43 Years Old, 3 Teenage Kids and Finally Ready to Say Goodbye to This Belly! - Philadelphia, PA

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I am 5'2" and 120 lbs. My youngest kid is 15 so I...

I am 5'2" and 120 lbs. My youngest kid is 15 so I can no longer label this creature as being "baby fat". For each pregnany I gained 40-45 lbs and was able to lose it but never got my shape back (not even close). I eat a somewhat healthy diet but I do like to indulge with my Friday night Margaritas ?! I exercise but not to the extreme (although it doesn't look like I workout). It would be so nice to go out and buy clothes because I like them instead of basing my decision on whether or not they can hide my flabby, mushy, wrinkly, stretched out tummy. I have been wanting to get this done for so long but could never justify the expense......UNTIL NOW!!! Not saying that it isn't expensive $$$$ because it definitely is, but I was pleasantly surprised with the quote I was given. It never occurred to me to to have a Resident do the procedure until I came to this site so I am very thankful. I scheduled a Consultation with a local teaching hospital which happens to be an Ivy League School (University of Pennsylvania) and had a 2nd Consultation scheduled at a private plastic surgery office. After meeting with Chief Resident Dr. Jonas Nelson, I was so impressed that I canceled my 2nd Consultation appt. I cannot wait to finally get this belly fixed. Oh, and a breast lift is also included in this price! I added that on as a bonus after seeing my pics. Knowing that the "girls" were a little saggy and uneven is one thing but actually seeing them in pictures is another. Yikes! I am really embarrassed to post these pictures but I know how much seeing other's pictures and journeys has helped me so I will put myself out there as well.

81 Days to Go!

Getting antsy! It took me so long to finally go ahead with this and now that it's actually going to happen, it can't come soon enough. I still have to put my request in at work to take off. I'm thinking that since my surgery is on a Thursday, that maybe I can take off the next week and go back on the following Tuesday (post op day 12). I would have to use 8 vacation days but with being so limited with time off, I really can't take any longer than that. Hopefully, I can pull it off! I'm starting to make a mental list of things I will need but not buying anything until after the holidays. Would also like to lose another 5 lbs prior to surgery. The problem is that I love to eat and really love my cocktails so if I can maintain my weight throughout the holidays I will be thrilled. Wishful thinking :) Come January, I will definitely be kicking it in high gear though. Want to be in decent shape heading in to this. I have to admit, I have been so pre-occupied with my thoughts and this site that I am literally making myself crazy!

Recieved surgery confirmation letter with fees

My letter came confirming my surgery date of 2/11/16 at the Perelman Surgical Center. There was a breakdown of fees and when they are due. I adjusted my price in my profile because I was originally including my estimated costs of the surgery along with renting a recliner, supplies, garments, etc. Since I don't know yet exactly what those extras will cost, I will let you know as I go along. So the above amount is for a full tummy tuck with muscle repair and lipo to flanks and a breast lift without implants. I am happy with my size but the girls are hanging low on my already short torso. The doctor did discuss auto augmentation (transfer of my own fat to give my breasts some upper fullness but I will discuss this more when I go for my pre-op visit 1/19/16. I don't want implants because I want a more natural look and I don't think I will feel comfortable with foreign objects in my body. LOL. I know that probably sounds crazy because so many of you are rocking that look very well but it's just not for me. It is becoming so much more real now! I've been so jittery and preoccupied with racing thoughts about everything that could possible go wrong but I am taking a leap of faith and feel that I am good hands.

Pre-Op Visit

Had my Pre-Op visit yesterday and paid my hospital & physician fees. No turning back now! Visit went well. Dr. Nelson again went over my procedures in detail. In order to have my tummy tuck scar as low as possible, he may need to be a small vertical incision. He won't know for sure until he gets in there but I would rather have it that way in order to keep horizontal incision as low as possible. He will do a MR and lipo to the flanks and feels that this will really help with the contour of my mid section. The drains will be on my sides at the end of my incisions which makes me happy. The "girls" will also be lifted (no implants). He said that because I have breast fullness, he doesn't feel that auto augmentation would be needed either and that I should be very happy with the lift itself. And...... I don't have any restrictions pre-op so this means I can still continue to enjoy my cocktails up to 2 days prior to surgery. Woohoo!!!!

9 more days!

Time is now flying! 9 days and counting. Dr. Nelson said I can switch from my Binder to a Compression Garment after 3 days so I bought a Marena Stage 1 with zippers on the sides. Got an electric recliner without the lift though. We'll see how that goes :( and I will do some food prep this weekend. I have been exercising a little more but diet has not been great. Weekdays are good but weekends......hmmmm. I posted some pictures today. No worries -I don't leave the house like this ....EVER! Big T-shirts are my friend ;)

Twas the night before.....

Got out of work late today but that's okay because my surgery isn't until 12:45 tomorrow...say what?? Ugghhh - was really hoping to go in earlier to get this over with. Oh well :( I have been cleaning like crazy, double checking to make sure all our bills are up to date (don't want to be bothered with that with pain med brain), had the recliner moved to my bedroom even though there isn't much room. Think I would feel funny trying to nap with the kids in and out of the living room along with their boyfriends no less. No thanks. Need to arrive at 12:15 so maybe I will take the dog out for a walk tomorrow while I still can and sneak in a last chance workout. At least I can see the kids off to school tomorrow which is good. My mind is everywhere right now. Happy thoughts followed by panic (what if I wake up intubated in the ICU? what if I don't wake up at all? what if they open me up and see a mass or something and can't operate?). Worst part is that I am a nurse! Luckily, I am much better putting my patients at ease than I am with myself. Oh boy.. need to try and relax. Will attempt to watch some TV with the hubby and kids once again. Wish me luck!

The morning of

So yesterday was kind of crazy. I did take xanax before bed the night before so I ended up sleeping pretty well (thanks for the advice kschmidt12390). I did not do my last chance workout because my mouth was already super dry and not allowed to drink anything. Didn't walk the dog either because they called to see if I can come in an hour earlier. Was happy about that because when I saw the # come up on caller ID, I freaked out thinking that they needed to cancel. Was able to see my girls off to school and they were all so sweet and loving which melted my heart. Up until this point they were kind of negative and even insulting about this and so was my husband but they all came around in the end. They all knew how embarrassed I was about this flabby mess. They see how hard I work on the job, in the house, and on maintaining my health (with the exception of my love for cocktails :) and we do joke about my belly all the time. Myself included, there have been many hilarious comments. I would never want them to feel ashamed about their bodies either. I explained to them that it was like how we spent so much money on their braces. Not for pure vanity but so they can have nice teeth like everyone else and not feel self conscious. They then chimed in and said their crooked teeth was our fault. I playfully gave it right back to them and said your right, just like this stretched out deformed belly was their fault. Lol. We all started cracking up and I believe was the turning point for them. (mind you, my girls are older. The oldest 2 are in Nursing School together and my youngest is in 10th grade). Would never be able to have had this talk if they were younger. Will post how the rest of the crazy day went after my snooze.

Surgery went well but horrible night

Got home at 9:30 last night. Hit every pothole on the way and the turns were awful as well. Had to sit on toilet for an hour because the pee was only dribbling out even though I had a full bladder. Hubby went to strip my drains (mons area, not the sides that I thought I was getting). Anyway, I didn't grasp the drain at insertion site yet when he started and it tugged, hurt sooooo bad. Then went back to my bed/recliner and threw up -worst pain ever!!!! 2nd time, I went to the bathroom, came back and was trying to get in recliner. I couldn't shimmy my butt back far enough and hubby was taking too long to help so I figured if I hit the recline button, it would help me move back easier. WRONG! Chair tipped forward. While I was struggling to hold up the chair and not hit the floor face first, hubby ran over to grab the back of the chair. When he did this he knocked over my whole pitcher of water all over the place. Let's just say that the whole night was pretty much a disaster. Couldn't get comfortable at all, was in pain the entire night. Just realized this morning that hubby has only been giving me 1 pain pill instead of 2. There are so many pills with different times that I never realized it. I know he means well but GEEZ! I'm sure I will look back on this when I am feeling better and laugh but for now, just hoping for a better day. Dr. Nelson said that the surgery went very well. Haven't seen my belly or boobs yet. I will take pictures tomorrow when I can shower.

Showered and wiped out!

Shower felt great but now exhausted. Still in a lot of pain. Bruising is bad on my flanks and boobs and scar seems a little high but sooooo much better than before. Doc said scar will drop a little and I am still very hunched and swollen which is raising it some. I'm okay with that.

Post Op Day 3

Last night I decided to sleep on the couch. Felt like my hubby was getting annoyed lifting me out of the chair all night so I can only complain that I still couldn't empty my bladder. (my choice, not his). BIG mistake!! I killed my abs getting up on my own all night and thought today I would pay for it big time. I came upstairs this morning to get my meds and realized that the steps weren't too bad. I also smiled when I saw the beautiful flowers sitting next to my chair. The flowers that my daughters gave me after surgery. The same girls who were against the procedure originally. My husband helped me back in my recliner while he made us breakfast. The appreciation that I felt for them not only helped me mentally but also physically. I am more alert today, the nausea is gone. Still sore changing positions and majorly hunched over but not watching the clock to see when my pain meds are due anymore. Really feel that I turned a corner today. I know it's early and everyday will be different but today was pretty damn good one :).

Forgot to mention that for those who are having a hard time getting in their protein and fiber to help with healing, I attached 2 amazing products that I got from Costco. They taste fantastic!

Day 4 post op

I am getting around a little better today but still get very stiff and sore with position changes. I have been going to the bathroom on my own but no BM yet. Also getting myself back into the recliner on my own. Hubby went back to work so I managed myself and kids helped out after School. I had to cut back on pain meds because I couldn't function. Did well with only 1 Diluadid and 1 Valium today. Still taking stool softeners and laxatives so hoping for the "big one" tomorrow. Otherwise I may have to go back to hospital binder instead of the stage 1 Marena I switched to. Way to restrictive. Not even sure ifany of this makes send because I am sooooo tired. Rescheduled tomorrow 's post op visit til Friday because draining too much still :(

Baby Steps

Post op day 6! Getting a little better each day. Stills hurts to change positions, walking very hunched which is killing my back. Drains can be a bitch with the tugging...hate them!!! Have an appt in 2 days so hopefully at least one of them can go. On a positive note, I have no boob pain (still only using ABDs inside sports bra). No tape or steri-strips on breast incisions at all and only tape on abdominal scar. Abdomen feels very tight but not painful (unless moving. Lol) and I had a glorious BM yesterday (TMI....but trust me, this is a major accomplishment). I am still sluggish but need to work on that. (especially since I am going back to work on the 22nd). For those who are going through this now - We Got This!!! For those who are doing it in the future, hang in there. It will be worth it!

Post op Day 9

Finally got out of the house 2 days ago. Went to Kohls with my daughter. She drove and it was a short outing but felt good to get dressed and out of the house. Yesterday was a pretty busy day. Had my 1st post op appointment with Dr. Nelson in the morning. I have been putting out less than 30 mls for 2 days on both sides but he only wanted to pull 1 this week. The left one is officially out now which was the most painful. I actually had to cut one of the stitches from that drain a few days ago (with his permission) because it got to a point where it was pinching so bad, I couldn't move. It was excruciating but it didn't fall out like he said it may, so I was glad to kiss that SOB goodbye once and for all yesterday! He said that everything looks really good. They were all surprised how well I was getting around which surprised me because I am still hunched, have killer back pain and still walk at snail pace. Looking back though, I agree. Made major progress since day 1 and left feeling good and accomplished. That afternoon I went out to pick up a few more sports bras (drove on my own for the 1st time......and picked up a bottle of wine!!!!). Got the okay from the Doc because I have been off the narcotics for a few days already. Also was out at a viewing last night for 2 hours which was really tough and extremely sad. I put on leggings, a long sweater dress and pinned my remaining drain up under the sweater. Took 3 Advil before going because my back was already hurting but got through it. Was emotionally, physically and mentally drained after so put on my pajamas had a small glass of wine and went to bed.

Was kind of lazy today. Showering and dressing is still a chore so this is going to be interesting when I have to go back to work on Monday. (especially since my boss thinks I took these 7 days off to care for my husband because HE was having a procedure done. lol) At least a few of my coworkers know and can help me if needed. I am a nurse but work in an outpatient facility so not nearly as physically demanding as my hospital days. Also took the dog out for a short walk since the weather was nice today. Did some very light cooking and cleaning. Still a little uncomfortable and sleeping in recliner but still have a ways to go. Also, I am planning on having a more enjoyable glass of wine tonight :). Hope all is well with you all!

1st day back to work!

Sill not walking completely upright. At least my scrubs cover the drain nicely and fit over all the swelling.

3rd day back to work and feeling good!

3 down, 2 to go! So things are going well. I think going back to work so soon actually helped me. I was so nervous about going back. Feels good to put that initial anxiety behind me. Our patients just thought I was on vacation last week, the few coworkers that "know" have been so excited for me, wanting to know every single detail! ( I was kind of the guinea pig for going through our Chief PS Resident route), and my boss (Doctor) has no clue and is just happy to have me back. (LOL). Don't get me wrong, I am definitely moving a little slower, a little hunched over but not as noticeable until I get home and I am super swollen by the end of the day. I have been really taking it easy at night. (except for last night we went to Chili's for my daughter's Birthday...and yes, I had a margarita but without the salt ;) Haha, it was a lot of fun.

Also, Dr. Nelson was kind enough to see me super early yesterday (before his clinic even opened) to pull my last drain, so I could get to work on time! He is the best!!! I am so happy I chose him. Could not have asked better care. Their whole team has been absolutely amazing. I will post pics later this week. Hope all is well with everyone!

Post op Day 15

Survived my 1st week back to work! YAY! Sleeping has been a little rough though. I am a belly & side sleeper so this chair and back sleeping thing just isn't cutting it. Plus. I feel like my compression garments are pushing on my bladder when I am trying to sleep causing me to pee all night. Anyone else feel that way? Yet during the day they don't feel like they are compressing at all in my mid section yet digging into me in areas that don't need it. So annoying! I may take a sleeping pill tonight and try to catch up on some zzzzzs (or have a glass of champagne:). Okay, rant over!

Now on to the positive news. I feel pretty darn good. Still getting around a little slower, still have the tightness and swelling but compared to how I was in the beginning, it's amazing. Never thought I would be where I am at today. Honestly, ladies (& gentleman), you
WILL turn corners and it WILL get better! I know I have a ways to go but I am really happy with my results so far.

Pillows, garments and junk food.....oh my!

I am finally back in my bed. Not sleeping well but I refused to go back to the recliner (practice makes perfect, right?). I never thought that bedtime would become such a chore. For back sleeping I use 2 pillows under my head, 3 pillows under my legs, a body pillow on one side and 2 pillows on the other side. I last for about an hour in this position and then have to pee. I then rearrange all the pillows so that I can lay on my left side. I use 3 less pillows for this position so they end up on the floor. Fast forward about another hour. Wake up uncomfortable, go to the bathroom again, rearrange pillows again so I can lay on my right side. Shortly after that, the next cycle begins and all the pillows are back on the bed. Repeat these cycles until I have to get up for work feeling completely unrested. (Although sometimes, I am actually relieved when I have to get up because trying to sleep is exhausting in itself). Oh, and I also pretty much have all the covers. My hubby is left with practically nothing because it takes a lot to cover all these mounds of pillows. I don't feel sorry for him though. He sleeps peacefully all night long.

And now on to the garments. The doc said that I can take the binder off after 2 days when I shower and then switch to any garment as long as there is compression. I researched and bought a fancy Marena Stage 1 Medium sized garment (mid thigh, shoulder straps, zippers and hooks on the sides...the works). It felt like a torture device on me. I literally "sucked" it up and wore it for about 1 week. The sides would bunch up and were digging into me, the part on my upper abdomen felt like it was being pressed downwards causing me to put more pressure on my incision but from the top, not from the front where I wanted it to compress. I know people love them but it did not fit me right and my torso is short which I think made it worse. I should've went up another size or 2 but didn't want to spend all that money again when I already have a drawer full of tummy control shapewear from my years of needing them for any and every special event I attended. I am happy to say, I have been using them ever since. I have a few different variations. All are very high waisted (sit just below the boobs), some are like underwear on the bottom, some go down to mid-thigh. Some are black, some are nude color. I change it up every day and have enough to get through the week before needing to wash them. These are not medical grade garments, they are Maidenform and Flexees. They just seem to work better for me so that's my story and I am sticking with it.

And then there is junk food. I was doing really well the 1st few days with all my healthy food and protein shakes but I haven't completely stayed on track. My husband went out to get us iced coffees one morning and came back with a chocolate chip muffin ...to surprise me. Okay, it was nice of him and I loved every bit of it...but this theme has been continuing. He went out the one night to get all of us Blizzards from Dairy Queen. Okay, I wanted one but I asked him to get me a SMALL and I swear he got me the extra large!!! Who does that?? I am now convinced that he is trying to sabotage me. He thinks I am crazy but come on now...just stop it. He brought home pizza the one night after work. Not just regular pizza like we always used to get. This time it had extra cheese and pepperoni. So of course I ate some and felt gross and so swollen. UGGH! Besides these few episodes and a couple of cocktails, I have been pretty good but I definitely need to start cooking again on my own, even when I am spent from working all day. The worst part is that he is a diabetic. A very uncontrolled and non-compliant diabetic at that. I have always been getting on him about cleaning up his act, watching his diet and taking his medications. (but what do I know, I am just a nurse). It has been such a battle with us over the years which is why I normally try to keep junk food out of the house. So now I am thinking that he is taking advantage of me not being able to be "run the show" and is getting all this crap because HE wants it. Hmmmmm??? Anyway, I am stronger now and will limit myself on my splurges. I will not cave!

Something new!

So much for me sticking with my old shapewear. They are on my nerves now too. They were rubbing the incisions under the boobs. I will still use them but finally found something that was specifically made for us girls with short torsos. It is adjustable and hopefully gives me better support. Will try this a few hours each day and see how it goes....

1 Month post op appointment tomorrow!

Can't believe how fast time is flying. Been really busy just living life. I'm now sleeping comfortably on my sides. Ditched most of the pillows. Yay! Still get muscle spasms but don't mind them. The are pleasant reminders that I finally got this tummy tucked! My boobs have been a little sore this past week though. They are tender, super sensitive, and even feel engorged at times. So weird because I had no breast discomfort for the 1st few weeks. Also the scab came off under right nipple and there was an irritating stitch underneath. I cut it and put some triple antibiotic ointment on it. Will be seeing Dr. Nelson tomorrow so hopefully all is good!

Woohoo!!! 6 weeks today!

Waiting for this day to finally come! Been doing the eliptical and treadmill for the past 2 weeks but ready to take it to the next level :)

Girls Night Out!

Going out for Happy Hour(s) with my friends from work!

11 weeks already!!

Had to kill time earlier so tried on a few bathing suits. I've been wearing tankinis and one piece bathing suits (with a shirt over it) for last 20 years. I actually tried on some bikinis today. Didn't buy anything but it was fun. I am older and wasn't planning on wearing a bikini going into this. My goal was to be able to wear normal, form fitting clothes and regular bathing suits without feeling gross. Now I am actually considering something a little more ... exciting!!! Maybe a bikini top with swim shorts to start. I am still not ready for more than that but adjusting to the new me has been a really great experience.

It's been awhile! 6 months post op

Not much has changed over the past few months. I still have some numbness under by bellybutton and my scars are a little dark. My Doc said to wait until closer to a year and if they don't fade by then to come back for laser scar revision.

I was doing really well the 1st 3 months with diet and exercise and these last few months -not so much. Definately had my share of "party" foods and cocktails and enjoyed every minute of it. LOL! I am 3 lbs less today than I was pre-surgery but need to get back on track with toning and eating healthy. (I was 8 lbs less a few months ago).

Overall, I am still so so happy that I went through the Resident's Clinic at UPenn. Otherwise, I wouldn't be on here right now because it wouldn't have been done yet if ever! I couldn't have asked for better treatment or a better experience.

Posting a few pics today and will take some shots later on of my boobs (which I LOVE - glad I didn't get implants) and my TT scar. Hope all is well with you all :)
Dr. Jonas Nelson

I am really happy that I chose Dr. Jonas Nelson as my PS. He is very professional and friendly. He is realistic and I appreciate his honesty. My anatomy is a little strange and so far he has exceeded all of my expectations! Penn is very prestigious and has very high standards so I know he would not have been chosen as a Chief Resident without having the merit to back it up. I never doubted his skills and I am very confident that he was the right one for me . He is kind, smart, and very caring. He takes the time to answer all of my questions. He even called me the day after surgery to see how I was doing. We also communicate by text messaging which is really awesome. I have sent him pictures and he gives me reassurance. He gets back to me very quickly (even when I asked if I can have a glass of wine...haha). It's so great to have a relationship like that with your doctor. I know that he is there for me and it really puts me at ease. I highly recommend him. You will not be disappointed.

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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