43 Year Old Mum on Tummy Tuck Journey - Birmingham, GB

I never thought I'd do this, let alone write about...

I never thought I'd do this, let alone write about it but here I am 4 days post op in the middle of the night, back home and unable to think of much else...
I've only had one full term pregnancy, with a beautiful 5 year old daughter to show for it. I'm 5'2 and at 8lb 2oz she was on the large side for my frame. Although I didn't put on much extra weight my belly was enormous - friends would gasp slightly horrified when they saw me as I approached (then passed) the due date. Needless to say it left me looking like a deflated balloon with muscle separation & crepe-paper skin. As well as looking ugly & dictating my wardrobe and sex life, it's been causing postural
problems and back pain and it will all only get worse with age. I really don't want to be undergoing this surgery when I'm 65 and have herniated. I gather from friends that in France and Germany it's offered free by their health services.
I have recently wondered whether I always had a degree of weakness / separation which might account for why I got so large (and could never do core exercises without my ab region popping forward). I've done a bit of Googling & found the condition can exist from childhood but Mrs Kat & the physio were vague about this being a contributing factor.
I never thought surgery was a serious option for me until I caught the end of a makover programme & saw the results of TT surgery. I was impressed! But I got very put off when I began to reaearch the procedure; for some reason I found the use of drains especially disturbing. Then I stumbled across a reference to Mrs Kat, (probably on this site) & her 'lock and glue' technique which doesn't use them and got intrigued.
Then money was a huge issue but that was solved when out of the blue I got a freelance job that I could do alongside my regular job & I charge £7000 for. When the money finally reached my account I called and made an appointment with Mrs Kat at her clinic just before Xmas 2015.
We live in London and I'd never been to Birmingham. What a great city and only 1hr 25mins by train! She was everything others have reported - clear, concise, precise and extremely professional. There was absolutely no sales pitch. She examined me and confirmed the muscle separation (7cm I was told after the surgery), had photos taken & was informed about the procedure and recovery.
Having read others' reviews, I felt I didn't need to go on a mission to compare lots of surgeons - I guess it's always a bit of a shot in the dark anyway? I liked that she aims to get the scar very low and fine and avoids drains.
Early in January 2016 I plucked up the courage to call and book the surgery, hoping to get it done before warm weather arrives (didn't like the idea of sweating in synthetic compression garments!). Unfortunately she was away for March so the first date that worked for me was Friday 1st April (April Fools Day!) at The Priory, Edgebaston.
I went for my pre-op assessment there a few days before and first impressions weren't great: I was misdirected to the 2nd Floor from reception and had my assessment with an efficient but somewhat unfriendly nurse. (Thankfully my experience as an inpatient was totally different and pretty much faultless).
I went up for my op on the train and caught the bus to The Priory. I spent the night before at the Aparthotel on Digbeth (clean, affordable and walkable from New Street station) having booked it for four nights so that my partner & daughter could come and stay.
I was scheduled to arrive at 11am and was promptly escorted to my room. I was visited by various people throughout the day, a nurse with my gown, support stockings and paper pants; Mrs Kat who had an understudy with her to witness the process of marking-up; a physiotherapist with the breath incentiviser devise; the anaesthetist. I began to get concerned that, after a whole day in surgery, Mrs Kat would be too tired to do her best work but the anaesthetist was reassuring about this saying "no, she loves it! She regularly does 10hr days - 3 or 4 times a week - and often schedules more complex procedures last to allow them to run on".
The waiting became really tedious (especially as I was nil by mouth after 9:30am and was suffering a dehydration headache when the anaesthetist told me around 5pm that a few sips of water would be fine) but at least the nerves had worn off by 6:30pm when the nurses arrived to take me down to theatre.
The nurse who stayed with me was absolutely lovely and did a great job of keeping me chatting so that I barely noticed being put under.
I woke up in recovery and was wheeled to my room in bed. I think I was quite euphoric to have survived the op (I've never had one before). It wasn't until the next day that I began to realise that had been the easy part and that this was only the start of the journey. It's a bit like child birth: no matter how many other people's experiences you hear / read about, it doesn't really make sense until you do it yourself (although I have to say that I'm extremely grateful to everyone on this site for posting their reviews which have helped me to be realistic about what this process involves. I went into this much better informed than I would have been without it).
I was extremely well cared-for over the following days at the Priory. (I spent 3 nights there). A large number of different nurses / physiotherapists were involved but they were all friendly and well-informed about my medical needs.
You could get through the whole hospital part alone but it was nice that my partner and daughter could drop in (mostly they were out having a lovely city break in Birmingham!).
I tried to prepare before the op by eating really healthily: I quit caffeine, alcohol and sugar / refined carbs a month before and started getting up at 6am to fit in a bit of yoga and the pre-op exercises before work. I think two positive outcomes were worth this effort: I had no side effects from the anaesthetic and my breathing was not greatly impaired. I always ended the yoga with a couple of breathing exercises: anuloma viloma and kapalabhati, which aside from other benefits, expand the lungs and strengthen the diaphragm (especially the latter). They're really easy, so if you don't know them & are considering this surgery Google them: I'd highly recommend!!
My period was due on the day of the surgery and it started bang on cue. I used a tampon and apart from the added hassle of dealing with it post op, I was advised that it would make no difference to the surgery or outcomes.
I was allowed home yesterday (I think patients from further afield often get 3 nights so they're stronger to travel) at around noon. My partner drove the 2hr 45 min journey to London and it was fine: the dressings & compression garment offer so much support that you don't feel every bump and bend as I'd feared. The hardest part was keeping my D entertained and I did epic amounts of fantasy story-telling at her (insistent) request. The only other hitch with longer trips home is needing the loo. They were so desperate for me to have a movement before I left hospital (despite the fact that I'd spent one day starving and two days eating very little) that they started dosing me with lactolose and - on the last night - gave me two senna tablets. After that I had terrible wind and diarrhoea and spent the night 'rushing' to the loo to wrestle with the hooks and eyes on my compression garment. This continued the next day and meant we had to stop en route at a service station where the loos were miles from the entrance. You feel very vulnerable and foolish walking around in public bent over double.
Now I'm home I'm finding I still don't want to eat big meals so I'm trying to have little but often. I think the key is to eat super-healthy: make sure everything you eat is worth it nutritionally. I stole some of my daughter's chips at the service station and regretted it: they made me gassy. Half a banana mashed with some yoghurt and rolled oats made a great breakfast this morning and last night I enjoyed a little bowl of beetroot soup followed by a bowl of green leaves (straight from the bag). I've read it's important to eat enough protein to aid healing so there's lots tinned mackerel in the cupboard and fish in the freezer. Mrs Kat recommended eating lots of roughage to stay regular so I stocked up on 'Sprouted Wheat Loaf' from a health food shop (not as bad as it sounds! A bit like malt loaf if you have it toasted with butter & more nutritious / less yeasty & 'blocking up' than regular bread). I've also got some of those bags of pre-cooked lentils which don't take much effort to turn into a tasty, nutritious stew or salad.
We bought a couple of extra pillows for the car journey that are proving v useful for getting comfy at home. We live in a small flat so there's no space for a new recliner but I found we could turn our bed into a suitable place for me to sleep by propping one of the large sofa seat cushions against two pillows at the back of the bed and using two more pillows under my knees. It was just about as comfortable as the hospital bed in this position. A less useful pre-op investment was an expensive (£50) compression garment, maybe it will have its moment but you get given two at the Hopspital along with two sets of compression stockings so there's time to surf for a smaller garment well before you need it (at the mo I'm so swollen that it's difficult to imagine going down a size).
Now it's just about managing pain and boredom (as well as guilt and frustration!). Having had all manner of pain relief in hospital, I've been sent home with Paracetamol plus Tramadol and Diclofenac, neither of which the nurse seemed very keen for me to take. I may have got this the wrong way way round but I think Tramadol thins the blood (not great after an op) and Diclofenac blocks you up (ditto). She said after a couple of days I should only be using the paracetamol anyway so I decided to go straight to that stage. Maybe that was a bit premature (I did have a sleepless night) but I prefer not feeling woozy and nauseous and so far the pain feels manageable: a bit like the worst period pain and nowhere close to the excruciating contractions I had when I was in labour with my back-to-back baby. But then there's also the swelling (lots of it from thighs to boobs), bruising and discomfort of the compression garment to contend with. Walking bent over is almost instantly painful in the lower back and I can only imagine what the pain would be like if I tried to straighten up. At the moment this is one of my biggest concerns: how will I ever get there?! You're not supposed to try until after the first week but I don't want to heal locked into this position!
I've noticed lots of women start to have doubts about what they're decision during the first week or two but then as the pain eases and the results are more encouraging they turn a corner. Eventually it's often 'the best decision I ever made!'. At day 4 I'm a long way off that point but I hope my journey follows the same course. You can't get through this without good support at home for the first week and it's difficult to feel so dependent on family / friends. I'll owe everyone when I'm through!
You can't keep this op a secret: it takes such a chunk out of your life, as well as your belly, that you have to be prepared for everyone to know. A TT can sound frivolous and indulgent to some, so instead I've described it as 'surgery to have my muscles rejoined', which is more than half the truth. Months ago I made sure I had 2-3 weeks off work on sick leave okayed. I had to explain why to my boss and then to my colleagues. Slowly a wider circle of friends have got to know. Nobody has been critical; in fact lots of 'friends of friends' seem to have had it done without regret, which is encouraging. I've read it can take 6 months to a year to feel completely yourself again so I guess we're in it for the long haul!

Day 6 post op

6 days post op...
I've just woken up after my first reasonable night's sleep since the op. Not sure how I am physically yet, but hoping the sleep will have helped.
I think this recovery period is difficult for many reasons, not just the anticipated post op pain.

1. I'm finding walking bent over is agony for my lower back and am so keen to get upright. My Mum bought over a pair of crutches which help a little but you have to be really careful not to strain your stomach using them.
Maintaining an angle at your hips leaves very little choice about what position you spend your days and nights in (basically sitting or reclining) which gets tedious & uncomfortable.
I'm not sure how far to push things: when I straighten my back whilst sitting to try the pelvic tilts the physio recommended, there are points of resistance and I can't tell if this is the binder or tape from the dressings or things twinging internally.

2. The compression garment is SO tight!! I think it's causing 50% of the discomfort and certainly restricts my breathing. I'm quite short so it's slightly long in the torso for me and has a tendency to fold over at the top and form creases in the middle that become painful. Last night before bed I undid the very top - maybe that helped me sleep better? But it does seem to be doing its job in reducing swelling in the operated-on areas. Instead the swelling's all happening in my thighs which are huge and rainbow coloured (hope it's not causing new stretch marks...). Might try contacting Natasha today for a bit of reassurance as my dressings appointment isn't til Monday - 11 days post op.

3. General tiredness and anxiety / uncertainty about how I'm healing. Will the bruising all go? Is the binder too tight and causing a sharp crease down the middle of my skin? Will the swelling have worsened the already slack skin I had on my thighs? Will I get upright & regain flexibility?

4. Tiredness and frustration about being so dependent. Suddenly you have all this time but no energy to do much more than sit in front of the TV. I'm even finding talking gets quite tiring.

On the positive side, there is progress each day. Yesterday I felt brighter and more able to focus in the morning and I can already feel that my core works in a way that it never has - even pre op. Which again makes me wonder whether I always had a bit of muscle separation that was just exacerbated by pregnancy.
I'm only using paracetamol during the day which is bearable. The last couple of nights I've also taken 1
Diclofenac at bedtime in the hope it will knock me out for the night!

BTW I'm still having bowls of this lovely gingery beetroot soup that my partner made when I said I was craving it. I Googled beetroot and it turns out it has all sorts of health benefits including being high in iron and fibre & helping the liver expel toxins. Might be the perfect time for a beetroot binge!

12 days post op

So if last week was all about immobility & pain management, this week's theme is frustration & anxiety! I'm off all pain meds and about 75% upright so the back pain has eased but I'm still basically house-bound, with too much time to think & it's difficult not to obsess about progress.

I was back at The Priory to get my dressings changed yesterday & felt anxious about seeing my scar but was pleasantly surprised by how neat it is and Mrs Kat seemed pleased with my progress.

My lower abdomen is very swollen below my (new) belly button and I've read that this can take weeks (months even) to subside as the lymphatic drainage system is disrupted when the skin is lifted.

I have a pronounced vertical crease below my navel which I was assured would diminish with time (though of course I'm fretting about it now). I think the skin was folded underneath my dressings but I was also advised it may be the effect of internal dissolvable sutures used to fix the skin to the muscle beneath. I hadn't appreciated these were part of the process but it makes sense of some of the tight spots I can feel. I should have asked how long the stitches take to dissolve. I wonder whether a couple of minor 'creases' where the skin feels pulled from inside could also be caused by internal stitches? I was advised that everything should settle but again, difficult not to fret...

I was told to keep wearing the pressure garments for another week day & night and then during the day for a week following that, before replacing with control pants.

Another dressings appointment has been arranged for next Monday (a week later) but since I live 3 hours drive away, I don't have to attend unless I have any particular concerns. Instead I was given a DIY kit of iodine & micropore tape and told how to apply both.

Work emailed - I think they'd like me back asap so I'll lose another pillow tonight & hope I'm straighter by the morning!

Nearly 3 weeks post op

I managed to get 95% upright by two weeks - still working on the last 5%. I've got a very tight / resistant feeling around the base of my sternum, which I guess is the site of the first set of permanent muscle-joining sutures. I'm finally spending most of the night without any pillows under my legs and this morning I tried 15 mins (cautiously) lying flat on the floor to help release things a bit more. Think it worked so I'll try to do that more often. I'm realising you have to be quite actively engaged in this straightening process!

My partner says I look very different post op and it's lovely to have lost my weird, wobbly belly (and see my feet when I look down!). I've been so focussed on the healing side of things that I haven't really assessed the aesthetics - maybe it's too early any how? I think I've been given more of a waist than I ever had and joining my rectus muscles seems to have pulled in my rib cage a bit (is this possible? - it was a bit disproportionate before as I think I always had slight diastasis recti). Flatteringly, when marking me up, my surgeon felt I was slim enough to forego extensive lipo: I wonder now whether this was a mistake & I should have said 'please go for it with the lipo as I've slimmed down for this op and may never have the will power to eat as healthily again!' I feel as though some of the fat may have been displaced by pulling the skin around & I'm hoping I don't look too 'hourglass' if it accumulates on my hips... perhaps it's still just swollen.

I've been thinking about what women's bodies can end up going through and feeling that since body image is so linked to self image, it can be quite psychologically disorientating - traumatic even - to change so much, so quickly as the result of pregnancy. Not to mention the strain it puts on your wardrobe! You need to dress for pregnancy, then breast-feeding, then very practically for buggy pushing in the rain along with the inevitable paint, food & mud splats... Now my daughter's 5 those considerations are less pressing but until this op I was left wearing elasticated waists and anything that would hide the bulge. I couldn't return to my pre-preg wardrobe and even if I could I think it would feel too 'young' for a 43 year old mum. More than being able to take an interest in clothes again, I'm hoping that just being able to sling on anything without having to think about disguising bits of me will be liberating.

I started venturing outside on Saturday (two weeks post), just doing short walks around the neighbourhood. It was quite a shock and very different from pottering in the flat: everything felt so tight with uncomfortable areas of resistance and I realised how much healing I've yet to do. I have quite pronounced swelling in the area around my wound and this immediately got worse & felt very uncomfortable.

I've been reading a bit about ways to limit swelling but apart from compression garments it seems you just have to sit it out and it can take up to 6 weeks for the obvious stuff (6 months for deeper swelling!?). I did come across some nutritional advice. One American surgeon advocates following his 'plastic surgery diet' (essentially basic healthy eating) to prepare for an op but it turns out that's pretty much what I was doing anyway. Two foods kept being mentioned in relation to healing / reducing swelling: pineapple and turmeric. You can buy capsules of the active components in high concentrations: curcumin (turmeric) and bromelian (pineapple). One surgeon advocates starting bromelian supplements a couple of weeks before surgery to reduce swelling & I think clinical trials prove it is effective. Might be worth investigating if you're considering surgery. I bought some of each but for me it's probably a case of shutting the door after the horse has bolted...

I decided to attend my second dressings clinic (18 days post) in person as I had some questions for my surgeon. My partner's used up all his leave so it involved me getting a train from London to Birmingham alone. I left plenty of time & everything would have been fine if I hadn't had a crazy taxi-driver who's route to Euston was so insane that I would have missed my train if I hadn't got out when we were stuck in traffic and shuffled onto a tube. The last thing I'd wanted was to be hurrying up and down escalators at rush-hour... miraculously I caught the train with 1 minute to spare but the stress & exertion totally wiped me out. I'm glad I went though as I got to ask my questions.

The nurse removed the light dressings and cleaned me up and then I waited for the surgeon who asked me to stand up so she could assess my posture, newly joined stomach muscles and scar, all of which she was happy with. She seemed slightly concerned about the extent of my swelling and shifted my next appointment forward to keep an eye on it. She asked if I bruise easily, which I do, so that might be a contributing factor.

I have some pleats and creases which she assured me would go. I also have a bit of a central crease below my navel where the skin (stretch-marked & originally from above my navel) seems less than optimally taught. She said it would flatten and resolve but I find it difficult to imagine that happening if it's not taught whilst I'm swollen. We'll see.

She confirmed that the tightness I'm experiencing at the base of my sternum is caused by permanent sutures and told me I shouldn't notice them much by week 4. I asked whether you can rupture these and she said yes, it's possible to in the early weeks; after about 6 weeks you've developed enough scar tissue for that to be helping hold things together. So ladies, PLEASE take care of yourself post op!! I've probably pushed it a bit and maybe lifted heavier things than I should have or forgotten to get out of bed correctly until reminded by a stab of pain. Now I'm being super careful and trying to remain 'symmetrical' as much as possible. Wonder if it can happen by laughing at the News Quiz...?

I also asked about the dissolvable stitches: they take up to 9 months to disappear altogether although they begin to lose their grip before then.

I think that's it! She said I could swap the compression garment for control pants now so I've ordered various things from M&S to try on (and probably return). Realised I'm not sure how high up the garment needs to go? I've grown to quite appreciate hooks in the crotch... Yesterday I tried some spanx that I'd bought for a wedding a couple of years ago but found them a nightmare when going to the loo and the idea of struggling to get a really tight garment up / down each time was totally off-putting. Any suggestions?!

I was supposed to go back to work this week but didn't... My experience on public transport on Monday made me realise I'm just not ready for the commute: you feel really vulnerable outside in crowds. Need to be ready by next Monday though.

and also...

I just remembered something else I was told by my surgeon when I visited on Monday: nerves take a LONG time to regenerate. They grow downwards by only 1cm per month. So if you're experiencing any numbness then it's going to resolve over months / years. However she was clear that it may not all entirely disappear. I feel fortunate in that I only have relatively local numbness in the region of the scar and intermittently along where my muscles were joined - nothing down my thighs.

4 week anniversary!!

I went back to work on Monday (just over 3 weeks post) and felt shattered by the end of the day but surprisingly got stronger quickly and was fine the rest of the week. My commute in London involves two trains and quite a bit of walking, but it was do-able (with the help of a taxi at one end). In fact I found it was great to get out of the flat and having a purpose made me push myself a bit which I think has really helped things begin to loosen up. However if you're able to get 3 weeks off work then I'd highly recommend not going back earlier - I don't think I'd really have been up to it.

I hung on not showering until the end of week 3 (felt glorious when I finally did!) as I wanted to leave things un-disrupted for as long as possible. I also only ditched the binder after week 3, partly because of trouble finding suitable control pants: there are plenty out there but I always find the waist bands are too tight & become really uncomfortable as the day wears on. Yesterday I took drastic action and made a couple of vertical cuts through the elastic which has helped a lot! It feels really odd at first without the binder, but you get used to it in a couple of days & then definitely wouldn't want to go back to wearing one.

Although my partner's been very supportive, he wasn't keen on me putting myself (us?) through an elective operation & wasn't bothered by my post pregnancy belly. I'd been pretty private about my post op appearance as I didn't want to freak him out by revealing a bruised and swollen torso, but that's reduced so much that I recently let him have a look and he was astonished, in a good way! I think he thought he was going to get some sort of 'Bride of Frankenstein'. Instead things are now really beginning to take shape: I have a neat new belly button and nice muscle definition. I'm still a little crinkly below the belly button - I was concerned about a vertical crease - but this has improved a bit recently, so I have hope. The other creases and pleats are slowly flattening too. I'm still swollen in my lower abdomen, particularly towards the centre of the scar, which really bulges: I want to believe this is diminishing but can't really tell. It's certainly less uncomfortable than it was. I noticed that one surgeon on this site advised only looking for changes weekly rather than daily, which is sensible as it's easy to obsess.

Just as my surgeon advised, the tightness around my sternum has eased up: I can now stand 100% upright & my walking is picking up pace. I still have have to take it slowly when standing up after sitting for a while as the muscles feel tight and crampy, but I'm sure this will ease too. I've been doing the couple of physio floor exercises that are allowed at this stage (pelvic tilts / twisting the torso) and looking forward to getting more exercises at my next physio appointment in a couple of weeks: my muscles feel desperate to move and when I wake up I find they're sort of 'spasming'

My belly was such a saggy mess before this operation and I was getting so much back pain that the transformation feels nothing short of miraculous. I'm delighted with my new torso and encouraged by the improvements I'm seeing below my belly button.

Seven weeks post

I had my 6 week physio appointment last Monday at the Birmingham clinic. It's great to have some exercises to do as I'm desperate to get moving. It's a simple, pilates-based routine which I'm trying to fit in every morning before work. The therapist also gave instructions on how to massage the area in various ways to help free up the skin. There are some more exercises to do at 12 weeks and a few advanced ones to begin once the 12 week ones have become easy. I'm having to be disciplined to stop myself from moving on to the harder exercises. I was advised not to do any heavy lifting or to lie on my stomach and of course running is out although 'walking at pace' was strongly recommended. I find I can do most things that I need to now - including sleeping on my side!

Apparently I've spent two weeks wearing the wrong type of compression garment having misinterpreted 'panty-girdle' to mean big knickers! The physiotherapist said I should be wearing something that goes higher than the waist and recommended M&S. I spent over an hour in there trying on every permutation of shape-wear and couldn't imagine being comfortable in any of it for long so I'm back to the Spanks that I rejected earlier. I'm less swollen generally so they're OK to get on and off. Having thigh compression is great as I was finding walking with slightly swollen, tender thighs uncomfortable. In fact the physio recommended wearing cycling shorts for support, but the Spanks do both jobs (you don't want to be layering shape-wear in warm weather!).

I still have my vertical crease (below the BB) and my lower abdomen is remains stubbornly swollen. The physiotherapist said I have a haematoma - I think this is basically another word for a bruise. I raced from the clinic to the hospital for a brief appointment with my PS who says the swelling is reducing. The next time I see her will be at the three month review.

Having done a little research, I've begun to accept that the body can take months to re-absorb the blood from a haematoma. There is a risk it could become infected and the worst-case scenario is that it turns into 'granular tissue' that won't go... At the moment, if I put on a swim-suit, my silhouette is, er... somewhat 'male' so I'm really hoping that I AM busily reabsorbing! I'm aware of the swelling but since the whole area is numb, it's not causing me too much discomfort - though it tends to feel tighter as the day progresses. I really want to believe it's shrinking, but I just can't tell for certain. I began measuring my girth every few days - it seemed to go down, but then up again. I think it's probably impossible to be accurate as I've put on a bit of the weight I lost during those early days. There doesn't appear to be anything you can do to speed up the process apart from massaging the area: you just have to wait and hope.

I have to confess that I felt a bit despondent about all this and began to wonder if seeking a drain-free procedure had been wise. Would drains have prevented the problem? This site reassured me as there are plenty of surgeons advocating drain-free TT's and a friend who had (different) surgery recently with drains still ended up with a seroma, so I guess I'm just unlucky.

3 month assessment

I had my 3 month (actually 15 weeks) assessment at Mrs Kat's clinic yesterday and wrote a review on the train on the way home but lost it all by posting just as we went in to a tunnel!

When I walked into her room I was immediately confronted by my 'before' photos on her computer screen. My goodness, what a difference! I am so glad that I had this done. The diastasis recti made me look permanently about six months pregnant and what I hadn't appreciated at the time was how much my spine was curving to compensate - no wonder I had back ache and felt generally rather rubbish about myself. Whatever minor issues are yet to resolve, having a functioning core - probably for the first time in my life - is wonderful! One day I'll be brave enough to post pictures...

Mrs Kat examined me and took more photos. She peeled off the micropore tape to look at the scar and said that I no longer need to use it and also that i can stop wearing compression garments (hooray!). I'm very fair-skinned, which is apparently why my scar remains quite red, but she showed me that when it's pressed it disappears and that this is how it will heal. I was advised to use a particular vitamin A cream (which I bought at the clinic for £40), massaging it firmly along the long scar and around my belly button.

I was also given the all-clear for exercise, which came as a nice surprise. Swimming and running are possible now, but she advised a gentle start. Perfect timing, as we're on holiday next week and I'll be able to use the pool!

I asked, out of interest, what type of stitch she uses to join the muscles: she told me that she does two sets of continuous stitches using a barbed thread, which makes it unlikely that they can slip.

I raised my concern about lingering swelling around the central section of the scar and a possible lack of tension in the skin below my navel. She said that the area has more healing to do, advised I continue massaging and booked an appointment for me to return in January. She will then assess whether I need some minor revision work (which I would not need to finance, thankfully). I now appreciate what others have said about Mrs Kat's professionalism and perfectionism: there's no way she would leave you with a result that didn't meet her own high expectations.

Those early, uncomfortable, obsessive weeks feel distant now. Progress has slowed but there are still improvements and I'm more relaxed about things continuing to head in the right direction. With this op you really do just have to hang in there, follow your surgeon's advice and trust their skill: you're in it for the long haul!
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon

Inspires confidence: very clear, concise, precise and professional

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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