12 Weeks Post-op. Feeling pretty darn good!

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I'm a 37 year old, 5'9'' and 150 pound mother of 2...

I'm a 37 year old, 5'9'' and 150 pound mother of 2 who has never had a flat belly. Although my "baby" is 8 years old now, people still ask me if I'm pregnant.

I have been thinking about a TT for years now and have finally booked an appointment. Even though my procedure is 21 days away, I'm nervous and can't stop thinking about it.

The recovery is my biggest concern. I'm having the procedure done out of town and need to return home 15 days post surgery. From reading this site, I know that there are lots of possible complications from surgery and I'm just praying that my recovery is relatively easy and uncomplicated.

Some "before" photos.

Here are some photos from this morning. 19 more days to go. I'm really excited!

12 Days to go and I'm having mixed feelings

13 days until the big day! I am feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I'm excited to get rid of my lax belly, but since I haven't told anyone (other than my husband and best friend), I feel like I'm being dishonest to eveyone around me.

I've rented an electric lift recliner and a walker, and I had a Q&A with Dr. Q on the phone on Friday. All my questions are answered and from reading all the stories here, I think I'm ready. CG ordered. What else do I need?

What were your most indispensable possessions post-surgery? Is there anything that you would have arranged to have that you didn't have?

Tomorrow's the big day!

Well.... I've amassed the necessary gear (meds, compression stockings, granny panties, loose sweats, cotton dresses and a great caregiver) and I'm ready for the big day.

This week I spoke to two TT patients of Dr. Q and it was so helpful. They had vastly different experiences but are both happy with their result. If you have a chance to talk with previous patients, I totally recommend it.

Today was my last meeting with my Doctor. I've been worried about scaring: it seems that there are a wide array of scars and not everyone is happy with theirs. He told me that he could give me a really low scar, but that since I don't have too much extra skin, he might not be able to remove all of my old belly button and I'd have to have a small vertical incision above the main incision and some of my stretch marks may be visible. On the other hand, he could remove the old belly button and stretch marks, but my scar would have to be higher since there's only so much skin to remove. That's a tough one.

I'm so thankful for my dear friend and caregiver who has offered to house and care for me during the big recovery, and for my lovely hubby who is staying home with the kids for two weeks while I recoup. All in all, I'm a lucky lady.

Last night I had a dream that my surgery went well and that I had no pain! What a great prelude to surgery, I hope the real thing is just as good.

Here are a couple of photos of my pre-op schwag. No puppy pads or hibiclens in these, but you know it's there.

The waiting game

I go in for my TT in one hour. I'm tense, nervous and terrified. Why am I doing this again? Am I so vain that I will have major surgery just to get rid of my pooch?

Please wish me luck and send me prayers for calm nerves and a speedy recovery.

Home now: sleepy and sore

I've been home for 5 hours now and have been resting on and off.

My MR and incision are sore and one hydro is not enough to keep the pain down. We called the anesticist and he told me that I can take 2.

The Dr told me that I look awesome. He said that he got all of my stretch marks (we weren't sure if that was possible ).

They snapped a photo of me on the operating table, don 't get grossed out!

OR Photos

First glimpse

The 2 day post-op report:

For the last two days, I have mostly just rested in my recliner getting up only to use the bathroom and walk around the kitchen island.

At the moment:
1. Coughing sucks
2. Walking is hard (I'm very very hunched over)
3. It's not easy to get comfortable
4. I'm very tired

Am I glad that I did this to myself?
At the moment, yes. So far I am pleased with my result and the recovery is just about what I expected.

I'm hoping that each day gets a little bit better.

Day 3: Heading to post-op appointment

Hi all,

Here I am on day 3 post-op. I'm feeling much better and am home alone for the first time since surgery.

The pain has subsided a lot, but I'm still taking 325 mg of vicodin every 4 hours and am spending almost all of my time in the reclining lift chair.

I have my post-op appointment an about an hour and will let you know how it goes.

Days 4 & 5: Boredom and Healing

Things are definitely improving, here are the main highlights:

1. I can almost stand upright.
2. Vicodin is my friend (5-325 dosage every 4-6 hours). The pain has gone down a lot and now mostly consists of back pain and a searing sensation at the incision site.
3. Showering is awesome but exhausting (my Dr. allows showering while drains are still in)
4. I have lots of swelling.

I'm able to take short walks and make coffee or smoothies. I'm not nearly as tired as I was a few days ago and I think that I'll be able to do some office work today.

My post-op went well. I got to see my belly button (which looks good) and it was nice to check in with the doctor.

My recovery buddy

Everybody needs one :-)

Day 6: Drain #1 comes out today, Yipee!

I just talked to the doctors office and was told that I get to have a drain removed this afternoon. This is really exciting ladies!

The day 6 update:
1. Still feeling better each day.
2. Mostly walking upright.
3. Showered by myself (I held the drains with my thighs)
4. Took Tylenol PM last night instead of vicodin (but I popped a vicodin after my shower and hit the recliner)
5. My back still hurts
6. First drain comes out today

Thanks for your comments and support. Having this site makes the recovery so much less lonely. It's nice to know that we're in it together!

On Bowel Movements: The Smooth Move Smoothie

I've had regular bm's since surgery (despite the Vicodin) and I attribute it to my morning smoothie, so I thought I'd share my recipe:

1/2 banana
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 Tablespoon flax meal
1 handful (a little more than 1/8 cup) of raw almonds (not roasted or salted)
Milk of your choice (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

What to do:
1. Put everything but milk into a blender.
2. Add milk to the blender until the fruit is about 3/4 covered.
3. Blend on medium speed until desired consistency.
4. Add more milk if necessary / desired.

I like to blend it until it's coarsely mixed and eat it with a spoon.

-Use pineapple, peaches or tropical fruit mix instead of mango
-Use nut butter (peanut or almond, crunchy or smooth) instead of almonds
-Use soy milk or cow milk (or add protein powder) if you want more protein)

1 Week Post-Op and I feel great (as long as I don't try to do anything)

Well, today I've reached the 7 day mark and I'm pleased so far with the recovery and with my results.

I have one drain out and have managed a trip out for dinner. Today I'm going to drive.

Here are some day seven photos. I still have swelling in my hips from the lipo and rashes where I've reacted to the tape. My tummy is hard as a rock.

Happy healing to you all, and for those about to embark on the TT journey, good luck!

Drain Free .... WooHoo

Just had two major milestones at post op appt #3:
1) had the second drain removed - drain removal is strange and very unpleasant, not painful but equally aweful.
2) saw scar for the first time - it's low and looks good. I'm pleased.

I've attached some scar photos. It's lumpy because of the swelling. I walked a very slow mile with a friend this morning and feel more swollen than usual.

Swelling..... now I understand

I've haven't spent much time thinking about swelling. Yes, there's swelling in my abdomen and hips. My waist size hasn't changed since surgery and I have extra swelling above my incision and around my hips and lower back. This is normal, I anticipated it and expect that it will go down.

What I'm experiencing now is more pronounced than that. Now, you've seen "Willy Wonka".... maybe a hundred times. You've seen Violet Beauregard swell into a blueberry, but you've probably never really thought about how Violet FELT as her abdomen and torso began to swell with blueberry juice. Today, I thought about it. More than that, I felt it. I felt my midsection swell up like a watermelon. In what felt like minutes, I went from feeling fine to feeling like a blueberry.

Now I realize what all the fuss over swelling is about.

I've returned to my Bones' re-runs and my recliner! If you want to message me, I'll be here for the foreseeable future. I'm hoping to avoid the juicing room.

Week 2 Update - Gradual and Steady Recovery

So, what does the 2 week point have to offer?
1) I'm mostly upright most of the time. Sometimes I think that I'm completely upright, but after exertion or a big meal, I can still be pretty hunched.
2) Swelling: less in the morning, more in the evening or after a large or salty meal.
3) Sleeping: I'm still in the recliner. I rented a medical lift chair and find it very comfortable.
4) Energy level: good, with highs and lows. On Wednesday, I had a huge day with showering, driving, coffee with friends, lunch with family, walking and shopping....on Thursday, I hardly left the recliner.

Other things? Showering is pretty easy. I had lunch with a friend who doesn't know that I had a TT and she didn't seem to have any idea that I had anything done. For the most part, I think that I seem normal to others.

When will I be able to sleep?

Back sleeping is so uncomfortable! When will I be able to sleep on my side?

Need.... more.... energy

Went back to work today and I'm friggin' beat!

All I've wanted to do since I got home is lay down: forget the laundry, forget the dishes.... mama's getting horizontal.

Week 3 Update

This week was big for me: I went home and started back at work.

I'd been staying with a friend for the first two weeks of my recovery and was feeling really good emotionally and physically. I had honestly expected the TT recovery to be more like the post-partum recovery and frankly, I was glad that it wasn't.

Now that I'm home, sleeping in my own bed, spending time with my family and returning to my own life, I feel much more frustrated and emotional. When will I get back to normal? I've been weepy and grouchy, I can't sleep.... I thought I had skated through my recovery without this!

Early in the week I began walking between 2 and 3.5 miles with friends, but I got scared of seroma and healing complications so I stopped. I really don't want to rush things and end up needing to fly back to Escondido to see my surgeon (or find a local doctor who can help). That thought is more stressful than the thought of waiting to exercise. I can run, zumba and cross train when I'm feeling better. Maybe after the 6 week mark (halfway there) I'll add a spin class to my schedule before work.

On compression garments: This week, my general routine was to wear the surgical cg at night and the Maidenform waistnipper (http://www.amazon.com/Flexees-Maidenform-Instant-Waistnipper-6868/dp/B0007UOLIK) during the day. The Maidenform is TIGHT and super supportive and I have been loving it. However, I'm starting to experiment with a spanx during the day (the simplicity open bust mid-thigh bodysuit, http://www.zappos.com/spanx-slimplicity-open-bust-mid-thigh-bodysuit-black) and last night I slept without any support. Yesterday, after wearing the spanx all day, I was so happy to return to my surgical cg. I still feel better with the extra support.

My scar is puffy and puckered. I'm always swollen at the incision site. I'm using mepitac silicone tape over the incision. It's cheap for silicone tape, stays on well and doesn't give me a rash. It's about the only tape that I don't react to. I guess I have sensitive skin. You can see the rash on my hips in the photos. That's from compression? No idea. Will ask Dr.

So, week 3 observations:
1) feeling emotional
2) back to work
3) feel well enough for light exercise but am going to wait a little longer
4) sore in the upper abs (like I'm bruised)
5) stitches appear to be dissolved
6) still loving my cg
7) wish that I could do a full body stretch when waking
8) am upright except for right after sitting for a long period and at night after dinner
9) have a lot of swelling at the incision site, swollen all over by night

Mid week improvements!

At my week 3 update I was in the doldrums but am now much better. I've had two fully functional days in a row and am no longer emotional.

I'm actually feeling pretty much back to normal (and I slept on my side last night)!

Getting tired of skirts.... when will I be able to wear jeans?

For those of you ahead of me, how long after your TT could you wear jeans?

Week 4 Update: wearing jeans today (thanks for all of the input, you made me much more confident!)

First of all: on my day of treatment I said that the dr got all of my stretch marks. That isn't what I meant. What I meant to say is that he was able to remove all of my old bb. He wasn't sure that was going to be possible, so I was prepared for a vertical incision. I still have some stretch marks.

This week has been such an improvement over last week. I have more energy and am feeling much more like my normal self.... unless you factor in exercise! I'm a regular exerciser. Before sx, each week I would teach Zumba twice and do 1-3 other workouts (usually running or cross training). Since the surgery, I've only taken a handful of walks because I'm worried about increasing the likelihood of complications. Yesterday I took a 4 mile walk on hilly terrain. It felt great... *but*... it left me depleted of energy for the rest of the day. Maybe 1-2 miles a day is good for the first week.

On compression: I'm still love the tight, waist-cinching cg that provides as much support as the surgical cg that the doctor gave me although I'm trying to transition into a smooth Spanx. At night, I've been sleeping without any compression at all because it is so much more comfortable. The tight super-supportive waist-cincher is awesome because it allows me to stand up straight and feel like all my tummy parts are contained and secure. On days when I wear the Spanx, I begin to hunch after a few hours, especially after long periods of sitting. When I'm wearing the Spanx, I feel like I've been set back a week or two: hunching, moving slower, more aching.

This morning I tried on two pair of jeans: my low-riding Lucky's and my skinny-jeans. I may wear a pair to work today. Thank you all for your encouragement and feedback. I needed some courage!

On my overall shape: I've noticed that I'm still thick-waisted. I was hoping that would go away, but I sort-of knew that because I've always been thick-waisted, I would probably continue to be that way. I think that I will need to loose 5-10 pounds to get reduce the amount of visceral fat that I have surrounding my internal organs if I want to look curvy in the waist. Damn that apple shape!

I've been surprised at the level of pain / soreness that persists. The lipo spots are still sore to the touch and my abdominal wall remains tender. I've taken ibuprofen a couple of times this week in the evening because of aches and soreness.

Well, what else is there:
1) I'm able to go to work and then make dinner at night
2) Last night I slept without pillows under my knees
3) I am still very dependent on firm compression for full functioning
4) Pain localized to the lipo sites and upper abs.
5) I experience itchiness around my incision, but when I go to scratch it, I can't find the source of the itch because the skin is numb: how can it itch and be numb at the same time?
6) This week, I'm going to walk 1-2 miles each day as a way to introduce exercise back into my life.

Happy healing to all of you, and for those of you about to embark on a TT journey, good luck! It's well worth it.

Did I happen to mention that I love my tummy?

I love my tummy!

Never thought that I'd say THAT :-)

Week 5 - Wow! Huge improvements this week.

I can't really explain how much better I have felt this week. My swelling has been way down and much of the soreness is gone. I have had much more energy that before.

As for swelling, it may just be that this has been my 5th week and things are finally starting to subside. However, I also started taking Bromelain this week. It's hardly a scientific trial, but if I had it to do over again, I'd take the bromelain from the beginning.

Before surgery:
weight: 152
bust: 38
natural waist: 31.5
waist at bb: 33.5
hip: 39

After surgery (this morning):
Weight: 148
Bust 38
Natural Waist: 31
Waist at belly button: 31.5
Hip: 39

My nurse said that they removed a little over 2 pounds in skin in addition to the fat that was extracted.

My scar has been improving although it still has some pleating and (of course) is bright red. It's a nice shape and fits well within my panty lines. The Doctor still has me wear tape over it, so much of the lumpiness that you see on the scar is a result of the tape. I haven't had tape off for long enough to get it smooth, but when I do, I'll snap a picture.

This weeks milestones:
1. Going from standing to laying down and vice versa has gotten much easier.
2. Sleeping comfortably on my side and switching from side to side without fanfare.
3. Wearing spanx more and more (and the industrial strength waist-nipper less and less). It's a hard trade off though because I find the spanx to be so darn uncomfortable.
4. I'm wearing jeans!
5. I've been taking brisk walks of about 2 miles in length and am looking forward to week 6 when I can increase my activity level.

What else... I'm so thankful that I made the decision to do this and that my family has been supportive. It makes me sad that people are judgmental of others who choose elective surgery to help them feel more comfortable with their bodies. The recovery process has been a bit of a long-row-to-hoe, but I would still enthusiastically recommend the procedure to anyone who is tired of carrying around extra skin and a saggy abdomen. There's no reason to look pregnant when you're not!

Here are some photos from this morning. Not much change from last week, but the swelling has definitely gone down at the incision site.

Went clothes shopping


Things FIT!

6 weeks..... the magic recovery number

When I signed up for surgery, I was so nervous and excited but the thing that scared me most was the recovery. I expected pain, wild emotions and to feel stir crazy from a lack of exercise. All those things happened at one time or another. But now I'm at the 6 week mark, the magic recovery mark, the go back to the gym and work-out mark, the start helping with firewood mark and I'm relieved, excited and glad to be here.

Tomorrow I'm going to add some jogging to my morning walk and on Monday, I'm going to try a spin class. Wow! To believe that it's actually time. This is cool. When I was gearing up for surgery, this date seemed so far away and now it's here!

Any news?
*I woke up on my stomach the other night. It wasn't comfortable, but I was there.
*My tummy is starting to soften up a bit.
*The big news of the week is that I'm getting a lot more mobility in my waist / hip / chest area: I can roll my hips and ribs a little and I can stand straight and arch my back a little. This is a huge milestone for me.... I'm a Zumba instructor and I have been looking forward to this moment. I have really missed listening to music and making up routines while washing dishes or doing chores. But yesterday.... oh yeah.... I caught myself doing a little salsa. And it felt good.

*My posture stinks! I think that this is partially a result of not being able to make my spine fully erect for weeks and weeks. I catch myself slouching.... really slouching and when I go to sit up, I realize that I can sit *really* upright... lift my chest up and elongate my abs upright. So... I guess it's time to work on my posture. Any suggestions?

I'm posting a couple of pics from this morning, but my monthly friend just showed up and I'm a little more bloated than usual. From here, I'll post monthly pics and I hope to see a reduction in the pleating and swelling. I have one little "nob"... call it a miniature dogs ear... the size of a pencil eraser... on the right side that will most likely need a touch up.

See you at the two month mark!

Spin class

Went to spin class this morning.... tired now but off to work.

8 Week Update.... Hauling firewood now

Things have been rolling right along.

I've started running. I'm up to 2.41 miles and although it's hard, it's not quite like starting over from scratch. There's one place on my tummy where I feel little zaps of pain but it doesn't happen if I wear my super-duper waist cincher.

Today *was* going to be my first day back at my strength training class. BUT, I'm not feeling ready. I've been carrying firewood up the stairs and that's enough. I can do it, but I still feel like I need to be careful.

Spin class has been awesome. I can work really hard, get my endorphin rush and be happy all day! All without hurting anything :-) I didn't realize it until I started exercising again, but I NEED to exercise, it keeps me happy. When I was exercising a few times per week, I didn't notice how much better it made me feel.

My scar is calming down quite nicely but there's still quite a lot of swelling above it. There's still pleating on the left side but it is getting better.

On compression: I wear a mixture of spanx, the super-duper waist cincher and nothing. Sometimes it feels fine to wear nothing so I do. But not if I'm doing any sort of exercise. Then it's the waist cincher.

On a somewhat sad and very frustrating note, I've put on a little bit of weight. I'm at 151 which was on the high side BEFORE I had 3-4 pounds of flab and skin removed. You can probably see it in the pictures.

Taught Zumba Today!!!

I taught a Zumba class today! I haven't done that since December and I was really worried about it. It was hard and I'm tired, but I'm not hurt and that's the important thing. I probably didn't have 100% of my hip/rib mobility back... in fact I know I didn't (body rolls were not happening for me) but it was pretty darn fun. Now I'm whooped and very hungry.

Hope you all are well!

12 Weeks Today

I love my new waist. The other day, I wore my favorite "skinny" capris that I have not been able to wear in years (since I was 10 lbs lighter) and they were comfortable.

But I have to admit that it's been hard to really get used to my new shape. I used to keep an eye on my waist to gauge my weight and now my waist looks great even when I'm gaining weight. Now, my face is getting rounder, my boobs are bigger and my thighs are a little bit bigger, but I'm not attuned to those changes the way I was to my belly. It's hard to explain... I just don't want to gain weight to where I feel like I need to lipo my thighs and get a breast reduction :-)

I'm still easing my way back into exercise. I'd say that I'm about 60% back to my pre-op level of fitness. Adding weights to my routine has been the hardest but I've been making some good progress during the last week or so. It's nice to see the beginning of muscle definition in my arms and legs. I've been missing it. I'm planning a 10K in May.

Compression is becoming a thing of the past. I wear my waist-cincher when I run, but that's it. Sometimes I wear spanx, but I hate them. Spanx has to be the most uncomfortable thing ever! Well.... I suppose corsets were worse... thank GOODNESS I was born after the corset craze ended!

At my last appointment, my doctor said that he's not worried about my pleating (although I am), but he is a little concerned with my bb (but I wasn't... until he said something). He says that I need 6 full months before we can evaluate the pleating.... ok

Belly is still sore and swollen sometimes: at the end of a long day, after exercise. Swelling is located above the incision and sometimes above my bb as well.

Weight: 152 (oh my!)
Waist: 32.5 (at bb), 31 (natural)
Hips: 39
Bust: 38
Face: oh wait....

Good luck ladies, wherever you are in your journey. Thanks (as always) for your updates and support.
San Diego Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

Dr Q and his staff have been excellent. The surgical center is very modern and comfortable. It's apparent that Dr. Qaqish is very busy, but he still gives you his full attention and is always on time. I was initially worried because he's a licensed cosmetic surgeon (not a licensed plastic surgeon), but that worry was short lived. He's devoted to his work and is inspired to help people look and feel their best. He's honest and forthright and I completely trust his opinions and skill. I would recommend him to anyone interested in having this procedure.

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