39yo, 4 Kids, 5 inch muscle repair, hernia repair, loving my results!!

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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!!


So my drain site area I was fretting about looked worse tonight after looking better this morning! I started to get upset when I saw it was opening up, red, and there were some raised bumps around it. I also had noticed some itching today to which I mistakenly thought could be a healing sign. I decided to call the nurse because I wanted to see if I was doing something wrong. Well once I sent her a picture and described what was happening she explained that yeast was having having a party at the drain site. Ugh. She told me by using the bacitracin and keeping it covered with gauze or a bandaid I was creating a warm environment and killing off bacteria that could have fought off the yeast. She told me to put lotrimin on it or any other antifungal and let it have air. I told her I was confused on how to do that while wearing the compression garment so I am now sitting on the couch with no cg on letting this air out. I am apprehensive not wearing the garment to sleep but I want this thing to close up! She assured me this was a fixable problem. Kicking myself for not just leaving it alone like she told me a week ago! I have to say I really want my cg back on - praying this closes up quickly and that the antifungal cream is the answer! Hope everyone is doing well!

3 weeks!

Wow almost hard to believe it's been 3 weeks! Time is flying and I feel better each day and notice a big difference now week to week! I can get in and out of bed really well, driving isn't awkward, squatting and bending over gets easier and easier. I think once my drain site area looks completely sealed I will relax and celebrate :) I'm really happy with what I see. The prineo tape is coming up and the center part of my incision can be seen. I do wish the tape would have stayed on that part longer but I can't complain about the scar! I'm not supposed to do anything to the scar until at least 6 weeks which is when I see my surgeon for the next check up. I have had a couple mornings where I have felt really thin but failed to get a pic...by the time I get around to it the swelling is in full swing. But in the photo collage I made you can see the swelling has decreased because the incision is now hidden below the top of my underwear. This was very exciting to discover today! It is going to just keep getting better! Yay!!

CG experiment

I was so uncomfortable with my swelling last night I decided to take a break from my garment. Technically since 2 weeks out I have had permission to only wear it during the day. I have kept it on though just because I feel more secure and I stand straighter with it on. But last night I was so miserable that taking a break from it felt so good! And much to my surprise there was no additional swelling from not wearing it so I think from now on I will enjoy taking my break at night from my cg. The drain site area has a good scab on it and I feel confident that in due time it will look great. When I hit four weeks the nurse told me to take off any prineo tape that has not peeled up so I will update again in a few days with what my actual incision looks like! Happy healing ladies! And to those dealing with swell hell I feel your pain and we will get through this!!

Goodbye tape, hello pleats?

Yesterday marked 4 weeks since surgery and I feel so good!! I can be on my feet most of the day doing all my mom stuff and I don't have that intense fatigue like I did just a week ago. I really feel like myself again energy wise but I still have 2 weeks until workouts begin. I can't wait to do some type of strength training, I already feel my arms getting jiggly and my butt is going to need a lot of work. :) Okay so I carefully peeled off the prineo tape and to my surprise found that on my left side the skin is pleated in certain spots. It's very minimal compared to others I have seen so I'm sure like them, over time, it will smooth out. On my right side where the adhesive was still strong it pulled up a scab and some skin (ouch) revealing a tiny bit of blood. I covered with a bandaid overnight and the next morning it was already healing great, phew! The swelling is still there, almost now like a shelf above my incision at night, but it is getting better. I wear my cg during the day and just some mild compression underwear at night. Next shower I will work on getting the remaining adhesive off the incision so those areas don't look so dark. I'm really getting excited about the final result, next check up with ps is in 2 weeks. For those about to have this surgery, you will have ups and downs but it is worth it, patience is key! It may sound funny but I'm so proud of myself for doing this.

Itchy incision!

So I have had some itchiness off and on but the last two days I want to claw at my incision area! Nurse advised taking Benadryl but I don't want to take during the day when my 2 year old has decided to really embrace his age and I can't afford to be sleepy :) Other than that, things are going well. Having gas type prickly sharp pains come and go, still get the sunburn under the skin feeling from time to time and feel tender in areas. But I really can't complain, the swelling is slowly going down. I know this is a waiting game and I just have to be patient. I took a picture of what my remaining stretch marks look like, my 1960's bathroom must have great lighting - I can't really capture the purplish horizontal lines very well that I think are new stretch marks from swelling. I also took a pic bending forward, when I'm less swollen the skin wrinkles where the stretch marked skin is. The skin that was pleated is already showing improvement. Hope everyone is doing well and not eating as many Christmas cookies as me!! Ha!

Is it just me?

Hello lovely ladies! This post is just to see if I am the only one that freaks out over something only to realize later it was something really not worth losing sleep, energy and time over. Last night as I looked at my belly in the mirror and was giddy about how the swelling is going down I sucked in my stomach. When I did this I noticed the left side of my abdomen where my ribs are under my breast stuck out more than the right. I went from giddiness to a feeling of impending doom. I hate how I instantly go to worst case scenario which in my mind was I guess inappropriate swelling, scoliosis, or my heart had suddenly enlarged pushing out my ribs (ha!). Okay that last one was more of a joke to show how warped my mind can get when I worry. So this morning I took pictures to compare the right and left sides and could definitely see the difference. Now let me say that in order to see this difference I do have to suck in my stomach. So it's not just sticking out like crazy, just something I happened to notice when sucking my stomach in.
Fast forward to mid day where I am scrolling through my before surgery tummy pics and come across the one where I am laying down. Ohhhhhhh, guess my left ribs have always stuck out more. So the moral of the story, don't be like me and freak out if you notice something while healing. Chances are it is just swelling making things look weird OR an asymmetry you had before surgery that you never really noticed! I will say though I will ask my PS about this on Friday at my 6 week check up because I love a healthy dose of reassurance. :) Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!!

6 weeks post op update!

Six weeks is an awesome milestone! Energy is all the way back, I'm walking almost as fast as pre-surgery and swelling continues to go down! Had my 6 week check up today with my PS and he was very pleased with everything! I totally asked about my rib asymmetry and he said it's completely normal. He said when he does breast augmentation surgery it is extremely common for one rib to he higher and a huge contributor to women needing different size implants. He said we grow in 2 sides not just one - there are differences we don't notice until we are really paying attention. Very happy to hear I don't need to worry about it being an issue with my back but just normal anatomy.
Swelling is mostly at my center incision site and he said that's normal because the scar acts like a dam and until our lymph system figures out how to go around it, it will hit that dam and sort of back up. I am to massage that area with vitamin e oil or lotion to the sides to help the lymphatic system drain away from the "dam". Told me not to waste money on scar products as the scar looks great and just to use vitamin e oil or lotion on it. I can increase workouts and start light strength training, woo hoo! No core workouts until 8 weeks out. He said I will be puffy after working out and may want to wear cg thru the night after hard work out. Otherwise, it's totally up to me when and if I wear it!!
The pleats and drain site should smooth out over time. I attached pictures to show the change already. My tummy is so flat in the morning and he said i will still get flatter! Hard to believe! I go back in 4 months for final check up and pictures. Happy New Year!

7 weeks post update

Hard to believe that yesterday marked 7 weeks since surgery! Not much difference photo wise so I will wait until next week to post pictures. I am definitely more active and on days that I haven't made the best eating choices and had high activity I still swell. I am mixing bio oil and vitamin e lotion together and massaging the incision area. I am trying to coax the hard area of swelling above the incision out to the sides. Belly button is still doing great - by far one of the best things about the surgery! Upper ab swelling tends to happen when I have had a larger meal. The incision itself and the surrounding area is still tender and the scar is red. I know it is all a waiting game so I try to be patient (some days better than others). I love being able to lift, carry, and hold my 2 year old again!! It doesn't hurt or feel weird but I don't hold him on my hip for very long. I still wear my cg during the day and then shapewear underwear at night...unless me and the hubby are getting frisky then I leave the cg on and take advantage of the crotch hook closure. We've established there's no TMI on here right? ;) Can't remember if I have mentioned my weight yet. I was 135 at my pre-op, 133 day of surgery, and 135.2 at my 6 week check up. I have stayed consistent between 133-136 this whole time. I do wonder how much my muscle turning into fat has helped the numbers stay down. boo.
Happy Healing to all and for those of us about to face the winter storm, stay warm and safe!

8 weeks!! Happy dance time!!

Just when you think it can't get better, it does!! I have now gone over 24 hours with no compression garment and I have had no additional swelling. My swelling is minimal and concentrated centrally above the incision. I massage this area in the morning and at night which feels good. My scar is still pretty red and I've heard it usually looks the worst at 3 months out and then starts getting better. When I massage the scar some of the redness disappears for a moment and you can see how thin the actual scar is in certain places. I'm excited to see what it looks like at one year out. The scar is tender on the sides while the middle still has numbness so it is not sensitive. I am now cleared to begin ab work, the only exercising I have been doing is my 3 mile power walk in my neighborhood. I do feel soreness in my abdomen if I have had a very active day. I am still maintaining 135 pounds, no special diet I just keep my calories under 1800 a day and have a good mix of healthy food plus treats (latest is cranberry oatmeal cookies from cooking light). I am feeling more confident to begin strength training. I had a horrible dream last night that there was blood and green stuff leaking from my belly button and then my hernia came back before my eyes on the outside of my stomach - what a nightmare! No more red wine before bed! ;) Happy healing ladies! BEST DECISION EVER!!!!

11 weeks!

Time is just zooming along so for those at the beginning of healing hang in there! Of course I remember reading that when I was just out of surgery and it didn't make me feel better it just made me want to be further out from surgery even faster which feeds impatience. :)
It really is hard to remember what my belly used to look like. I am so used to the new me and it is a relief to be at this point. Scar looks the same, very red but some parts are barely noticeable (especially the center which I think is quite interesting). I will do scar pictures next week. Still haven't done any ab work out or strength training. In between kids schedules, bad weather, and sickness I just haven't gotten started. Just doing 3 to 4 mile power walks and I am content right now with that. Hope everyone is doing well!

3 months!

The chaos of everyday life makes the weeks fly now! I am doing everything I was doing pre-surgery. Right at 12 weeks I had some electric zap feelings across my tummy. I am happy to feel these as it means getting feeling back. Also at this time I am starting to see improvement in my scar. It is slight but it counts!
To get my lazy bones out of my power walk routine I signed up for a 5k that is in 3 weeks! I do have some swelling and tightness during the evening after a "jog" but it isn't terrible. My first attempt at running was hilarious as my knees felt like they were going to explode and I was limp running for awhile. I hate getting older sometimes.
I feel more comfortable in shape wear undies than in regular ones. I still like some level of compression although it isn't unbearable to not have it. I attached photos I took last week. All in all life is good and I am still so happy I had this surgery!!!!

4 months and something new

So I was all ready to type a happy, feel good, life is great, post until I noticed this red area on my belly when I got out of the shower today. It is in the area we all commonly refer to as the triangle of numbness. Seriously everything has been going just fine, totally back to normal activities, ran a 5k last Saturday, I didn't think I was going to have anything related to my tummy put me in a place of concern again. I have had my share of freak outs before and after surgery and I was hoping that was all over. I sent a pic to my plastic surgeon's office and I am hoping for a reassuring response. I have not even the slightest clue why that skin would be red but again I am hoping it is either something normal with healing or perhaps just the shapewear I was wearing. The only reason I question that is I have worn this shapewear for months now and never seen this reaction. It's the not knowing that drives me nuts. My mind has a tendency to wander to the worst case scenario very quickly. Although if I had a raging infection, I probably wouldn't feel very good and if my skin was dying I think it would be turning black not red...see my issues? :)
I hope everyone is doing well and I will keep updating this crazy journey!

Day 14 of rash....ugh

Well the mystery rash continues and I am trying to stay positive about it going away (I'm struggling today). On day 8 my skin started peeling in the area of redness. I stayed in contact with my plastic surgeon's nurse and when I started to notice new patches of red in other areas she recommended I see my regular doctor in case I needed to see a dermatologist. My PS looked at photos of the area in question and was highly certain this had nothing to do with the actual surgery. I still to this day can't figure out what is causing this or caused this. I haven't worn any compression garment or shapewear for two weeks now. I have not changed detergent, lotion, medication. It is a mystery!
I saw my regular doc two days ago and he prescribed a steroid cream for me to use twice a day. I was so hoping I would see immediate results yet the rash continues to wax and wane daily. There are times you can barely see it and there are times it looks red and angry. Sometimes my skin feels like it stings and is slightly itchy and other times it feels completely fine. I have days where I feel very frustrated about the whole thing and other days where it doesn't faze me at all. If I don't see improvement in one week I am to go back to my regular physician. I really don't like thinking about this not improving... I can still say though I am so happy with my results. It was nice to pull up my shirt at the doctor's and not feel embarrassed about wrinkly skin. I'm not proud of the rash but I am proud to show my new toned tummy, ha! :) Happy healing ladies!

Back to "normal"

Thankfully at 3 weeks from first noticing the rash it appears to be gone! I did use a steroid cream prescribed by the doctor for a week. I'm not sure if it was the cream that fixed it or just the rash running its course. Either way I am relieved! I'm still avoiding any type of compression wear in that area in case that was the cause. There have been days I really want to put that shape wear back on but I am now used to having nothing holding me in tight or covering the numb area.
I go in at the end of this month for my final check up and pictures. I can't wait to see those photos side by side! I'm still so very happy I did this and encourage anyone thinking about it to go for it! Do your due diligence of course but once you have don't put it off! :)

5 months po, scar revision scheduled

This past Monday I had what was supposed to be my final post up visit with my PS. Final pictures were taken (supposed to get them soon) & much to my surprise he wants to do a revision on my scar. I have always noticed on my right side where the scar isn't a straight line but it really didn't bother me. Well he is a perfectionist and wants to make make a small incision and get the scar in line. Since it's the side the drain was on he thinks the scar may have gotten tugged up by some scar tissue.
I go back in 3 weeks and will definitely update then! Procedure should take 20 minutes and the recovery is minimal with just one more visit to get sutures out. Part of me wants to just leave it alone since it's nice and healed but my husband urged me to go ahead and get it done. There's no cost and I won't have to question later if I should have just done it. :) Hope everyone is doing well!

Before/After pics from PS office

Just got these today and thought I'd share. :) I have to laugh at the blue paper "panties" in the before pictures. I had no idea they were poofed out like that. Lol!!!

Promised pics! ;)

This is a difficult selfie angle to take! Lol. Let me assure you that the only way my belly looks like this is if I bend all the way over. I am thrilled with my results and understand that this section of skin that is compromised by stretch marks can't be smooth when scrunched over. When I'm standing straight you can barely see them, skin is nice and tight. Just be aware that if you have stretch marks above your belly button they will still exist after TT but be much improved. I will post again after my scar revision this Wednesday!

Scar revision day - 6 months post op!

Hi ladies!
I'm typing this on my phone while rocking my 2 year old desperately trying to keep him from pushing on the revision area! The procedure today was very simple and quick. I did have to change into a gown and lay on the same table exactly 6 months ago I laid on for my tt! My PS injected some numbing stuff which I barely felt as I'm still pretty numb on my tummy. I actually had to remind him where exactly we were revising as when I lay down it's hard to see any flaws! He made about a 1 1/4 inch incision and pulled the skin down about a 1/4 of an inch. Now the scar follows a straight line which I am happy about even though it really didn't bother me. I felt some pricks and tugging during the procedure but it was not painful by any means. He mentioned there was quite a bit of scar tissue underneath and I'm wondering if the drain being on that side contributed. Either way it's fixed and stitches come out in 1 week. I picked up some antibiotics which I will take 3 x a day for just 3 days. I can bandage the area so clothing doesn't snag on the sutures. Bleeding is minimal, stings a little off and on but nothing terrible. Just taking a couple extra strength Tylenol works for me. :) Hope everyone is well!

Sutures out, last PS office visit!

Well ladies I have officially graduated from tummy tuck recovery. ;) Sutures were removed today from my small revision area and there's no need for anymore appointments. I can't say enough how glad I am that I did this! So thankful for the experience and results. For now I just have to avoid hot tubs for 3 weeks and the scar from revision area will flatten and lighten over time. I will keep updating and I can't wait to see the scar at the 1 year mark!

7 months post op! New scar treatment

Hello ladies! I have completed our out of state move and it was epic! I did notice some swelling with how extremely active I was but it was more a feeling of tightness than looking bigger. My scar continues to fade and I received biocorneum for being a realfriend and just started it this week. I will chronicle any changes I see from using it. I went to a public pool last week and holy cow the confidence meter went sky high. I remember last summer pulling my tankini top down in horror if the water lifted it showing my wrinkly tummy. It felt SO GOOD to not have to think about covering up or sucking in. I can't even imagine if I had boobs to go with this tummy!! One day!! :) happy healing & good luck to those approaching their surgery date!

8 months post! And I'm 40!!!

Celebrated 8 months post surgery the same day I turned 40. It wasn't as bad as I thought, however I did have a strong urge to cry all day ;-)
Not much new to report except I think I finally discovered the cause of that rash I got at 4 months out. Last week I had run out of bio oil and put Palmers cocoa butter on my belly. I remember telling my husband the next day I was itchy on my tummy. Lo and behold two days later I had that same rash all over my belly where I had been putting the cocoa butter. I used the same steroid cream prescribed months ago and 3 days later it totally cleared. I'm not sure 100 % if it was the cocoa butter but I'm going to avoid it just in case.
Signed up for a 5 mile run on Labor day to get my butt back in gear. Still maintaining my weight around 132-135 pounds. I have days where the numbness bothers me but it's only for a moment. I still love my results and wouldn't change a thing!!

9 months+ post op

Hi ladies!! I have let time get away from me in my effort to update on the monthly anniversary of my surgery. First of all, Thoughts and prayers to all those affected by hurricane Harvey! With that storm and back to school for the kids my schedule has been out of whack.
I posted pics taken at night to show I do have a little swelling still if I have been super active or ate too much sodium. Worst is that time of the month, that swelling just takes a few days to go away. I am getting back into running which is improving my mood and stress level. No issues with my belly when running. I painted our entryway recently and had to really stretch in some parts and that felt kind of weird. Almost like you can feel the scar tissue pulling apart. Numb area is the same. Below belly button and above incision in a triangular shape. I have gained a couple of pounds which is my fault for not counting calories the past month, tsk tsk! The extra weight went to my rear end ;) looking forward to toning up and hopefully will post toner results soon! Happy healing!!

10 months post tt, 4 months post small revision

Wow, 10 months since surgery and I have still not done one specific ab exercise. I can't believe how fast time has gone by! There isn't too much to report, scar from revision area unfortunately is starting to look like it did pre-revision but I'm not upset. My body obviously wants to do something there with the scar tissue so I'm going to leave it alone. I noticed a couple of weeks ago I have a slightly enlarged lymph node on my right side of my groin. Going to keep an eye on it and see if it goes down. It's straight down from the revision area so maybe it's been there and now that I'm so slim it's noticeable. I'm working hard on not always thinking the worst. (Hint: don't do google searches!) :)
I'm still loving my results and I have gotten back into running. Cardio alone is showing more ab definition, I do want to start weights though to work on my arms, etc. shopping is so fun, the shorts in the picture are a size 4, I wore a size 10-12 in college! So exciting to feel so good in clothes :-)
Fayetteville Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Stokes and his staff have been professional from consultation to after surgery and I highly recommend him. He is board certified with numerous attributes and you can tell right away he is very skilled in his profession. He and his nurses said more than once that the full abdominoplasty is his favorite surgery. He doesn't over-promise, gives all the information in a way that is easy to understand and shows great competence. His nurse Tina is awesome! She gives you her personal cell phone number after surgery and quickly responds to emails and texts. The entire staff at Pinehurst Surgical Center Plastic Surgery is friendly, reassuring, and helpful. I have had nothing but a positive experience and can definitely say this surgery was worth every penny.

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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