sheeting (not necessary, I chose to buy this)
$400 - round trip plane tickets from NYC to DR
$170 - cost for the 2nd post-op garment
$150 - insurance

Total cost is $7,670+. I am bringing $7k with me ($6k for the surgery and $1k for anything else that I may have to pay for, such as post-op garments, iron transfusions, medications, lymphatic massages, etc).

Yes, it does add up, but you need to account for everything. It's better to bring too much money and too much supplies, than to need something and you can't find it, or to run out of money. Just my opinion.

Day of surgery

I had surgery today. Still at the clinic. I wasn't able to get my breasts done as my hemo wasn't high enough at 13.2. It needed to be 14. I'm kind of glad for that anyway because Im so uncomfortable right now with just the TT , Lipo & BBL. The pic isn't clear but that's the best I can do for now.

Important: bring your own pain meds!

I arrived at the recovery house today.

Make sure to bring your own pain meds!!! I cannot overstate this! I brought morphine and narcotic pain pills and am still in pain. They give you some type of pain med but it is weak. I have hydrocodone and ABG 30 slow release morphine and even with this im still in pain.

What else... It hurts like hell, can't move, can't even sit up without assistance. I tried walking hunched over a few times, went to the bathroom. There's just so much to say I can't write about it all while I'm in pain and/or extremely uncomfortable going in and out of sleep and getting nauseous.

Part 2 of my update

For some reason my previous update was not completed.

I think you CAN get strong pain meds here, just make sure to ask for a script from Dr Almonte and get the prescription filled before surgery. If you can't bring them home from then definitely do this.

Also here is another pic. I'm still only 1 day post op. I have only 1 big drain and it is filling up fast. Fills up 12 times per day. Yes, that's how swollen and full of fluid I am. I think I look pretty small already considering how swollen I am.

Dr Almonte told me she lipoed 7.5 liters and removed a lot of skin. I was shocked. I didn't know I even had that much fat to remove.

Dr Almonte is also a sweetheart. Her whole staff is amazing and so is everyone at the recovery house (New Life).

Terrible 3 days of recovery

So I wrote a post but it got deleted somehow. Ill try again. Today, this Saturday, is going to be my 4th post op day. I have 3 post op days behind me. They are amongst 3 of the most uncomfortable days of my life. That's not an exaggeration. I'm hoping things will get better today. First off, my hemo dropped from 13.5 to 8.5 after surgery. I didn't know about this until I became very ill on my post op consult day on day 2. They tested my blood, gave me an IV and an iron transfusion. Literally on my post op appointment I almost passed out and the ladies there let me go ahead of them because I looked so bad. I was in emergency for 5 hours after that getting blood work and IVs. I came home and felt a bit better for an hour or so, but quickly became sick again. I realized the pain meds they were giving me (and the ones I brought myself) were making me extremely nauseous so I stopped taking them. Another doctor came by for a routine visit and he called my surgeon and got another IV and 2 more iron transfusions to have done on Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully this will raise my hemo to an acceptable level. I cried a few times from the extreme nausea and dry heaving. I spent 3 days completely regretting everything. My very low hemo count was making me dizzy, light headed with a fast heart rate, plus the meds were making me extremely nauseous and made me dry heave constantly. The dry heaving caused so much pain around my tummy tuck that it put tears in my eyes. I couldn't even think about food without dry heaving but I had to eat or else I would get more sick. I ate whatever I could keep down.. Oatmeal, some pineapples, crackers. At times I couldn't even keep down water. I refused to take pills once I noticed the nausea went away when I stopped taking them and after the IV. I think I am having a very bad reaction to the pills, especially the narcotic meds. The nausea was so bad id rather take pain over nausea. Also lying on my back definitely makes me worse. I try to sit up and walk around when I can, even if it's just back and forth my room. I have my cousin here for emotional and physical support so that's great. All in all, I'm still regretting this decision but I know 4 days is too soon. I'm still walking hunched over. I'm making this update in the middle of the night right now because I get up at night to walk around my room. Laying down for too long makes me feel worse. I'm even thinking about breakfast and what to eat in the AM so that's a good sign. Good appetite = getting better = healing faster.

Day 4 & 5 update + being attached to my faja

Day 4 went well. I had little to no nausea, ate well, felt good, was uncomfortable but considering I was not on pain meds it was bearable.

Day 5 I took off my faja to see if I could do #2. Taking off the faja almost made me faint because my blood pressure dropped rapidly. I felt better immediately as soon as I was stuffed back into the faja.

Some stuff to share...
- you can't really imagine how your own body can feel alien and against you until you either get hit by a bus or do this

- I see basically zero results so far. Sure maybe in 3 months I'll look better but my body wasn't so bad before to do this. I still feel regretful but I'm trying to imagine that my results will get better and I'll feel it's worth it later

- my body feels foreign to me and doesn't feel like it's mine. When I took off my faja I felt like my skin was going to fall off. It was a really horrible feeling

- the pressure from the faja is comforting/necessary and I'm concerned about how I'm going to attempt taking off my faja again to poop. I'm going to try to buy a short or crotchless faja tomorrow for this purpose

- I love my faja. The tighter it is the better and safer I feel. I'm definitely attached to mine. I am on the smallest hook of my first faja and need smaller ones

- I get burning feelings, sharp burning pins and needles, these can range from mildly unpleasant buzzing sensations to like you're being electrocuted

- I took a long nap today & had nightmares I can't remember . My cousin was saying that I was cursing in my sleep saying "f%!k you! F&$!k you!" Over and over and we both started laughing when she told me. I also had both crying spells and laughing spells over the days. Sometimes you just have to laugh so you don't cry

Tomorrow my goals are to buy a couple of new fajas, massage myself because I'm too scared to get lymphatic massages right now and get on some pain meds that don't make me sick.

Day 6 & 7 update

Post op day 6 & 7

I'm happy to report that im rapidly improving. I'm eating & sleeping well, feel better emotionally, the pain is lessening. I wasn't able to take prescription pain meds bc of nausea, but now my pain is manageable enough to just take strong Tylenol. My swelling is going down but there's a long way to go. My first stage faja is getting big and I should be getting a new one today or tomorrow.

The muscles in my stomach are maybe 70% healed (had muscle repair), the incision is healing beautifully and is thin and really low. Most of my pain is in my back, especially the area where they put my drain.

I started getting lymphatic massages, which helped a lot. I feel almost immediate relief afterwards and they help to reduce my swelling and increase my mobility.

I did a BM twice and after the first time, it wasn't traumatizing at all.

Im slowly seeing results although it's still very soon. My waist looks more cinched in but my back is still massively swollen. I didn't get a real BBL, more like fat grafting to my lower butt cheeks. So my butt isn't huge and I'm not expecting it to be.

My skin and body is starting to feel more normal. The nerves are healing and I'm regaining sensitivity.

I'm still walking hunched over and I feel stiff, can't really stay in one position for too long or else I get crampy and stiff.

Swelling going down

Post op day 8 and my swelling is finally going down. The right curve of my waist is less swollen than the left. I can't imagine how small my waist is going to look after a few months. As you can see, Dr Almonte's work speaks for itself.

Pic without faja, post op day 9

I am massively swollen and will be swollen for months, but I can already see a difference in contour and shape.

I didn't take pics of my sides or back because I am sooooo swollen that you can't see any changes.

Feeling good

I feel pretty good at this point (post op day 11/12) and am going home in a few days. I am not draining much anymore and hopefully I can leave without a drain.

It's amazing how much better I felt after post op day 7 or 8. Each day I felt better and better. The lymphatic massages I've been getting have had a huge role in accelerating my recovery. I plan to get them done when I get home too.

I feel good enough that I believe I can go back to work when I get home, but just desk/computer work. I think I can also drive too. I move slower and it takes me a while to get out of bed but I'm not fragile like I was before. I still walk hunched over slightly but that's because I don't want to force my stomach to stretch. I have a pencil thin incision and I don't want to stretch my incision wide.

Speaking of my incision, I'm beyond thrilled by my scar. One of my biggest worries was the scar I would get after a tummy tuck. My scar is literally pencil thin and you can barely see the incision in parts where the scabbing is coming off. My scar is more narrow than my stretch marks. My scar is also really low and even. My belly button also looks really natural. I'm soooo happy with my scar. I don't know if I just scar really well or if Dr Almonte has an amazing stitching technique, or if it's both, but I'm thrilled.

I am of course still very swollen, especially in my lower back, but I can already see big changes. My waist looks cinched in, and I finally have hips. Dr Almonte didn't put any fat into my hips, but they just look wider now compared to how narrow my waist is. My butt used to have a square appearance with the bottom part being flat, and now my butt looks rounder and fuller, but proportionate with my body. When the swelling in my lower back goes down I should get that S curve, which is the look I requested.

I'm really motivated to lose some weight now, because I want my results to look as good as possible in 3-6 months. I haven't been restricting my calories at the recovery house because I don't think recovery is the time to be restricting food. I do plan to get my weight down in the coming months, while the swelling is going down, so I can get the best results. Not a lot of weight, maybe 20 lbs. I also want to get my Breast lift & augmentation and arm lift done too. I can't imagine how amazing I'll feel when I finally get everything done.

I hope everyone is doing great and I hope my review is helpful to those who are researching/planning their surgery! Surgery was much harder than I thought it would be, but so far it has been very worth it for me.

Stage 2 faja

Had my post op appointment today. I finally got put into my stage 2 faja. It is sooo tight and the material is this stretchy canvas. It's a very well made garment and worth the $150 I spent on it.

Unfortunately I didn't get my drain removed. I'm still draining about 100ml per day. I'll have to get my drain removed at home in maybe 5 days to a week. I have one last appointment tomorrow with Dr Almonte and then I'll be flying home! Yay!

Finally home! So happy!

I finally arrived home last night. I got my drain removed on Tuesday in Dr Almonte's office, and it felt great to finally have it removed. Dr Almonte told me I had to have a lot of compression in my faja to control swelling and fluid buildup, so I am wearing my faja super tight with lipo foam underneath. Dr Almonte gave me papers with information on places in NYC that can do massages, remove drains (if you left with a drain) and she even has contact info for a plastic surgeon in NYC in case you need follow up care. I was relieved to get this info, because aftercare after leaving DR was one of my concerns.

My legs and ankles got so swollen on the flight. I had a layover in Atlanta, and had to go through customs, pick up my baggage, and go through security again, which sucked. No one gave me any problems for wearing a faja. I did set off extra security after going through the body scanner (they can see the lipo foam). It's not a big deal though. The female officer in DR who patted me down totally knew what was going on and the female TSA officer in Atlanta patted me down and asked if I was wearing a corset. I said "I'm wearing a faja" And she knew what it was. She did a bomb strip test on me (lol), where they rub a piece of paper on your hands and put the paper in a machine, and then I went on my way. I didn't get wheelchair service, which I kind of regretted at times, but I really didn't want people staring at me. I just walked around the airport slow and steady, and didn't push myself. By the time I arrived in NYC I was sooo exhausted. I am running on less than 20% of the energy I had before surgery. I get exhausted so fast.

I went to CVS and Dunkin Donuts this morning. I bought some gauze rolls, surgical tape, sterile cotton balls and some other things to take care of my incisions. Got myself an iced coffee as well. It feels good to finally be independent! I'm so thrilled that I can drive. The recovery house I stayed at was great but I felt like a hospital patient + prisoner there.

I'm still walking slightly hunched over and I walk really slow. I notice people stare at me because of it. They're probably thinking "What's wrong with her?" Don't care though. I feel amazing right now compared to how I've been feeling for the past 2 weeks.

One bad thing - I developed painful sores in my mouth, which has made eating difficult. I think I got the sores from iron and b12 deficiency. I was so excited to come home and eat, but I can only eat very soft, bland things like hard boiled eggs and yogurt. I bought some gel from CVS for my mouth sores, and the gel is helping a lot.

I'm still super swollen and I've been told the swelling won't go down for 2-3 months, and will take 6-9 months or longer to completely go down. So this is a long-term process. But despite how swollen I am, my waist already looks cinched in and my butt got a lot bigger than I expected it to. I can't wait for my final results. My mom and sister saw me last night and they both were shocked by how good Dr Almonte's work is. My mom in particular, was amazed and said "Wow I don't think you could get results like this in the US unless you went to a famous very expensive surgeon". YES EXACTLY. That's what I've been trying to tell people all along. The plastic surgery in Latin countries, not just in DR, is so much better than the US.

Also, my scars/incisions are healing great. I take care of my incisions by first cleaning them with hydrogen peroxide, then I use rosehip oil on my incisions, then I add neosporin onto the incisions. After that I add gauze and secure it with surgical tape, but I leave one end open so the incision can breathe. The scabbing is quickly falling off and I don't think I will have any more scabs in about 5 days to a week. The areas where the scabs come off, you can barely see the scar. I know the scar is going to change over the months, but even only 2 weeks out of surgery, my scars look amazing. Once the scabs totally come off I'm going to start using my Embrace silicone sheets.

All in all, I'm feeling great, despite my limited mobility and lack of energy. I'm grateful and super excited to have had fantastic results, and am so happy to be home again.

I hope everyone is doing well in their journey or research/preparation for their journey. I wish everyone the best! xoxoxo

16 days post op before/after

Here's a pic. Please keep in mind that im so swollen right now that my winter coats & jackets don't fit me properly anymore. my arms and legs are also very swollen, especially at night time. Despite the swelling and not fitting into my coats, my weight is already down 5 lbs. I can't wait for this swelling to go down. I know that I look smaller in the after pic at my waist, but different parts of me are swollen now, like my back.

Fighting the post surgery blues

I can feel a dark little cloud over me, slowly but surely. I am trying every day to fight it. It's not this deep dark depression, but you just feel down, when you can't get back into your normal life just yet, when you're extremely bloated, have to wear a super tight compression garment and you just overall feel uncomfortable. When you're healing and your body is changing, and you're getting impatient, or maybe even disappointed.

Really plastic surgery is not for wimps. You have to prepare for it by being realistic about your expectations, and afterwards you have to constantly keep reminding yourself of how far you've come, that you're healing, that it's a process. It also doesn't help, how the general public views plastic surgery. That it's vain, unnecessary, and at best, that it's easy and a quick fix. It is none of those things for (I believe) most people. Thank God the plastic surgeons who study and train for years to do this work, who spend countless hours with their patients, don't think the same way. They change our lives, improve our confidence, self-esteem, make us happier and more comfortable in our bodies. It is a worthwhile goal to want to improve yourself. I know I made a great decision. One of the best decisions of my life. You only have one body and you might as well be as comfortable in it as you can be, and be as confident in your skin as you can be. I am also really grateful to have found this site and I make frequent updates on my own review, so that it can help other people.

Here are some things I do to fight off my post surgery blues...
- keep a to do list... I can't do too much but I always give myself things to do
- avoid reading the news, avoiding social media, basically avoiding anything negative and avoiding drama
- avoiding the scale and even the mirror
- wearing baggy clothes (tight clothes make me examine myself)
- drinking a lot of water & eating healthy and clean
- avoiding negative/dramatic people, taking a while to respond to calls and texts unless it's an emergency (I need to focus on myself right now), people can really drain you
- not laying in bed all day (recipe for depression right there)
- doing my hair and makeup, even if I'm just at home
- looking at my before photos and seeing how much I've already changed/improved (you forget how you used to look like so easily/quickly!)
- journaling and making plans for the future, all the things i plan to do and want to do
- drawing and painting (this is my hobby)
- listening to music, watching funny/entertaining (not sad or scary) shows and movies
- being forgiving to myself and constantly telling myself that this is temporary and will pass, and I'll be healed, not swollen and feeling normal again in a few short months
- remember that most things that are worthwhile in life, are not easy... it doesn't matter what other people think... in 6 months people are going to look at you/me and think we did something vain and easy, a quick fix, when in reality it was so difficult. it doesn't matter what people think. the only thing that matters is how you feel, that you feel confident and comfortable in your skin.. we got PS not to get approval from others but to feel more confident and comfortable in our own bodies..

Hope everyone is doing well, and if you have post surgery blues or anxiety, you're not alone!! It is normal and will pass!! xoxoxo

3 week update-- swelling, fajas, massages, scars, etc

This morning I got out of bed more quickly and easily than I have in 3 weeks. Almost like before surgery. My stiffness was reduced by I would say 40% almost overnight. I am now standing almost completely straight, and I can sleep on my side, but choose not to because my sides and back are still really swollen, and it’s uncomfortable. My soreness is reducing very rapidly by the day, the swelling is going down (although I still have a ton of it), and I am regaining a lot more sensitivity around my stomach every single day. To the point where it's sometimes unpleasant because I am getting more itchy. However, I am super happy about the big improvements I've made in only a few days, and am looking forward to even more big recovery steps in the coming weeks. I think after week 3, your body goes through the initial big trauma, and starts to rapidly heal. But everyone is different.

My incision/scar. It’s totally closed and dry now, except I have a little bit of scabbing still on the area where they removed my drain. I don’t want to pick at the scab, so I’m just waiting for it to fall of on it’s own. There is a lot of redness around the scar, but the actual scar itself is a very thin almost invisible line. It’s also flat and even. It is difficult to photograph and looks worse in pictures than it really is (because of the redness), but I am really pleased with my scar so far. I think even my belly button looks cute. How awesome is that? How often are tummy tuck belly buttons cute?

I moisturize my stomach/back/sides twice per day, take care of my incisions, massage myself, etc. My skin just soaks up whatever cream or oil I put on it. It’s very dry. The faja makes your skin very dry so be sure to use a lot of body butter or moisturizer. I also recommend using lipo foam, to protect your skin from fabric burns. I just use fragrance free Cerave moisturizer, because I have sensitive skin, but something with cocoa butter would probably be even better. Also, I take off my faja for about an hour per day, maybe twice per day for 30 min each time. It’s important to get compression but I also think its important to let your skin breathe a little bit.

I weigh the same as before surgery, maybe 5 lbs less, although my face is looking thinner. My jackets & coats still don’t fit right, because my arms are so huge and swollen, and my back too. The swelling is annoying me and I sometimes get impatient with it, but I know that the swelling is a 3+ month deal and that there isn’t anything I can do to make it shorter.

Don’t let the flat stomach fool you into thinking I’m not swollen… if I turn to my side, you can see the lower part of my stomach sticking out, because it’s swollen. When I push on it, it feels hard. My back is all kinds of swollen, as is my lower back/butt area. My sides too. I have a shadow/dent running around my back and sides, where my drain used to be. I get indentations on my ankles from my socks, sometimes get dents in my legs, my back gets faja line dents in it from sleeping.. basically I get dents everywhere if I put pressure on that part of my body.

I’m so glad there are faja stores near me. I went to one of them and the Colombian lady there not only measured me and sold me a faja ($80, not a bad price either), she directed me to a place that alters fajas, she got me arnica tea (it helps swelling) from the botanica next door (for only $3!) AND she hooked me up with a Colombian massage therapist. I went to a regular lymphatic massage therapist, but they do very different massages from the ones I’ve been accustomed to. The ones they do are very light, and they just touch you, through your clothes. I know that it’s a legit form of medical massage, but I want someone to massage the crap out of me, so I can get rid of my lumps. I don’t want to be lightly touched through my clothes, and pay $80 per massage for this.

Also, my fajas do not fit properly without alterations. I basically wear a medium on top and a large on bottom. I have to buy larger fajas and get the top part altered, otherwise the faja is extremely hard to put on over my thighs, and it’s very uncomfortable.

My energy levels are still low. I get tired easily, but it’s not like I have to lie in bed all day. I just need frequent breaks in between activities, work, errands, etc. I am taking it easy, and am taking breaks and naps when needed, but by no means am I a bedridden or unable to be independent.

I was feeling pretty depressed a few days ago, but as my recovery is improving, I’m getting less depressed now, and I’m mostly just moody now! Lol. But being a woman, I was moody before surgery too.

I also added two pics… I know it’s too early for before and afters, but I love looking at pics at all stages, and I know many others do too.

I hope everyone is doing great, preparing for their journey or recovering smoothly! xoxoxo

Answering the question... is surgery in DR safe?

I just had a coffee, I’m feeling good and energetic, so I decided to answer THE most common question I get about my surgery. Which is, omg how did you go to DR? Is it safe? Weren't you scared? Let me break it up into different parts because there’s so much to say about this topic. Surgery in DR is not inherently unsafe, but it is more risky than in the US, for several reasons...

1. DR surgeons can’t lose their license or get sued in the same way US surgeons can.
Things work differently there. It’s not just DR that is like that, in many countries of the world, even when you are getting heart surgery to save your life, unless there is gross negligence, you can’t really sue or do anything. This means that there is not enough regulation and organization, so it’s like a wild wild west of surgery. Which means the patient has to be responsible and highly informed, doing her research and being realistic. There are both good and bad surgeons there, and the bad ones would never be allowed to practice in the US, and the government/laws/regulations there are not going to protect you.

2. Patients have to be realistic about what is possible, and be responsible with their research.
I’ve been told the best thing is to be referred to a surgeon by someone who went to them and had a great result and experience. The next best thing to do is do hardcore research on the internet for months, contact previous patients who went to the surgeons you are researching, look at both 5 star and 1 star reviews. A lot of people just look at the results of a popular surgeon who does aggressive work, and they think “I want that” and they don’t care about anything else, including safety and how realistic it is.

3. Before and after photos are deceptive and people get too hung up on wish pics.
Don’t go by the before and after photos. PS can be incredibly transformative but it is not magic. Everyone’s body is different, the patient in the picture might have done 2-3 rounds of surgery over the course of a year or longer, they might have lost weight, the angle of the picture might be deceptive, it might be photoshopped, etc. Pics can give you a good idea of the surgeon’s style of work, but don’t go by someone’s picture and get hung up on it. People can get very unrealistic about what is possible. The pics don’t also show the long and difficult recovery process, what kind of pain and discomfort people went through, to get that after.

4. People want dramatic results and believe “it won’t happen to me" when they think of the risks.
Surgery has risks done anywhere, even under the most perfect conditions. People die or are maimed while having surgery in the US, too. But there is a reason the kind of lipo they do in DR and the amount of fat they inject into butts, is illegal in the US. It’s because it is dangerous. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but you have to understand it is dangerous. People who are looking for extreme results are the most at risk. If you go to DR looking for more moderate results, you’ll be better off in terms of safety and recovery/less risk of complications.

5. People don’t stay long enough in DR.
I stayed for 2 weeks, and that was considered pretty long for most people’s standards. Most patients stay only for 8-10 days. The first 2-3 weeks of your surgery are the most vulnerable time, when you are prone to complications. It is better to stay longer. At my recovery house, there was a woman whose belly button suddenly erupted not once, but twice, and she required emergency surgery twice.
Her case was very unusual, but she was lucky she was still in the recovery house when it happened.

6. PS is half surgery and half aftercare, and when you get surgery done overseas, you put your aftercare at risk.
We all take this risk, when we get surgery abroad or even in another state. We hope and pray that we won’t have complications, but it can happen to anyone. It’s usually not the surgery itself that kills people, but the aftercare (or lack of it) later. And truth be told, DR surgeons are extremely popular and overbooked, and although surgeons like Almonte (for example), try very hard to give you excellent aftercare, it’s just not possible to give the best aftercare to each and every patient, when you have so many of them. Also when they return home in 2 weeks, it’s just not possible. Also when you return home, surgeons and doctors don’t want to be involved with you, and your only choice is really the ER. This is true not just for PS patients. I was told by my massage therapist, that she had a breast cancer patient, who had life saving surgery done in the UK while visiting her mother, and when she returned to the US, no doctors wanted to touch her. They don’t want to be blamed should something go wrong, since you were not their patient, and they didn’t do your surgery.

7. People think PS in DR is cheaper than it really is, or they believe it should be dirt cheap.
Surgery is way cheaper in DR than in the US, but it isn’t dirt cheap. For example, my package (for a TT, BBL and lipo to my back and sides) was $5,000 which included 10 days at a recovery house, but I ended up spending over $6k when you include airfare, fajas, massages, extras, add ons, etc. Now that I am home, I am spending more money, on massages. I really do not want to end up with scar tissue or fibrosis, and I’m trying to be responsible and following Almonte’s instructions for aftercare, which was that I needed massages! I just spent $400 today on a package of massages, and I need to get them for months. Please don’t go to DR with only the bare minimum funds, at least have a credit card as a backup. Make sure you also have money for proper aftercare. And God forbid, in extreme cases, should you need to go to the ER or fly back to DR if you have complications, that will cost a couple of grand at least. If you have enough complications, your surgery in DR can turn out to be more expensive than if you had it done in the US.

8. Surgeons are not all the same in DR.
I’m sorry, but Dr Almonte is not the same as Dr Cabral, for example. One surgeon does amazing work, is ethical, has integrity and won’t compromise her ethics and standards just to make you look like a video model, and the other is a madman let loose to run a chop shop plastic surgery clinic in DR. I know people who like his work can be in denial about how dangerous he really is, but anyone who goes to him and ends up being harmed, was either very delusional or very naive. PLEASE choose your surgeon carefully. Surgeons are all different in the US too, but in DR the differences are even more extreme. Go to someone who is ETHICAL and has your best interests at heart, not a surgeon who is just money hungry. There are some truly wonderful surgeons in DR, who do amazing work and are ethical. Dr Almonte is an example. Everyone at the spa I went to today for my massage was complimenting my tummy tuck, my scars and the work I got done. They said I had excellent, excellent work done. And they see TT scars, PS results every single day since they get so many surgical patients.

9. People get too many surgeries done at once.
Doctors like Almonte will actually deny all of things you want done at once, and tell you to come back 6 months later for another round, but there are others who will give you blood transfusions and just do whatever you request, no matter how risky. There’s a reason why this is dangerous and again, the “it won’t happen to me” mentality is prevalent. People take this risk and it is their prerogative to do so, but it does raise the risk of death, complications, etc exponentially.

The reason I had surgery there… I knew I wanted surgery done in Latin America. Either Colombia, Brazil or DR. I love the PS they do in Latin countries. I especially love how they do tummy tucks. I’m not latina but I live in an area with a lot of Hispanics and I know how amazing the work is because I’ve seen it around me. The body contouring is incredible. I lost a lot of weight over the years and my body just felt shapeless to me. I wanted not only to have my extra skin removed, I wanted to be contoured. I had wanted a tummy tuck for years, but was afraid to get one because I had seen so many hideous TTs and hideous scars. I chose DR because it was just easier to research their surgeons. I chose Almonte because she had a great reputation and did amazing work. I did feel really nervous when I first arrived, but I started to get more relaxed as things went along. I trusted Almonte and her staff, especially after they wouldn’t take my money when I also wanted breast work done. They told me it was too much surgery and my hemo isn’t high enough for that.

I honestly believe I was in very, very, very good hands while i was in DR, but I did take a risk by coming home in 2 weeks. *Knock on wood* I don’t have any complications and am healing very well, but that is a risk we all take when we are medical tourists. We get the surgery done there and come back here. That is risky.

Anyway, I know this post is super long, but it’s an important topic and I hope it has been helpful.

Scar

This is my scar 24 days post op. There is some itching and redness around my scar but the incision itself is really thin and flat. I'm really happy with my scar.

I've been using inexpensive Mepitac silicone tape from Amazon on it for the last 4 days, to test how it works, before using my pricey Embrace sheets. Once on, the Embrace sheets can't be removed for a week.

Butt pic

Here is my much requested booty pic. It's not a good pic but I tried to take something. I know it might not seem that impressive to some of you guys, because people want to get really big bootys in DR, and mine isn’t that big. I asked Dr Almonte to make me natural and don’t make my butt too big. My butt before was pillow shaped on the top, but like a wedge shaped pillow. It was really odd and I hated my butt. I wanted it to be reshaped and contoured. My butt now looks round and full, has a S curve on my lower back, is a really good size that is proportionate to my thighs and my waist. It looks better in person than in the photos. I like that it looks natural, and that no one would ever suspect I had my butt done.

My aesthetic is natural and curvy. I am not into the Cabral or Duran style Barbie dramatic coke bottle look. I don't think it looks ugly and people are free to like what they like without judgement and I'm not judging anyone's tastes, but it's just not for me. I'd also like to be slimmer than I am now, if only because I think you have better clothing and fashion options, and it's easier to walk in heels. If I lose a few lbs there is a chance my butt will go down too, but my lower back is still really swollen, so I might be underestimating my butt right now, and it might "fluff" and/or appear bigger when my lower back goes down.

I did lose about 10 lbs since the surgery. Also, I know Dr Almonte is known to be a "conservative" surgeon, but hear me out: Last week I was looking at my back, and I thought I had lipo bumps on it, because I was more swollen at that time. This week, the swelling went down, and I saw the same bumps. They were more prominent this time, especially when I bent my arms to the sides. I touched them and they were hard. They were MY RIB CAGE BONES. Even at my all time lowest weight (more than 30 lbs less than I am now), I could never see my rib cage through my back. I guess she COMBED my back, sides, etc with the cannula, took off as much fat as possible, to the point where my bones on my back are visible. And I'm only 1 month post op right now. So she ain't that conservative, I'll tell you that.

Aftercare massages & treatments

I am going to this Colombian spa in town, for my post op massages and treatments. They have a lot of plastic surgery post op patients so they really know what they are doing. They do these weird treatments, like they massage you with this boomerang shaped wooden stick and this wooden mushroom stick. They cover you in oil and put you in this hot cocoon sleeping bag. They put you in this suit that vibrates. They do ultrasound treatments. The massages could get intense and painful at times, but none of them were really PAINFUL painful. Today I got carboxytherapy. This is when they inject you with carbon dioxide gas with a needle, to break up lumps and prevent fibrosis after liposuction. It is also used on cellulite and stretch marks. I asked if it would hurt while she was getting the needle ready. She was like "yes". Just said it very straight to the point. I tried to prep myself for the pain by taking deep breaths. HOLY CRAP IT HURT. She did 6 injections in my back and 12 on my stomach/sides. The ones on my back hurt the most, because I had the most swelling/lumps on my back. Jesus Christ it hurt. It felt like a burning hot needle was being poked inside me, with acid being injected inside me. She would press her hand down hard to relieve the pain and it would burn for 10 seconds or so for each injection. Some areas she injected hurt so bad I would scream, others it just felt like stinging. Of the 18 injections she did, I would describe 8 of them as being really painful, with about 4 of them making me jump and scream. I know beauty is pain but damn.

So I googled carboxytherapy, and people are saying it works really well on stretch marks and cellulite. I know I'm complaining about it being painful, but I think that's because of my surgery. I don't think it's that painful if you're getting it done for stretch marks or cellulite, because as I said, some areas they injected me only felt like a sting. I might just have to try this on my stretch marks and cellulite to see if it will work. If you live in the NNJ area I can give you the name of the spa I go to. Their pricing is really good and they do great work.

More butt pics

Here are some better pics of my butt. My butt looks huge here for some reason. Idk maybe it's bigger than I think it is. I don't care if it's big, I already had a big butt before, except before it was wide and had a flat ugly shape. At least now it's filled out.

People don't get it and don't expect them to

My advice is to not tell anyone you're getting surgery if that's possible at all. Exceptions can be your husband or mom. Seriously tell as few people as possible. Other family members and friends can find out later, because you don't want to have to deal with people's uncalled for opinions and attitudes.

I say this for multiple reasons.

First reason is because people get too nosy, say uncalled for things, just don't mind their own business and they keep offering unsolicited advice. Researching and planning surgery is already stressful enough without having to deal with this negative or intrusive energy. My own mom for example told me I looked like a porn star. Not very kind. People think they have a right to be mean to you after you've had PS. I don't know why but it's like they think you deserve it.

Second reason is if you come out of your surgery having good results, people can get jealous and the green eyed monster is never pretty.

Third reason is if something goes wrong, like if you have a complication, people will love to make you seem like a vain fool who is getting what she deserves Bc you weren't grateful for what you had. Even now, one of my aunts is making comments to me about weight gain after liposuction, like she was hoping I was going to gain weight so she can rub it in my face.

Fourth reason is because if you are healing well and slowly getting back to your life, people will act like you didn't just go through major surgery, and will expect you to be 100%. People think PS is so dangerous before you get it, but they think it's a piece of cake after you get it, like it was so easy. Especially if you are healing fast and look good. They are hypocrites like that.

Right now I am 1 month post op and I don't visibly look like I'm still recovering, but I am. Thankfully I am having a good recovery so far but I'm still not 100% since its only been a month. Sometimes you have to be selfish and just tell people no.

Basically, people just don't get it. They don't understand. They don't care. I'm not asking for anyone's sympathy or help, but this is definitely one of those things in life that lets you see people's true colors.

During this journey, I realized that not only do you need to be very physically healthy and strong to be able to withstand plastic surgery physically, you also have to have good psychological health. You have to have good self-esteem, before and after. You have to be forgiving towards yourself and towards other people who misunderstand you, judge you or are jealous. You have to have realistic expectations. You have to do this for yourself, to improve yourself, and not for anyone else.

5 weeks & 3 days post op update

I am now 5 weeks and 3 days days post op. In less than 3 weeks I’ll be 2 months post op. How the time flies! Just wanted to let you guys know how my recovery is going at this point in time, since people tend to not write about their recovery in detail after the first few weeks.

SWELLING...
I don’t have that puffer fish swelling anymore, and I barely have any lumps or bumps. Sometimes I get itching, tingling sensations, etc but for the most part those sensations passed a few weeks ago. Mainly, I have swelling and hardness in my lower stomach and swelling in my lower back. My sides feel tender when I touch them. When I take off my faja, I don’t blow up like I did before. I can even take off my faja overnight now and be the same size the next morning. I mostly just have a lot of swelling in my lower stomach.

WORKING, GETTING BACK TO MY LIFE...
This is an area I have trouble with. I’m self-employed and have my own business. Although I do a lot of desk work on my computer, I also have to be up and active. I spend about 50% of my time on the computer and 50% walking, standing, moving. If you have an active job like a teacher or nurse, you’ll have the same problem as me. I can only work for 2-3 hours at a stretch without feeling a lot of discomfort and swelling. If I’m on the computer I can work longer but I keep trying to move around because I start to get burns and skin irritation in the middle of my stomach when I sit for too long with my stomach bent.

I pushed myself so hard to work that I started leaking from my belly button, because I got really swollen and kept moving my torso around… bending, moving, just pushing myself too hard. I got really upset by my belly button leaking and freaked out thinking I had an infection or seroma. I contacted Tania (Dr Placencia), she asked for pics and then told me to loosen my faja and to take it easy, that it doesn’t look infected but let’s keep an eye on it. I was still freaked out and considered going to the doctor to get aspirated, but I don’t have the symptoms of a seroma, and my belly button stopped leaking once I stopped moving around so much and loosened my faja. I’m still concerned about it and I check my belly button everyday.

I’m a really proud person in the sense that I am hard working and independent, and I’ve always enjoyed good health. So it’s a new experience for me to have physical problems with my body. It upsets me. I know it’s temporary but I got upset when my belly button leaked and I had to force myself to really slow down on my work. I just feel like I’m living my life in slow motion. It’s not just work where I have to slow down. I used to be Speedy Gonzalez before I had surgery. I was always running around doing stuff, I had tons of energy, I was super productive. Now I do 2-3 things and then I need to rest, or else my belly button will start to leak.

WEIGHT LOSS & BODY CHANGES...
I haven’t weighed myself in a few weeks, but last time I checked I had lost about 10 lbs since the surgery. People are commenting that I’m losing weight, and I do stick to a 1,300-1,500 calorie/day diet. I’ve read online that a lot of people gain weight after plastic surgery, particularly after lipo. It’s because people sometimes don’t change their eating habits before the surgery, like they get the surgery but just eat the way they did before. Eventually they gain weight back. People also gain weight back because the recovery process is slow and depressing, and they use food for comfort. Another reason people gain weight is because they get excited by their results, because their bodies are contoured and they’ve lost inches, but eventually they gain weight because they're not paying attention. The worst part about weight gain after lipo is that you can’t gain weight in the areas that were lipoed. That’s because the fat cells were removed, so when you gain weight, you gain it in a different area. Sometimes it can be in awkward areas that will make you look disproportionate, like your back or arms or legs, even with a weight gain of only 5-10 lbs. Even worse than that, sometimes if you gain weight after lipo, you will get visceral fat (the kind in between your organs), since your body can’t find areas to put subcutaneous fat into. And visceral fat is so dangerous because you don't need much of it for it to be harming you. Some thin people even have visceral fat and don't even know, because you don't need much of it for to be harming you. This means that if you get lipo, you really need to be committed to maintaining your weight or even losing a few lbs, for the rest of your life.

Being that I am a person who was formerly obese, I know that I am at risk of regaining the weight. This is why I’m eating 1,300-1,500 calories and eating small portions, avoiding sugar and bread, etc. I can’t exercise for 6 months after surgery (like any kind of vigorous cardio or any weight lifting), so I’m using diet alone to maintain my weight and to even lose a few lbs. I honestly don’t care what number the scale says, as long as I am healthy and feel good, but the height-weight charts are generally accurate for most of us, unless you are extremely muscular.

MASSAGES
I am really fortunate to live near a Colombian spa with an owner that has over 25 years experience treating surgical patients. Yeah I am really lucky! I go to my spa every other day for massages/treatments. They alternate between lymphatic massages and ultrasound massage, while also doing paraffin/oil treatments, and sometimes carboxytherapy. My spa has been vital to my recovery process. I’m not sure how i would be recovering right now if I didn’t have my spa. I really recommend getting massages after your surgery. If you can’t afford them, I’ve heard of people massaging themselves.

FAJA
I know lots of girls are eager to wear their faja as tight as possible, and I was one of them, until the tightness of my faja started to give me burns and made my belly button leak fluid. That was also because I was working too hard, but it was partly because my faja was too tight as well. This is my point of view— you have to wear a faja for 6 months, so there’s no point going crazy the first month, wearing it super tight and possibly hurting yourself like I did. Results aren’t going to come faster just because you made your faja super tight. You still need to wear it for 6 months anyway.

SCARS
I’ve been using my Embrace scar sheets for a few weeks, but my spa for some reason is against them, and they keep telling me to take them off because I’m too freshly post op to be wearing them. They do seem to keep the scar thin and flat but I did notice irritation when I took them off. They were very hard to take off. I had to massage mineral oil into the area and slowly peel the strips off. I think I’m going to take a break from using them for a few weeks. I’m just going to use my regular silicone strips in the mean time.

MOODINESS
I don’t experience post op depression anymore, more like post op bipolar disorder! I have good days and bad days. On some days I feel great and think I look hot and am really pleased with how I look and feel, and even try to show off. I also get excited and happy when I take a pic of myself, and I can’t believe how good I look. Or when I wear an old jacket, and I can see how many inches I lost. On other days I just feel fed up with this whole recovery process, fed up with the swelling, and just feel down. If you just expect to have your good and bad days, it’s easier to deal with the mood swings. I think it’s a normal part of long term recovery.

Hopefully this has helped! Everyone’s surgery and recovery experience will be different, but this has just been my experience.

6-7 week post-op complication

My belly button started leaking at around 5.5 weeks. I contacted Dr Placencia (Tania, Dr Almonte's assistant), and she didn't seem too concerned. She said that my faja was too tight and that it was hurting me, and told me to loosen it. I did that but my belly button continued to leak. It was leaking clear light yellow serous fluid (the same kind in your drain), not anything that smelled bad or looked infected, so I wasn't too concerned. I kept changing the gauze on my belly button several times a day, and just continued on with my life.

A few days later I started to notice my belly button becoming more and more red and inflamed. What really freaked me out was when I saw a little white part coming out of my belly button. I contacted Tania again and she said to use Neosporin, reassured me that it didn't look infected and to rest. That night I went to sleep and woke up to that white part becoming bigger, like my belly button popped or something. Lindsey contacted me that morning asking me about my belly button. Tania, Lindsey and Dr Almonte were discussing my belly button and asked for pics. They told me to use triple antibiotic ointment, keep the area dry and clean, and to rest. They said I was pushing myself too hard and that the bending, pushing movements that I have been doing hurts my recovery. They said that even though I might feel good or like I'm recovering, my body on the inside is not recovered yet.

I followed their advice but as a preventive measure I took antibiotics as well. My aunt had extras left and I took those. They seemed to help clear up the redness and made my belly button look a bit better. I don't think I had a major infection or anything but perhaps there was some kind of mild infection? I am going to the doctor today to get more antibiotics.

I also completely took off my faja. I haven't worn it in days. I can't wear it until my belly button heals. The pressure from the faja pushes my stomach in vertically, right at my belly button. It also traps heat and moisture there, and it's just a bad combination for healing. My belly button is still leaking, looks red, raw and that inside out white part reduced but it's still there. It's healing really slowly. I have to change the gauze on my belly button every few hours and apply Neosporin. I've also been trying as much as possible to do as little as possible. I've declined almost all social invitations, my house is a mess, I don't cook anything, I asked my mom to help me with work (I have my own business) since this complication set me back in my recovery. If I push myself even harder my belly button will just get worse.

At first I was depressed about my belly button and thinking the worst (thinking I had necrosis, that stitches busted out, that I had a terrible infection, etc) but now I'm calm. I was having an amazing recovery up until this belly button issue. And I developed this problem after 5 weeks. You never know if you will get a complication and it can happen to anyone. Recovery isn't easy or fast, it's a process. I'm still dealing with this at 6-7 weeks post op. Some people have had an easier recovery than me and they go on vacation wearing bikinis at 6 weeks, but other people have even worse complications than me. I just have to be grateful that it's not even worse, that it's just a little problem, that it will be over with, etc.

Just gets better and better

Just a quick update...

My belly button was, in fact, infected. I went to my primary (he is a very kind and helpful doctor), and he gave me a prescription for antibiotics and antibiotic cream. My belly button is healing really slowly but it's getting there.

My results just keep getting better and better. I can't express how happy and grateful I am. I've spent so many years feeling uncomfortable in my own body... and now that is all changing. There are just some things that diet and exercise cannot do, and this is one of them. No amount of exercise is going to remove sagging skin, and no diet is going to change your fat distribution. Anyway, like I said, I'm beyond happy. I got exactly what I wanted. I wanted natural looking curves, like my own body but a better version of it. I didn't want an artificial look where it's obvious that there were enhancements done. Dr Almonte did a perfect job on my tummy tuck... if you can't see my incision and if you ignore that my belly button looks all red, it doesn't even look like I had a TT. It just looks like a natural stomach. It even still has a little bit of fat on it, which I like. I don't have a pulled down tight looking tummy tuck stomach. She also did a perfect job on my butt. She reshaped my butt, made it rounder, fuller on the bottom, gave me a more feminine lower back curve. It's exactly what I wanted.

And I know I'm not supposed to do this, but I don't really a faja anymore. I stopped wearing it out of necessity, when my belly button was really bad, and I just kept it off because healing my belly button was a bigger priority. I'll put it back on when my belly button is completely healed, but it's just taking forever, so that's why I don't wear it.

My incision is also healing really well. It's red but I can see that the incision itself is very thin and flat. Very happy with it. I tried covering it with airbrush makeup and it can actually be 99% concealed, you can't tell it's even there! I'll show pics of that another time for you guys. I never put the Embrace sheets back on after I took it off the first time, because I found them irritating. If nothing else I'll save them to use for my arm lift, which I plan to get in about 4 months hopefully, sometime in July.

What else... I feel great, like 90% back to my old self, which I'm so grateful for. You don't know what a blessing it is to be strong and healthy until you're not anymore, and I experienced that temporarily for several weeks. I feel good, mentally, emotionally... everything is great! No complaints at all!

I want to get round 2 with Dr Almonte again, for my arm lift and breast lift with augmentation, in July. I really trust Dr Almonte, she does amazing work and their team is fantastic! Can't wait to go back and improve my body even more.

Also, I'm sorry if I didn't respond to a question or comment you posted in another post. It's hard to keep track of comments on this site, it's not very organized. If you have a question just ask me again in this post, but I'll try to go back to my old posts and answer them all.

Thanks for reading!!

3.5 months post op

Hello everyone, All has been well with me. Still have minor belly button healing issues and swelling, but aside from that I feel great and am healing well. Life is going on as usual, I'm moving forward, have much more confidence than I did before, feel much better in my skin. I enjoy shopping more and am going a bit nuts buying clothes. Here are my most recent pictures.

6 month update

I am now exactly 6 months post op. The time has gone by so slowly yet so fast.

I started doing weight training at the gym. I can still feel that my stomach muscles are still not completely healed, so I don't push core/ab exercises that much, and I stop when I think I'm going too far. My ab muscles are really strong, and when I touch my stomach it feels firm, and I even have visible abs when I lift up my arms. This is all new to me, because I've always had either a big stomach or a flabby saggy stomach.

I don't have any pain or discomfort at all. The area around my belly button seems to be healing the slowest, if that makes sense. My sides feel totally normal, so does my upper stomach. But the area of my stomach around my belly button, seems like it heals slower than the rest. I am also regaining sensitivity little by little in my lower stomach, but it still feels quite numb.

My scar looks okay. I don't have a pic of it right now but I intend to post it soon. Those of you with light skin-- expect the scar to look really REALLY bad before it gets any better. My scar was bright red after about 2 months up until 5 months. Then it got more purple and now it's finally fading to white/silver in some areas, but there are still a lot of red/purple areas. On darker skin I think it's less noticeable, but on light skin it looks really bad. Also my scar was not just a line, the area around it was also red. I can't explain it perfectly, but I didn't get my dream pencil thin line scar. It's still thin but some areas opened up slightly in spots and they got a little bigger, but overall, my scar is still as thin or thinner than my stretch marks. Once it all goes to white it should look really good. That will take at least a year though. I massage my scar with rose hip oil and that helps a lot. My scar is flat and not raised etc. I used embrace sheets but if you want me to be honest, I couldn't use them properly because my scar kept getting open spots. They were really expensive and I am saving them for my arm lift, which I hope to get in October.

Overall - I basically forgot about all the pain/discomfort I experienced earlier this year. This is one of the most difficult things I've done in my life, yet also one of the most gratifying. And I'm still amazed at the price I got all of this incredible work done for. I am planning a round 2 for an arm lift and breast lift with augmentation, and the price for that is significantly higher, because it takes great skill to do arm lifts and surgeons charge a lot of money for them. I am saving up for that, and hopefully will get it done in October.

I am really happy with my results, healing beautifully, doing well, and my quality of life, emotions, self-confidence, etc has vastly improved since getting the surgery and healing from it. It's not an easy thing to do, but it really changes your life. I hope everyone reading this is doing well, healing, researching, planning their journey, etc.. Wishing you all good luck and good vibes. xoxoxo
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon

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