NEW PICS 8 weeks PO, starting to see some abs again - Bristol, England

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I'm 42 with two lovely boys aged 13 and 11, both...

I'm 42 with two lovely boys aged 13 and 11, both of whom were huge babies (12 pounders). I wasn't exactly svelte before, but since having them, and the 2 C-sections that got them out, I've had a really saggy tummy. I have no waist - I'm kind of square because my ab muscles have separated - and the whole of my tummy area has been numb for over a decade (so losing any sensation there isn't a major concern!). I still have some C-scar problems because of the overhang, and I hate how pot-bellied I look in jeans.

I dieted hard a few years ago to get rid of the excess weight, and I exercise a lot... but it just won't go. In fact I think that since I turned 40 the high impact of running is making the saggy bit sag even more! I really hate it. The final straw was when I did a sprint triathlon last year - I wore one of those lycra tri-suits and my younger son, bless him, decided to video me on the final bit of the run, in slow-mo movie mode. You have never seen anything so appalling in your life! There was me running and then this huge undulating alien mass attached to the front of me, all wrapped in 100% revealing hide-nothing lycra. Ugh. Something had to be done. I had to either accept that there is nothing I can do to make it go away and learn not to be bothered by it, or have some kind of radical intervention, and guess which I chose!

My surgery is scheduled for 29 July, in London (I live in Bristol so it's a little over 2 hours away). I'm really excited about it, though I have a few concerns about the healing process and especially about the drains. I haven't met the surgeon yet, my appointment with him is on 10 July.

If this works out as well as I hope, my aim will be to get back into running ready to do the Barcelona half-marathon next March, and to run it in under 2 hours (because there will be so much less of me to carry around the course!) and to wear a fabulous, midriff-revealing crop top to run in rather than the baggy old t-shirt I normally wear to cover up the muffin top and the rolls above it!

Well, here's what has happened in the last...

Well, here's what has happened in the last week:

1. Had my pre-op consultation with a surgeon from Harley Medical Group. He was 45 minutes late for the consultation, spent another 5 on the phone fixing up a lunch date, then got into the actual consultation. This bit was ok, though getting information out of him was like pulling teeth - I'd say "Is x a good idea?" and he'd say "Yes, you should do that" - and I'd be thinking "So when were you going to tell me if I hadn't asked?". Anyway, the final straw was when he passed over the consent form to me and I saw it had the wrong address on the bottom - it was for someone with the same first and last names but coming in for a nose job, not a tummy tuck! How did he get past page one of the file without realising that it was the wrong one?

2. This was the dilemma phase - I really want this op, we're only 2 weeks away from it (scheduled for 29 July) and I've been building up to it all year - not to mention the fact that the whole family's summer holiday is structured around me being post-op. BUT at this point the surgeon hasn't even seen my medical notes, and he's consented me for the op based on a 20 minute consultation and someone else's medical file! I rang the clinic and they said they'd look into it...

3. Having heard nothing for 2 days I rang the clinic again and they said I could possibly arrange to go to London and see him again. I said I'd already done that, talked to him about someone else's medical file, and didn't propose to go again - could he ring me please. They said they'd look into it... they also said they had a revised price for my op, because he wanted to do a second area of lipo. The new price was... £1,600 more for the extra lipo area! The cost of the first one was due to be £800! At this point I flipped out and said that was way off the scale and in any case having made such a horrendous mess I was thinking they might want to throw it in for free. They said they'd look into it...

4. I came off the phone and decided I needed to look at other options - even if the clinic came back and said they'd do the extra for free, did I really want to go with a bunch of cowboys who were trying to rip me off? So I rang BMI Healthcare and a lovely lovely lady there who is the secretary to my new PS has jiggled the diary to get me in for a pre-op consultation today, and an op on 24 July. I'm just back from meeting the new surgeon and he's lovely - couldn't be more different: very articulate, he gave really full explanations, lots of eye contact, very clear understanding about what my priorities are. So I'm on for an op in 7 days' time which means there's loads to get sorted in advance, but I really feel I've been looked after, diverting me away from that other clinic to this one. Can't believe how lucky I am that they can slot me in at such short notice, on what is actually a better date for me and gives me a bit longer to recover before going back to work. I'm so relieved that I can still have the op - I was really worried I was going to lose the whole thing. The worst case scenario as regards the other clinic is that I lose my £500 deposit, but even then I think I'm better off. Plus I shall be brewing up a series of letters aimed at getting the deposit back on grounds of breach of data protection laws, medical negligence, etc...!

The last week has been a real saga - very turbulent and stressful - but I'm so grateful to everyone on here for support and wise words.

Well, here I am with just a few hours to go before...

Well, here I am with just a few hours to go before the op. It's been a long time coming, and then it was touch and go whether it would happen, and now I'm just very calm and happy and waiting to go in. It's been a long journey this side, and I'm sure it will be a bumpy one the other side too, but I am so very ready to be rid of this burden. I'm so glad I found this site for all the friendship and encouragement and support, and all the 'real deal' information. It would be much harder to take this step without all of you. Thank you!

Day 1 post-op! My surgeon came in this morning and...

Day 1 post-op! My surgeon came in this morning and showed me a pic of what he cut away - a single solid D-shaped piece, where the straight line went across my tummy above my old belly button and then curved all round the saggy bit and under my old C-section scar. It looked like something out of a butcher's window! That on its own weighed 4 pounds - happy to see that gone! I'll try to get the pic from him for the less squeamish among you to see... I have some others to post when I get back home. I don't mind showing you the horrible old tummy now that it's gone!

I've only had a brief glimpse of my new tummy just now when I had an injection - it looks strangely smooth! No stretch marks! I do feel quite swollen at the moment but I'm having to drink loads of water because the temperature in the UK has shot up in the last 2 days and my blood pressure is dropping.

The drains are a bit yuck but they're supposed to come out tomorrow before I leave hospital so I'm happy not to have to deal with them at home. I'm scared of them coming out though - when I had my last C-section they promised me it wouldn't hurt to take them out, and that was a big fat lie - it was totally awful. I've told all the nurses I need painkillers before it happens this time!

My surgeon said my abs were quite far apart so he's done a major stitching up job - I feel like I've done a thousand sit-ups, but that's ok! I'm so looking forward to having a better profile and no wall of useless stomach to heave into jeans. The op itself was really calm and easy - in fact I fell asleep on the muscle relaxant, even before they put the main drugs in! My son says "Typical mum - given half a chance you always fall asleep". I was a bit woozy for a while after I woke up, and then the nurse brought me what I swear was the finest cup of tea anywhere in the UK, which brought me right back up to top form!

I know that there will be some good days and some bad days to come, but so far it's really been ok, and I'm incredibly grateful to have been looked after both on the big scale - bringing me to this hospital and this date, away from the original provider - and for all your support on this site. I keep telling people what a special community this is - it's just amazing. Good luck everyone else who's just had/is about to have their op. It's a genuinely life-changing thing, so for all the downs that may come we have to be so grateful for this chance to mend our bodies and have a fresh start! It's going to be so great! That lump of flesh the surgeon took - that was my neurosis lying on his table, and now it's gone!

I really had done a number on myself in my head...

I really had done a number on myself in my head about the drains - I was completely dreading having them taken out, but the nurse was so understanding and lovely. She gave me a couple of Tramodol beforehand and then did it so very carefully it didn't hurt at all. I couldn't stop thanking her - I even shed a few tears - the prospect of that bit was for me the worst bit of the whole process!

So now I'm home again which is great, and feeling ok though tired. I do feel quite swollen but I'm just going with it for the moment. I don't think I look particularly amazing, what with the swelling and the binder and the bandages etc, but my son (love him!) greeted me with "Mum! Your tummy is so flat!". Bless that boy.

I get really odd internal sensations sometimes - a bit like being pregnant when the baby moves round in the womb. Anyone else have this? I guess it's just fluid, or maybe digestive processes sorting themselves out or something. I mentioned it to the nurse and she didn't think it was anything to worry about, it's just a bit strange! I guess there's a lot of rearrangement going on down there. Will post some pics shortly.

So this is PO day 4. Day 3 was uncomfortable and a...

So this is PO day 4. Day 3 was uncomfortable and a bit low... partly due to swelling, partly to hot weather, and maybe doing a bit too much (being left in the tender care of my two sons who, whilst theoretically willing to help, definitely subscribe to the school of thought that says "If you do it badly, you won't get asked to do it again". Today it seems funny - yesterday it really didn't).

Sleeping in the recliner is ok - I do have to get up from time to time to relieve back ache but that's probably a good thing for mobility anyway. Walking is actually fine, it just makes me very tired (and possibly more swollen). The alien/pregnant feelings have more or less subsided, and eating dates every day has brought good results ;-)). I watched the opening ceremony for the London Olympics last night and had to hold onto my tummy with both arms during the Mr Bean bit - I really thought I might pop a stitch or something, it was so hard to control it! That was one of the more painful experiences I've had...

I am totally thankful to this site for the understanding that it isn't an instant fix. I can't look for results today, and that's just as well because so far there's not much in the way of good results! It is SO good to be armed with this knowledge. I also know that the advice is always the same - rest more, drink more water. I wish it was a chilled white wine, but that too will have to wait!

It's also really good to see everyone else's pics and stories of a few weeks in, so I have hope that in say 3 weeks things will be very different. So thanks to everyone who keeps posting, on good and bad days. It really helps!

It's PO Day 5 for me and while everyone was out I...

It's PO Day 5 for me and while everyone was out I took the opportunity to take some pics! This is quite encouraging because I actually still feel really swollen, and I have to keep telling myself to have realistic expectations about having a slim profile - it is ONLY day 5, after all. But for the first time with these before and afters I can see the difference there is already - no alien overhang, and my abs will thin out in time I'm sure. The scars and dressings are all still in place and I'm not allowed to shower till they're off so you can still see some markings from the op. The scar at the moment looks a little high but I guess that still needs to settle and to be honest, bikini-wearing is not a big priority for me! No idea what's waiting to be discovered under the tummy button patch. The stretch marks just below it used to be about 3 inches above my tummy button, just under the front of my bra line. With them being that far up, the surgeon warned me they wouldn't go away completely. So there's a long way still to go but for me, this is what day 5 looks like.

PO Day 6 and I'm feeling really great....

PO Day 6 and I'm feeling really great.

Yesterday I rediscovered a video I thought I had destroyed - the slow-motion video of me running in a triathlon in September 2011 which finally pushed me over the edge into having this surgery because I just couldn't bear to look like this any more. I've put it up here for your amusement/encouragement/whatever - the difference between the muscle tone in my legs and the horrendous waving up and down of my belly is just staggering.

This is why I had this op - I have run literally hundreds of miles, and I want to run hundreds more - but not like this. No amount of activity is going to shift a sag bag like the one in this video. And the fact that I can now watch this clip without being traumatised (it really did upset me last year) means, I think, that my head is recovering as well as my body. I am so grateful to have been able to do this. I hope someone out there finds it encouraging to know that there is a point beyond which you can't do this yourself, however hard you work in the gym. It took me a long time to accept that, and on that basis to know that this isn't about laziness or vanity.

Just a quick update - I'm now on day 18 PO. What a...

Just a quick update - I'm now on day 18 PO. What a difference a couple of weeks makes, but there's still a long way to go. Walking any significant distance, or at any speed, is a challenge and ends up with me hanging on to my abs for dear life. But walking round at home or at my own pace round the shops is fine. I don't think my day 12 pic which I've just put up looks massively different from earlier ones - more to follow after Tuesday when I finally get my dressings off and see the scar and my new BB in all their glory! I still feel quite swollen BUT I weighed myself yesterday for the first time and I'm 9 pounds down from the day of surgery and 16 down in the last 4 weeks - hooray! Some of that must be muscle tone that's gone because of being so inactive, which is less good news, but I'm just hanging on to the upside for now!

I've just ordered a smaller size of compression garment because I don't think this one is really doing the job so well any more. I've lost 3-4 inches off my waist - in fact now I HAVE a waist, because I was always pretty square before (that's why the abs hurt, they're getting used to being pulled back into the right places!). I'm off to buy a couple of new dresses today. The downside of having a waist is that it really shows up my back fat!! I've been googling exercises to do to reduce that so once I'm cleared for exercise that is going to BURN.

You know how people say that when they lose a leg they can still sense it? I feel a bit like that: I know from how I'm holding my stomach muscles where I expect my stomach to be, and of course that's not the case any more but my head hasn't got used to that fact yet so I don't feel any different. It's weird! I think it will take several months to adjust to the new me, but I'm liking it so far!

I hope everyone's doing well and healing up nicely.

Well, 3.5 weeks post-op all my dressings are off...

Well, 3.5 weeks post-op all my dressings are off so here are pics of the scar and new profile.

I'm really pleased with the way the scar looks - it's healing nicely and it's smooth and not too red. It pulls slightly at the ends and you can see there's a bit of swelling above it on each side. My surgeon didn't want to do lipo at the same time as the TT and he thinks this and any swelling will even out as I get back to exercise - and if not we can do the lipo in a year's time. I'm happy with that - it was the front slab I hated, and you can see how flat my tummy is now - hooray!

I still have some swelling around my abs and tummy, and my ab stitches are a bit tight still but I'm also delighted to have a proper waist shape for the first time in years! Energy-wise I'm sort of ok - but when it runs out it REALLY runs out and I just need to go and collapse for a while. My surgeon has cleared me to start exercise including swimming so long as I listen to my body and don't overdo it. We're away on holiday next week and the hotel has a pool so I can't wait to try that out!

Looking back at those awful before pics, I can't believe the change - this was SO worth it!

Just a quick update with some pics from holiday...

Just a quick update with some pics from holiday last week - a holiday in which, for the first time in my LIFE, I wore a bikini in public!! There's plenty of healing still to do but I love the results so far. We were in Portugal and the heat made me swell quite a lot, so in a way it's a relief to be back in the rainy, grey UK - but I was loving the sunshine out there.

One of the other lovely things was getting used to swimming again. The hotel we were at had a smallish pool, only about 10m long, and on the first day I got in and struck out as normal - BIG mistake! That was the first time I'd been on my front in a month, and as my abs felt gravity they shrieked for mercy! So then I had to swim in a kind of vertical way, like a very old lady, which was embarrassing, and only managed about 8 lengths till I was shattered. But each day it got better till by the end I was swimming more or less normally, and could do 50 lengths. That was really encouraging.

Question - my surgeon has just sent me through a photo of the bit he cut off. It's quite seriously gory, but it's also fascinating (to me, anyway!). What do you all reckon? Do you want to see it, or would you rather not?

Hi. Just a quick update with a few pics at 8 weeks...

Hi. Just a quick update with a few pics at 8 weeks PO. Everything's fine - I still have some swelling I think but I'm starting to exercise again (swimming is fine, running feels haaaaard). I took some pics today and was pleased to see some shape coming back - my tummy has looked SO flat up to now, it was a bit odd. I'm not wild about my tummy button but it doesn't bother me particularly - what I love is having a flat tummy, so I dress differently, stand differently, feel MUCH more confident about how I look now. I'd do this again if I had to, no question.
Bristol Plastic Surgeon

Mr Wilson has been brilliant - he fitted me into his schedule at short notice (courtesy of his lovely and amazing secretary Christine). When he speaks to you, you have his full attention and he answers anything you want to ask. He's very calm, and calming to be with. He's a busy man but his consultations don't feel rushed, just professional - he knows what he's doing. The day after my first consultation I got a pack from him with a copy of the (very full) handwritten notes he'd made of our conversation, plus a copy of the letter he'd written to my GP explaining that I'd been to see him, and why. Everything felt very open and transparent, including fees and payment too. I would absolutely recommend Mr Wilson and BMI.

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