My surgeon was awesome. Being in the medical field I was able to talk to many other drs and nurses to get recommendations for a great PS. I found one that fit my expectations perfectly. In my experience Dr. Schulz is the typical surgeon. He's thoughtful, specific and thorough. He's a dr that really thinks about a question you ask before giving the answer. He isn't a salesman. He doesn't promise perfection or unrealistic results. So far, the outcome from my TT has been exactly as he said it would be.
Here is my experience with the prep and actual surgery/recovery:
Pre-op- I bought LOTS of stuff I didn't need and some things that were helpful. Gauze, wound pads, stretchy yoga style pants, chucks (waterproof bed pads common in hospital use) & large cotton undies went unused. I didn't need any gauze as my dr provided me with absolutely everything I needed. That was a surprise.
Things that I did purchase and use: a walker, zip up nightgown and soft tank tops. I rented a fully electric hospital bed for 1 month. It along with the walker are 2 things I couldn't imagine being without. The bed has been a must. It kept me seated and sleeping in the right position without any fuss or frustration. A push of the button and your reclined in a comfortable position. The 1st few days after surgery I would tilt head of bed all way up and use the bedrails to get out of bed. This made getting out of bed easy. Really easy. I would transfer to my walker to cruise to the bathroom and kitchen. The bed was set up in my living room so i was always around my family, close to the kitchen & bathroom. Can't recommend a hospital bed too much. It really was important for me. I got my walker from craigslist. I only needed to 'walk' with it for the first 2 days. By day 3 I was about 95% upright walking. I continued to us the walker when I go tired and needed a break. The tanks were great to wear under the compression binder. I found the binder to be itchy so using the tank top stopped that feeling.
Day or surgery- Nothing too crazy on surgery day. I was the 1st surgery of the day in my Dr's surgical center. It is attached to a hospital which was a must for me. Believe me when you see some of the things that can go wrong in surgery being attached to a hospital with an ER is important. Also, being the 1st surgery of the day was important. Typically mistakes in many professions occur as the day progresses. This has also been my experience in the OR. I woke from surgery, went to the potty and got ready to leave. I don't remember much about the post anesthesia time but I do recall saying "We have lift off" after I peed. I knew that was a sure sign I was on my way home.
The 1st night home I mostly slept, went to the bathroom and drank lots of water. I ate a some crackers in addition to the crackers I had as soon as I awoke from surgery. I complained to the nurse that I was hungry.
I had 2 penrose drains as I was bleeding pretty heavily during surgery. Originally I was not to have any drains. Only 1 drain put out any volume and it was so little that a 4x4 gauze which was placed during surgery was all I needed. Penrose drains are super small ( a few inches long) and flexible. My drains were removed on day 3. They weren't a bother at all as I couldn't even see them under my padded gauze and binder.
Days 2- 3 were as many other describe. It seems like a blur now and it went pretty fast. I wasn't in much pain thought I wasn't comfortable by any means. I was prescribed Percocet. They worked well though I switched to Vicodin after 2 days. Percocet gives me mild, but annoying headaches. After 1 day Vicodin did the same thing. I had begun taking a stool softener 2 days before surgery so I had no problems with constipation. I also only had clear fluids the day prior to my surgery. I think that helped too. On day 5 I opted for straight tylenol. That was good enough as I felt pretty OK.
I was upright, though a little slow, by day 3, my first post-op visit. That was the first day I left the house. By the time I got home I was beat. You'd be surprised how tired you get and how quickly.
For the first week I didn't leave the house. By day 3 I could get my own food and cook dinner, feed the dogs, do some laundry, etc. It wasn't easy and I had to take breaks.
Weeks 2-3 got easier each day. I was still tired after grocery shopping or mopping the floors, but it wasn't impossible. I am pleasantly surprised that I wasn't completely incapacitated except for the first 2 days.
I am now 1 mon PO and I feel pretty good. I have started to use my elliptical machine for 30 mins a day. I do need some down time after as I am tired. I am considering returning to hot yoga next week.
I saw my Dr yesterday and he says all looks good. I have the dreaded swelling above my incision. I expected that as it takes time for your body to reestablish lymphatic drainage. Your shoulder area is where that portion of your abdomen drains to so its a process to get things moving again. I am still numb above and around the incision. I am not bothered by this at all.
Now for some exciting insight.....I can wear almost all my junior size 7 shorts that I had tucked away in the bottom drawer. You know the ones......the ones you refuse to donate cause you think 'one day ill lose enough to wear these again'. Well let me tell you, no matter how much I lost, all that extra skin on my belly made it impossible for me to wear those pre-settling down clothes. I had a large baby- 9 lbs and gained almost 40 pounds when I was preggers. Without the amazing skills and precision of Dr. Schulz all those fun junior sized clothes I had would just be a memory. Now I can wear most of them and as the swelling subsides I see me wearing all those items I just couldn't part with.
I am SO very happy with my results. Yes, I still have stretch marks and my boobs are sad, but I feel great when I walk into a room and my friend says "Holy moly! You look great."
One last thought about secondary compression devices. I thought I'd need 2nd stage compression wear as many women have said they did. I purchased 2 expensive boy short boy suits from Leonisa as well as a undies style body suit from Flexees. The Leonisa suits were much too long in the body for me. Even adjusting the straps to their shortest position left me with a lot of fabric that got bunched up around my waist and left a horrible red line around my waist. The Flexees was a lot better though still a little long for my body. I already had Maidenform high waisted compression undies from a long time ago. They rolled down on me when I wore them before and the same is true now. I did purchase a compression tank and wearing both the undies and tank seem to work. I returned the Leonisa garments (thank you Amazon) after my 1 month check up. My doctor does not require any other compression after the 1st month. That was a big relief. I do wear the tank and undies for 'emotional support' when I am out and about. I could go without them, but I am hoping they keep the swelling in check. And in all reality I haven't seen any difference when I wear them or don't. At the end of the day I am still swollen.
Conclusion- This is major surgery. Major. Even for an active 44 yr old woman the recovery has been hard. Not hard really, but it has left me with little stamina. I tire easily. It gets better every day and I can see me returning to my favorite hot yoga class soon. I am so pleased with the results. I feel so much better about my body now. I have even purchased a PINK bathing suit that I plan to wear very soon. All I can say is do it for yourself. And don't wait forever. I so wished I would have done this right after my son was born. Just do it!!!!
I had 2 penrose drains as I was bleeding pretty heavily during surgery. Originally I was not to have any drains. Only 1 drain put out any volume and it was so little that a 4x4 gauze which was placed during surgery was all I needed. Penrose drains are super small ( a few inches long) and flexible. My drains were removed on day 3.