From Flabby to Fabulous - 3 months PO. Minneapolis, MN

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My 2nd pregnancy wrecked my abdomen, being a 9 lb...

My 2nd pregnancy wrecked my abdomen, being a 9 lb 3 oz polyhydraminous baby. Love him. Hate my belly.

10/26/2011 - 2 weeks, 1 day til surgery...

10/26/2011 - 2 weeks, 1 day til surgery.

I'm a 43 year old single mom of three (22, 20, and 9). I'm 5'4" and 143 pounds (currently losing about 8 pounds to a weight that's ideal for me). Since my pregnancies, I have loose, wrinkly and pudgy skin that only seems to look worse the slimmer I get. I finally realized that no matter how toned my legs and/or upper body might be, I was never going to "crunch" that belly skin away. I finally found the time and courage for a TT. My surgeon says I'm a good candidate (non-smoker, regular exerciser, healthy weight) and I'm hopeful the results and recovery will be worth it.

Pre-op physical and PS consult today, as well as making the final monetary payment. No turning back now. :)

November 3, 2011. 7 days pre-op. Started...

November 3, 2011. 7 days pre-op.

Started taking my OTC Arnica today, per doctor's instructions (2 tablets dissolved under tongue/3x day). Apparently it reduces swelling and bruising, so I'm to take it for two weeks (1 week pre-op and 1 week post).

Not feeling giddiness or excitement really, just a little anxious to get this done. My adult daughter is flying in the day before my surgery to help me post-op, so I'm really looking forward to seeing her. :)

All I have left next week is to get my nails done, my Brazilian wax and I should be set. I have a house full of healthy/clean food (lean meats, vegeys, low sodium everything), a 3-piece body-pillow wedge (since I don't own a recliner), all my prescription meds, OTC meds and new books downloaded on my Kindle.

Hard to believe this will be my last Thursday of life-with-a-flabby-belly. Every Thursday for the rest of my life - after today - will (hopefully) be life-with-a-flat-belly.

November 7, 2011. Three days before surgery. On...

November 7, 2011. Three days before surgery.

On the advice of others here, I took some pre-op measurements today:

140 pounds
Average jean size: 30 waist x 31 1/2 inseam, mostly 8's, some 10's, a few 6's
Waist at smallest point: 32" (funny because I wear 30" waist jeans?)
Waist at belly button: 34 1/2"
Waist over biggest point: 36 1/2"

Got the brazilian wax today - no itchy hair regrowth for me while recovering :) Pedicure tomorrow. Pick up my adult daughter from the airport the next day. Then it's surgery day.

Allowing myself to get a little excited now.

7 hours post op now. (Home since 5 hours post...

7 hours post op now. (Home since 5 hours post op)

Feeling sore like thousands of punches to my abdomen but other wise feeling not bad. :) Ate grapes, low/no sodium Townhouse crackers and had some water. Nausea hit while I was in the surgery center recovery room, but I never vomited. They gave me anti-nausea meds and they're working.

I have one drain, as expected. Had MR, TT and lipo to my flanks. My daughter is emptying my drains every 2 hours (around 30 cc's) so as to not let it fill all the way up. She calls my drain, "your pocket full of sunshine." :) haha, she needs to stop making me giggle.

I'm surprisingly clear headed after being drowsy and napping for the last 2 hours.

We have some pics to add but will wait til my first post-op visit tomorrow to post them.

Vicodin is my friend and working good so far.

Thanks to all for well wishes :)

1st Day Post Op Today was up and down for me....

1st Day Post Op

Today was up and down for me. Felt great sleeping last night in a recliner and great in the morning. Then it was time to go in for my first post-op appointment. Although everything looked great, the trip took a lot out of me and for a few hours this afternoon I've had more pain, more swelling and am generally less comfortable. Oh, and I got one wave of nausea that my anti-nausea medication quickly took care of. :)

3 Days Post Op I'd say the first 48 hours post...

3 Days Post Op

I'd say the first 48 hours post op (day 1 and day 2) were up and down. If I stayed on top of the pain with my meds, things were great! But when the pain snuck up on me, I was pretty miserable.

Day 3 (today) I'm feeling good again. Very swollen. You can see in my day 3 pics that my skin is pink and shiny, lots of swelling. The scar seems just fine for now and the drain tube isn't giving me any trouble. The lipo bruising has been minimal, maybe that Arnica Montana my doc told me to take pre- and post-op is working after all!!

I've had two showers (day 2 post-op and today, day 3 post-op), have a diminished appetite but have been eating some chicken breast, grapes, crackers (low/no sodium), protein drinks, and fiber bars. My first shower was preceded by 45 minutes of nausea, sitting on the toilet, after taking my binder off. Once the nausea finally went away, the shower was great. Today's shower was a breeze since taking the binder off was no biggy - no nausea, no light-headed feeling, no faint feeling, etc. Woo freaking Hoo!!! The nausea was awful and I hope it's gone for good.

I slept in my own bed last night (post op day 2) and only got up to go to the bathroom. I have a Tempurpedic mattress, so it's firmer than a coil spring, and getting in and out of bed is pretty easy. I used three pillows to prop my head, two to keep my knees bent and it was all good. I'm a back sleeper anyway, so that probably helped make my night in bed good.

My adult daughter goes home today, so I'll be recovering solo from here out. I have friends/neighbors who will check in with me, but I'll otherwise be alone. I think it will be fine!

4 days post-op Well my recovery continues to be...

4 days post-op

Well my recovery continues to be up and down. Yesterday was a great day, felt good, moving around, resting, continuing to eat high fiber and protein. But still no BM. I started with the MOM on post-op day 1, 2, and 3 with no relief. Took stool softeners, no relief. Been eating the foods which always help me "go" (i.e. carrots, apples, spinach, juice, tons of water) - still nothing. So by now it's Post-op night 3 and I'm desperate to go, my belly is so swollen above my incision and so swollen below, I look like I"m 5 months pregnant with a tight string tied across my middle. Rock hard. I finally tried a suppository and about 5 hours after that joy, I finally went. It. Was. Awful. I was fighting puking while relieving myself (sorry if TMI!) for an hour or more in the bathroom. Once that was done, the muscle spasms kicked in. Nice.

Now I'm on Post-op day 4 and I'm dehydrated, so I'm drinking Gatorade, water, and eating grapes and popsicles. I otherwise feel good again. Story of my recovery: up and down, good and bad, just wish it would even out a little. :)

On a positive note, my incision is healing nicely and everything else seems to be going ok. My belly button looks like it might be getting less "round" - which I'm glad about.

Happy recovery, everyone!! Here's hoping you have more ups than downs!!

Post Op Day 5 Woke up feeling awesome today,...

Post Op Day 5

Woke up feeling awesome today, had a great sleep last night and less swelling than what I'd been experiencing thusfar. I knew I'd want to "push it" today because of how good I was feeling so I reminded myself not to!

I haven't taken any pain meds/muscle relaxers for 2 or 3 days now (not even Tylenol) and that's going well. I weighed myself today just to see how close to my pre-op weight I was to see if I could try on some jeans. Well the scale said I was back to my pre-op weight. Most of my lounge-around jeans are baggy since I lost some weight pre-op, so I knew I'd have a little room to work with and as it turned out, they fit fine. :) [[happy dance]] Wore them all day without a problem.

My single drain is really slowing down, from a high of 130+ cc's (post op day 1) to 20 cc's total for today. Maybe I'll get it removed at my 1-week post op PS visit (two days from now). If not, it doesn't bother me.

Wishing all continued success in their recoveries and/or peace for their upcoming surgeries.

8 Days Post Op Yesterday, day 7/1 week post-op...

8 Days Post Op

Yesterday, day 7/1 week post-op appointment, I had my tube removed. It hurt when he first yanked it out of my skin (like ripping off a big scab) and then I felt nothing. Glad to be rid of it :)

Doc says I'm looking great, even smaller than he expected but I'm swelling at my incision line too much. He said since I'm not swelling anywhere else, it tells him I'm sitting and walking too much vs. laying down or reclining. Guilty as charged!! He said to stop moving/doing too much and start massaging my tummy area/scar to help promote healthy healing. I asked him if I could start doing some light walking now and he gave me the gentle scolding look and replied, "If you promise me to walk hunched over like an 85 year old grandma, shuffling your feet and stopping when an 85 year old grandma would normally stop, then yes you can walk. Otherwise, no. You have to take it easy the next three weeks." My doc cracks me up!!

Everything is going well, no complaints, other than just getting bored now and antsy to exercise and just move.

Happy healing!!

13 days Post Op Was going to post an update at...

13 days Post Op

Was going to post an update at 2 weeks, but since tomorrow's Turkey Day, I'll post one day early! Sorry if these updates sound sort of clinical, but I'm trying to make it easy to read through for those who are still contemplating a TT, and/or those whose surgery dates are coming up and want a glimpse into their (possible) near future. :)

I've been feeling really, REALLY, good since Day 5 post op. One day (around day 10) I felt so good, I pushed myself a little too hard (laundry, cleaned house, shopped, etc.) and it's true, I paid for it that night. I woke around 3 am from a sore abdomen, sore back (similar to how awful I felt around day 3). TAKE IT EASY, GALS. Protect your investment and rest. Sound advice.

I'm still sleeping in my own bed (since day 2 post op), no pain meds (since day 3 post op), still wearing my pre-op jeans every day (since day 5), tube removal at day 7, driving a car (more comfortably since day 8). My weight is holding at 138 (two pounds less than pre-op) despite straying from my clean eating routine. I think it's muscle loss since I feel "flabby" and less strong. My appetite is back and I have to fight "bored eating" and the urge to turn to comfort foods (hello, homemade mac and cheese - mmm mmm). My surgeon is adament I not return to the gym til 6 weeks, so I need to be disciplined in my eating habits.

My swelling has been pretty minimal, normally occurring after "doing too much" and/or not drinking enough water (feeling very blessed for this!). My incision is healing evenly and without incident. My belly button is small and healing nicely. I've started massaging my belly and scar per doc's orders. It creeps me out since it's half numb, so I do it over my tank top. Blech. I'm grateful to have had a smooth recovery thusfar.

Day 12 post-op I started applying Manuka Honey to my incision. Some have claimed it helps with scar appearance. So far it isn't hurting anything, so I'll keep it up and will post incision pictures at weekly/bi-weekly intervals to see if it's making a difference. Stay tuned!

My next doc visit will be my 1-month post op. Can't say enough good things about my doctor and his staff and the care I've received. This year I'm thankful for a lot of things, including Dr. F. For gals in the Minneapolis area: Dr. F may not be the doc for you if you want someone to talk to you for hours and hours about your procedure to make you "feel comfortable" - he thinks fast, talks fast, moves fast, and is always ahead of schedule. If you know you're not a high-maintenance patient, you'll love him too. He was the perfect fit for me and I highly regard and recommend him.

1 Month Post-op The time has flown by, I can't...

1 Month Post-op

The time has flown by, I can't believe I'm one month post-op.

I've had zero problems with infection, spit stitches, oozing, emotional roller coaster rides or excessive swelling. I've been very lucky. I continue to eat (mostly) clean, drink lots of water, and avoid sodium at all costs (read labels!! you'll be shocked at how much sodium things have. I buy low/no sodium everything and eat out only occasionally). I am taking Arnica Montana (doctor recommended), an OTC anti-inflammatory I found at a health food store (GNC in Minnesota). It all seems to be working to keep my swelling to a minimum.

I'm still a couple of pounds down from my pre-op weight (138 vs. 140) but I haven't been cleared to work out for another 2 weeks. But the big news is my pants size ... I was a comfortable/loose size 10 pre-op and this week I bought a pair of size 6 skinny jeans from Express. *That's* where I've seen my biggest improvement: my pants size. I was all "gut" before, and now post-TT, I'm amazed at how much smaller my pants are, even though I'm relatively the same weight.

I've been massaging my scar with Manuka Honey and/or Bio Oil and it's softening. I'm not convinced the honey is helping/hurting, but I enjoy the smell and feel of the Bio Oil. Touching my scar is still creepy to me since it's numb in places. Yuck. But I plan to follow my doc's advice to the T. I still wear a control garment about 75% of the time (not always at night, not always during the day either) ... I like the Hanes brand underwear-up-to-my-ribcage style I got at Target (for the days I want extra sucking-in power) and a Spanx tank-top style one I got at TJ Maxx (which I wear about 80% of the time). I don't "need" to wear either, but I think it helps with any swelling at the end of the day and it just makes me feel good. :)

Not much else to report. Happy healing!!

2 MONTHS POST OP. :)~ Wow!! Time has flown. I'll...

2 MONTHS POST OP. :)~ Wow!! Time has flown. I'll try to cover the basics here. Happy healing to all.

I’m back to 141-145 (up 5-7 pounds), depending on the day and the swelling. That’s on me though (holiday meals and lazy eating habits) and I’m working hard to get back under the 140 mark! Today’s 2 mo. PO photos are me at 143 lbs, up five from the previous pics.

Swelling: its best I ignore it. At its worst I’m annoyed by it. No pain with the swelling. I find swelling due to exercising is tolerable and goes away after a few hours, but swelling due to poor diet (high sodium, fatty foods, too much food) is generally worse and very uncomfortable and will last all day. My pants have fit since post-op day 5, and I’ve purchased smaller jeans since then, so swelling hasn’t bothered me as far as clothes go – I’m thankful every day for that part of my recovery.

At 6 wks I’ve been back in the gym with light cardio and light weights. Broke a sweat but didn’t push it. Swelling occurs after each work out, but I think it’s slowly getting better?! At 8 wks I bumped up to moderate cardio and moderate weights, and started Zumba again. Zumba made me swell more than anything (all that hip swaying and twisting around). I found that moves that include significant stretching (esp overhead stuff), and even planks, were way too much for my abdomen, pulled in ways that didn’t feel good so I’m skipping those for now. Every week I try to re-introduce something back into my routine. No killer-core classes yet but I may try that at week 10.

Sneezing/Stretching/Deep Belly Laughs:
All cause light discomfort for four-five seconds, but 85-95% better. I even got the pukey/poopy flu the week before Christmas and the heaving was tolerable. Or at least as tolerable as heaving can be :)

Compression Garments:
Mostly haven’t worn anything, prob since 4-5 weeks. The couple of times I’ve worn it have been after eating too much or my Zumba days (both for swelling reasons, worn for the day). It just felt better to have support with the swelling. I slept in it one night, I’d forgotten how uncomfortable sleeping in it was!!

Scar/Skin recovery:
Scar seems deeper pink at this point in my recovery, as many others have said it might (especially after the gym). I’m confident it will fade. Still no dog ears, no uneven healing, no muffin top. My waist continues to be defined (I’m constantly amazed by this. I’ve never ever EVER had a waist). I massage my scars daily with Bio Oil and the scars feel soft. My belly still feels mostly numb and firm (swelling?) but some parts are softening and I notice a little “hang” when I bend over now – sort of wrinkly, shows off the remaining stretch marks. I don’t know if that’s because of my weight gain or just how I’m healing. Not perfect, but I’ll take it!

Belly button:
I love the little "hood" Dr. F sewed into my BB. Still wishing the BB was more vertical and less circular/horizontal - I just prefer that presentation. But it's healing really well and I don't expect it to change shape from here on out.

February 12, 2012 Three months, 2 days post op...

February 12, 2012

Three months, 2 days post op.

There hasn't been a significant change from 2 months post-op to three months po, so no new pics. I had been having some sensitivity at the two ends of my incision (hip area), must have been my nerves coming back to life because they feel fine now. I'm still up 5-7 pounds since the surgery, which has been my own fault.

My swelling still comes and goes, and I'm a little surprised by this even though everyone has consistently said to expect it and it's normal! :) Like Lil_Gunz, I've kind of treated the swelling like a game, taking it in stride. I swell after I work out (mostly circuit/cross-fit training, step aerobics and yoga/pilates. Ab classes are still hard for me and I only do them at about 50% power) Working-out-swelling isn't too bad. The swelling after I eat processed/salty food or fatty food is more bothersome.

I had my 3-month follow up with my surgeon a few days ago and he was a little surprised at how pink/red my scar still is. It's completely healed over, just deep pink. I told him I was using Bio-Oil on the scar and he said petroleum-based products could be a problem. He said I should try cocoa butter cream, so I switched a few days ago. I know others here with beautiful/light scars have been using cocoa butter cream so I hope it helps lighten my scar. I should have tried it a long time ago.

I have a goal to lose these additional 5-7 pounds, and another five or so after that, for a total goal of 10 lbs to lose. Other TT'ers who've lost some weight post-op look TERRIFIC and are very inspiring to me. I just need to get serious. And I will. When I'm ready LOL! I have a Vegas trip planned in April, at my 5 month post-op point, so that's my motivation to lose these 10 - I'll want to show my fellow TT'ers how much my scar has improved/not improved and show off one of the eight new bikinis I've purchased in the last six weeks. Yes, eight bikinis. I'm the girl who hasn't shown her stomach in public in the past 21 years, I'm making up for lost time. So be prepared for five or six new bikini photos at that next update. :D

I still don't regret this TT one bit and would do it again in a heartbeat! For anyone who's got a surgery coming up, or are contemplating whether or not to do it, I say go for it.

Hugs to you all!! I may not be posting much but I'm lurking and enjoying your stories and journeys!
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Fasching is funny, frank and to-the-point. He will answer any question you have, but doesn't necessarily overwhelm you with unsolicited information. So do your research and come with questions and you won't be disappointed. If you think you'll need a lot of "hand holding" and coddling to make it through a TT procedure, you may feel less receptive to Dr. F's efficiently-paced demeanor. I thought he was great and highly recommend him.

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