Armlift, Breast Lift & Abdominoplasty - Durham, NC

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Tomorrow is the big day. I have lost 140ish pounds...

Tomorrow is the big day. I have lost 140ish pounds from my highest weight and it is time for skin removal. I am 5'8" and fluctuate between 142 at my lowest to 150 (this morning). Dr. Erdmann at Duke University is doing the surgeon. He has encouraged me to do these three procedures all at once and I am a little scared of the potential pain involved but I have a great husband and hope to recover quickly!!

One day post op

So this is super painful = I am trying to remember that I am only 1 day out -- holy moly. I cannot tell my breasts were done but the tummy is killing me. The loss of movement in my arms is awful, but it will get better!!

Compression Garments

I really want better compression for my sleeves. I feel sorry for my husband he is having go do everything!!

More Photos

I felt like looking at everyone else's pics was the most helpful - so I am going to try and keep them updated. I was a hot mess...

Day 3 Post op Photos

I am three days out Breast lift, arm lift and tummy tuck. I am having weakness in my left arm which is bothersome.
No pain in my breasts at all. Coughing is rough and the vertical scar hurts the most. I take my pain meds every four hours still.

4 days Post Op

Just in case your surgeon doesn't tell you ... don't get constipated!!! Yikes. Colace, Miralax - whatever it takes. The anesthesia will shut down your system and the narcotics don't help!!

Pain is better today. Left arm still weak. No pain in the breasts at all. Vertical scar hurts like a beast if I cough or laugh. Still taking pain meds - no reason to hurt here at day 4! Drains are still in place - two in the tummy. They are really no big deal. Will find out if they can come out tomorrow at my follow up. I am still getting about 80ccs from #2 and 50 from #1 -- so I doubt it.

6 Days Post Op

I had my follow up with my PS yesterday. He said that everything looks like it is supposed to so far. I asked about the weakness in my left arm and he was less than helpful. He had me move my arm in various positions and told me the three nerves that are involved with the procedure we all fully intact and he had no idea why my arm was weak. He then asked me if I wanted to go to a neurologist. It totally freaked me out. Luckily the nursing team swooped in and assured me that they had patients with weakness following the surgery due to the surgical positioning and they weren't worried. I will trust the nursing staff and give it more time before I worry that this is a permanent issue.

My drains were still putting out too much to warrant removal. I have been scheduled for follow up on the 8th and he will take them out then. I was really hoping to have them out before the weekend, but oh well. I have to do what is best for me. If they dry up before Friday I might put in a call to see if I can get them out sooner. So I still have 2 drains in my abdominoplasty. The area where the vertical and horizontal scar meet at my belly button looked a little red and angry, but he did not feel like this was an area of concern. I am taking the K-flex and had no fever.

He took the steri-strips off my breasts and my tummy and then replaced them. They did not change the ones on my arms.

I get super stiff when I sleep. I sleep on a recliner with pillows under my arms. It hurts my back. I really want to get back into my regular bed soon.

My goal for today is to take a real shower - even with the drains in, he said I could and just to make sure everything was dry before I put my compression back on. Three procedures at once is truly a pain, but I think in the long run I will be glad I bunched the recoveries all together.

Day 6 Post Op Photos

One Week Post Op

I had a rough night last night. My back hurts from keeping my arms elevated and everything so still. I am still sleeping in the recliner.

I also received my Marena Compression garment and it did not fit. There was no compression in the arms and the breasts were too tight. I followed the measurement guidelines, but they wanted to charge me a 15% restocking fee. Luckily the guy at Marena waived it since I did enter my measurements on the website.

My surgeon said that I could wear an Under Armour shirt and a sports bra so it looks like a trip to Dick's is in order for tonight.

I am 4 inches bigger in my hips than I was pre op - so I am experiencing some swelling for sure. I know I am only a week out...I just hope it goes down so I have clothes to wear to work!

10 days Post Op

Tomorrow is my next follow up with the PS and unfortunately these darn drains are not drying up. For the last three days I have been getting 20 out of #1 and 45-50 out of #2. So I am afraid he won't be able to remove them. Lord knows I do not want them to come out earlier than the should - but I have to get back to work.
I am proud to report I haven't taken any pain medicine since I took one 5mg oxycodone 12 hours ago. I am kind of delicate -- I also had a lot of swelling because I did entirely too much yesterday. I have tried to stay off my feet.
I am still having the weakness in my left arm but I really do think the tingling in my thumb is better. I am keeping a positive attitude!
I am not used to sitting around doing nothing. I hope I don't jeopardize my recovery by doing too much too soon just because I feel good.

11 Day Follow up with PS

Today was my 11 day post op visit. Today I was able to get only 1 of my drains out. I know it is for the best but I feel so gross with this think and dealing with the tube is a pain in the butt. He was like, oh you can go back to work next week just hide it under a sweat shirt. Well, first of all its 90 degrees outside and secondly I wear business attire to work...not sweatshirts, but whatever :-)
I also got the stitched out of my belly button and my nipples. It did not really hurt. Confession - I dosed up the pain medicine an hour before just in case!! No sense in hurting.

Day 12 Photos

No pain medicine today! I slept in the bed last night for the first time instead of the recliner.

Day 13

I drove for the first time today!! Woo hoo. 13 days post op. I did WAY TOO MUCH so now I am swollen, achy and tired. Popped a couple of pain meds and got my feet up. Mentally it made me feel much better to rejoin the real world.
Drain #2 is still kickin' and producing what looks like 35-40cc's. Doc says I have to be at 15 or less to get it out. Bummer. I have to go back to work next week.
My stupid girdle is killing me so I decided to order one from Design Veronique based on the reviews I read here and elsewhere. The one I wanted didn't fit my dimensions, so I called them and he directed me to the High Back Rubanesque one. $159 - goodness. This thing had better do the trick. I will post a photo when I get it. Should be tomorrow.

16 Days Post Op

I am completely over this drain. It bothers me when I sit down - walk around, I just can't get it somewhere comfortable. Can't wait for it to come out!
I am not sleeping well either. Mainly because I am only sleeping on my back. I accidentally rolled over last night and felt an awful searing pain in my right arm incision.
I bought a smaller compression band/abdominal binder from Walgreens and it is helping.
Doc said that I can wear a compression shirt, but my arms are so tiny I don't really get much tightness in the biceps. Oh poor me with my tiny arms ;-)
Well, that sounded like a lot of complaining! Maybe it's my anxiety of having to go back to work on Tuesday!!!

18 Days Post Op

I GOT THE DRAIN OUT!!!! Thank the good Lord. It has been out for 6 hours and I feel like a different person. She snipped two little stitches, asked me to take a big deep breath then pulled it out during my slow exhale. The only thing I really felt was the pulling of the stitches. The drain coming out did not bother me at all.
Everything thing is progressing as expected. I am going back to work tomorrow :( just 1/2 days this week - I wish I had more time to lay around. They told me it was important not to twist or lift.
Binder until next Thursday then I can switch to Spanx.
Followup with PS in 3 more weeks.

20 Days Post Op - back to work

So I went back to work yesterday. UUUGGGHHHHH - it was only 1/2 day (well almost 6 hours) and it was too much. I learned why I had been sitting around the house - ha ha. The GOOD news is that I felt a lot better today. I was told to watch for a "water balloon" under my skin .... so I am ultra paranoid. At least I never feared fluid build up with the dreaded drain.

I am still experiencing numbness, fatigue, tingling and weakness in my left arm. It gets worse as the day goes on. I pray that it is not permanent. They tell me it will take time to recover, but it is hard to be patient.

Three Weeks Post Op

Just posting my three week post-op photos!
I am super happy to report that I can sleep on my right side - so so happy. I am sleeping better. Still taking one pain pill before bed for good measure.

25 Days Post Op

I decided to call the plastic surgeon today because I felt like I had fluid to the right of my belly button. He confirmed my concerns but decided that the fluid was not significant enough to drain today. He thinks my body will reabsorb it. He looked at the necrotic spot (my Bermuda Triangle) and decided it would heal on its own and needs to basically stay drive. He also cleared me to fly to Vegas on business Wednesday. He did say to wear the binder 2 more weeks. Yay funsville. He said I could wear spanx TOO ... ha ha. Like I need another layer ;-)

1 Month Post Op

Here it is 1 month later. I am sitting here in my binder - irritated at my swelling and tired of feeling abnormal. It is so important to remember that this surgery is in no way an isolated event. Recovering from the weight loss surgery or even my adult tonsillectomy was much easier than this. I really want to get back to exercise as I feel like I am losing ground and motivation. The last thing I want to do is sit around recovering and gaining weight back.

My left arm is still very weak and as the day goes by gets more numb. I really feel like it is getting better but it is such a slow process. Again - I am just looking for normal at this point.

5 Weeks Post Op Today

5 weeks out. I have started using NewGel silicone strips and scar gel now. This stuff is pricey but if it helps the healing I think it's with it. The strip was $65 and I cut it in various pieces. I tried to use it on my arms but they just move around too much and they would not stay on. So I use the strips on my belly and breasts. I got a tiny tube of silicone scar gel - $32... and layer up the arm scars twice a day. Still surprised how much the arm scars are tender if you touch them. I am supposed to get some blood drawn but there is NO WAY anyone is wrapping that rubber band around my arm!
The left arm numbness is almost gone. It still feels "different" in comparison to my right, but it is better. The weakness is still there for sure - but it is getting stronger.
The Bermuda triangle is still open. It is healing. It is just going to take time - I posted a picture.
My next follow up with the plastic surgeon is Tuesday. I am hoping he might clear me for some more vigorous exercise.

6 week (almost) PS follow up

I saw Dr. Erdmann again today. I will be six weeks out in 2 days, so close enough. Good news - the Bermuda triangle is healing nicely. He says to keep it dry and let it heal. I still can't swim, hot tub or soak in a tub - but I had none of that planned anyway. My left arm continues to improve. I am probably 90% better and we all expect a full recovery. I have now been cleared to do basically whatever I want as far as exercise. He said to take the lifting/running slowly and don't overdo it. Not a problem - I want to start off easy anyway.
As a true glutton for punishment I have tentatively scheduled my Butt Lift for April 23, 2015!!

6 Weeks Post Op

Nothing terribly new - officially 6 weeks out so I wanted to update my pictures.

2 Months Post Op

I am two months post op today. I have posted some photos of the progress. The area of necrosis at my belly button is improving. It still isn't healed fully, but it is on the right track. My right arm scar is worse than my left. I guess it is because I use it more. The weakness in my left arm is almost 100% better than God. My nipples are pretty sensitive - which I guess is better than no feeling. I am still wearing my binder every day. I have too much abdominal swelling to just wear spanks. Hopefully it will get better soon. I did not anticipate being in a binder this long.

10 weeks Post Op Update

Well as of today I went through my closet and am able to get back into my pre-op clothes. LOL somehow I thought I would be smaller... but I am really not. I didn't have a whole lot of volume removed in the broad scheme of things. My stomach flattened out pretty well as a flap of skin. I think once I get the butt skin removed I will be down a size. I have also gained about 5 pounds in the process. I was on a pretty hard core exercise regimen before surgery. I was told not to exercise until my necrotic area healed - which it finally has!! I need to get it in gear and get back to the gym.

I am graduating from my binder. I no longer wear it at night. I still wear it during the day a lot. I still have swelling.

The weakness in my left arm is 98% better I would say.. praise the lord. I was scared. I have to hold in some pretty weird positions to notice any difference compared to the right one.

I posted some photos below. I have been using NewGel strips on my vertical scar and the silicone cream on my arm scars. I ran out and bought some ScarFade which the facial plastic surgeon I work with recommended. We will see how it goes. I am going to have IPL laser treatments on my arm in a few weeks.
Durham Plastic Surgeon

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