39yo, 4 Kids, Ready to Repair Muscles and See Full Results of Working Out!

After 4 large babies my poor belly has been...

After 4 large babies my poor belly has been stretched to the max. I have lost all the baby weight and then some but with my muscle separation I have the mommy "pooch" and extra skin that I can't correct without surgery. I had my first consultation for a full mommy makeover on August 8th with Dr. Stokes and immediately liked him and his staff. I decided that for now it made sense to just have the abdominoplasty and in a few years go for the BA. I still booked another consultation with a different surgeon just to have something to compare. I knew within seconds of the second consultation that I was going to stick with Dr. Stokes. I liked that he was going to repair my small umbilical hernia during the tummy tuck at no extra cost and that he used prineo tape for the incision closure.
My biggest worry at this point is not being able to take care of my family like I normally do, especially my two year old. I will have my mom for a couple of weeks which will be a huge help and I am praying I can have a recovery that is free of complications. In the meantime, my plan is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep a positive attitude pushing all the "what-if's" away!

Two months and counting..

I decided to put some more before pics up because I love reading the reviews that include lots of photos. It is so helpful for comparison and I think it is quite brave of all the women sharing their personal story. I know I am always searching for someone who kind of looks like me in hopes to see what it could possibly be like. I have learned though that everyone heals differently! I haven't found a single matching recovery story. :)
More about me - I am 5'7" and my weight fluctuates between 133-138 lbs. My ps has already warned me that I may have a small 1 inch vertical scar above my incision if there is not enough skin to close. I feel okay with that but do hope that once he has the skin free he can pull it down for one horizontal incision.
I find myself really thinking about my core as I do everyday activities and how I will be limited for several weeks. I have read that 6 weeks is really how long you should wait for heavy lifting - I want to double check with my ps how long before I can lift or carry my 2 year old. He is about 29 lbs. I feel most guilty about my limitations I will have with him while I recover.

One month to go!

I need this surgery to hurry up and get here before I chicken out! I am feeling more positive and excited as the date draws near but in the past couple of weeks I have come so close to calling the whole thing off. I have been wrestling with the idea of waiting a year and getting a BA at the same time with the thoughts of just one surgery/recovery instead of two and my youngest being 3 and more independent in a year. But then I remind myself that putting this off could potentially lead to it not happening! I have a surgeon I am comfortable and confident with, I have my mom's help for 2 weeks, I have my husband available...that could all change in a year. I get so sad thinking about my 2 year old being upset that mommy isn't taking care of him. I need to remember it is just a blip in time in the grand scheme of things and he won't even remember this! Reading positive reviews helps me so much and so many say it is worth it and they are so glad they did this. I know I can live the rest of my life with this hernia and separated muscles and be fine but I know I would regret not taking this chance of getting a tummy that is repaired and reflects what once was long ago before kiddos (maybe even better!). Thank you ladies for sharing your stories, pictures, and encouragement!

Two weeks to go - pre-op tomorrow!

So far so good as far as not calling and cancelling surgery, ha! Tomorrow I will have my pre-op and pay the remaining balance. Possibly should have thought through this major expense right before the holidays but too late now! I still have my days where I'm freaking out with nerves almost all day and others where I block out the surgery for long periods and moments of pure excitement and elation! I think the mental side of this surgery is just as huge as the physical!
My husband had to leave the country for work and won't return until a little over 24 hours from my surgery day....when I first learned of this I thought for sure I needed to reschedule. However, my husband said to not change anything and that he would be fine and it would all work out. My concern is him needing to recover from jet lag but for now I am keeping everything as scheduled. I'm so used to bending over backwards for him and the kids it is just so foreign to stand strong on something that is just for me. Why is that so hard? I don't need to be a martyr and I need to let go of the guilt already.
Found out I will only see the nurse tomorrow which kind of bothered me at first since I was hoping to go over scar placement with my ps and I haven't seen him since our consultation in August. I have decided to let it go because I am sure he sees so many patients that waiting until the morning of surgery will be okay considering he could completely forget anything we talked about 2 weeks prior and the morning of surgery he will be focused only on me. I swear I write the longest sentences on here.....hopefully no grammar police out there ;)
I will update tomorrow after my appointment to talk about what happened at pre-op. Two weeks from today I will be done with surgery and in recovery or on my way home! Almost here!!

Pre-op Done! Getting real now

Pre-op is complete and I am still processing all the information! I actually saw my ps leaving the office and got to say hi before being called back by the nurse. After taking my vitals we went over a lot of paperwork and she was very patient with my questions. I actually forgot my notebook at home but she covered it all and I got copies of all the paperwork. My weight today was 135 and my blood pressure was just a tiny bit higher than last time. After paperwork she gave me a tour of where the surgery will take place and sent me to the lab where I got blood drawn and gave a urine sample.
The info that stood out to me:
One week prior to surgery I am to refrain from taking anything containing aspirin and/or anything with aspirin like effects and a whole list of other supplement type of stuff.
After midnight before surgery I am to have nothing by mouth, not even water. The night before surgery I will put a patch on my neck behind my ear to help with nausea. I can wear it for up to 3 days but she did warn me it will give me a wicked case of dry mouth.
No dairy products for the first 24 hours after surgery.
I will have TED hose on and should keep on for 48 hours to help prevent blood clots.
I will have one drain that will be on one side of the incision. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday I will be 11 days post op when I go back to get stitches removed and hopefully drains removed. I was a little bummed about that but they are closed Thanksgiving and Black Friday so there's no way around it.
She stressed over and over that even if I feel good I MUST rest and take it easy. I will have a medical grade compression garment on and that must stay on for 2 weeks 24/7 except when washing or taking a shower. I will also have a foam pad between my skin and the cg. I am to put antibacterial ointment on the stitch where the drain is and cover with gauze.
I will be sent home with a Foley catheter and return the following morning to have it removed and to have my bb checked and incision. She said the first 24 hours are crucial to catch if anything doesn't look right.
I can shower on day 3 - oh before surgery I can shower and wash my hair with shampoo but no conditioner. No makeup, no moisturizer but I can brush my teeth (thank the Lord!)
Very important to not wear jewelry or have anything metal on because of the tool they use to cut - there can be an electric arc that could cause burns if it reacts with a metal - yikes!
I will receive antibiotics through my iv during surgery and I will start oral antibiotics the day after surgery.
Start stool softeners 3 days prior to surgery, Gas x is also recommended to have on hand.
I can't lift anything heavier than a half gallon of milk until ps tells me.
Sleep on my back only, recliner is great option - anything to reduce tension on incision.
I think that is it for now, if I can get my other pics to stop loading sideways I will post them to show where I am hoping the scar will go. The nurse felt it would be very low, hope she is right!!

Feeling Calm...for now

I've been staying so busy with my kids activities and taking care of sick young ones I have barely had time to even think about the surgery lately. It's coming up fast and I am really ready to be on the healing side of this. Every time I even think for a moment about the what if's I just distract myself. Before I know it I will be posting after surgery and I will finally get to see how my recovery is going to be instead of just wondering/fretting. All my meds are picked up (vicodin, valium, transderm scop patch and antibiotics) and I will start stool softener on Monday. Thought I would be working out so hard right up to surgery but I have really not had the time or energy to do so this past week. Just surviving at this point until my reinforcements arrive in 3 days! (mom and husband) Good Luck to all those going this next week, we will all do great!! Took my last round of before pictures, can't wait to post the after pictures!!

Home from surgery!

Let the healing begin! After not doing a great job of applying the transderm scop patch last night it came off in the shower but I was able to reapply before surgery. Definitely gave me a dry mouth but not too bad.
Is so true when they say you go back and you're talking to the anesthesiologist and next thing you know you're waking up in recovery. Since I am prone to motion sickness I heard he gave me a lot of medicine through my IV during the surgery. Worked well I have had zero nausea upon waking up. Accidentally stood up straight in the recovery room but was able to hunch over walking into the house. I am glued to the recliner until tomorrow morning when I have my post off at 8:45 a.m. the Foley catheter isn't terrible but I do feel a constant urge like I need to pee. I will be happy to get that out tomorrow. Praying my husband paid attention about stripping the drains as when they did it at the office it measured 25. My 5 year old and 2 year old will be home within the hour and hopefully they don't pull on any of these tubes! ;) going to try to eat something and take one Vicodin right now it just feels like I did a thousand crunches. Yay it's done! I will write more later. Still can't believe I am home already!

Catheter out and passing out

Got the Foley catheter out this morning and nurse loosened my compression garment so doctor could take a peek. While waiting for my ps I got really lightheaded and ended up fainting! When I came to the ps was talking to my husband and I missed the whole time of him looking at belly button and incision. Nurse said it could have been from pain pills or fluid rushing to area since the garment was loose. Glad it's over! Now I just need to pee on my own in the next few hours!

One day at a time

So far so good. Any kind of pain like feeling would just be a burning type sensation that I sometimes feel in the incision area or where the drain is. I did have a mini cough and wow I can see where people talk about try your best to not cough. I am still taking one Vicodin every 4 or 5 hours and my antibiotics every 8 hours. I have had no nausea and I have had a good appetite. Not eating too heavy and focusing on protein. I need help getting out of the recliner but I can go to the bathroom by myself. I have been going frequently as I have been drinking lots of water. I did have a bit of anxiety earlier today because my cg was so tight on my ribs I couldn't take a full breath. The nurse had flipped my garment down yesterday so it wasn't squishing into my breast line but flipping it back out feels better. I have tried pulling the garment out at the top to peek at my bb but decided to just leave it alone until tomorrow's shower time. I feel like the foam pad underneath is lopsided which bugs me but I don't want to mess with it. My next appointment is Wednesday to hopefully have drain removed. It isn't a terrible nuisance but it will be nice to not have anything hanging off me. :) happy healing ladies!

Survived first shower

Holy moly I was just as nervous about taking a shower as I was the surgery... .geeze. I took my time and did not get lightheaded. The yellow gauze came out of my bb just fine but it snagged a bit on my incision which wasn't fun. There were a couple of places where there was some pin prick bleeding but otherwise incision was intact. Husband didn't get a pic with yellow gauze off so I will try tomorrow. I called the nurse after my shower because we put bacitracin and gauze over the drain site but also my bb. Turns out that wasn't necessary for my bb. She said just to be sure it is dry before I put the foam pad and cg on. I started to panic that I messed up but she said to leave it like it is and tomorrow when I shower just let it dry. My husband also put gauze over the incision which she said wasn't needed because of the prineo tape. Oops we will get it right tomorrow. Okay so I love my bb and the only thing that I really noticed was the swelling was way more pronounced on the right side. My last baby who was 10 pounds hung out on my right side and my ps said the right side of my abdomen was stretched more than the left. Hopefully over time that swelling won't be so significantly one sided. Oh I also asked the nurse about my cg bunching up and she said it wouldn't affect results. These early healing days are tough!!! Hang in there ladies! I keep fighting off waves of anxiety :/

Interesting day

I started the day wishing I was able to sleep more at night but realized I actually felt pretty good. I also realized I was walking straighter which felt great as my back has been aching. I completely understand now how people overdo it when they start feeling better! I did venture upstairs and made myself coffee which felt pretty good to do something normal. Once I started to feel some twinges I was back on the couch resting. I really wanted a nap today but it's just not happening. I can see why people recover away from their kids! :) I have only had extra strength Tylenol since this afternoon. I really am praying for a bowel movement. I keep thinking I'm going to but nada. Oh and I got my period today but fortunately for me since I have the Mirena iud it isn't much to deal with. Stuck a panti liner in my cg and I was good to go. Took shower number 2 tonight and I cringed getting my incision wet but I had to to loosen the gauze that had stuck to the prineo tape covering my incision. I am pretty sure I made my husband feel like crap since he had put the gauze on it yesterday. Putting that dang cg on afterwards is difficult! Trying to keep the foam pad in place and then the pads that go between the drain and my skin and the pads over the incision while fastening this torture device takes a lot out of me (and my poor husband). Really looking forward to Wednesday and getting the drain removed. I barely have anything coming out of it. Tried to snap some quick pictures tonight after my shower. I am really excited about what I see so far. He had warned me the incision would go farther on the right and you can see more swelling on the right. I'm very glad this asymmetry of my abdomen was pointed out pre surgery so I knew what to expect.

Drain is out!

It is so true that it is not painful to get the drain removed but it feels VERY weird!!! I honestly keep looking down thinking I still have the drain. It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but I definitely feel more normal with it gone. I also had the foam pad taken out that was between my belly and the compression garment. It had adhered to the prineo tape covering my incision so that wasn't fun seeing some of the prineo tape come off onto the foam when the nurse removed it this morning. That prineo tape should last 3 weeks so I am hoping and praying it doesn't now stick to my compression garment and it will stay on and do it's job of covering the incision! The nurse said the foam pad was likely causing some moisture (when combined with my body heat) and that causes that tape to get sticky. I will say the compression garment feels much more comfortable with the foam pad gone and the drain. The nurse put some antibiotic ointment and a bandage over the drain site. I can shower whenever I want (I'm going to wait 24 hours) and I am to put more ointment and a bandage on it every time I shower. I go back next Tuesday to get the sutures removed from my belly button. They could have taken them out today but with it only being 6 days out I decided I'd rather make a trip out next week. I have swelling in my lower abdomen and she explained again the mons area will be the last to go down. You basically have to wait until your body just absorbs that fluid. I am supposed to take it easy the next few days so I don't build up fluid. No lifting anything heavier than a half gallon of milk, no reaching over my head, no raising my heart rate or blood pressure.
I have a horrible headache today, woke up with it. I think I just need to be able to sleep better. I only took extra strength tylenol today and it barely took the edge off the headache. My bowels are working now which is great and I will continue taking the stool softeners and Metamucil as you basically can't really push so everything needs to slide out smoothly. :) Oh and I choked on my coffee yesterday and thought I was going to die! Holy crap did that hurt!!! And I felt a cough on the way home from my appointment today and wished I had brought a pillow with me to hold against my stomach. It is so extremely painful!! Other than that though I don't have any pain. I still get a burning sensation off and on and the occasional twinge. I feel a little more exposed with no foam pad but I'm sure I will get used to it and it will be easier getting the compression garment on. Overall I am feeling really good and I am able to see the light at the end of the tunnel! I am so happy I did this and I can't wait to see my final result!

Can't Complain

I haven't even taken a Tylenol in over 24 hours but I do have some discomfort. Today I've had a lot of that sunburn feeling on the inside of my abdomen. It isn't terrible, just uncomfortable. I feel really good today but I am still taking it very easy. I needed to change my bandage from where my drain was removed so I decided to shower and take the bandage off then. Much to my dismay since the nurse placed the bandage over the prineo tape (this covers my incision for hopefully 3 weeks), when I tried to peel off the bandage it started to pull up the prineo tape! So I stopped messing with it and after I got out of the shower I cut off as much of the bandage as I could. I put bacitracin and a simple bandaid over the drain site even though it already looks closed. I will ask the nurse about it Tuesday when I get my belly button sutures out. I kind of wish I had spoken up when I saw her put the adhesive part of the bandage across my incision but oh well. I am paranoid about the prineo tape coming up before 3 weeks and several times I day I pull my cg up slowly and feel it unadhere to the tape. I wish it wouldn't get sticky! I guess it is my body heat. I have swelling above and below the incision area which I know will take time to dissipate. I love my belly button and hope it stays the way it is! Happy healing ladies, hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!

Belly button sutures out

Went today and had the two sutures in my belly button removed. The nurse had to kind of dig to get one of them which felt weird because of being completely numb. I've noticed the inner right side of my belly button is getting bigger and looked even more so with sutures gone. I hope that goes down when swelling subsides because I love my belly button being an innie again and now it almost looks like it wants to grow and bulge out. But even with that possible disappointment I am over the moon with how things are going. Yesterday (Po day 11) I really felt like myself and border line overdid it. I had to take a muscle relaxer last night and this morning not from tummy spasms but my back! I'm walking pretty straight I think I just did way too much squatting/bending/picking up yesterday. Nurse said starting week 3 I can begin to increase my activities and by week 6 I can do everything I was doing before. As the prineo tape comes off I am to do nothing with the incision until 6-8 weeks out. She then recommended vitamin e but not before 6 weeks. She explained with the scar maturation process you don't want to soften that incision scar too early (another thing to file with how each surgeon has their own way of doing things). Speaking of my surgeon I will actually get to see him at my next appointment in 4 weeks. It hasn't been an issue just seeing his nurse but I am glad to have him look at everything and get his feedback. Oh, my stomach has been peeling and the nurse said i need to be moisturizing. I put eucerin on all that dry numb skin and it already looks way better. Nothing else really to report, happy healing to all! So glad I did this!!

Two week update

Well I was going to post yesterday but I just had a very weird emotional day. I also had a bad headache which didn't help things. My mom stayed an extra day and left this morning. I am so grateful for her help. Wednesday I just totally overdid it, nothing crazy, just a normal day with 4 kids and it kicked my butt. I passed out for an hour on the couch and then yesterday had the headache and just felt tired and sore. Today was really hard to move slow (so I didn't) with getting kids out the door and watching my 2 year old at my daughter's gymnastics class. I was so relieved to finally wrangle them into the car and sit again. With more activity comes more swelling for sure. I haven't even had swelling in my upper abdomen until the past two days. I started to freak out a little when I noticed it was puffy above my belly button. I talked myself off the ledge though and reminded myself I am only 2 weeks out and no where near a place where swelling isn't the norm. It feels firm so I can rule out a seroma, I just didn't like seeing swelling where there wasn't before. I am allowed to only wear my compression garment during the day now but with the increase in swelling there is no way I can even imagine not having it on. I really am starting to hate it though. I may shop around for a different one. I hate the bunching on the left side and how it digs in my ribs.
I long for the day I can work out again, I'm starting to feel flabby. I need to snap out of the funk I am in for sure!! The prineo tape is still on although a lot of adhesive has worn away. I still have a bandaid covering where the drain was because after a day of nothing on it I didn't like how it looked. I tried on underwear I had worn in my before pics just to see and I wasn't surprised that the incision was showing. I know it will go down after this swelling subsides and if not I don't mind trying a new style of underwear. I am still so happy I did this but be warned that you can have moments of feeling down. I am so surprised by this but had read it is common after surgery. I definitely have way more to be happy about so I am trying to focus on those things! :)

Drain site frustration

Well I thought the area where my drain had been was closing nicely until I changed the bandaid tonight and saw it looked more open. It's not a hole but the skin is not sealed tight yet. The nurse had said I could just leave it with no bandage but it didn't look good after doing that for a day so I went back to bacatracin and a bandaid. I did have an active day today...hoping that isn't why it looks "less sealed". Today is 10 days since the drain was removed. My husband suggested I put steri strips on it tomorrow after I shower. I think that's a good idea especially if it looks any more open in the morning. I almost feel like I should call the nurse and get permission to do so but then maybe she will say I should have left no bandage on it. Hmmm. Other than that not much to report. Had good amount of swelling today after lots of walking and standing watching my daughter run in a kids run. Felt more soreness today and I let myself cough which hurt but not nearly as bad as the first week!!
Fayetteville Plastic Surgeon

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