I am 8 days PO from a fleur-de-lis (or anchor, or T-incision) tummy tuck with muscle repair. When I say "amazing", I mean it. Everything about this surgery is amazing. The pain, discomfort, and feelings of self doubt have all been amazingly bad. But the results, and my excitement seeing my new body - also amazing. If you had asked me last night if I regretted having this surgery done, I assuredly would have said yes. However, I am back from my first week PO visit (and just had my first shower and put on a new compression garment) and have had two (out of three total) drains removed and I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel. So, my story. I'm 30 years old, and weigh a little under 160 pre-op. No kids, but about eight years ago I brought my weight down from 270 pounds, becoming healthy (a distance runner) and happy in the meantime. I lost it all on my own, just from watching what I eat and exercising. I looked great, but I had a lot of extra skin above and below my belly button. It made fitting into clothes difficult, and it was very uncomfortable when I was running. I'm not an incredibly vain person, but I just wanted to feel normal. I had been thinking about getting a tummy tuck for a while, doing research on the surgery itself, but finally decided to take the plunge. I looked around for surgeons in my area, found one that I liked. He told me I would benefit most from the fleur-de-lis tummy tuck, which was what I expected. Oh goody, an extra incision!
I arrived at the surgical center at 6:30am on March 26th. My boyfriend came with me, and I was nervous and excited. But I'm not going to lie, mostly nervous. I don't deal with blood or cuts very well. My boyfriend was turned away and told that they would call him when I was in recovery, probably around 11am or so. I was brought in by one of the nurses. After that it was a whirlwind. I changed, gave a urine sample, got into bed and got a warming blanket and inflatable circulation tubes put on my legs. I was introduced to a lot of people and answered a lot of questions and was told a lot of things about what was going to happen to me. My surgeon came in around 7 and marked me up. After that, I don't remember much. The anesthetist came in and started injecting things into my IV. She was asking me about what I do for work and then the next thing I remember is being jostled around in bed, very groggy. It was over! Well, the surgery was over. My boyfriend was there and I was wrapped in a tight garment and I didn't know a whole lot of what was going on. They took out my catheter (yikes! I'm glad I was still groggy for that) and went over the post-op care information with my boyfriend (Paul, from now on). I got dressed with a lot of help and got wheeled out to the car. Honestly, I have no idea how much pain I was in because I was still pretty far in lala land.
The next day is a blur. I remember taking Percocet and all of my other pills. I remember eating a little, drinking a lot of water, and getting up to pee and walk around a bit. But that's all. Paul had some television on for me but I think I watched the same episode of Community three times and I still can't remember what happened. Getting into bed was hard. Getting comfortable was very hard. Paul ended up going out and buying a recliner for the bedroom (had we a chance to do this over, we would have rented a hospital bed), and that became my place for the next week. I slept in it, I sat in it, everything. I went back to see my surgeon the next day, and he was very happy. He said I was a perfect candidate for the surgery. He gave me a mirror and I looked at my incision. It was bloody and covered in steri-strips and I had three awful looking drains coming out of my groin, but it wasn't even as bad as I expected. I went back on day 3 as well. Things were still going well, but I hadn't had a bowel movement yet. I was taking colace since day one, but things were starting to be urgent. He said he wouldn't worry until it was a week, but I could take milk of magnesia or even magnesium citrate if I needed. I did end up going, but it was not pretty. Three words: mineral oil enema. I'm so glad Paul has a good sense of humor. Anyway, since I got things moving, I've been fine. Actually, Miralax is the greatest thing. Poop talk. I got my pain pump out on day 3 also. I didn't like that thing. It did it's job, but it was serpentine and pinched a lot. So I'm glad I had it, anyway.
The rest of the first week was pretty much the same. In my recliner most of the day, up to walk around every couple of hours, watching a bunch of tv with my boyfriend and reading, getting frustrated and weepy and angry quite a bit. The one thing that was sort of odd was this burning pain that I had. It started around day 5. I would be sitting there, and my right hip would start burning. Sometimes it felt like I was leaning on a heating pad. Sometimes it felt like I was being pressed up against the burner on a stove or a radiator or something. It was everything I could do to not scream. When it happened, getting up and walking around seemed to be the only thing that helped. I also freaked out about a few things over the first weekend. My PS told me I could shower at day 5. I really wanted to (I smelled. Bad.), but the three drains scared me. One of them hurt a lot. It wasn't infected, but it had pulled a bit.
I was scared to take off my garment. We took it off once to examine what was happening to my bellybutton. It looked like it was oozing or scabbing through my garment. It wasn't my bellybutton, though, it was about an inch higher. One of the steri-strips had caused a blister on my abdomen, and it popped. It looks like it's going to scar, but what's one more? Honestly, the scar does not bother me one bit. Well, it wont once it's healed. Right now it freaks me out because I feel like I might just pull apart at the seams. I went back for my 1 week appointment on the 3rd of April. At 8 days, actually. I had two of my three drains out, and had a 8x10 sheet of paper covered in questions. The one question that was bothering me the most was why one of my ankles was swelling more than the other. My garment is mid-thigh and I'm wearing circulation socks, but my left ankle was swelling. Anyway, he ended up sending me to the ER to make sure it wasn't a DVT. It was a load off my mind, but made for a long day. No DVT, and I'm now convinced that these socks are just too tight on my already large calves. When the socks came off for a while, the swelling went down. Huh.
I also had a shower on day 8. It wasn't as scary as I thought. I felt vulnerable without the garment on, but I was able to get a good look at my incisions. They scared me, but it wasn't bad. I washed up and Paul helped me get dried and blow dry the steri-strips. The only mistake I made was to put on the second garment that my PS gave me. He said it would be too tight, but I wanted to try. It was very, very tight. I'm stubborn and kept it on for a little too long. I'm back in my original (and washed!) garment and feel a lot better. On day 10, I got my third drain out. It had only put out about 12cc a day for the two days previous. No drains! Had another shower when I got back and it was easier! Checked out my bellybutton, which is actually looking very nice!
On days 9 and 10 Paul and I took walks around the block. Like really only around the block. We made one square block on day 9, and I thought I might collapse. It felt like my bellybutton was being yanked out. I think I was trying to stand up too straight. On day 10 we walked a tiny bit further. Not as much pain, either. I didn't try to get up too straight. The thing that's bothering me a lot is not being able to get in bed. I've been sleeping in the recliner. It is, admittedly, more comfortable, but I miss being in my own bed and next to Paul. Just one more thing that makes me weepy and frustrated. Also yesterday, I overdid it on the sodium and I thought I would just rip open. I drank a ton of water after that and woke up a bit better.
It's day 11 now. I don't go back until three weeks. I don't expect things to be very eventful for a while. I get frustrated because I want to go out and do things. I get frustrated because my legs are still extremely swollen and it's hard to be comfortable wearing pants of any kind. I get frustrated because I need help with a lot of things still and I can't sleep in bed yet. It's hard to remember that things will get better, but they will.
One side effect to the tummy tuck has made me really happy. Pre-surgery, my PS said that the tummy tuck would lift my vagina a bit, and make the mons smaller. Holy cow! I expected maybe a little lift, but I have some really cute little private parts going on right now! I meant to tell him at my day 10 appointment how impressed I was, I'll have to remember for the 3 week :)