VASER on Upper Arms and Back - 32YO 5'10'' 160lbs Female Tired of Having Man Arms! London, GB
After years of wrangling with wanting to have this...
Day after Operation - And feeling grateful :) :)
Day of the operation - I had an afternoon appointment set for 2pm, so I went into work for a half day. Just as I was getting ready to leave, I checked my email one last time and got an email from my patient coordinator Becki, who said she's been trying to get ahold of me on the phone and my appointment had been pushed back to 3:30. A bit annoyed, but I left worked and stopped into an H&M to buy the thing that I am looking forward to wear most - a short sleeved t-shirt.
Into the clinic 45 minutes early, I sat in the comfy black leather chairs and got used to the smell of a surgical clinic (that well cleaned hospital smell). The nurse Toby came and took my weight and blood pressure and asked me medical history questions. Then the anesthetist, a German man whose name I've forgotten, came and chatted with me for a while about the type of anesthesia he'll provide - not a complete knock out because that takes quite a while to recover from, but a sedative and most people don't remember a thing or only little glimpses.
We waited for Dr. Hamlet...and waited...and waited. Finally they had me get into the gown, socks, hair net, disposable panties and lie down in the operation room. Dr. Hamlet was running late from his last surgery with a patient that apparently needed quite a bit of talking to. Finally they had me lie down on my front arms up and the anesthetist gave me my dose of sleeping drugs and I was out like a light. I woke up on my back feeling fine about an hour later and gently guided up and to the next little room to recover with some biscuits and tea.
The compression garment it tight, but not unbearably so, and the extra padding around my elbows makes bending my arms a bit tricky. I attempted to sleep with rolled up towels under my arms, but woke up with shoulders aching. Tried to go back to sleep, but no luck. Eventually got up, had some toast, and codeine and had a nap on the couch.
I had been expecting a package of paperwork and shiny brochures and things in the mail, but I had only received the prescriptions which I filled a couple weeks back. I was a bit surprised that there weren't specific instructions about post-op care written down. Tried to email and then call the nursing staff, but no word yet.
End of Day 1 Post-Op - Limited ranged of movement, first shower, MLD self massage
I discovered that the compression garment I'm in is nearly impossible to take off without a bit of help from my partner - unzipped my arms and unhooked the front by myself, but the back hooks and actually removing each piece from each arm I definitely needed my partner. I am *very* sore and needed to take some deep breaths in order to get it off. After that, having felt a bit faint, I laid down to stop the dizziness for a few minutes. Then up and into the shower, but had to work quickly as I got quite dizzy again and sat down on the bathroom floor to regain composure and have my partner help me back into my sweatpants and then my compression garment.
One of my questions before all this was: what tops should I lay out for going to work? What does the compression garment cover / not cover? Pictures below to help with that, but the idea is 3/4 or full sleeves, neckline can be anything.
Basically, my advice is: Have someone you don't mind seeing you naked around! You'll need their help.
Here's links to the videos I followed:
Day 2 - Post Op - Much better with professional MLD massage, but still have sausage fingers and trouble sleeping
Patrizia (http://www.re-ly.net/ £75/1 hour; found her on this website, as per recommendation of The Private Clinic: http://www.mlduk.org.uk/therapists/) was a lovely, warm lady who checked in with me throughout about the pressure without being annoying. MLD massage was very, very gentle and just the right amount of pressure for my sensitive skin, but I definitely felt the difference afterwards - I could actually get the shoulders of my compression garment back on without struggling, unlike yesterday after my shower. The sensation is odd - my arms are very numb, but when pressed almost feels like pins & needles - it's a little bit unconformable, but once I realised it's not painful, then I was much more relaxed.
Having said all that, as you can tell from the timing of this post, sleep is still a bit hard for me and my hands are quite swollen despite keeping them moving and elevated.
Some post-op pictures. There are still lots of lines drawn on me from the surgery, but not too much bruising from what I can tell.
Day 5 Post Op - Stitches out but sprang a leak! Washed the compression garment, started Arnica, continue to improve but pockets
Friday afternoon I headed to my appointment with the nurses at the Private Clinic to get checked out and have my stitches removed. Nurse was a bit late in collecting me, but I wasn't in a rush. Interestingly, she didn't know what to do because she hadn't received my notes yet. She had to excuse herself to call the clinic and find out what she was meant to be doing...not a great impression. She came back and confirmed that stitches were to be taken out. It was admittedly a tiny bit painful, but it was only three stitches total (one front, two back) under each arm. However, when she reached the back two on my right arm, it was like she had ripped them off - quite a sharp pain. I actually started to bleed again a bit - that didn't happen on my left arm. She inspects around and she sees a tiny "blue shadow" around one of the sites and begins to dig in all the while explaining that she doesn't know if it's a shadow or some remnant of the blue stitch. After another painful five minutes, she finally pulls in another nurse Bambi, who continues to dig around until *pop* I literally spring a leak. The fluid isn't dripping or even streaming, it's literally shooting out sideways as if you just put a tiny hole in a water balloon. She hasn't bothered to put gloves on up to this point btw. They eventually get it covered up and tell me to change out the bandages and that it might take a while longer to heal, but they had to get whatever it was out of there.
My range of motion continues to improve, and the bruising, while extensive, is in that final yellow stage before it subsides, expect for where I suspect the wrinkles in the compression garment were - the blood pooled there a bit and those bruises are still red/black. I've started taking Arnica tablets and rubbing lotion on them a couple of times a day (as directed, once I finished antibiotics).
As for the compression garment, I haven't been wearing deodorant, as directed, and, as expected, my garment is getting a tad stinky. I did a bunch of research online and put it through a quick 30 minute wash with detergent that doesn't have bleach. It naturally dried quite quickly, but I put it in the drying closet and then on the warming rack in the bathroom (U.K. references, Americans just put it in the dryer). It's not exactly lacking in smell, but it makes me feel a bit cleaner.
The 1.5 hours out of the garment was lovely at first - the deep grooves in my arms from the seams of the compression garment dissipated and my fingers deflated a bit as well. However, I started to feel y arms be a bit wobbly and putting the garment back on - I figured out where all that liquid went - right into the pockets on the underside of my arms - pretty difficult to pull it back on, but did it by myself. Improvement there!
Biggest concern at the moment is the pockets of, what I'm dearly hoping, is just fluid from the swelling above my elbows. I've spent so much money, if I've still got pockets of fat above my elbows, I'll be very upset.
At this point, I just wish I had greater access to my PS and competent staff. No calling on the weekends :(
Day 9 Post Op - Healing every day. Worried about final result
My one concern now is that my arms looked absolutely amazing on day 2 post-op, but they got swollen and now I can't tell what the final result will look like. Still have a bit of a bulge just above my elbow, but when I put my arms down now they don't visually double in size. As for my back, I honestly won't be able to tell until I actually put on a bra for the first time and see what the bulge looks like. I've been under doctor's orders and just tucked a stick on bra into my compression garment top.
I've finished the round of Arnica - who knows if it really helped, but it made me feel more involved in my recovery then just waiting and resting and not exercising vigorously (I admit I'm starting to get a bit antsy not exercising).
I called the nurse in order to ask my questions about recovery, since I didn't get a chance during my appointment to have my stitches taken out. She answered my questions, although she was a bit curt and made it seem as though I was interrupting her. She did however send me some after-care recommendations (Finally!). Talking to my partner this evening, he thought it quite odd that the staff chose to explain a bunch of after care recommendations immediately after my surgery, while I was still zonked out on anaesthesia and didn't bother to have something written down. Interestingly, he remembers them saying that I should keep the compression garment on for four weeks, but the after-care sheet supplied by the nurse says three.
The expanded opening created by the nurse taking out my stitches is healing, although the steri-tape fell off and I haven't replaced it. I got a little nervous about infection, so I sprayed a bit of antiseptic on the incision wounds and applied the UK equivalent of Neosporin to help along that healing process.
I find that my range of motion continues to improve, but my triceps are *very* tight and sore. Bit worried about the skin sticking, but I find that I absentmindedly massage my arms gently throughout the day, so hoping that will inhibit that issue from arising.
3 weeks post op - starting to see results, ultrasound therapy, deep tissue massage and stretching
I'm still relatively swollen but it's starting to subside. I can't wait to see the final results, stop wearing this compression garment and start wearing a real bra...and SHORT SLEEVE T-SHIRTS!!!
7.5-week follow-up - Happy, still healing
I ended up keeping the compression garment on day and night for four weeks. My arms have continued to decrease swelling and increase sensation, although the last 20%, according to my research and experience, will take at least of few months.
My parents finally got to see the results, and my mom was thoroughly impressed and wished she had this done decades ago.
I tried to go in for a four-week follow-up appointment, booked at 3.5 weeks because of Dr. Hamlet's schedule and my holiday. I waited for 1.75 hours, but at that point, he had *just* taken the appointment that was scheduled half an hour before me, and I had to get to my partner's birthday dinner. We re-scheduled for today and, he was only 20-minutes late this time.
However, I came prepared with a memory stick, as my patient coordinator Becki advised, so that I could post my before and afters here.
My one lingering concern is that there is a bit of a bulge above my elbows. Dr Hamlet explained that because of my developed triceps and the fact my elbows are the lowest point, that's the place that swelling will be last to disappear from. I just need to continue to work out and massage. But if it's still there, he can re-enter that area via the incision on my elbow and clean-up anything left over. Very relieved to hear that :)
And because of that, I am officially turning my feedback about Vaser to "Worth it" today.
Listicle time! Top 10 things I wish I had known/done before Vaser with Dr. Grant Hamlet
2. Expect things to change last minute; schedule yourself accordingly. Don't try and take a conference call immediately after a follow-up appointment, you won't be able to attend.
3. Re-confirm everything. Call your patient coordinator and ask if your surgery time is still at the same time and location. The shock of a changed appointment is no fun.
4. Make sure you've got all your questions about post-op care written down. Make sure that you've actually received an After-care sheet that Dr. Hamlet approves of - it's no fun trying to guess which set of instructions you're meant to follow.
5. Got to Raddy the day after your surgery so she can work some of the swelling and fluid out. I had my local MLD masseuse come 2 days after, and I feel like I missed an opportunity there.
6. Book your one-week follow-up to take your stitches out with Raddy. She knows Dr. Hamlet and knows what to expect from him. Again, springing a leak like a water balloon and then having to deal with an open wound again...no fun.
7. Have at least one MLD session with Raddy within the first couple of weeks after surgery. She does a great job of treatment on top of answering questions about healing.
8. Trust that your body is healing. It's a process. You will swell and retract, swell and retract, just give it time.
9. Once your incisions have closed (ask Raddy when it's ok), then start stretching and giving yourself more deep tissue massage. My arms were so stiff but I was afraid to move them too much - didn't realise I could start that process of getting my range of motion back.
10. Trust that Dr. Hamlet is a professional, driven perfectionist. His career and business success depend on him creating beautiful results (not perfect - perfect doesn't exist). He delivered for me.
Pre and 2-months post-op photos
Fully feeling back, but of loose skin, bulge over elbow remains
My arms have all the feeling back - the last place to come back in was the top of my inner arms.
There's still a bit of a bulge above each elbow but my actual tricep muscle seems to assist that.
The only other thing is that there's a bit of loose skin under my arm that becomes apparent when I drag my arm back close against my body.
Having said all that, I am still so happy with them and looking forward to wearing lots of sleeveless tops this summer.
Dr. Hamlet is South African and we talked about the rugby world cup, which admittedly made him human and put me at ease but the more important part was that he showed me lots of pictures of recent surgeries like the one I requested and the results were just *beautiful* - long, lean, strong, but still feminine arms. He talked about the type of extension he patented, asked me what results I was looking for, and how contouring female arms is typically done. I was *very* glad to hear that I don't need an arm lift, and my skin is tight enough for Vaser liposuction. I'm pretty nervous at the moment, have bought a stick-on bra to wear under the compression garment as Dr. Hamlet recommended that I should avoid wearing a bra if a can so I don't disturb the healing process on my back. I'm just gathering my thoughts and supplies and focusing on the end game - wearing sleeveless tops and no longer having "man arms".