Still Healing, But Happy So Far - Rochester, NY

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I had an extended brachioplasty on 9/10/12 with...

I had an extended brachioplasty on 9/10/12 with the same doctor that I had my tummy tuck done by in March 2012. Since my tummy tuck, I have moved a 7 hour drive from my surgeon, but I had to go back to him because he's that good.

This surgery has been a lot different than the tummy tuck. My healing's been a little less smooth, and it's been frustrating not to be able to use my arms very well. But I think it will be all worth it in the end.

The day of surgery was probably the easiest one, surprisingly. When I woke up my left armpit was in a lot of pain, I'm pretty sure my first words were telling my nurse that it hurt real bad. That arm has continued to be a pain in the butt, but it was the arm with more skin.

The day after surgery I went back for a checkup. Everything looked good, and I got my drains taken out (one in each arm). Went back to the hotel we were staying at, and for the rest of the night the drain hole under my left arm was making lots of airy/spurting noises and blood was coming out. I called one of the nurses the next morning, because the blood had stained through the gauze under my arms and through my shirt. She said it was normal, and would stop soon.

Went back for a checkup again on day 3. Showed my doc the hole under my arm, and he said he wasn't worried about it. Put more gauze under there and told me I could shower.

The first shower was hard, and they're still hard now at day 16, but they're getting easier.

Blood continued to flow out of a hole about the size of a dime (and very dark and deep looking) under my arm, but it got less and less as time went on.

Had a lot of trouble getting the ace bandages on my arms right. Sometimes I would swell more and my circulation would start getting cut off, or sometimes I would swell less and the bandages would start slipping. Probably the most annoying thing so far.

I went for my one week checkup, to see if they could get me into the compression garments. It hurt A LOT, the doc just told me to put the garment on when the swelling went down enough, and to stick with the ace bandages until then. "#@)$*@#)@" was all I could think, but doc knows best.

We were meant to drive home that afternoon, but I ended up being in a lot of pain (I think due to trying to get the compression garments on), so we waited until the next day. I went for one last checkup before the drive home. My drain hole was still oozing blood. Less than before, but enough to feel gross. Doc was still not worried about it, put some silver stuff in the hole, and said it would close up in about a week.

I stayed for 10 days near my doctor before returning home. I survived the long car ride, my boyfriend is a saint for doing all the driving himself since I couldn't help, obviously. I put pillows in my lap to keep my arms elevated while in the car, and we stopped every 90 minutes or so so I could walk around.

Since being home, the swelling went down by the end of the first week, and I was able to put my compression garment on. I still kept ace bandages on my forearms, because they are still swelling a bit. The right less than the left, as has been the norm for me. The drain hole closed up 6 days after my doctor last looked at it. He's always right.

My right arm feels pretty great. Swelling is going down, range of motion isn't terrible.

But my left arm is annoying. I guess it's getting better, but the swelling is taking a long time to go down. It still feels very tight, and I can't seem to lower it against my body as well as I can the right. It's a weird feeling. I'm sure it's normal, but I get paranoid when I try using that arm for things in the shower and my arm just can't move the way I want it to because things are so tight.

I have what may be a fluid collection at my left elbow, right near the incision. Or it might be scar tissue. Again, doc is not worried so I'm trying not to be! I'm in my compression garment and keeping the ace bandages off of my forearms during the day, putting them back on after work. The tenderness in my forearms is starting to go away.

Other than the hole in my armpit, which was not nearly as worrisome as it looked (oh my goodness it looked so bad), things have been pretty good. I can get up and around and take care of myself, and could almost from day 1. Recovery will probably be slower than I want it to be, but I'm trying to remember my patience!

I have a ton of pictures, will upload them soon!

Today I am 22 days post-op! And feeling great. ...

Today I am 22 days post-op! And feeling great. Three weeks seems to be the magic number for me, that's when I started to feel human again after my tummy tuck, too.

Since I last posted, the hole under my armpit is completely closed, and has healed fine. I'm adding a few pictures of that now. The picture of it open was actually taken after it had closed up about halfway. The second picture is of it closed. Woohoo! My skin is not purpley colored, that's just from the lighting and the dried blood. Yuck.

It doesn't really matter how common or not worrisome it is for a hole to open up after surgery, it is really scary and uncomfortable and gross. But it gets better!

The swelling in my arms has gone down a lot. Upper arms are still puffy, but they will be for a while. The right lower arm is back to just about normal, and the left lower arm is still a little puffy, but getting better. I went down a size in the compression garment, and actually feel like I could have gotten into one size smaller, but that would have been uncomfortable.

Spitting stitches seems to be the new thing to be happening. I swear, I did not get ONE spitting stitch after my tummy tuck (though there was one that got stuck under my skin and at 6 weeks my doc just cut the thing out for me and it was fine). So I was a little freaked when this started happening. I've gotten two out (one fell out on it's own, the other was the end of a knot that I had my boyfriend snip in half and it came right out). I have three more pimples that look like stitches might come out of. It was gross and scary at first, but I know that I'm not coming unraveled. They're coming out because my body has no use for them anymore.

The majority of my steri-strips are still on, I'm just trimming them as they get loose. The bits of scar that I can see look fantastic. I know they get thicker before they get better, but even so, I think it's going to look just fine.

Arm movement is getting better too! I don't feel so much like an action figure that's been glued together at the joints.

Had a nurse call to check on me today, she said probably another two weeks with the compression garments. I can live with that!

I'll update with more pictures once all the steri-strips are off!

Oh I forgot to mention the weird hard swelling on...

Oh I forgot to mention the weird hard swelling on my left inner elbow. It's all better now! Still have no idea what it was, but it's gone. It was weird. On day 20, my boyfriend and I went out to run a bunch of errands. We were out for a few hours and my lower arms started swelling so I decided to put them in the ace bandages for more compression when we got home. Before I put the bandage on my left arm I felt near the incision at my elbow, and it felt like there was a marble sized hard lump right under the incision. The rest of the area didn't feel hard, just puffy. That was different. So I wrapped it and went to go elevate my arms on some pillows and maybe 20 minutes later I felt some weird crackling under my skin. It felt like pop rocks. I touched the bandage to make sure I wasn't leaking anything, and I wasn't. It went away.

Before I went to bed that night I took the bandage off my left arm to readjust it. The hard lump was gone, and my puffiness was considerably less. What the hell?

I'm not going to question it. Good riddance, hard lumpy thing!
Rochester Plastic Surgeon

Dr. K is awesome. He always answers my questions, even when I'm freaking out needlessly.

4 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
4 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
4 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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