I'm a pretty private person, so posting a public...
I'm a pretty private person, so posting a public blog on such a private matter like this is unnatural for me (and is why I'll be using a fake name and not revealing details like the name of my PS for now). But, like many others, I've gotten a lot of help from seeing the reviews here and wanted to add mine in case it might help someone else.
I have always struggled with my weight since I can remember. Throughout high school and college, I was obese. At my highest, I weighed 250 lbs. Over the last ten years, I've lost about 80 lbs through diet and exercise.
I have been hyper-aware and self-conscious about my tummy for as long as I remember. Growing up as an obese female is not easy and makes a permanent mark on your psyche. I know that I'm at around a "normal" weight/BMI (5'9'' and 170lbs). But it's hard to see that when I look in the mirror and fat rolls and droopy skin. It's been a really long, hard weight loss journey, and I'm ready to like what I see in the mirror.
So, I've opted for a "mommy" makeover ("mommy" in quotes since I don't have any children) to fix my droopy breasts and get rid of this tummy pooch that pokes out in my clothes and jiggles when I run. Surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday, June 21. I'm having a full tummy tuck with liposuction and a breast lift (anchor incision) with no implants. I considered implants--I'm tall and have a large frame that could accommodate something larger than my current 36B. But I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of implants and I'm not really looking to get bigger--just looking for a better shape than what I have now.
I'm uploading some pre-op photos of my tummy. At the moment, I'm still a bit shy to post pictures of my bare breasts. But at some point I may get brave enough to post some!
Day before surgery
Surgery is tomorrow! It's been a busy few days, getting everything settled before surgery. I have my electric lift recliner, a lot of pillows, plenty of DVDs. All the meds have been filled. I got in one last workout. One last Target run.
Before today, I had pretty much felt great about the surgery. No nerves or anxiety. But today, things changed. I'm just a little more on edge. I want everything to go right, so I get anxious when things aren't exactly like I had planned. But I expected to feel some nerves. Now to bed! Leaving late morning to go to surgery.
21 Jun 2016
Day of treatment
Made it through surgery and back home in my recliner. Reported to the surgery center at 12:30. They asked me some questions about my medical history and how I was feeling. Changed into a paper gown, gave a urine same for a pregnancy test. Signed some papers. Then the nurse took my blood pressure and temperature, and put the IV tube in. That was all done by around 1pm.
After that I had to wait a while for the doctor to mark me up, probably 45 minutes. I started getting sweaty and a little light headed at the end, probably from having not eaten or drunk anything for over twelve hours and having to stand up and being nervous.
Then I used the bathroom one last time and they took me into the operating room. I shed my clothes, laid on the table and put a blanket over me. They started the IV pretty soon after and I was out!
Waking up wasn't super pleasant. I could feel my incisions burning a little, and I was shaking a lot, although I wasn't really cold. I tried to take deep breaths, and the nurse gave me Demerol. Eventually she helped me get dressed and wheeled me outside where I got in the car. By that time the shaking had stopped.
I sipped cool water on the drive home, which helped get the yucky taste out of my mouth. I had a pillow behind my back during the ride, about 25 minutes. I brought the walker in the car, so I used that to help me get inside.
I'm now laid up in my recliner. Ate some crackers and some of a protein shake and took my first pain pill (Percocet) and a colace. Napped a half hour, now watching a movie. Overall I feel pretty good!
Day 1 PO
Ups and downs today. Was feeling pretty good through the night and most of the morning. Then in the late morning I started feeling some nausea. I took a zofran but a 10-15 minutes later the vomiting began. Ouch! My tummy was extra sore for a little while after that.
I had a follow up with my PS this afternoon. And I vomited again in the car on the way there. He suggested that the pain meds are causing the nausea. So I've stopped them and just took Tylenol tonight.
But I'm a little worried that the antibiotic is causing it. I was fine all last night when I was on the pain med and it wasn't until this morning when I took the antibiotic for the first time that I started feeling the nausea. Now that I'm off the pain med, I may try the antibiotic tonight. If I get sick again, then I'll know that's why and ask the PS for a different one.
I did get the binder off so I got a first glimpse at the work. It's hard to really appreciate my tummy with all the creases. But from what I can tell, it's looking good!
Days 2-3 PO
I dropped the Percocet and that seemed to do the trick. No nausea since I stopped it! And I guess I don't have to worry about getting too dependent on it, since I was only on it 24 hours! It's a huge relief not to worry about the nausea.
Things are bearable with just the Tylenol. I had the pain pump taken out today. I may feel a little more pain in my lower tummy, but it could be my mind playing tricks on me.
Without the nausea, I've been eating a little better today. So far today, I've had a
protein shake, half a grilled cheese sandwich, low sodium tomato soup, pineapple and blueberries, and avocado toast. Chicken noodle soup (low sodium of course) on deck for dinner.
I'm cleared to shower, but I haven't really felt like that yet. I think it will take a lot of energy and I'm not sure I'm up for it. I also don't really like looking at my incision. It's still so creased and scabby, it looks gross. I know it will get better, but right now I don't find it to be a pleasant sight.
Next visit to the PS depends on my drain. Once it gets to 25ml/day or less, I'll go in for them to take it out. It bothers me a little every now and then, but not too bad. I'm sure I'll get pretty tired of it in the next few days though!
Nothing like surgery to make you open up about bowel movements! Happy to report I had one yesterday. Being constipated was one of my bigger concerns for after surgery. I've been taking a stool softener since the night of surgery--Colace, twice a day. Three days PO I was able to have a bowel movement with no trouble. I was on the toilet a while but there was no pain; my body remember what to do and I didn't really need my ab muscles at all. It probably helped that I was only on the pain meds for 24 hours.
Today (Day 4 PO), I tried a shower. I don't have a shower chair, but I used an outdoor chair from my porch and secured it in the shower. I washed up using Dial antibacterial soap and instead of using the shower to rinse off, I just used a plastic cup and filled it with water. I was able to dry off and re-dress all on my own, so I was proud of that.
Photos from day 4-6 PO
Uploading some photos from the last couple of days
PO days 4-6
Days are running together! Every day seems about the same. Lots of time in the recliner, watching TV, napping, reading.
I'm still only taking Tylenol for pain; the worst of it is still my lower back/hips, I think from the lipo. I just finished my antibiotic yesterday (PO day 5). I've dropped down to 1 colace per day since I don't seem to be having any trouble in that department.
Ive been having trouble sleeping the last two nights. I think I'm getting tired of being in the recliner. And one night I shifted wrong and must have pulled on my drain because ouch! I may try sleeping in my bed tonight with a lot of pillows and see how it goes. Even if I'm still on my back, it would be nice for me mentally to be back in bed at night.
But every day gets a little better. I think I'll feel much better once I get the drain out! I'm ready to feel a little more normal, and having a drain coming out of you collecting bodily fluids in a bulb attached to your clothes is not normal! Hoping the fluid will be down low enough to have the drain removed Wednesday or Thursday, Friday at the latest. I can't imagine going through another weekend with it!
My caregiver (a family member) leaves tomorrow. It's been nice having help here around the clock, and I'm a little reluctant to be on my own. But I know I'll be fine, and I have friends coming to check on me over the next few nights so they can help where needed.
Drain is out!
Drainage finally fell below 25ml this morning (9 days PO) so I went to my PS and had the drain removed. It did hurt--like a burning/stinging--for a few seconds. But it was over pretty quickly and I am so happy to be free of this drain! Feeling like recovery will only get better from here.
I'm at 11 days PO, so I thought I would write a post about supplies. I know I spent a lot of time here on RS before surgery looking for advice about what I'd need during recovery, so maybe someone will find this helpful one day.
Supplies I'm glad I got and have used:
-Electric lift recliner--This was a lifesaver. I've basically been living in it since surgery. It makes it easy to get up and down without help, so I felt a little more independence not having to rely on my caregiver for that. I rented one for two weeks for about $250, including delivery and pickup. There may be better deals out there through Aaron's or Rent-a-Center, but I don't really like dealing with those places so I went with a company that specializes in medical equipment.
-Walker: I got a metal one (with tennis balls on two legs) from the thrift store for less than $10. Highly recommended. I used it a lot for the first week after surgery.
-Colace: Took this stool softener twice a day for the first few days and was able to have a BM without a laxative. I forgot it one day earlier this week and my BM that day was a little more difficult. You don't want to be straining, so Colace makes everything a little easier.
-Under Pads/Chux: With the lipo, I was leaking a lot for the first few days, so these were helpful to put on the recliner under me to keep the fluid from getting on the (rented) recliner.
-Cough drops: I always have these nearby (usually one on the table next to me and one in my pocket) so that if I get a tickle in my throat, I can pop one of these and avoid coughing.
-Refillable water bottle
-Plastic cups, utensils, paper plates: Because I don't want to have a lot of dishes to wash
-Food: saltines (make sure to get unsalted!), peanut butter, avocado (I use for avocado toast), low sodium soups, yogurt, protein shakes, frosted mini wheats, fruit (pineapple, blueberries, and strawberries for me), tea (black tea and sleepy-time/bedtime tea), lemonade, OJ, lemon (to add to water).
-Candles: There's a certain smell that comes with post-surgery drainage/leakage/etc. A nice smelling candle helps cover that and it's relaxing.
-Books, magazines, movies, Netflix.
-Plenty of pillows and sheets: I put a sheet under me, covering the recliner. I also have a pillow under my feet and one under my head. Then one more sheet on top of me if I get cold.
-A few sets of pajamas with button-down tops
-Lanyard: I kept one I got at a work conference earlier this summer. Good to wear and attach drain to while showering.
-Therapearl back pad: Can warm it up in the microwave or freeze it. Helpful for my sore back/hips. Bought it on amazon.
Supplies I haven't used/needed:
-Gas-X: I did have some gas, but it wasn't bad so I never took anything for it.
-Maxi pads: I preferred the ABD pads I got from Amazon.
-Adult diapers: You need to get up every couple hours to walk anyway, so going to the bathroom gave me motivation to do that.
-Toilet riser: I had no trouble squatting to get down on the toilet (And I'm 5'9", so I'm not short!)
-Female urination device: Same as above; squatting and sitting was not a problem for me.
-Shower chair: I didn't want to spend the money on something I'd only use a few times. So my caregiver brought in an outdoor chair and secured it in the shower. It did the trick (and was free!)
-Granny panties: I saw these recommended so you don't leak on your good undies after surgery. But for me, I didn't want to wear any undies at all while I had the drain in, so I went commando for the first nine days after surgery until the drain was out. One less thing to pull down when going to the bathroom! Now that I'm that far post-op, I'm not leaking anymore so I'm in my regular undies.
Ok, that's about all I can think of for now. If I think of anything else, I'll update again!
14 days PO
Two weeks ago today I was in the middle of surgery! I'm feeling much better now. I'm getting back to a normal routine. The rental recliner was picked up today, so I'm getting my place back to how it was before surgery. I've slept in my bed the last two nights with no problems. I've been wearing more than just pajamas during the day. I usually put on a t-shirt with casual drawstring pants in the morning. Not terribly dressy, but it feels like actual clothes instead of just PJs. I have started wearing a tank top under my compression binder. That way I can change out the tank top and feel cleaner/more hygienic without having to wash the binder itself.
It's much easier to get up and around. I don't feel sore from the lipo at all anymore. It's mostly just the tightness and a little soreness from the tummy tuck I feel. Every now and then I feel a slight pain in my incision. I'm mostly standing up straight, although I'm still walking a bit slowly.
I have an appointment to see my PS tomorrow. Hoping I'll get more information about whether to keep using the same binder I've been using since surgery or move over to a different compression garment. It will also be nice to have reassurance that I'm still healing well. I'll post some pictures today or tomorrow. I still have some creasing that I'm not happy with, so I could also use some reassurance from him that it's normal and will go away when the swelling goes down and I'm more fully healed.
Week 2 Follow Up
Today was my 2-week follow up (technically 15 days PO). The incision looked fine and he did assure me that the creasing would go away (it's from suturing deep below the skin). But I did have a seroma that he had to drain. He told me that it's not a big deal to have one as long as it's taken care of. I'll post a picture of the syringe he used. He filled it up twice. I didn't watch the procedure, but I didn't feel a thing since I'm still numb. So I'll go back again next week to see if the fluid back and drain me again if necessary. I asked if there was anything I could do to keep it from building up and he said no, that it's just my body healing. Otherwise all is well here!
Adding some pics
Thought I'd do a side by side comparison wearing the same undies. Also a couple of pics from the side.
3 Weeks PO
I've reached the 3-week mark. I had a follow up today and it went pretty well. My PS did aspirate some fluid, but only 40ml (last week was around 100-120, I'm not quite sure). Since my body seems to be absorbing the fluid better, he said I don't need to come back for two weeks now. I still have tape over the incisions on my breasts, but I'm supposed to take them off once I reach 4 weeks. He also said I could move to a different compression garment (I've been using the binder they put me in after surgery), and recommended Spanx. So I'll start looking for something else to wear soon.
I'm feeling pretty good. I'm not really in much pain anymore. Every now and then I'll take a dose of Advil, but I haven't had any in the last 2-3 days now. It's mostly tightness now, and I feel a little sore when using my ab muscles. I can stand up straight if I think about it, although I naturally gravitate to a more slouched position. Same with walking--I can walk normally (albeit still slowly) if I try.
I've been keeping my activity low over the last week since the seroma. I had a church meeting last weekend that I went to for a few hours, and nobody mentioned me walking funny or acting sore so that was good (I've only told my pastor and a few close friends there about the surgery). I also took my first trip to the grocery store on Sunday, early in the morning before it got too crowded. And on Monday I went into the office for a few hours. My job is very flexible--I can work from home whenever I want, so that has been nice. No pressure to get back to the office!
I weighed myself this morning and was down to 166. I was 170 when I weighed in immediately before surgery, so I'm happy with that loss--especially since I'm still swollen and can't exercise. I'm a little jealous of everyone here who knows exactly how much the removed skin weighed. I asked before surgery but my PS doesn't do that, or take pictures or anything like that. I actually kind of wanted those gross, gory shots!
I have noticed my skin flaking a lot over the last week or so. It started on my thighs, then my calves/shins, then my arms, and lastly my chest and stomach. It's very strange, nothing I've ever seen on myself before. And I have pretty hardy skin, plus it's very humid where I live right now. I heard it could happen around your tummy or where the incisions are, but I wasn't expecting it over my whole body like this! But it seems to be settling down now.
I think that's about all for now. I'll update with some new pictures in the next day or two.
3 weeks PO Photos
Adding some pictures. These are all 3 weeks PO. I'm mostly happy with everything. I do still have a pooch that I don't like under my belly button, more on the left side of my body. I'm hoping it's all swelling that will go down in time. I've still got a few scabs that haven't fallen off yet. The TT incision is about as low as it could be--right at the thigh crease on each side. And I'm very happy with my belly button; the scar is inside, so it's not very noticeable. I've never really been able to see my belly button before so this is fun :)
Breast lift update
So at my last appointment a few days ago, my PS said I should take the tape on my breasts off once I reach 4 weeks. Over the last couple days though, I've noticed my breasts being a bit more sensitive than usual--itchy and uncomfortable.
Yesterday when I showered it looked like the edges of skin around the tape was pink. I thought I could still wait a few more days when I reach 4 weeks (I'm at 3.5 now), but this morning I decided to just go ahead and take the tape off.
I really think it was a good decision because the skin under the tape was definitely irritated. Removing the tape didn't really hurt, but I did take my time and was very careful. I washed them with antibacterial soap and then put some bacitracin on them. Hoping this will help the sensitivity issue!
Week 4 PO
Not a lot to update--just small improvements from last week. Feeling pretty good, getting out and about most days.
It's no longer super painful to cough. It's a bit uncomfortable and I still try to avoid it, but it's not terrible.
Last night I slept without the wedge pillow I had been using to keep my upper body elevated. Instead I used two pillows under my head. Baby steps! I'm still using one under my knees, but I don't think I really need to anymore.
I bought a couple of compression garments on Amazon. I like the one by Leonisa, the classic bodysuit shaper. I got one size up from the recommendation and it fit perfectly. I didn't like the other as much, the Sweet Cherry waist cincher/girdle. It wasn't as comfortable in the leg openings. I think I'll return it.
I'm still dealing with a lot of redness, irritation, and sensitivity from that reaction I had to the tape on my breasts. PS said to keep using antibacterial soap but keep it dry--no ointments (oops, shouldn't have used that bacitracin last weekend!). It will eventually clear up, but it seems to be going slowly!
I also have a spot on my incision that has gotten red and the skin is a little broken. It's almost like a scab came off too soon. I'm keeping a close eye on it but I don't think it's a big concern right now.
Tried on bikinis for the first time ever today! Will include some pics with this update.
5 Week Check-In
Just a text update--I'll post pictures next week. I went back to my PS for a follow up yesterday; it had been two weeks since my last appointment. He saw two spots on my tummy that he wanted to check for fluid. One was the same place that he had drawn fluid from the last two times--between my belly button and my incision, on the right side. The other was just above and to the left of my belly button.
So, out comes the needle and syringe. Thankfully, it was a smaller one than the last two times. I was nervous about the one above my belly button because I'm not numb up there. But apparently I've gotten feeling back below my belly button because I could feel it both times he stuck me! It really wasn't pleasant, but then I've never been great with needles. He didn't draw any fluid from either place, so no seromas here! Next appointment isn't for two months now.
He did say I could get back to working out next week. I go to hour-long classes that are half treadmill and half weight training, with some rowing thrown in sometimes. I'm thinking I'll go next week, but take it really easy. Not sure what compression garment to wear, if any. I don't want to wear the post surgical binder because it's a really thick material and i don't think it would handle sweat very well. I also don't think the Faja I have would be very comfortable for a workout. I may check out Target this weekend and see if they have any flexees/Spanx that might work. If anyone out there has been through this, would love to hear what worked for you!
My breasts are finally recovering from the tape reaction. They were sensitive and painful for about a week, but that's better now. There is still a little redness and the skin is still flaky, but it gets a little better every day.
Back to working out!
I did my first workout yesterday. It went well. I ended up wearing my faja. It gave me a VPL under my workout capris, but I decided a fashion faux pas was worth it to have the support for my first workout.
I did some rowing (not leaning too far back at the end of the pull so as not to engage my abs too much), some weight training, and some intervals on the treadmill, jogging very slowly. After I stopped each jogging interval, the area around my tummy incision was... Fuzzy? I don't know the word. Not quite stinging, like when your muscle wakes up after falling asleep. More mild than that, but definitely a feeling. It lasted maybe 30 seconds. I avoided all ab exercises.
It was nice being back, although I can tell I've lost a lot of fitness over the last few weeks. But I was prepared for that, and I'm glad to start the long road back.
6 weeks PO photos
I'm adding some photos. Here are my thoughts on my results so far:
Breast lift: Love it. So much. Can't believe they are mine! I'm relatively small (still in 36B, same as before surgery). But I don't regret not getting implants. I'm super happy having small, perky breasts with normal sized areoles. (Sorry, still too modest to post photos!)
Tummy tuck: Still too early to tell. I'm really happy with it when I'm standing. When I sit or bend over, I still see a pooch that I don't like. It's in the lower center area, so I'm really hoping it's just residual swelling that's causing it. I'm trying to be patient and wait to see what happens over the next few months.
No more seatbelt bulge! And other little things
10 Aug 2016
2 months post
Noticed this while driving yesterday (waited until I was stopped to take re picture!). One thing that always annoyed me before surgery was how my tummy bulged over the bottom seatbelt strap when in the car. No more! Now it's flat all the way down and I can actually see the bottom strap.
I also always hated how my tummy bounced up and down when running. And I don't just mean appearance-wise; it was pretty uncomfortable sometimes. I've jogged a few times since surgery and it has been great! No jiggle at all.
Also started buying some more form-fitting clothes. Everything I own now is pretty loose fitting because I was never comfortable showing my tummy. So I've bought a couple of fitted workout tops and some dresses that actually show my shape. And I'm excited about buying new sweaters this fall!
Feeling pretty good physically. I still feel a little tightness in my tummy, and my skin is still pretty numb--kind of in a triangle shape from my belly button down. I am also still dealing with some swelling in my lower abdomen. I had a long day Thursday, starting with a workout in the morning, then spending the evening kneading and making fresh pasta at a friend's home. By the end of the night, my pooch was bigger than ever! But it had gone down quite a bit by the next morning--I'll post a picture that shows the difference. It's not usually quite as noticeable as that.
Working out is going well. I feel like I'm building back up to where I was pre-surgery. I figure I was out for six weeks, so I should expect it to take at least that long to get back! For moves that don't involve abs/core muscles, I'm close to using the same weights as pre-surgery. As for core moves, I can do some plank-based exercises like plank leg lifts. I also do burpees/running men/plank jacks, but a modified version with my hands on a bench instead of on the ground. I tried sit-ups last week and that didn't go so well; I literally could not get up past a crunch. So I ended up just doing crunches and did maybe 20-30 total before I stopped.
Today was my first day working out without wearing any kind of abdominal binder/support garment, and I felt fine. So now I'm going without anything 90% of my time. But every now and then after a particularly long day, I'll put one on for a little extra support.
3 month follow-up with PS
22 Sep 2016
3 months post
I had my 3-month follow up yesterday. I told him about my two areas of concern--the pooch below my belly button and the sides of my incision that seem like they have too much skin (dog ears). I'm attaching a couple of really close-up pictures that show the sides of the incision better so you can see what I mean.
He wasn't really worried about the pooch and said that I was still swollen and that it would continue to flatten out over the next few months. That was a relief! That's been my biggest concern lately.
The sides of the incision may also improve, but they may need a little revision. He mentioned liposuction but didn't think that would do much. The other option would be lengthening the incision another inch or two (which I would be fine with).
We'll see how everything looks at my six-month follow up and go from there.
Just wanted to update with a couple small things I've noticed lately.
One day last week I realized that the tightness in my lower stomach had mostly gone away. I still feel it a little, but it's not uncomfortable like it used to be. So, the slow return to normal continues.
Then today after working out I noticed a weird discoloration on my stomach. A picture is included here. I wonder if it's nerve related because the discolored area kind of corresponds to the area where my skin is still numb. But the good news is that it was temporary; it was back to normal an hour or two later. Very odd!