Multiple Children, Saggy Skin, Breasts Pointing Down - Newport Beach, CA

Dr. Lee has exceptional credentials. He is clearly...

Dr. Lee has exceptional credentials. He is clearly super smart, and top of his class- he went to Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, and (if I recall correctly), trained at Cleveland Clinic. All top tier programs. Interpersonally, as soon as I met him, I knew he was the one. He has an excellent bedside manner- very calm, organized, gentle-voiced, efficient, and he appears perfectionistic (which is desirable trait in a PS!). He was my first consult, and I nearly didn't even bother with another consult except hubby encouraged me to at least meet with another. I'd already done a lot of "weeding through" a whole bunch of PS via photos and website reviews before I even met with Dr. Lee. When I met with the 2nd, wow- it was such a poor consult compared to Dr. Lee's. Another huge asset to his office is his patient coordinator, Elizabeth. Through her professional, friendly, and persistent contacts, I think I became more comfortable with deciding on Dr. Lee without continuing other consults. I initially found him on realself.com and liked the mommy makeover pictures and reviews of him. The surgery center he uses is top-notch. Super clean, professional, and efficient. I am very picky, and I've been so pleased with this world-class doctor/office. During both pre-op and post-op, both Dr. Lee and Elizabeth were super responsive in answering all sorts of questions.

Mommy makeover - the whole (long) story!

I'm a 40 year-old who had breast implants previously (saline implants from 20 yrs ago). Been waiting for a couple of years to get a Mommy Makeover, but never quite got down to the weight I wanted. So, I finally decided to push forward and do it, and hope that the procedure helps me to continue my body improvement. After I finally had my consults and booked a date, it did motivate me and I ended up losing 10-15 pounds before the surgery date via diet and exercise.

Looking through realself.com pictures helped me to be more informed about the process, and also helped me to choose my surgeon.

In the three months before surgery date, I had a thorough physical exam (through my primary care provider) including additonal scans (mammogram, pelvic ultrasound) and full metabolic panel just to make sure I was in sound health. My biggest fear is passing away due to an elective procedure, especially given my little kids to care for. When I met with Dr. Lee, I inquired about his record and was relieved that he was open about it- when I inquired about specific numbers (such as the number of mommy makeovers he's completed), he easily answered. I was relieved that he has had no fatalities and no instances of "nipple death." I was also comforted by his impressive credentials- he's very detailed-oriented and fastidious -- the traits I would like in a surgeon. Based on physical exam, he recommended a breast lift, removal of old implants and addition of new silicone implants, and full tummy tuck with lipo of side flanks. Turns out I had capsulur contracture from my previous implant, so he explained the procedure of how he would address it. Also, I had a hernia that he would fix too.

Anyway, all my lab results came back good. So- as nervous as I was- all seemed good and ready. Despite that, the week before my surgery, I remembered that I had a bleeding issue during a prior surgical procedure, so I checked in with the doctor's office. Dr. Lee then had me go in for extra labs (3 bleeding-oriented tests), which all came back good. It certainly made me feel even more confident in Dr. Lee that he was thorough in his safety precautions.

As I readied for the surgery date, I did notice, when reading through the reviews, that there were differences amongst plastic surgeons' recommendations for pre-op prep. For instance, my PS didn't recommend that I needed to use any special soap beforehand.

Here are the top "must" items I recommend, that absolutely helped my smooth recovery. I'm glad I got them beforehand:

Chair lift- see picture (rented for 2 weeks, can buy online for a little higher priced as rental), cost about $280, which included deliver/pick up fees. I was going to rent a hospital bed, but when I tried both at the rental store, the chair lift is far superior. It requires no twisting motion on the individual's part to get out of the chair, so less pain. It was super comfortable to sleep in, to sit in, and to get in and out- even the very day after surgery. No cries of pain here, thanks to this wonderful invention.

Walker- I read on someone's review that they found it helpful. I asked Dr. Lee's office and they said it may be helpful but not required. For $20, wow! I would say it's a must-- it helped so much with walking hunched over, I didn't experience as much of the back pain that I read about- mainly because I was able to use the walker to help ease some pressure off my back. I only needed it for first week though.

Large sports bra that zips in front. I actually forgot to get these beforehand, but definitely recommend you do. I got 2 great ones for $9.99 at Marshall's after my 7-day postop visit. I didn't want to use the walker there at the store- and even though it took literally only 15 minutes there- man, my back pain killed! So- definitely recommend getting that beforehand.

Triple antibiotic ointment and gauze- this is for drain sites or as needed basis.

Pill box (see pic) - I got for $9 @ local drugstore and it helped to keep all the pills handy since opening pill bottles actually hurt in the few days postop.

I used my phone note pad to log the times and amount of pills I took- this is essential because I found my memory spotty (due to anesthesia and pain pills) and sometimes I couldn't remember when I took my last dose. I was on antibiotics, Percocet (oxycodone with codeine), Colace (stool softener- a must, and I actually started taking the night before my surgery-- lesson learned from my c-section experience), methocarbanal (muscle relaxant), and I was prescribed Zofran for nausea but ended up not needing any (narcotics tend to make me very nauseous, but happily, didn't happen this time with the Percocet! I told my doc about my prior experience being nauseous with Vicodin, so he prescribed the Percocet and Zofran, which was fantastic as precaution.)

Water - have plenty of water on hand, in fact, I wished I'd have arranged for Costco-sized case of water bottles bedside, as hubby couldn't keep up with my hydration needs, which is critical to healthy post-op recovery (keeps blood from turning into sludge). That's also when the chair lift really came in handy when I had to keep getting up to use the restroom, because it made it so easy to get in and out of the chair.

Alcohol gel to keep bedside- with little kids, the last thing I want is to catch one of their many viruses and colds during post-surgery recovery, especially since coughing apparently is not good for sutures and is painful!

Per doc's orders, I also picked up Miralax and Fleet glycerin suppositories, just in case they were needed to get the GI tract moving along post-surgery. As you read on below, you'll see doctor knows best!

Ok, night before surgery, I was so nervous, I had a hard time sleeping. I woke up early and drove myself to surgery center (Newport Beach Surgery Center) because my husband had to get kids off to school. I am super picky (especially about service), and wow- I couldn't have asked for a better nurse, wish I remembered her name so I could send her a bottle of wine, she was warm, professional, uber-competent, and efficient. She helped put me at ease immediately. I changed into a hospital gown and put on compression socks, then went to lay in the bed, which had warm blankets and a warm air blanket. Let's just say I was very comfortable laying there! The anesthesiologist, Dr. Soni, had called me the previous night to introduce herself. It was more than a perfunctory call- she spent time on the call answering my numerous questions and was very patient. I looked her up online after and found out that she is actually one of the co-founders of the surgery center, which made me feel better because I also saw she had a lot of experience. Anyway, she came by to introduce herself in person that morning and I was immediately comforted upon meeting her- she had a good bedside manner and seemed highly competent, professional, and efficient. They put a scopalamine patch behind my ear as a precaution for nausea (I usually experience nausea during my prior surgeries- but not this time!). Dr. Lee then came in and had me stand while he marked my body for the areas to address during the procedure. Finally, they wheeled me into the surgery room, introduced me to the surgical team, told me to take a few deep breaths, and...next thing I knew, the post-op nurse was waking me up and telling me that everything went smoothly.

They eventually moved me to my private post-surgery hospital room. Dr. Lee requires that all his mommy makeover patients spend the first night there- which I appreciated beforehand because it showed that he takes safety very seriously, and after experiencing my post-surgery stay there- I highly, highly recommend. It was great for safety, convenience, and pain management. For safety, they monitor your vitals, keep you hydrated via IV, have a compression machine for your legs to avoid blood clots, and ensure you use the inspirometer to help with lungs. For pain management- let's just say, wow- my pain level never got above a 3 on scale of 1 to 10. That said, the nurse did comment that I seemed to have a high pain threshold. The nurses were excellent at always checking in and making sure that my pain was under control. I was as comfortable as humanly possible after just having experienced a six hour surgery. From a convenience perspective, my husband came to visit in the evening and I was pretty sleepy and lethargic so our visit did not last long. It was very convenient to be looked after by the nurses, so that the husband could take care of the kids that night. In the morning, discharge time was at 6:30 a.m., and my husband came to listen to the discharge instructions from Dr. Lee. They fixed the binder and showed us how to wrap it around me. He looked me over and seemed very pleased, and provided both written and verbal instructions. The drive home was much less difficult than I thought it would be. If you have an SUV, I highly recommend bringing a booster step to help get in the car, plus a pillow.

Arriving home, I immediately went to my chair lift (my "bed" for the next couple of weeks) and it was easy to get in. The next day or two was mostly spent sleeping and lethargic, except I religiously followed Dr. Lee's orders to pump my feet (point toes up and down, and then circular motion) often when laying, getting up to walk for 5 minutes every hour (which I did rather easily between the chair lift and walker), and using the inspirometer 10x per hour. Goal was 1500 but I would usually get from 500-1250, with a few at 1500 (for those first couple of days). I learned quickly to log my various medications since they all had different dosages and different times to take. Husband was available to give me meds, but I found that I was able to do on my own. One recommendation is to stay on top of your pain, no need to try to be hero and take less than what is needed. It's easier to stay on top, then to try to catch up with pain management. I also wish that I had Costco-sized cases of water bottles next to my bed, as my husband could barely keep up with bringing water bottles up to me, as hydration is very important. I didn't remove any binders to look at anything, I didn't want to risk causing any problems or pain.

3 days post op, I saw Dr. Lee. The visit went very fast, just 15 minutes or so, he basically looked over everything and said it looked good. The pain pump was removed. I went home still with my four drains. I was instructed to take a shower. I was told to use the waterproof pain pump bag (minus the pain pump) to put the drains in. A chair in the shower is a must. I was able to shower by myself with not much pain. I did need my husband to help with putting clothes and binder back on. That was the first time I saw myself naked post-surgery. I removed the binder to take a peek at what was done. I was very swollen, but boy, it was amazing to see all the excess skin gone. I was dismayed to discover that one breast was lower than the other, and the shape didn't seem attractive. Initially I thought it might have been a mistake, but thanks to realself.com, I quickly looked through and read some of the stories, and found that this is very common. I was relieved to discover that the breasts will take time to drop and sometimes drop at different rates but should eventually take on the right shape. (Now I am at 9 days post op, and my breasts are already looking so much better.) I must admit I had a few moments of wondering if I'd made the right choice when I first saw how my breasts were asymmetrical. Also, I had a pretty large blister on the left side of my breast. When I looked it up, at first I thought it was a seroma but quickly discovered by looking at pictures and text on realself.com that it was very likely just a regular blister from the adhesive tape and swelling. This shows the power of being able to quickly search a great resource like realself.com, & I was able to be appeased and not spend the next few days worrying needlessly before I saw my doctor again.

About my drains. The rate of liquid coming out seem to slow down quite a bit by day 7. By then it was already less than 25 cc's / 24 hour period. I went in for a seven day post op, and this was a little longer of a visit. The two top drains attached to my breast came out. The right side was pretty painless- I didn't even feel it coming out. The left side was felt but still not terrible. I had that pretty big blister on the left side of my breasts that the doctor confirmed was due to the adhesive and swelling and he lanced it, and we put antibiotic ointment and gauze on it when we got home. A funny note, we noticed that the chair/bed Dr. Lee had in his office is basically the same on we have at home- except ours looks more like a recliner in that there is more cushion to it.

At 8 days post-op, I decided to get off pain meds. At this point, I had already been tapering off the muscle relaxant. So now I'm just on extra strength Tylenol.

A side word of note about GI and constipation risk. I had learned an invaluable lesson from my prior c-section about stool softeners and the importance of not straining as it could impact the sutures. So for this procedure, I made sure to stay on top of it and everything went smoothly. First, I stayed hydrated. Second, I took Colace consistently. Third, I tried Miralax, but when it hadn't worked to initiate a bowel movement by 3rd day, I took a Fleet glycerin suppository. That was very effective- almost too effective. So after another 3 days, when my body still needed help with getting things moving, I skipped the Miralax and just used half a Fleet glycerin suppository. That worked perfectly. If you've never used one before, you need to make sure that it stays in your body after pushing it up there (the first time I used it after my c-section, I didn't realize that the suppository had popped back out and was actually in the toilet!). By day 7, my GI is back to mostly normal and I am only keeping up Colace to make sure everything stays soft. Make sure you avoid any straining and don't hold your breath (which is common to do when feeling constipated.)

At 8 days postop, I took another shower. It was wonderful. I also took another look, and the breasts are already looking better. I'm so pleased and am happy that I did this.

Because of realself.com, I feel like I went into this well-informed and prepared, I'm happy that there were no major surgical complications. I didn't have any major emotional mood swings (I heard that can be common with pain meds?). I didn't have an unmanageable pain. I had only a day of wondering if a mistake had been made when my breasts were assymetrical but thankfully, I was able to get answers from quick search on realself.com about how common that is so soon after surgery.

I do think a few of the top things that helped my smooth recovery were 1) comfortable bedding situation, 2) staying on top of pain meds, 3) striking good balance between *not* doing too much (which I read can cause complications and seromas- cross your fingers as I'm not out of the woods with that yet since drains are still in) yet doing the prescribed exercises consistently, and 4) staying on top of anti-constipation plan. With all this down time, I've been catching up a lot on all the tv shows I've missed while mothering and working the past numerous years!

At my 10-day post op visit, I will get the last 2 drains out. I'm told to still take it easy as too much movement can cause seromas. I don't plan to go back to work until Week 3, and even then, I plan to have a modified work schedule to take it easy (it's a desk job that is pretty physically easy).

I hadn't taken any before pictures, but Dr. Lee did. He says he'll have before/after pictures at the 6th week visit, so I'll post them when I get them from him.

One final note, through all of this process (from pre-booking the procedure until today), I must have sent Elizabeth (patient coordinator) over a 100 texts and emails-- and she was SO excellent at responding quickly, thoroughly, and patiently. Pretty amazing client service, really. Dr. Lee's entire office is top-notch. Dr. Lee answers the phone if you need him post-surgery- and they even tell you to never feel bad about calling them after hours! About financials- Elizabeth made the whole process easy. I told her how much I wanted to put down ($5000), and then she arranged a line of credit with the monthly payment that I wanted ($340/mo for 3 yrs), and I believe no early payment penalty.

I'm a very happy customer and the whole process was worthwhile. I'm looking forward to seeing how my body will look at 6 weeks when some of the swelling will go down!

Last edited by kpop100 on February 29, 2016

Drains out!

Saw the doctor a few days ago, and the two drains from the tummy tuck were removed. Although I had already gotten myself off of the prescription pain meds by then, I decided to take one pain pill in anticipation of the appointment for the drains removal. This was based on reading other people's experiences. While it was a little more painful than the drains from the breast augmentation, it lasted all of one or two seconds, so the pain was very fleeting. Although the drains did not bother me that much when I had them, it was really nice to no longer have them, much easier to put on clothes. The PS also showed me how to do breast massage at that visit. He also said it was okay to lay flat. He cautioned against doing too much, and instructed me to do the same level of activity as the past week. So this week, although I am antsy to go do stuff, I am taking it easy and staying at home and resting. Husband is taking care of all kid and household duties. Want to avoid a seroma. Not much swelling so far, other than a little bit on my lower back.

About 2 weeks post-op, swelling going down already!

I am so amazed at how much the swelling has already gone down. Went outside for the first time today, but still taking it easy overall. Washed the binder. Still not doing any household activities, husband doing everything. Tummy tingles in various places but not unpleasant. Tummy still a little tight so am slightly hunched but not terribly noticeable. Not much pain, just a little tightness and sore in spots. Not taking anything at all.

2 weeks out and fatigue crops up suddenly

Walked a little too much and got so tired. I hope I don't develop a seroma from the overexertion! Cross fingers. Pls listen to others on this website and don't do too much. Even though pain is minimal, energy level is what limits your activity.

Ordered Embrace scar therapy; itchiness episode

About 2 and a half weeks post-op: Took it really easy yesterday, and feeling much better. No seromas so far (cross fingers!). Taking it easy again today, but will probably do some laptop work. Stepped on scale, and despite expecting additional pounds due to swelling, I had lost another 7-8 pounds from surgery date! Big surprise. Very helpful for motivating me to keep eating healthy and get back to exercise whenever doc gives green light.

Been sleeping in bed. Although doc says I can lay flat, I find it more comfortable to sleep in "beach chair" pose (pillow under knee, and 2 pillows under back). I will check with him at next appt to make sure that is not problematic.

I ordered Embrace (scientifically-backed scar therapy, the only one with randomized control trials to show it works), and will bring to doctor office on Thursday. I'm pleased to hear that they recommend and use it. It shows, again, how Dr. Lee's office knows the latest research and best interventions and keeps up with best practices.

I am still wearing my binder (not uncomfortable, I wear it over my tshirt), and am doing breast massages per day. There is still some asymmetry from right and left, but I know to be patient. I can see from looking at mirror that my right breast is still a little high while my left breast has dropped some. I will be patient as I know they can drop at different rates.

Last night, I had an episode of intense itchiness on my lower back. I scratched away, which of course, made it worse, so finally I removed my binder, put some organic cocoa lotion on my lower back, and then distracted myself with watch a TV show while trying to ignore the itchiness. It finally worked after 10 minutes, and now I know to avoid any scratching at all as it will make the itchiness intense!

Been waiting for "swell hell" and I never got it or didn't notice it when it happened.

More pictures, a little after 2 weeks

Back to work; and butt is back!

Returned to work, driving again. Still taking it easy, little more walking but not too much. Hopefully, no seroma. Still doing spirometer 1-2x/day and flexing feet at night to help avoid clot. Also, my butt is back. Right after the surgery, my butt looked flat! I was upset and worried- I thought perhaps the surgeon had lipo'd my buttocks instead of my side flanks. At our subsequent appointment, we asked him where he lipo'd and he pointed to the side flanks (spare tire area), so that relieved me. Still, every time I looked in the mirror, my buttocks just looked so flat. Anyhow, flash forward nearly 3 weeks later, and my butt has returned! It no longer looks flat. I don't know why- maybe because my lower back swelling decreased and so my butt looks bigger in comparison. Whatever the reason, I'm happy it's back.

4 week photo, scar therapy

Still wearing binder 24/7. Swelling down. Scar looks amazing, went to ER last week to check out potential DVT (negative), and ER doc remarked with admiration at Dr. Lee's skill level with the scar incision. Started using Embrace on both breast and tummy tuck scars, probably switch to BioCorneum once I run out (had bought 2 month supply, but the strips are so tiny, I don't know in which world that is considered a 2 month supply). Feeling pretty good, easily get around now, sleeping on side, doing a lot of walking, still restricting how much weight I lift, no upper body exercises, and doing breast massages 3x/day.

8 week post-surgery pictures

Started working out on treadmill. Feeling pretty good overall. Still no weight-lifting or core exercises, per doc. Stopped wearing bindrr at week 6. When coughing or sneezing, still need to brace my stomach with my 2 arms (wrapped arms around stomach like you're hugging yourself). Need to order biocorneum, keep forgetting. Here are updated pictures.

Before picture (mommy makeover)

Had my 8-week follow up today and got my "before" picture from Dr. Lee. I hadn't taken any before- so glad he did so I can see the comparison. So happy that I did this surgery! I am feeling great, exercising at the gym, lots of energy, and everyone keeps telling me how much I've "lost weight!" Whenever I look at my stomach, I marvel at how incredibly flat it is now. Thank you, Dr. Lee!!

7-month Update with pictures

Feeling fantastic. No swelling at all. Have increased confidence so working out more and have since lost even more weight. Skin staying nice and tight even with further weight loss. Just waiting for scarring to heal up more. Checked with dermatologist as well as PS and both said to wait until a year before doing anything else to treat the scars. Have so much body confidence now, this has really changed my life for the better. A hundred times over, so worth it! Thank you, Dr. Richard Lee!!!

Before and After Photos (Mommy Makeover)

I officially tossed my before pictures in the trash. But thought I'd post one before and after here...I'm still in shock and awe at what Dr. Richard Lee (Newport Beach) has done for my post-mommy years!
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Lee has exceptional credentials. He is clearly super smart, and top of his class- he went to Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, and (if I recall correctly), trained at Cleveland Clinic. All top tier programs. Interpersonally, as soon as I met him, I knew he was the one. He has an excellent bedside manner- very calm, organized, gentle-voiced, efficient, and he appears perfectionistic (which is desirable trait in a PS!). He was my first consult, and I nearly didn't even bother with another consult except hubby encouraged me to at least meet with another. I'd already done a lot of "weeding through" a whole bunch of PS via photos and website reviews before I even met with Dr. Lee. When I met with the 2nd, wow- it was such a poor consult compared to Dr. Lee's. Another huge asset to his office is his patient coordinator, Elizabeth. Through her professional, friendly, and persistent contacts, I think I became more comfortable with deciding on Dr. Lee without continuing other consults. I initially found him on realself.com and liked the mommy makeover pictures and reviews of him. The surgery center he uses is top-notch. Super clean, professional, and efficient. I am very picky, and I've been so pleased with this world-class doctor/office. During both pre-op and post-op, both Dr. Lee and Elizabeth were super responsive in answering all sorts of questions. Check out my before and after photos...Dr. Richard Lee has changed my life!

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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