The Road to the New Me - Livonia, MI

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I decided in my teens that I would have a flat...

I decided in my teens that I would have a flat tummy. I hated blousing my shirts in order to cover the bulge. I was embarrassed in a bathing suit because of the excess fat on my hips. Genetics were not on my side.

I have 3 kids, a husband, and an ex husband. After the birth of my third child, I felt huge. My belly looked like a road map of stretch marks. I felt gross. I worked out daily, strengthened muscles, lost pounds and inches, but there is some fat you cannot lose without intervention.

My husband and I discussed a TT/BL/and Lipo, and he was supportive and encouraging. About 2 months ago, I took him up on his offer, researched about 30 doctors/clinics, visited 3, and chose 1.

I am now 1 week to the day post-op. I had a full tummy tuck, my ab muscles were sewn together, removed about 825 cc's of fat from my hips, and a breast lift. (No implants.) I am more and more pleased with the results each day.

The pro's of the surgery:
-Learning about myself is the biggest pro. I learned my limits as far as pain. I learned to appreciate feeling better. I am also learning the importance of sitting still and letting the recover process happen.
-I no longer look 9 months pregnant. I can wear a dress and not feel as if I need to lean back and waddle, making an excuse for the big old belly.
- I don't need to lift my belly to shave my pubic area. It is now all one smooth surface.
- I learned just how fat I really was.
- I am happier.

The con's of the surgery:
- It hurts. No one can tell you how much it hurts. I have a very high pain tolerance. The pain I felt was beyond normal pain. But it does go away, slowly.
- You must sit and rest in order to heal. Walk as much as you can, to the bathroom and back, but you will need to and want to rest.
- I have a warped nipple. The surgeons and I both feel that this will change as the swelling goes down, and my skin and body adjust.

What I wish I knew beforehand:
1. It hurts. Very much. It is similar to being in a major car crash.
2. Recovery is slow and patience is critical. Don't rush.
3. Take stool softeners before and after. They help.
4. Drink your water!
5. Stock up on popsicles, soup, jello, crackers, non-stick gauze bandages, and lemon for your water before the surgery.
6. Make sure you have help getting on and off of the toilet, and when showering.
7. Recovery can be ugly. You start off with purple bruises that turn green when healing. You have incisions that remind you just how wide open you were. And you have a new belly button.
8. Find someone who is willing, able, and comfortable with helping you with personal hygiene. Bending or lifting your legs to shave may not be a possibility. Cleaning after toileting can be challenging, even reaching the toilet paper.
9. Ask for, demand, and take your pain meds. If they are not working, let your doctor know.
10. Have a recliner ready, and be prepared to become best friends with it. You will sit in it, sleep in it, eat in it, etc. I hated recliners before, but am in love with my recliner now. I think that may change as soon as I can sleep in my own bed.
11. You will swell. You will find swelling in places that the doctor did not touch. There was a lot of moving, pulling, tugging, and rearranging to make this new bod.
12. The swelling is hard. Rock hard. Imagine your belly late in pregnancy kind of hard.

This really is a life changing procedure. For years I looked down and saw a belly. Eventually I had to lift the belly to see my pubic area. I lost my belly button after having kids. It became a cavern. Having a TT/Lipo/Lift is major surgery, and a major life changing event. You will need to relearn how you see yourself, how your clothes fit, and that you don't have to suck it in to fit into a booth at a restaurant.

I am now 2 weeks and 4 days post op. I made it...

I am now 2 weeks and 4 days post op. I made it out of the recliner and to the couch! Yay! I am starting to feel like my old self again, a little bit.

What I have learned:

1. Don't bend over at the waist. Even if you feel as if you can, don't try it. Squat or find someone else to bend over for you.

2. Cheap cotton underwear are not attractive, but they are comfortable.

3. Drink your water. Eight glasses of at least 8 ounces of water every day helps the swelling.

4. Even at 2 weeks, you need your rest. Even though you feel good, don't over do it. You will pay for it.

5. Time changes everything. Each day I have a bit of, "Oh, dear Lord. What have I done?" Then I look at the before pictures, and I know I did the right thing.

6. Find someone who has gone through this and talk with them. With this discussion forum, and the other patients that I have run into in the dr's office, just hearing others' stories helps to get you through the week, the day, and sometimes just that moment. It is good to see and hear that others have gone through this and survived.

7. Don't be disappointed if the jeans or shorts you bought before the surgery and are 2 sizes smaller don't fit. There is a LOT of swelling going on. Stick with the dresses, stretch pants, and non-buttoning or zipping pants. Celebrate the smaller sized t-shirts that you can now wear because you don't have to hide your belly.

8. Stretchy pants, shorts, and dresses will definitely be in fashion. I am still too swollen in the middle to even think about a pair of zippered jeans. I am happy to say that my JMS cotton/spandex shorts are baggy, though!

9. Be patient. I am horrible at waiting. I feel good, so I think I should look good, too. I do look good. I look a whole blubbery belly better than I did 2 weeks ago. But I am not done yet. I still have swelling, and my body is slowly taking shape. I am noticing curves now that were hidden under fat rolls before. My breasts are starting to look like the perky girls I had when I was a teenager. Healing is a process. Embrace the new you, as you will see a difference every day.

10. Love the new you. Even when you are not perfect at 2 weeks post-op, you are still better than you were before the surgery. Look at the pre pictures in comparison with where you are now. The change is amazing. Even with all of the swelling, bruising, seeping, and pain that accompanies a TT, it is still better than an overhanging belly and hips the size of Montana.

I hope this message helps! I know I have scoured the internet, looking for something that would let me know I am on the right track, both before the TT and after. I look at 6 month post op pictures and cannot imagine looking that good. Every body heals differently, but knowing that there are success stories helps to keep me going.

Farmington General Surgeon

Drs. Galloway and Flagg work as a team. You get 2 PC's for the same price. Dr. Galloway contacted me after hours and on weekends personally, and asked me to call him directly if I had questions, comments, or concerns. He is very thorough. Expect many pictures pre-op, during the op, and post-op. (Yes, he shares them all with you.) Both doctors are incredibly kind, caring, and honest. They have a sense of humor that I did not find in other PC's. (I researched 30, met with 3, and went with 1.) The practice charges one flat price regardless of the procedure, and the rest of the cost is for the hospital. They do not have a fancy, flashy office, but you don't need that for a good procedure. It is standard practice for at least a one night stay in the hospital after at full TT. I stayed 2, and Dr. Galloway was very supportive of that.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 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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