41, Plus Sized, Large Belly - Middletown, OH

I've always had a "potbelly" from the time I was a...

I've always had a "potbelly" from the time I was a child. At 120 pounds, young and active...I had a belly. When I gained weight, guess where it went? Yep, my belly. I had a couple of surgeries in my 30's to remove masses along with my ovaries. This is when I started getting the apron effect.

It had gotten to the point where I was just in pain all the time. My work was becoming impossible, and I had to give up my evening sessions on the treadmill because my shoulders, back and knees just hurt so bad. My doctor and I tried several diets along with some pretty dangerous diet pills in an effort to reduce my middle. Nothing worked. I noticed one day at work that the way I sat was causing a lot of my discomfort. I then realized I sat this way to accommodate my lower belly. I know there's a big fancy name for the fat apron, but I'm not going to embarrass myself trying to spell it. :-) Anyhoo, I started paying close attention to the way I moved, sat, walked...etc. I knew that thing had to go. I remembered a friend of mine years ago experienced pains similar to mine because of large breasts. She had a reduction that absolutely changed her life.

I found Dr. Han and set up an appointment for a consultation. My expectations have always been realistic. I am a plus sized woman in her early 40's. I am okay with that. I didn't go in expecting to be skinny when it was all over. I just wanted to know if this was my best option, and if it would help ease the pain. I instantly loved Dr. Han and his staff. I expected to walk into some snooty clinic where everyone is perfect. (My only experience with plastic surgery was from watching Nip/Tuck haha). Dr. Han told me what I already knew, a tummy tuck would NOT make me skinny or even give me a completely flat midsection. He said it would get rid of the apron and he firmly believed it would help the pain. He explained it by saying imagine carrying a fanny pack around your waist with 10 to 20 pounds in it. He also told me something that made me feel a lot better about myself, he told me that due to surgeries, scar tissue, and genetics I would never lose that part of my belly no matter what diet or exercise plan I followed. That just made me feel so much better! I am big. Yes, I like food. Do I overeat? No. Should I pay more attention to what I eat? Of course! I've also been until here recently a very active woman. Lord, get me off my soapbox!

Okay, back to the surgery. I thought it sounded like the absolute best solution for me. I was pretty nervous about talking with his office manager. I just knew she was going to give me a price that would be totally out of the question. I just about fell over when she gave me a price of $6700 out the door. Holy crap! Why on earth will a health insurance company not jump at the chance to pay for this?? No, they would rather wait until I need pricier surgeries on my knees or back or end up in the hospital with a horrific skin infection because of the moisture and bacteria in the fold where my belly flopped over. Idiots!

We financed the surgery mostly with a 401K loan and opened an account with Care Credit to finance the remaining balance. My husband and I had a lot going on in May, so I scheduled my procedure in June. The waiting was awful! I was so anxious to get it done!! However, the waiting gave me time to secure leave from work. I also have short term disability insurance...I was able to get secured as well...which made things much easier for us to handle financially.

My surgery was an outpatient procedure. We chose a surgery center close to home. We had 2 options, one center is in a newer area of town, the other is in an older area. W3 chose the older one because it was about $1000 cheaper. I had my husband and my mom with me the day of my surgery. Everything went very smooth at the surgery center. The staff was great! I think it took an hour before they were wheeling me back. I vaguely remember smiling and then nothing till I started coming out of it in my recovery room. I was sore, but I opted for the pain pump (a magical little ball about the size of a grapefruit that delivers a constant stream of pain medicine) so it wasn't the excruciating, searing pain I'd experienced when I'd had the previously mentioned masses removed. I was up and anxious to get home.

My recovery has been really easy. Hubby and I went out looking for a recliner prior to my surgery. We found a great deal on a power dual reclining sofa. If you can, get a power recliner. It will become your best friend!

I think the hardest part the first 2 weeks was dealing with the damned tubes. It was pretty difficult to clean myself up. I felt so disgusting! The pain pump came out after a week along with most of the staples. The smell when they took the the bandages was awful! First thing I did was take a shower! I still had my drainage tube which was annoying. I took a strip of old t shirt and tied the little drainage bag to my thigh which helped with the whole shower process.

I didn't leave my house except for weekly visits with my surgeon for the first 3 weeks. The first week, I had my mom or my husband to stay with me. By the second week, I was fine by myself. (I think it's important to get up and move as much as possible without overdoing it.) Boy I was ready for that drainage tube to come out at 3 weeks! I was starting to feel a little bit of depression until that came out. After that, I was hell bent on getting out of the house!

Hubby started taking me on short trips. We went to dinner and to Kohl's the second day after the tube came out. We did a couple of little trips like that the 3rd week. After my 4th week check up with Dr Han, he released me to go on a little weekend trip with hubby. I was allowed to get in the pool as long as I covered the belly button he created for me with a waterproof bandage. Absolutely NO swimming or ab workouts. I could walk as much as I wanted. I got tired pretty easy. We had to plan shorter excursions than we normally would, but it was still great fun after being couped up in the house for so long!

I am a little past 6 weeks now. This week was my first week back at work. I haven't left the house this weekend. I am just exhausted! It's nice to get back in the swing of things, but it's going to take awhile.

Has it been worth it thus far? You bet your ass! I stand up straighter, breath better, feel better and definitely look better! It's an adjustment. I still move weird at times....still trying to compensate for a belly that isn't there. I'm still swollen....which is to be expected. Dr. Han has been great about keeping the time line and the results realistic. At 6 weeks, about 60% of the swelling is gone. The scar tissue is starting to soften and things are starting to settle into place. I'm not sure what's going to happen with the upper part of my abdomen. I hope it goes down more. If not, well, we will burn that bridge when we get there. :-)

9 months later.....

So happy I went through this! It hasn't all been puppies and rainbows. My weight shot up after the surgery, but I've been doing Weight Watchers since January and I've taken it all back off and then some! Getting that large hanging gut lopped off had been the boost I've needed for a long time. I still have knee and back pain but not as bad. Come to find out I have arthritis in both areas which is why I am continuing with WW. I feel better, I move better and I definitely look better! I will post an updated pic soon!
West Chester Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Han and his staff are awesome! They have been beyond good to me!

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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