Ever since I can remember, I have had a big belly...
Ever since I can remember, I have had a big belly (I also have big boobs, but that is a whole other issue that I will one day deal with too- this first). I have been fat, I've been thin, the belly is constant. I'm 5'6 and I can remember at one point, being 115 lbs with a 35" waist. The most I have ever weighed is 185ish but I've pretty consistently been in the 130's for the last decade.
About 5 years ago, I had lipo of the abs, hips & flanks. It made an enormous difference- my clothes fit better, I no longer had an entire spare tire and they removed about 3.5 liters of fat from my 135 lb frame. At the time, my surgeon told me I was a better candidate for a fully tummy tuck and that lipo would make a big difference but I'd still have muffin top and I'd not be wearing a bathing suit because I'd probably have some sagging skin. Ultimately I decided to go for lipo alone because on paper I should bounce back (no kids, not a lot of stretch marks); because I had recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and didn't know how my body would react to surgery and because frankly, at 30, I couldn't say for absolute certain that I didn't want to have kids in the future. I have no doubt that this was the right decision at the time, and I don't want to diminish how pleased I was with the improvement.
Fast forward to 2015, the belly still bothers me- I'm a perfectionist, I can't deal with looking like this. Its not nearly as bad as it once was, but you know people still think I'm pregnant or a mom. One time I was with friends at a bar and a man asked me why I wasn't home with my kids- I said I don't have kids and he said "then how did you get that belly?"
I've decided to share my story in case it can help someone else. I certainly am thankful for the ladies who have shared their journeys and I'm always looking for someone who was just...born this way :-)
So why now? I'm not getting any younger and it seems like the procedure is maybe getting a little easier, and a little less scary to recover from. I guess I just want to know what it's like to be "normal" looking.
I'm reaching out to doctors in the NC area to schedule consults and hopefully a surgery. Would love to hear from anyone who has been through it around here.
Set the date!
Booked my surgery for 12/11/15. I would actually really just like to do it tomorrow so that I don't have time to agonize for it, but since I live alone this requires coordinating someone to come stay with me for a few days. I was originally thinking I could just take a cab home.
Cannot wait. Procedure will be drainless with exparel. One thing I could use advice on is pain meds: Whenever I've had minor surgery in the past (oral surgery, lipo) I've managed pain without prescribed meds because they make me sick. Am I crazy to think I can do this again?
Pre-Op complete...last Friday with a belly
I hate my preop today for surgery on the morning of 12/11. I have all of my logistics in order: help for first 3 days (its just me so no kids or others to worry about); prescriptions filled and supplies. I'd like to fly home for Christmas on the 23rd and Doctor has cleared me to fly if I feel up to it. I was given an antiseptic wash, arnica, nausea & pain meds for the surgery. Preop weight is 137.8.
Final Preparations for Friday
I feel like I'm going to jail or something- trying to do everything I won't be able to do for however long after this. I have all of my supplies (but then I always think of something else I might need). Final measurements: 138.5 lbs (there is something about knowing lipo/tummy tuck in your future that gives one license to eat everything in sight); 31.5 waist, 33.5 hips. Let's go.
11 Dec 2015
Day of treatment
Hurts but this is my fault for being anti narco. The anesthesia ladies worked their magic and I had no sickness or sore throat coming out. Moving sucks and I have not looked yet...
i've been out of surgery for 24 hours. I did have the exparel hand would hate to know what it is like NOT to have it. Discomfort/ borderline pain is the right way to describe it. I cannot get comfortable because I'm not a a sit still in a chair kind of girl. I also can't sleep like this. At times I nod off for an hour or so- I am so very tired. My nether regions are hot & purple. Haven't looked at the tummy yet (that would require movement). I'm taking 2 ibuprofen every 4 hours and a muscle relaxer every 8. I'm grateful to be lucid through this.
God I wish I could sleep in a bed...like a normal person. I'm tired and I'm sore from the work that was done, but perhaps just as sore in the legs and neck from not being active. I did walk to the mailbox yesterday (this seems noteworthy)- but I usually walk about 10 miles per day. You know, sitting to standing and vice versa still not so comfortable. I did try to get myself into bed yesterday, could not get comfortable & it ended up taking me 30 minutes to figure HOW to get of the bed. Little bit of a burning sensation at the incision. Still haven't seen the product- in part because I know how important the binder is and I also know that I won't make it as tight as it need to be. Breathing is a bit hard- not medical emergency bad, just weird.
Day 4- yes, I did some things.
I felt like I made progress today...because I got 2 3 hour naps. I woke up around 9am and did not immediately take any meds. In the afternoon I did take Tylenol & a muscle relaxant. Although I'm cleared to take Advil, everyone on here seems so against it, it freaked me out. Advil definitely works better than Tylenol and I have a mild headache that I think is a result of a caffeine withdrawal, no activity and a weather change. I would describe myself as pain free, just not comfortable. I'm standing almost straight up.
I did take my first shower (ok, it was more like a rinse- I was too scared to go scrubbing my stomach). Having been through lipo, I'm aware of the challenge, so I moved a chair into bathroom so that I could do things in stages and not pass out- it was fine. I walked to the mailbox (that was tiring) and I had my first BM. It was small and I was not able to "help things along"- I took stool softeners before surgery- I guess I understand now why everyone harps on that point. After all that activity, I wanted an 8 hour nap, I managed a 1 hour nap.
So in summary where I'm currently at: the most swollen and bruised thighs of all time; tired and can't sleep, starving but no desire to eat anything (and I've given myself free range) and bored but unable to get comfortable in any position. I'm not depressed, but I sure do relate to the "why the hell did I do this?" crowd.
Oh, last comment, I briefly saw my stomach and it it just looks like a hot mess. I know this is normal. I'm sure I did not re-bind myself as tight as it was.
Last night of belly
Oh I'm not going to lie, I ate, and ate and ate leading up to that surgery. It was like a get of jail free card. I didn't gain any weight, but I wanted my progress to be dramatic.
And on the 5th day, I put a bra on.
Right so I've been doing this alone since my mom left yesterday and I want to give a big shout out to whoever recommended one of those grabber things- because that has been a great $9.99 purchase. I had some difficulty last night sleeping- somehow my binder was putting pressure on my incision - but only when laying down- I felt fine if I was standing up or sitting up. I tried reinstalling myself 5-6 times, I put pads on underneath - there was just something about the binder that my incision did not like. I made an executive decision to take the binder off because I needed some sleep (this was at 3am) and I put myself in an old shaper and I got 9 hours of sleep. Although I have to say when I woke up, my stomach missed the firmer support the stage 1 binder offers but whatever I got sleep. I woke up, got fully dressed and promptly went back to bed. Then I woke up a second time at 1pm and walked to the mailbox like an old lady, made french toast and now here I am. I think I'm going in the right direction: discomfort higher in the morning, swelling more in the evening.
Going to try to take some pictures today- I'm trying to get comfortable having the binder off and touching any part of my stomach - it seems like it is so fragile. I will say I'm wearing leggings & a fitted t shirt and I could see my shadow in the sun and I was like hot damn, I don't have rolls. First time ever.
See, I don't even like to look at this because it looks painful even to me- but it really isn't. Anyways, it's 11:30pm, 5 days post op, totally swollen, but you see where things are headed. I'm pleased!
Day 6 Update
I don't have a lot to report today, I'm heading everyone's advice and staying at home so I don't overdo it and suffer a setback of some kind. My monthly friend came a week early so that was inconvenient (so strange, because that has never happened). I'm really swollen but according to the scale I'm the same size I went into surgery at (138). I'm just happy it's not more- I expected it to be. Sleeping is the one thing I've yet to conquer- I just can't sleep in my binder. I love my binder, I hate how loose I feel without it, but it just digs when I'm sleeping. I think it may be too small for me as well- of course it's adjustable, but it doesn't close if I put a thin t shirt on under it so that's not an option.
What a difference a week makes...
Although I know I still have a lot of healing, and probably some swelling to get rid of (I'm weighing exactly what I did pre-surgery), what I have right now is more than an enough. For the first time in my life I look normal!
I decided to debut my new belly by taking myself to breakfast this morning- even lining my binder with maxi pads, I'm still smaller than before haha. Driving was ok- I was glad I didn't have to do a lot of it because twisting and turning takes effort. Also, I probably need to limit my trips out because people are still stopping to ask if I'm ok- I guess the hunch is still there! First post op is tomorrow and I guess my tape will be changed (still wearing what was put on a week ago so I have no idea what my scar looks like, but I don't really care).
Day 7, First Post Op
I continue to make a bit of progress each day. Sleeping is a little easier, hunch is a little less. I had my first post op today, all looked good and I'm cleared to start easing back into activities (except core workouts, hahahaha) as I feel able. Tape stays on until my next appointment in January. I feel really lucky to have done this and found such a wonderful surgeon & team.
Day 8, feeling much better
Just a quick update that I was able to get about 12 hours of sleep last night and felt great today. I went out to breakfast, got a manicure, did laundry and some light grocery shopping (nothing too heavy to carry) and then made dinner. Despite all this, it's 8:30 and I don't feel like I need a nap. I am swollen like mad though.
Down 3 lbs from surgery- no clothes fit though. That is so strange. I wonder how much they took out of me.
For those of you going through this soon- 2 things I wish had more of in the house pre-surgery: water (drinking a gallon a day) and leggings.
Why "Swell Hell" Beats Rolls
I've been reluctant to post pictures so early because it's a lot more of the same- swelling. Tonight, at full swell (at least 10 lbs of it), I decided to pick out what I would wear to a Christmas party next week. Look Ma, no rolls! Even though swelling sucks, I still feel like a new person. I honestly just can't believe this is me.
I got nothing today...except a lot of strange sensations popping up- burning, pins & needles, jolts. I guess my nerves are trying to reconnect and it feels strange. I'm going to go into the office for a 1/2 day tomorrow because I can't just sit inside the house any longer.
Back to work
Went back to work today because boredom was setting in. It's quiet so a good week to ease in and I don't have to work if I don't want to. I also went Christmas shopping after work (because now I need to deal with that) and really it's just the hunch that's keeping me from full speed at this point. Fitbit says I got an embarrassing 3300 steps today. Sigh.
Anyways, my clothes don't fit- I know that's normal but I can only get creative with leggings in so many ways. My jeans are not anywhere near fitting. I know people say that they swell more later in the day and the more active they are. Me? Well I'm swollen, like really swollen but I don't know if I can distinguish at this point between swollen, super swollen and going to burst swollen. When your clothes don't fit, there is not much of a barometer. I will say I had to reset my binder around 9pm because all of a sudden it was tight...but maybe that was dinner. Because I'm eating again. A lot.
On the topics of binders, as much as I was so happy to let go of my stage 1/ bullet proof vest- in the end, I find it slightly more comfortable to wear and haven't given it up. Hell, sometimes I double compress. It's not discrete under clothes but it gives me a sense of security. I do line the hips & under breast with maxi pads to keep the itches away. Those maxi pads are bound to fall out in some public place and in front of some gorgeous man one of these days.
One last thing- I'm to wear my original scar tape for 6 weeks. Everything looks ok but gosh is that tape looking grungy (I'm a neat freak). Anyone else wearing having the same?
So I'm pretty much back to my regular routine except exercise (been about 5k steps per day). I'm not finding myself especially tired at the end of the day so that is great. This morning I weighed in @ 133.8 which is down about 5 pounds from the 11th AND my jeans fit! That said, I'm not going to wear them because they are tight to begin with and I don't think my body needs me squeezing into super skinny jeans at the moment. I've got an 800 mile trek for Christmas that I will begin today. It will be interesting to see if anyone notices...
Day 12 Pictures
I'm not a pretty healer. Nuff said.
Happy New Year!
I just got back from vacation and haven't been posting much since I don't have a lot of new information to report. I feel ok, I'm back to normal routine except exercise- still not standing up totally straight so I'm still averaging about 5,000 steps a day. My clothes don't fit, so I'm spending this NYE prancing around the house in my underwear and admiring myself in the mirror :-)
Hope you are all doing the same!
Day 22 is Great and My Binder, My Boyfriend
Yesterday I got home from vacation and brought my dog home with me. My dog is disabled and requires a lot of lifting (he is 25lbs) so he had been with my parents since before surgery. The hunch/ back pain really got to me yesterday when I realized how much I ached taking him for a simple 1 mile walk- I wondered how I would do it.
This morning I woke up, was making breakfast for him and such and realized- OMG I"m standing up straight! I took him out for a walk (naturally he was not interested in one now)- and was fine. So just like that, maybe you really do wake up one day upright.
Let's see, I'm down a little more than 3 lbs from surgery. I think one day post surgery I weighed in at 133.8, but I'm at 135.3 so that's fine. I did try my regular size 2 jeans on this morning because I felt small, but they laughed at me again. I have to figure I'm more swollen than I realize but despite that- look at these pictures which blow my mind. Historically, wearing this much spandex would be a punishment but now I'm like "hot damn!"
Ok, I would also like to make a small confession about my stage 1 binder. I hated it when I was with it 24/7 but now that we have broken up, I miss him a lot. I know I don't need him anymore, but sometimes it just feels so good to put the binder on- especially if I'm just doing housework. Is that strange? I mean, I know I have a future with my yummie tummies, but they just aren't as secure...sometimes I wear both :-(
4 Week PO Update
I was 4 weeks PO on Friday, and the last few weeks have been unremarkable so I've not been posting as much. I'm entirely back to my regular routine with the exception of cardio.
I sneezed for the first time at 28 days PO (and think I deserve a medal for going so long without doing that)- and it hurt. Can't imagine how much that would have sucked earlier.
I have a small opening on my incision that began at week 3. It was so minor I thought it would work itself out but I did talk to my Dr's office this week and sent pictures and they confirmed that it's just a spitting suture and keeping it clean, uncovered & moist will take care of everything. It does not hurt at all- honestly, it's more scary looking than anything else and so I only mention it in case it happens to you- don't freak out :-)
This weekend I finally deep cleaned the house (it's been bothering me) and went back to the gym. I feel like it's worth nothing I made it to 10k steps today. The swelling associated with this activity is significantly more than usual- and while I do find that on regular days I puff up a bit, it's not terrible. I also don't find myself tired during the week but today I needed a nap.
As far as clothes go, I'm still not in jeans. I think they might barely fit, but because of the incision irritation (which is more towards my hip)- I'm not even trying to install myself in anything that is not spandex.
My weight has been pretty consistent at 135.5-135.8 since surgery (down about 3 lbs). As always, I monitor my overall intake but I have made no special adjustments or been at all restrictive- e.g. I drink water, but I also have my coke zero with dinner and a coffee with breakfast. I had Chinese food for NYE and didn't die. Don't get me wrong, i have swelling, but I have not really found that what I eat really affects it one way or the other. Activity does!
Week 5 Update
At this point, I would say I'm 95% back to normal. The only thing I'm NOT doing is running- that's not comfortable yet.
Swelling is still a thing- with as much as a 7 inch increase from morning to night, but my skinny jeans finally started buttoning again this past week. I'm down in weight 3.5 lbs), but not in pant size. Honestly, that is just fine with me- I was a size 2/4 pant before surgery and I would be just fine if I didn't have to replace all of my jeans. If I can get away with it, I'm still more comfortable wearing my athleta tights since they accommodate my mid day expansion so well. I continue to wear a CG during the day- but not always during the night. As I've mentioned, I have one irritated spot on my incision and I need the break from it at night although I will say I feel more comfortable with it on.
My 6 week post op is this week and that is when the tape finally comes off so I'll get to see the incision in it's entirety! As I always say, where I am now is enough for me- I'm thrilled. Even if the god awful swelling doesn't go away, this is great.
Week 6 Update
Finally made the 6 week mark! I had my 6 week appt with doc and everything looks good- I'm cleared to do anything I want to do and I don't have to wear a CG. The first thing I did was put away all my Christmas decorations that required a lot of contorting, lifting & reaching. Then I detailed the toilets (I know how to party).
I'm still wearing a spanx type thing most of the time because I hate the pins & needles feeling without it. Swelling is still happening but much improved and all of my clothes fit. I just finished a 5 mile walk so I decided to take my week 6 photos post workout so that you can see the swelling. I also had my tape removed this week so I wanted to share the one slow healing spot on my incision. My Doc has monitored this and while scary to look at, it doesn't require anything other than Vaseline & a wound cover when I'm wearing clothes that might rub against it. Doc thinks it will heal fine but if it doesn't can touch it up. I'm not worried.
To reiterate what others before me have said, I would do this again in a heartbeat and I'm thrilled with the results. The recovery takes work, but it's far easier than 37 years of feeling bad about my gut!
Week 8? Update- I've lost track
Just checking in with a report from week 8 or 9- I'm not sure!
Swelling has resolved and I'm back to all regular activities- lifting & running included. My only limitation is my own endurance.
I'm down 3 pounds from surgery but not down a clothes size- I'm still a 2/4- maybe even closer to a 4 now. I went shopping this weekend and wow- everything looks good now- that is strange!
My scar is still very, very red and my one pocket has started to close up- still a ways to go before I can be in a pool or anything though.
Week 9 Picture
12 Feb 2016
2 months post
Those little ripples you see on my hips are...bones. I keep trying to pinch them...I guess I always had bones underneath all that fat?
134.5 lbs today. Not dieting...just learning to be present & happy in the moment with my body for the first time ever. Going from 37 years of hating what you see in the mirror to loving what you see in such a short period is really, really a big change.
Hello from the other side...
10 Sep 2016
9 months post
Yes, well you haven't heard from me in 7 months because I've been busy!
Some observations about the mental/ emotional effects:
After so many years of no romantic involvement, within months, I had dates- and I wasn't mortified by the idea of someone seeing my naked (because that scar is nothing compared to what was there). While I think it's the single biggest (best) life change I've ever made, people didn't seem to notice. I got compliments- they noticed something was different- but even close friends "couldn't put their finger on it". I guess not everyone noticed the 5 lbs of blubber that I obsessed over.
Another strange thing: I think technically, i can be one of those chicks who can get away with a sports bra & yoga pants at the gym. But you know, I covered that sh*t up for so many years...I'm just not that girl.
For all you on the fence, OMG, just go do it.