Full TT, Lipo, Muscle Repair - Minneapolis area, MN

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*Treatment results may vary

So I guess my story goes here, huh? Well, I'm 42....

So I guess my story goes here, huh? Well, I'm 42. Mom of 10. Yes, you read that right. :) I have always wanted a big family and do love it, but it really did a number on my body. Each time I gave birth, about 5-10 pounds stayed with me, until I was 5'6" and 184 pounds. Not good. I little over a year ago, I became determined to get in shape, and I lost a total of 59 pounds, (50 have been sustainable - I think 59 was unrealistic) and kept it off for over a year now. But the middle of me is another story. At 135-140 pounds, I still look 6 months pregnant. My muscles are so badly separated, nothing holds in. I have tried Tupler Technique, P90X, and weight management. Doctor said the only thing that can fix it is surgery. So that is what is next for me. I am having a TT with lip on the flanks and it's next week. I'm nervous. I've never had surgery like this before.

2 days til surgery...

I am very nervous about my upcoming surgery. I am very anxious about medical stuff in general and so I've had an upset stomach for a complete week now. And I've been doing everything I can to keep my mind off surgery and recovery. When it do comes back to my mind, I get nausous. Last night my hubby and I were talking about it and I started dry heaving. Yuck. I did speak with the nurse about this and she said I could get a valium to help me sleep the night before. Thank goodness.
I go in for pre-op later today. I'm sure my stomach will be doing somersaults again.
adding pre-surgery photos today

It's been done.

Ill update better when I'm less groggy from pain meds. The pain isn't fun. I had to go to the clinic today because one drain wasn't draining. Turns out it was just kinked. But the trip to the clinic was painful. I hope this gets better fast.

Day 2

Well I made it to day 2. It's getting a little better. Still on Percocet every 3 hrs. I tried yesterday to go 4, per docs request but it brought my pain level back up to same as day 1. I will try 4 again today. The hardest thing right now is getting in and out of bed. Having a hospital bed is nice but I'm wondering how long before I can get into a regular bed? I can't imagine laying down without help. I don't want to use my stomach muscles!! Scared to.

Day 4 post op

I'm doing a little better today. I got one drain out today (that was the grossest feeling ever but I'm glad it's done.) I had a rough night last night. Got very nauseous and puked. The pain of it in my belly burned worse than I imagine delivering 8 kids at once! Never have I had pain like that. I was nauseous all day today too, until the drain was out. I'm not sure exactly why I got nauseous but I do have two suspisions. 1: I was done with oxycodone and moved to vicadin. Maybe my body didn't like the vicadin. #2: when I went into surgury I was given a patch behind my ear with anti-nausea medication. I was told to take it off when I got home. I looked for it and couldn't find it so I thought the nurse took it off. Well I found it last evening, up much highter than I thought I would. I guess I started getting nauseous a few hrs later, but didn't even make the connection. It could be the side effects of that wearing off, or it could be that medication not working in me anymore since it's off. Either way, last night sucked big time. I'm much better now. Well, in comparison. Still can't stand up straight, haven't pooped yet, this binder feels about 10 sizes too small, but i've been given permission to shower, have one drain out, all my bandages and tape off, and I'm sitting in the family room for the first time today. Progress. But slower than I anticipated.

Day 5 po

I had a couple good things and a couple bad things. The bad first.
This morning I started coughing from something, you know like when you get a little bit of spit stuck in your throat, I wanted to cough gently but my body didn't cooperate. the coughing hurt like I was being stabbed. I held my fist and a pillow into my belly while coughing and bent over also. The pain was really bad, about as bad as when I threw up. I really want to be done with this. I'm not having fun. I used my emergency inhaler for asthma to help with the coughing. it did help some. The coughing finally passed. It probably was only a couple minutes but felt like so much longer. I then proceeded to have a good cry. With my sweet daughter's help I put a heating pad on my belly and took a Tylenol 3 and slept for the next four hours.
The good: I walked today without the use of my walker. Yeah! That felt like an accomplishment.
The other good: I finally pooped.
Also I saw my belly button today and I like it. :)

Shower today

Felt good and bad at the same time. Warm water was soothing. But having my evil compression garment off to be washed was an u desirese feeling. Got a picture of my stiches.

Day 7 PO

I had a breakdown yesterday. I knew it was coming - as I read people's blogs on this website I see that most everyone has a stress breakdown at some point. I think the lack of sleep and being able to do stuff myself just wore me down. My hubby was feeling stressed because of a bad day at work, therefore he was irritated by everything I asked him to do. The teens were stressed from taking care of the little kids all day. And it all seemed to weigh on me. Then I started to run a little fever and worry flooded my head. I went through all the mental regrets. Why did I do this? Was it really necessary? What if I get sick and land in the hospital and then my family really has to run without me? and on and on...
I broke down and cried and finally my hubby comforted me and wasn't irritatable. He tucked the little kids into bed and we watched a movie with me (though he fell asleep, like he always does, and I took a sleeping pill and couldn't fall asleep for an hour and a half! )
Also yesterday I had 3 more coughing attacks. I have this stupid tendency to catch a bit of my spit into my bronchia. I can usualy cough it out easily, under normal circumstances, but coughing right now is VERY painful. I had to take my emergency inhaler for asthma just to get air enough to cough. My belly muscles hurt SO bad after that. I ended up taking a T3 for it like the other day and sleeping off the pain.
I get to have my other drain taken out today. I'm happy for this.
My final struggle is my CG. I think my hubby shrunk it when he washed it. There was some blood on it from my drain and I asked him to hand wash it. He hand washed it in hot (does he not know to wash blood in cold!!!!?) He did air dry it, but it is SO painfully tight right now. The zipper is still bending in and pressing hard into my ribs like the blunt end of a butter knife. I tried putting a sock in there to pad it, but that didn't help. My husband's idea was to cut a soft mouse pad and fit it there. I thought it was a weird idea but it actually helps some. But this thing is still to tight... hard to breathe in it.

More day 7 stuff:

Day 7: Got the 2nd drain out today. YEAH! PS told me that all the swelling will now move down to the lower level of my abdomen, and that eventually the swelling will all move the the vaginal area, for that is the last place for it to leave (gravity). He told me to massage from left to right then down, and right to left then down. Move the fluids downward. Okay. I didnt like him touching my tummy. It hurt and I'm the fact that I'm numb feels weird. I go back in one week. Oh, and I was denied permission to stand up straight yet. He said wait til day 10. I'm fine with that, I don't like being straight yet.

Day 8

Why Does bad always accompany good?
The good: I got my session drain out yesterday and as a result I am finally getting rid of some constipation that has been ailing me lately. I pooped this morning. It was such a relief. Also, I was finally able to get up and walk around the house a little, get out of bed, spend a few minutes out on the screen porch in the sunshine, and visit with family. I ate my first meal with my family today. Then ...
The bad: My five-year-old Germ spreader said he didn't feel good and that he was cold. Yep. Fever, 101. Great. Now I need to quarantine myself again. Oh please pray I don't get the flu!!!!!!

Day 11

Things seems to improve a lot over the past 2 days. I'm up walking around more, cleaning the house some, and walking nearly straight. Lower back still burns a lot from the slight bend, and my lipo is still really sore.
I was having major pain from the zipper on my compression garment. At my last appt my nurse did give me a second, sized larger, GC, but I had the same zipper issues. So I tried a test: I put the garment on backwards. It fit a little funny, and i left the flap open and just tucked it into undies. The experiment showed me that moving the zipper to the other side was very relieving to my sore lipo on the left, so I ordered a different CG that has no zipper. It's a pull up kind and has a flap with eyelets for potty breaks.
Oh and I sneezed today (allergies) and it hurt a lot less than two days ago when I cried and put a heating pad on my belly. Today it hurt for about 20 seconds and then was gone.
I'm adding some photos that were taken on Day 9.

Day 17

What a weekend - My brother was getting married this weekend, six hours away by car. I predicted it would be a hard ride. But it wasn't so bad. This was day 15 btw. We have a big van and I was able to have one whole van row to myself and prop all of my and my kids pillows around me in such a way that I could recline in the seat and put my feet up on the bench seat too with pillows under my knees. That made it better. I still don't like riding in vehicles, but when I'm laying down it was more comfortable.
Also the wedding wasn't as hard as I feared. I had to be there early to pin flowers. Standing up straight to pin flowers on tall groomsmen was tricky, but made me work harder at standing up straight and not babying myself. The rest of the time before the wedding was just a lot of sitting around waiting during pictures and such. Then the wedding dance came. I knew this would be hard, because I LOVE to dance, and all my family was up dancing too. So I had a rum and coke and went to the dance floor. I thought, "maybe I could just stand up there with everyone and just kinda sway a bit and pretend I'm dancing so I can feel like part of the group." Well after a bit I moved a little more, and a little more... pretty soon I was actually kinda dancing. I danced off and on for about two hrs! In fact, I was still there when the dance closed down! I shocked myself. I loosed up enough that I was standing straight up by the end of the night. Oh - and I looked great in my dress!
Also a little update on my kids: nothing contaigous entered my house with my 5 yr old's fever. I was very worried I would have a flu run through my house. Unfortunately it was worse news, he has lyme disease. 3rd kid this summer to get it. Not good.
Pictures are from day 14 just after the steri strips came off.

Side sleep

I woke up too early today. I was stiff and sore. Can't stand sleeping on my back, though I can sleep much flatter than before. I took a squishy pillow and pushed it into my belly and rolled onto my side. Felt okay, not perfect but better than my back. I just don't like the way my tummy feels. Doc says my skin is reatached to my muscles, but my senses feel like it isn't and that it's slipping down the side when I roll on my side. But I must have been comfortable enough, cuz next thing I knew it was 2 hours later!
Also, I took a long bath today. Mmmm soothing. And took some pictures too.

3 weeks

Today I went without the garment (with PS's permission) and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I do feel a little vulnerable. So I went to Kohl's and bought a bodyshaper garment. This should do for the next week or so. Mainly I don't want any clothing rubbing on my scar. Today was also my first time out shopping. Hubby's done the grocery shopping so far. Today I just went to Walmart and Kohl's. My back was super sore when I got home though. Thankfully hubby was making supper :)
I took pictures today too. Sure hope my scar lightens. I took pictures in my two swim suits, both today (the tie dye) and a few days ago (orange), and I'm not loving how much my scar shows. I knew it would show some, but I didn't know it would show that much. I did put on my swim suit the day of surgery when I was all marked up and it looked okay, but now it's just not so okay. :(

3 week pictures

4 weeks PO

It's hard to believe 4 weeks have gone by. It feels like yesterday, but it also feels longer than 4 weeks. Weird how time works. I'm back to doing most of my normal everyday activities, like cleaning, cooking, shopping, driving, etc. Showering and getting ready for the day takes as long as it did pre-op now. I'm pretty tired by suppertime though. I can sleep on my side all night long now. Just a week ago I turned on my side for the first time and was only there there for a hour or so. Now, all night is fine. Not as comfy as pre-surgery but it's better than sleeping on my back. Tried sex once, not too enjoyable physically yet. Will wait another week and see.

Also I haven't tried exersizing yet, but I plan on getting on the eliptical this week and trying some light weights. I do want to build up my strength becasue 4 weeks from now, I will be in the Caribbean swimming and snorkeling and hiking.

I started scar oil (forgot brand) and gel (mederma) a couple days ago. I'm still wearing my compression garment at night and some days. And Flexess brand some days. I like the one that snaps at the crotch, and goes all the way up to the bra, and has shoulder straps. The one without the straps rolled down, and the one with the shoulder straps but went down to my hips without the crotch strap slid up too often. I also ordered a stage two CG from Make Me Heal, as I don't like the zipper on my compression garment. It makes it ez to put on, but the zipper bends and digs into my side and I hate that.

Oh, and my lipo areas still hurt. I never brused but they always felt like the worst black and blue mark ever. They are less sensitive now, but they still hurt when hubby rubs my back and it hurts when I've been sitting for a while and then I stretch them. Burns like fire. :(

But the healing continues, and that's the good part.

5 weeks

Actually 5 and 1/2. My recovery progress is very much in stages. Last week I was finally able to feel like I was back to normal duties in life, like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. But then I felt like I needed to add excersise back in. I do have a vacation coming up and want to be able to snorkel and hike. I walked the treadmill for 15 minutes and swam for 15 minutes (every other day was the plan, only done it twice so far). Just changing from gym clothes to swim suit is a work out! But after all that I was wiped out! Exhasted. In fact one night I just broke down and cried from exhaustion. Then I started trying to wean off my CG. That's not fun. I don't like the way I feel without it, but due to the trip, I do want to wean off it. I don't want to be wearing it in the caribbean.
I'm also finding that when I work out (or sometimes after sex) I get really nausous. PS said it's just part of the recovery. It means I'm pushing too hard.
Also today I wore jeans for the first time. I was suprised that when I sit I still have a bit of a muffin top. Wondering if this is just swelling. Also I know that the lipo takes about 6 months to fully show results, but I guess I just thought it would be different. :(
But I like my standing pictures anyway :)

6 week review

Much of the last update remains the same. One thing I'm still experiencing that I thought I'd be done with is the lipo pain. Still hurts when I stretch it, especially if I've been sitting for a while.
I still don't like wearing jeans. I wore them one night for about 2 hrs and then got them off as soon as I was home.
The nausousness I was experiencing after working out is lessening. Now it's either not there or just noticable, so that's an encouraging improvment.
I still wear my CG and when I do I feel pretty normal, as in presurgery normal (except for lifting and pushing). When I don't wear it, I still feel vulnerable, like I felt a couple weeks after surgery. I'm slow and cautious.
The scar is healing nicely, but still quite red.

feeling a little normal

My little kids keep asking me, "are you better yet mommy?" and I keep answering, "almost." I'm getting tired of "almost" being back to normal. I know it's only been 6 weeks, but I really just want to be back to normal :(
On the good side. I slept compression garment free last night and it wasn't bad. Went without it for most of the day today too, other than during excersize and it was okay. But I am a little slower and more cautious. And I increased my excersize from 15 minutes of treadmill and 15 min of swim, to 25 minutes of each. And no nausea. :)

Post-vacation review

When I scheduled this surgery, which was fast... Dr had a cancellation and could get me in in 5 days, my first question was: will I be healed enough in 9 weeks to go on my scheduled Caribbean vacation? "Oh yes," he replied. When that time approached, I said to his nurse (who's always better at asking questions than the doctor is) and she said, "Well technically you are healed and there is no danger than you will undo anything, but will you feel like snorkeling for 2 hours, riding a stand up paddle board, hike the trails for hours... probably not." Which was accurate.

I did snorkel, but no more than one hour at a time. I did stand up paddle board for about 5 minutes (that was hard!!) I did hike, but no more than 20 minutes. My endurance for exercise has gone down the toilet after this surgery. Holy Cow! I didn't expect it to be that bad. Still who can complain about laying on the beach all day. Right?

Sadly my laying on the beach and too many "rum and diet's" and "painkillers" (a tropical drink famous in the Virgin Islands) gave me a souviner for my vacation: 4 pounds and swell hell. So as much as I hate working out with this low endurance, it's back to the gym I go.

PS I was concerned that my scar would get sunburned and it does show above my swim suit a couple inches. I found an excellent product by 3M, it's just skin colored waterproof tape. I put a new piece on everyday and it stuck even while in the water for hours. I didn't care if I had funny looking tape tan lines later since it's Nov in MN when I get home, it's not like they will be seen. It worked great. Never fell off once.

3 months.

On a scale of 1-10, how much back to normal do I feel? Regarding activities, I'm about a 9.
Regarding the way my body feels - 7ish. I am still really solid feeling in the belly. Swollen. And the ends of my insision still feel like I have a stich poking me somewhere. I am able to strech and reach up for something high, but I don't like the way I feel when doing it. My flanks still burn when I strech or when I'm trying to sit up straighter in a deep peice of furniture, or when my hubby rubs my flanks.
Regarding my exercize endurance, I'm still at about a 5. I wear out really, really easily. I plank every day and now I'm up to 90 seconds and really can't make it past that yet. I can do about 20-30 min on the elliptical before I am exhausted.
I don't have any pictures to post because there isn't much visual change from last month.

A year and a half later...

My reflections a year and a half later... As I was going through recovery, people would ask me if I thought it was worth it. That answer can be answered in many ways and can mean many things.
Was the end result worth more than the money I spent on it?
Was the end result valuable enough that I would go through the recovery again?
Was my end result valuable or beautiful in my eyes?
I told people that I wouldn't even answer those questions until one year after surgery. I read many reviews on this site where people stated with 100% certainty that it was worth it and they'd do it again. At my one year mark, I still wasn't certain I'd do it again. It cost a lot, and I have a large family and a lot of expenses, so it was not easy to scrape up that money, nor was it easy for me to spend it. Also, I was not prepared for the difficulty of my recovery. When I first found this site, I hadn't explored it well enough. Had I, I may have been better prepared, or at least had a better idea of what to expect. I think that would have helped my mental state. It was hard for me. I don't know that I'd want to go through that recovery again. I was in my early 40's, had given birth to 10 kids (all naturally, and the last 6 at home so I'm no stranger to pain and recovery), physically fit, regularily exercised, 130 pounds, but I will tell you that recovery was still HARD. Trying to get back into exercising 2 months after surgery was exhausting. I couldn't even do it for 10 minutes. Yes, gradually I worked back up, but it wasn't easy. I also had to attend a wedding 7 weeks or so after surgery, 6 hrs away from home, with 9 kids going with me, and I still couldn't stand up straight. Not fun!!!
So, one year later, I would've answered that I was 50/50 on whether it was worth it.
But now, 18 months or so later I am more toward 60/40. I do think it was worth it for this one major and one minor reason...
Major: My doctor also did muscle repair on my abs that were streched and torn apart by my many pregnancies. I likened it to wearing pants that were too large with a belt that was too small and couldn't buckle. The belt does no good. Well, neither did my muscles. Now, my core is SOOOO much stronger, I am a new woman. I am active again. The best place I saw this was while in the Caribbean on a stand up paddle board. I could FEEL my core at work and it was amazing. I am very grateful for that repair.
Minor. I do look better in a swim suit than I did before. Yes, I can wear a bikini, but the $8800 output does not outweigh the ability to wear a bikini for me. So I just consider that a side benefit. If my core were not just a great improvement in the quality of my life, I don't think the value of my appearance would outweigh the cost of the surgery for me. But I am happier with the way I look.
That being said. I still struggle with my weight, and keeping my weight down. (Currently I'm at 140, when I'd like to be at 130) and I still struggle with the way I see myself. I still have body issues. Sometimes I still feel like I look fat. Now I'm self conscious about a scar line that goes above all my bikinis. I still have strech marks from my kids. I still feel self conscous when my husband sees me naked. I think these are issues I'll deal with all my life. For some reason I thought surgery would magically take my body issues away. Silly thought right? I will always deal with them.

My final thoughts then... Was it worth it? I don't know. Am I happy? Yes.

Ok. The good: Surgery went well. My scar is minimal and healed very well. He taped and glued, not stiched. My ab repair seems wonderful. His nurse was wonderful. The bad: He's really old. He has a strong accent and I couldn't understand him all the time. His "bedside" manner isn't the most pleasant. He answered questions very short and quickly. When I expressed sadness my my scar always shows in a swim suit, he didn't seem to care about my disappointment. He just told me I was drawn on before my surgery and knew where it would be. (yeah, that was the morning of my surgery - too late to do anything about it - and I was quite drugged up on valium during that time too.) He seemed dissapointed that I gained 5 pounds after surgery.

3 out of 5 stars Overall rating
1 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
2 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
3 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
3 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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