38-Year-Old Mom of 2... Full Mommy Makeover - Pleasanton, CA
After 7 years of pretty much being in "mommy land"...
Thoughts about surgery
1. How painful will the procedure be?
A: Depends on the person. There is almost no way to predict what recovery will look like for you. I can tell you that overall the first 4 days are painful and there's no way to avoid it. More on this later...
2. Have there been any surgeries in the last 6 months that suffered CDiff or MRSA?
A: it's important to check this, because it can be very telling about the surgery site. Infections like these are usually the case of unclean settings. Checking on the incidence of these two infections will help you make a decision about then doctor. Do not choose a doctor who has had a incidence of CDiff or MRSA, period.
3. What is the revision policy?
A: really at the point of booking I was pretty much solely focused on "not dying" ???? but I can tell pretty much tell you that you aren't going to die, and reviewing the revision policy is going to be more important than anything else discussed. make sure you understand what will happen if your scar doesn't heal right, or if you have need for extra follow up appointments.
4. Not a question, but regarding discussion with the surgeon I really think that bringing in pictures of breasts that you like and looking at the pictures with the doctor will give you a huge sense of how knowledgeable the surgeon is. In my experience my doctor was able to really analyze each picture in terms of what I liked about it, and how the various pictures were similar or different, and talk to me in plain English about the comparisons. This is the type of doctor who is going to be able to bring to life what you want.
So right, I didn't do any type of cleaning shower... There's no research to support that it actually reduces infection. I did take vitamin C. But I probably wouldn't have if I hadn't been sick.
Being sick made me really nervous. All I could think about was "not dying". My other anxieties were: feeling like I couldn't breathe after the breasts on my chests, infection, and pain.
So right, no big surgery prep except for Vit c.
My stats: on the day of surgery I was 5'4" 144 lbs. I was wearing an ill fitting size 34D. 144 was my lowest weight in 8 years, I started Crossfit and was 148... After a year of crossfitting I had toned a lot, but my overall weight did not change much, and I was doing Crossfit 5 times a week and had completed two competitions. So I know things were good with my body, but I had all this loose skin, and my core was completely weak.
The outcome of surgery:
I had a tummy tuck with ab repair and liposuction. And breast implants and augmentation (the lesser of the two lifts... Not sure what it is called). I ended up putting 500cc implants. Initially we talked that it would be around 375 to 400, but during surgery my doctor saw there was a lot of tissue to fill and that my frame could support more CCs... and im absolutely happy about it. Probably could have been bigger, but these will do just fine :)
Today I am 139lbs, with 34DDD (measures at Victoria Secret)...
Post Op... Surviving the first few days
Coming out of surgery the pain was intense. Stay ahead of the meds... That's the best advice. I am a whimp when it comes to pain meds, so when I discussed them with my doctor we agreed on Vicodin. My Phaycian Assistant friend of mine said that it wouldn't be enough, to ask for something much stronger, but I managed through the first two days on it... And then cut it out on the third day.
Other than pain meds there are a number of mind/body things you can try with pain. I have to tell you, I am NOT a granola-person... My tolerance for mediation and all things "mindful" is almost nil... Haha, I am psychologist, so you would think that would be all "connect with your inner lionness" or something... Although I don't typically endorse mediation I think visualization helped me...
Here are the things that I think helped:
1. Acceptance. I let go, and let pain. Harder than it seems, our mind hates pain. So the more you can accept the pain the easier time you will have.
2. Neuronal Distraction... Which is fancy for "massage "... Fact: your body cannot concentrate on every sensation going on... So get someone to distract your body away from it's current experience. Have someone squeeze your left toe... And while doing it either ask questions about the experience ("am I squeezing more or less right now on your toe?") Or if you are expert level at this, you can ask the questions in your mind... Pull your hair... Tugging, not like a grade school boy, and concentrate on what it feels like. I really like my shoulders massaged, which isn't really a point of focus prior to this. When you are nearing the end of the intense pain you can play "what letter is this?" And have your kid draw on your arm or foot...
3. Walk... Stupid walking! But I knew that I had to walk 4 times a day for 10 minutes. Hunched over granny walk, yes... But the more you can do the better. This is where my two c-section recoveries really helped because I knew that the more I walked the faster I would heal.
4. "Watching" TV
For the first two days I had Jurrasic Park on repeat... Haha, it's my favorite movie to fall asleep to... But in this situation I used it for its familiarity and predictability. Find a movie you love and put it on repeat. You won't be able to really concentrate on a new movie anyway, so pick something that you have a history with. When things get rough to can focus on the predictability and familiarity of the movie... "Oh this is the part where... He's about to... What color is his socks? I never noticed..."
So basically distraction, distraction, distraction...
I am actually pretty good at this part, with all the pain there's less room for anxiety... So the first week was actually easier than the second for me (more on that later)...
More post surgery days 4-5
Also helpful on these days is pineapple juice. I really don't do a lot of holistic prep, but the more I read about pineapple juice the more convinced I was... So I drank a lot of pineapple juice, even though I don't like pineapple.
A note about drains... I had one. It drained the excess fluid, which now that it is out (removed onDay 6), I can see how helpful it is! I do get swollen now, can see the swelling if i spend a lot of time walking or sitting... Lol, as crazy as that drain was, it was useful.
I think on day 10 I was sort of able to lay on my side... With lots of pillows... That helped with sleeping... What has also helped with sleeping is sleeping with a pillow on my stomach. I'm a stomach sleeper so it's been really hard to not be able to sleep on my belly. The weight of a pillow helped with that, and so ive been sleeping better lately.
Post surgery day 6
On Day 6 I got my bandages off... Up until that point I was totally wrapped up and in a body suit... I am not sure how all these women get post surgery pics so quickly! Lol, it was like waiting for Christmas.
but the bandages came off... And the body suit for the appointment... It was really hard to take off the body suit. Even now, it feels like a buffer between me and the world... Armor. And having it off for the first time I the office was really disorienting. I could see the steri-strips still covering my scars... And got to look at this crazy new waist line... It was all so much that I wanted to get back into the body suit as fast as I could. The doctor looked at how the healing was going and pronounced me well on my way to recovery. He said my drain could come out, and that I could shower. So all around positive... One of the pads covering my breast was stuck to the breast and it took a lot of work to remove. It wasn't painful, but nerve wracking.
I didn't have many questions... Just about the likelihood of infection which the doctor said was super low at this point. Really, I had very little energy, was really overwhelmed by the whole process and just wanted to get home, shower, and back to the safety of my bed.
So we got home and I took off the body suit again... Again I had the same feeling that the body suit was somehow supporting me and taking it off was hard... But the allure of a shower was more than enough. But I was also nervous about if the shower was going to sting or hurt. A friend of mine suggested to back in, and that helped a lot... And there wasn't any pain due to the water.
The steri-strips were still on and so I cound only really see my belly button, which also really tripped me out. It was huge and swollen... So I had a hard time looking at it, even though I was told that it was normal and would look just fine (which it totally does, but on Day 6 you can bet that you will wonder if you will have to live with that belly button for the rest of your life)... I took a good shower, got back into the body suit, and got back to bed. That was more than enough for one day!!!
On Day 9 I had diarrhea, and was certain that it meant infection but when I called the doctor's office they didn't seemed concerned at all ???? just take immodium, rest, and monitor. I was fine.
I also know that when I get overtired my mind can go to really dark places... So I have to really watch where I am in my energy level or else I start ruminating on the process of it all.
A lot of friends say "it's not a long time... 3 weeks and you are kinda back to normal... In the grand scheme of things..." And that's true, but when it's you in that bed... When a minute feels like an hour cause of the pain... When you feel the dread of nighttime coming because it's hard to get comfortable and you are more alone with your thoughts... 3 weeks can be an eternity. Certainly for that week I felt disconnected and worried. partly because the first week felt like it was easier than I thought it was going to be, and I was waiting for something to go wrong.
So right, second week harder than the first. Probably could have lined up more visits? I don't know what else would have helped at that point.
Day 15 and 16
I worked two half days on Day 14 I learned that sitting up for too long creates a lot of swelling!!! In fact my tummy swells very easily... I can tell how much exertion I have had by how swollen my tummy gets. I understand now that it's normal... That I have to make lymph channels to absorb fluids, but the swelling is tough and painful.
I did get to go to the doctors on Day 15, we took off the steri-strips and I was able for the first time to see all the scarring... It looked crazy, like I'd been chopped up (which I have so good reality testing on my part)... but I was very excited and happy with the results. I started the scar cream twice a day. Touching the scars isn't my favorite, some of the sutures are still in and it is sensitive. But the progress and healing was above my expectations!
Days 16 to 21
There's a good amount of puckering around the scars... Especially my tummy scar. I was assured that this is normal, and when I look at them I feel like there is improvement. I don't really remember my c-section scars healing... I was pretty distracted with newborns at that point...
My belly button seems to be getting better and better... It remains puffy and red, but the stitches are gone and I can see how it pretty much is a normal belly button. It's just not MY belly button. From the beginning I worried that I would wake up and feel disconnected from my body, that I would look down and just have a hard time accepting that these were my boobs (I focused mainly on the boobs)... But by and large I haven't had that experience, except for my belly button which looks just not like my belly button... Its not ugly or misplaced, it's just not "me". So there's been that process in then back of my mind... And I've come to kinda think of it as cool! At some point in my life I'll look down and say... "I've lived longer with this belly button than the one I was born with!" Ok, I might be really old by then ???? but I hope to get there! Also, how many people get to experience this sort of acceptance of a new part of them? It's sort of a unique process.
Right, so tummy scar, belly button... Now to the boobs. I can't say enough how very little issues I've have with the boobs. They don't hurt, they don't whine for attention... I should have gotten the boobs a long time ago! About the worst of it right now is that they get hot, and are hot... They get hot (not sweaty) sometimes to the touch, which makes me think something is wrong (uhhhh... News flash: ain't nothing wrong)... And they are hot... Which means I have gotten a significant amount of people talking to my chest rather than my eyes, which never happened before... I was ordering food the other day and wanted to add to my order I went back and the waitress was all "you didn't order" there was some confusion and then she said "oh! You did! I recognize your shirt" ????
The hardest hardest hardest thing about this journey has been my abs. I feel like I have a brick sitting on top of my stomach. The mornings start out ok... I walk upright and loose... And then as the day goes on they start to feel... Raw? Contracted? Pulling? Always at 3:00 I'm feeling tired and burnt and want my abs to stop feeling so tight. And it just kinda spins from there... I never feel out of breath, just tight and uncomfortable. Resting helps... And I'm just looking forward to the day when I can just "not feel" them... As if they were always there... I really want that day to come soon cause it's mentally taxing to always feel them.
Still managing side sleeping... My sleeping is fine for the most part... I'll let you know when I make it to my stomach!
In a nutshell... I'm not sure things could be better at this point... Sure I really want to be back to normal in all ways, but i think I am closer to that goal now than even 4 days ago.
Not all peaches and roses
I've scowered the Internet... It's not anything that seems to be common. Most likely it is some scar tissue or the belly button pulling in (it's really shrunk!) but it is uncomfortable to touch, and a little bulge so I am figuring it out today. Also, last night I couldn't sleep on my left side, due to ambiguous pain. Had the belly button thing not come up I would have just been all casual about it (read: asked my husband 150 times if it was ok)... But that coupled with the belly button thing just made sleep difficult.
I'm pretty confident it's nothing, I'll update when I know more!
And the doctor says...
The doctor says it's my hernia repair. That he fixed the hernia and then folded my abs over it... With the swelling that is going down the hernia repair is more prominent. He says it will get better as the weeks go by, to monitor and watch, but it really isn't anything to be concerned about...
Which is good news... Right? That there's nothing medically wrong... But it hurts! The whole thing just hurts. The belly button in a pinching, tender kind of way... And the whole body in just a dull ache kind of way...
Ok... Bright side: continuing on with a complication-free post op, just more healing that has to happen, every day is a day forward, I'm not sick, they are amazed at where I am 22 days out...
Days 22 to 29
I'm still not sure what happened... All of a sudden it was like I was back on day 6. I couldn't sleep with all the pain, I couldn't lay on my side...
I have a couple of hypotheses. The first being the Monday I totally overdid it... And although I wasn't swollen I just burnt my body out and it took a lot of time to recover.
But also, I am beginning to get back feeling in my lower belly, below my belly button. At first I would have sworn that the ab repair was all above the belly button, like the tightest corset binding the upper abs together... Well on Day 22 it was super clear that the binding went all the way to the lower abs, they were intense... But the upper part that previously caused me pain was chill at that point. My lower tummy is also starting to itch off and on so I sort of think that it's been feeling this way for a while but I couldn't feel it.... And now that it's come "online" I had to get used to what cinched lower abs feel like too...
Uhhh... I really freaked out last week... I think what is hard is dreading any thought of a set back. The littlest thing can just get your mind racing...
And then being back to intense pain and discomfort really was unsettling. I questioned all my symptoms, I was hypervigilent about everything. And it's hard to know when to freak out and when to relax. I did some "prescribing the symptoms" where I was relaxed and I asked myself "how much can I freak out now..." Don't do it when you are freaking out, just when you are calm... It draws attention to how much you actually control your feelings and emotions. Other than that I just sort of had to ride through it.
Today has been better. I am completely pain free! I am swollen, but it's not painful. I have this scab by my belly button that looks painful but I think is fine...
Monday's are "Mama Mondays" where I have the kids all day (I work the other four). I've done them, but today I've been way more careful about them... Trying to cut the activities to a minimum, will see how this goes after today.
Also, the doctor says I can start wearing my binders for only 12 hours, which is freaking me out. Those binders are like my shell to the outside world. I'm not sure if I will do that this week... Maybe.
Days 30 to 37
My belly button has a Spitting Stitch... Which I guess is my body trying to decide whether to desolve or push out a suture. It happened right after the belly button incident above... A round fluid filled bubble... I watched it for some time, then went in and had it drained. Its sort of just hanging out now... Still there, but much less bubbled. I guess it could stay that way for another month, it doesn't hurt, never really did...
That was the most interesting development in the last week... My boobs are sofenting, scars are healing, pain is dissipating...
Still wearing my binder for a lot of the day. I sleep without it on, that's about all I want to try at this point :) maybe in a week I'll get some spanx... Who knew I would have problems with giving this binder up!!
10 weeks tomorrow!
For those considering getting this done... It really is a lot to consider... You have to realize that muscle repair is going to challenge you in ways you never expected. My abs still feel funny, the feel right but weak... And that is weird for sure!
Dr. Williams is an amazing surgeon! From the very first consultation (we were just doctor interviewing at that point) he spent a whole hour answering our questions, and consulting. No other doctor we visited had this type of non-hurried bedside manner. I am an anxious person in general, and his calm demeanor really put me at ease. So yeah, 5 stars all around!