Within 48 hours of my procedure, I was very concerned about how large my stomach still seemed. I knew it was difficult to see actual results since I was wearing a binder and was likely swollen, but nonetheless I called Dr. Ferlmann because I wanted to know right away if I needed to adjust my expectations. It had been difficult before the surgery not to feel badly about myself, and I didn't want to get my hopes up for my results only to be disappointed. But he assured me I had a lot of healing to do and I just needed to be patient and not worry. Over the next few months I faithfully wore my binders and compression garments, never exercised beyond walking/light activity, and I had around the clock help from my husband and family members so I wouldn't have to lift my children for 6 weeks. Basically I did everything exactly how I was supposed to. But when it came time for my 3 month check up with Dr. Ferlmann, it was pretty clear to me that my stomach was not going to be even close to what I had hoped and what we had discussed.
I discussed my disappointment with him over how big my stomach still looked and felt, showed him how I could still feel a small separation of the muscles, pointed out the extra loose skin hanging around, weird looking belly button...basically everything. He admitted it wasn't perfect (his words when I lifted my shirt for him to check me were "well, it's not perfect.") but asked if I felt there was any improvement. I said yes, my stomach didn't bulge out quite as much and I at least felt I could hide it in loose or flowy tops which I couldn't do before. But definitely not great. He also asked if it bothered my husband or if he noticed, which I'm not sure is a) any of his business, or b) has any bearing on how satisfied I am with the results of his work. Anyway, he said it would continue to improve as I got older (I still don't understand that statement) and basically wrapped up the appointment as if everything was great, saying "now you have your pretty little body back" as he left the room. I sat there in shock for a moment, wondering if he'd actually heard anything I'd said in the last 15 minutes.
At this point I felt pretty discouraged. It had been difficult enough to spend the money on this surgery and have all that recovery time when I was depending on others to take care of my children, but now it felt like it hadn't even been worth it. I tried to stay positive and thought maybe with healthy eating and the right kind of exercise I could improve things enough that I wouldn't feel so self-conscious. But my the end of last year, about 5 months after my surgery, I could tell nothing was going to change for the better. I got back in with Dr. Ferlmann in the spring of 2015 (need to look back at my calendar for the exact date) and I actually went into it feeling hopeful. I reasoned that if my results weren't what we had discussed and it was clear nothing was going to change, he would probably do a revision. Instead I received almost the same treatment as my previous visit, except briefer. He acknowledged there was still a separation and that he hadn't been able to repair all the way up because he had done a modified tummy tuck and didn't have enough access above my belly button. But instead of suggesting a revision with lower/no cost to me, he said my options were to do nothing or to try the surgery again using mesh. He jotted down the word "Siri" and told me to go online and research it. That set off some warning bells for me - why was a doctor telling me to go home and research something online instead of explaining what it is (it's spelled Seri by the way - he mispelled it) and why he thought it would be advantageous in my case. He did mention that we could probably just get insurance to cover it this time because the muscle repair was a recurring problem. He also said he was going to get a second opinion from a general surgeon he works with who he said was better than the general surgeon he used to do my hernia repair. That didn't make me feel very good. I left that appointment in a bit of shock. And once again feeling quite discouraged.
Since then I've sought opinions with three other plastic surgeons, and they have all agreed that I now just need a fully tummy tuck. I also returned to Dr. Ferlmann last week and voiced my questions and dissatisfaction. He basically said he was sorry I wasn't happy with my result and he had never had this happen before (which I find hard to believe since he was so unphased by it from the beginning) but that there was really nothing else he could do. The general surgeon he had consulted for a second opinion (whom I also saw for a consult per his request) did not recommend we do any more surgeries because blood flow to my abdominal skin may be compromised.
I haven't yet decided what to do at this point. While I don't even feel confident enough to have my shirt off in front of my husband, I also truly do not have the money to spend on a second surgery, and I don't feel it is fair that I should pay for it twice.