Hi, fellow RealSelf lovers! I am currently in the...
Hi, fellow RealSelf lovers! I am currently in the Dominican Republic recovering from my Tummy Tuck with full body lipo of abdomen, thighs, arms, back with that pesky upper back bra fat- and alittle chin lipo thrown in at the last minute- oh and Brazilian butt lift just to round out and even up my butt cheeks and hips from previous weight gain and loss and gain and loss (you know how it goes) and car accident that scarred my left hip which had caused an indention and flattening of that side.
I am also a blessed and happily married mother of 4 beautiful children whom I lovingly breastfed after gaining and then losing about 70 lbs on average with each pregnancy. I am 45 years old, 5'2", and lost about 55 lbs prior to surgery last year which left me saggy and uneven when naked (but I looked fabulous in clothes)!
When I decided to have my Mommy Makeover, I gained back about 35 lbs because I had thought I needed the extra weight to have a fat transfer to my breasts and hips. Thankfully, once I found Dr Goico he admonished me about the health risks and made me stop before it got too out of hand. So I had surgery at 162 lbs with my wonderful projection back but as mentioned above, uneven butt cheeks and hips...
Arelis Urena Recovery House has been a Lifesaver- literally!
We all research our surgeons relentlessly but really once we have chosen the best surgeon for ourselves, I believe we need to be sure to pick the best aftercare because even if the surgeon does and amazing job, we will lose the full potential of those beautiful results without the best aftercare. That's why after hours of researching recovery houses, I chose Arelis Urena's Recovery House and I'm so glad I did because she has been a lifesaver many times over.
Both Karel and Dr Goico wholeheartedly recommended her personally. Dr Goico told me that his confidence in her stems from having known her from way back when she used to work as a nurse and he trusts her absolutely.
After receiving such a high commendation from my surgeon himself, I felt no qualms about wiring my payment for my stay before I arrived because I really don't like to travel with more than a couple hundred US dollars on me.
I have so many good things to say about Arelis...where do I begin? First of all, let me address the language. She is fluent in English. However if you catch her on the phone she gets nervous - like most of us do when speaking in another language that we haven't been schooled in so speak slowly first. You can also let Karel, Dr Goico's assistant be your go between if you are not comfortable speaking on the phone when making your accommodation arrangements. However, please give it a try because thankfully Dr Goico is getting busier and busier (I'm happy for him) but that means Karel's time is getting more limited as well.
Arelis provides everything you need and more- as in things that priceless...for example, her driver, Ricardo, has been with her for about a decade, and the man is so kind and gentle- after surgery you will be very sore and sensitive to every bump on the road- like that story about the Princess and the Pea kind of sensitive only worse- painfully so- and Ricardo takes the utmost care - he knows these roads like the back of his hand and he goes so slowly over the bumps so as not to cause you any discomfort - and believe me that is quite the feat on these busy streets!
She also has her Chef Bilkis who has been with her for over a decade - and I call her a chef even though she may not have studied at a culinary institute but I have been here for 11 days now and have not had a meal that can be described as anything else but delicious and packed with nutrition! Every meal has fresh vegetables proteins and starch- nothing is frozen or processed- and so full of flavor! Plus, if you have a special request, they will do their best to accommodate you. And, they never let your cup or plate go empty until you say that you are done. Fresh fruit smoothies daily may be my favorite- actually no - everything is my favorite!
Before I move on to the lifesaver part, let me talk about the hospitality- I came here alone because my husband and I decided it would be best for our kids to not see Mom looking like Bride of Frankenstein meets Zombieland so he stayed at home with our 4 kids ages 3 years to 15 years old...so when I arrived at the airport I was alittle nervous because I didn't really know anyone except via email phone and WhatsApp, so Arelis - without me voicing my feelings even- sent her very fluentl English speaking daughter with Ricardo on a Saturday night - around 10 pm to pick me up from the airport so I would feel more comfortable and welcome- that is service that is priceless! And her daughter is available to translate anytime but she really isn't needed at all in my opinion. Her daughter by the way is super friendly and warm and a truly lovely and elegant young woman- just like her Mom.
When I arrived at her recovery house, Arelis welcomed me so warmly and offered me food and drink but I didn't need any having eaten on the plane. She then showed me to my private room with private bathroom - so spacious and sparkling clean - bright windows with blinds to shut out the daylight- beautiful and comfortable furnishings- a truly relaxing atmosphere which you will need during your recovery.
I really wanted to have a private room because even tho' I'm usually the social butterfly at events, when it comes to recovery after major surgery I knew I would need a safe and comfortable and quiet and peaceful place to retreat. Also, as much as I love people, during my recovery I did not want to have to be a nurse maid to someone else (which by the way is the reason why I changed from Dr Tania Medina Garcia who was my initial choice for Dominican Republic surgery because of her reputation of doing only one surgery a day and excellent work- but she wanted me to share a room after first telling me I would get a private room and after her recovery house picked up my $75 wire transfer they told me that if have to share a room and when I talked to her about it she said it was because she wanted me to share a room because it was safer as we could watch one another through the night?!! Say what?!! Because of that very obvious communication snafu I canceled with her despite forfeiting my deposit.)
I am so glad I got what I paid for - my own room because I have had times where I wanted to watch my Netflix at an odd hour and I wouldn't have wanted to keep someone else awake. At other times I have felt like walking my room and that may have bothered a rookie - or vice versa! And the bathroom situation!! Ohmigosh how do post surgical patients share a freakin' bathroom? I can barely stand my own messiness and putting up with someone else's sewage would have surely out me over the edge. And believe me after surgery you do not want to throw up because it would cause some mind blowing pain- I mean heck, I was even afraid to sneeze or cough- I put my finger to my nose and hold my breath even today, 10 days postop to avoid that intense pain.
After surgery ladies, your pee pee will be off- because of the swelling around your Va JJ you will want to lean forward and aim into the toilet - I actually even considered standing - yeah the stream was that straight out in front of me...so again I can't imagine having to share a bathroom and needing to wait my turn...smh
Another thing I love love love about the private rooms with Arelis is the individually remote controlled air conditioner Units in each room. Yes! So if you're hot it cools immediately. And if you're cold you can turn the ac off. I imagine if you're here in the winter it works the same for the heat judging by the remote control.
I am being called for dinner so I'll write more later about the lifesaving moments and post pics of the private rooms and bathrooms but i wanted to address the subject of 'hospital beds'.
Not having any prior experience with a tummy tuck I wanted to know if they are needed and so I asked Dr Goico and he said no as long as you have pillows and help for the first few days. And he was right. I had a hospital bed the first 24 hours post op and I didn't miss it even one dot here at Arelis's Recovery House. She gives you a nurse call button so that you can summon her or one of her assistants at any time day or night. The care here is full service - premium care. I wouldn't recommend any other place and when I come back for my other procedures I'll be staying her for sure! Hope this review is helping because I know that knowing where to stay for aftercare is vital for getting the most out of your beautiful procedures.
Arelis Urena Recovery House Pics of Private Room and Private Bathroom
Here are some more pics detailing the wonderful amenities of Arelis Urena's Recovery House. I forgot to mention above there is free wifi. At the time of this writing, Netflix has a free first month signup offer; so if you bring your iPhone or iPad etc or tablet you can watch movies!
Also, I recommend getting WhatsApp downloaded to your phone. Texting is free and photos and videos can be sent for free. And even phone calls are free with this app when you have a wifi connection.
Amazingly enough, I can hear my husband clearer through WhatsApp rather than my phone carrier back home, ATT! And I always thought either something was wrong with my iPhone or that it was his thick Texan southern drawl whenever I had difficulty comprehending him- but this whole time it was blasted ATT! From now on, we will be talking on the phone via WhatsApp even when I'm back home in Texas.
Arelis has done everything to make you feel pampered and all that with a feeling of being relaxed and at home. She is very motherly and tender in her care of you but professional in respecting your need for downtime and privacy when you want to rest.
If you have any questions about the rooms etc please feel free to message me.
Those Life Saving Moments
No matter how many lists we make and no matter how many Real Life Reviews we read, we can never anticipate the future because we are all unique and each of our real life scenarios is going to be different. And that is why I picked the very capable and caring and experienced hands of Arelis Urena Recovery House for my post surgical care.
Here is an actual list of Those Life Saving Moments that I mentioned above:
1) While at the surgery center I had a 'panic attack' of sorts and I just wanted to go where I felt safe and comfortable - it had to do with me being in a different country alone - and despite Dr Goico and Karel's every effort to take care of our surgical needs they cannot be everywhere at once- they have surgery duties to attend to- so I called Arelis and she immediately answered and came running to my rescue and got me checked out (with Dr Goico's ok of course) and brought me home to her Recovery House.
2) Dr Goico highly recommends an optional 7 day course of heparin shots subcutaneously to your inner thighs to prevent problems and I believe it also reduces bruising- it doesn't hurt in the least to have the shot- the problem is the fiery pain as the heparin enters the tissue- which wouldn't be so bad if you haven't just gone through major surgery! So having an experienced nurse with a heart of gold to administer them is priceless.
3) the day after I got home to the recovery house I started my monthly period - and when you're already having intense discomfort in making it to the toilet and keeping the treasures clean- having to deal with a leaky bloody mess is almost unbearable so tampons are a must - and I had mine- but I ran out- and yes - Arelis to the rescue!
4) my suitcase weighed too much sons had to leave my shampoo and conditioner behind and I have alotta hair- thankfully, even though Arelis has her Recovery House on the top floor of a top notch high rise in a lovely and quiet neighborhood (and she lives on site), because she lives in a location location location spot, and there is actually a pharmacy just one building over on the first floor- how convenient is that?? I wish I'd known! The prices for various sundries are cheaper here folks, so that is another perk here- you don't have to pack all your toiletries- just buy them when you get here. When I ran out of pain meds, Arelis just had the pharmacy deliver them for me!
5) Da Drains! Oh those very necessary evils! Vital for an optimal outcome but could be such a chore to deal with. I brought a drain holder- err not good enough. Very clunky. So my angel Arelis loans me 5 clean and cute house coats with front snaps all the way down the front and two big pockets in the front to hold the drains! Hurray! That made maneuvering bed time and bathroom time and all the time so much more comfortable that the drains weren't really a problem. Not only that they must be emptied several times and those are ewww moment chores. And Dr Goico showed me how to do it myself and I did it a few times (because I tend to be an independent person) but I finally had to succumb to the gross out factor and accept Arelis wonderful kindness in emptying those drains for me- the bloody gore coming from myself was just too eww for me. And finally the coup de gras moment! The infamous clogged drains that will delay your progress and may even result in the dreaded seroma if it occurs too early in your recovery happened to me! Yup, and I didn't even realize it. But, Arelis checked my drains and showed me the air gaps in the tubing and she figured out exactly where the clog was in the apparatus and then she cleaned it- ohmigosh- Major Gross Factor!! That woman had some skills! The way she worked the clotted blood out of the drain was truly a thing of beauty - gross beauty but still fascinating to observe...definitely saved me from a major mishap. I don't see how anyone can risk staying at a hotel or with inexperienced friends/family when so much is at stake- especially now that I have experienced these circumstances myself! That is why I Am sharing my experience and recommendations here- in the hopes of helping others as I have been helped here on Real Self.
6) and there have been more life saving scenarios but I think you can get my drift. The right Recovery House is vital for an optimal outcome.
7) And finally I just wanted to say alittle bit about Arelis. The difference with her is that she is gentle and she is kind in her care. She is experienced and she is knowledgable. She saved Dr Goico from having to be bothered with a few ok more than a few silly questions. She takes care of you so that you don't feel alone. She treats you like family. The surgeon himself recommends her personally and trusts us to be in her care. And, she's got incredibly strong hands- she can work the hooks in a faja like a champ! And, she is a joy to hang out with- she's got a great sense of humor- she's one of those people that will be forever young.
If you have any additional questions about Arelis Urena and her Recovery House please feel free to message me any time. I pray your recovery is easy and comfortable and blessed.
Some Post Op Pics
Here are a few post op pics. I will be posting more regularly. I still have my drains because well evidently Ima Drainer (bummer)...but Dr Goico says it's better to be patient and keep the drains in until you are 50 mls or less because even tho' I'm out of the seroma danger zone period (whew) if we take them out before their time it would cause alotta swelling and discomfort and probable delay in my recovery time. The great news is that I'm doing so well that he is planning on removing them tomorrow! Yes freedom!!
11 Days Post Op
The back drain was removed today! Woot woot! Dr Goico removed it himself. It just stung a tiny bit for about 2 seconds. He said I could take out the front one if I wanted because the fluid is very clear but I opted to go one more day because I really don't want more swelling. And, he did such a great job on the drains that they really haven't been anything more than a minor inconvenience since I'm just here in my room focusing on healing optimally. I didn't have any of the back pain that I'd read others having been plagued with by the drains and I attribute that to his skill and administration of perhaps a new and improved technique as well as all the wonderful support from Arelis and her Recovery House.
I'm including a pic from today after my massage of my beautiful low scar! It's going to be 'imperceptible' within about a year and a half per Dr Goico. And in the meantime he made it so low I will be able to wear the teeniest of bikinis and sexy lingerie- in ways I never felt comfortable with in the past! He is so awesome! Tomorrow I should be able to post a pic of my awesome round juicy booty he perfected for me!
10 Days Postop Pic Reposted with Edited Va JJ
I deleted this pic to edit out my Va JJ- I didn't notice I was giving everyone a bird's eye view of it because I was so focused on my tummy tuck and my new tiny waist!
Altho' I do have to say that I love what Dr Goico did to make my Va JJ so cute and pretty - he gave me a Va JJ Lift! I had a lot of what is called 'mons fat'- a lot of fat on my pubic area- and it would make for ill fitting bikini bottoms and lingerie and the dreaded 'camel toe' with certain pants even! And now it just looks so pretty and nice and neat and tucked in!
A little side note here- as Dr Goico was marking me pre operatively, he commented on how the mons fat issue is fairly common and that he would lipo that area for me too and so I exclaimed 'Hurrayy! No more camel toe!' And he just about died laughing- he said it was the funniest thing a patient had ever said to him!! I was glad I could give him a chuckle.
Red Hot Alert! Dr Goico snatched my waist!
Keep in mind as you look at my pics that I still have significant swelling since I just got my back drain removed just yesterday and I am only 13 days post op. And that I am still wearing a Stage 1 faja with two large 3/4 inch thick foam underneath in the waist area. (The provider will have me a stage 2 tomorrow but didn't have one small enough for me yesterday)
But wowza! Even so, my tiny waist is already evident and my hips and butt are like Pow! (Happy Dance!) PS. If you prefer a slimmer more athletic look, Dr Goico won't snatch your waist and pad your hips and booty with the lipo transfer, but my husband loves seeing me voluptuous as I am naturally curved that way- just extra happy to be minus all the lumps and bumps from life's well...stuff.
So, talk freely to Dr Goico and if it is at all possible he is the one that you can trust to sculpt your dream body for you too!
My List of Must Haves to bring for before and after surgery
The lists that fellow RealSelfers provided were so immensely helpful for me to get an idea of what I would need in preparing for surgery and after as well so I am providing my list in the hopes of helping you to have the essentials and to avoid buying too much.
Better to avoid overbuying and put that money into a good recovery house! Arelis Recovery House is the best but if she is full on your surgery dates then at least get your own room and your own bathroom- the extra couple hundred for those essentials will be priceless when you are actually recovering from this major undertaking in improving your quality of life.
I also wanted to say that time is precious and if you haven't started exercising then please do so now- just alittle bit will go a long way! Here are the exercises that helped me to be strong and recover easier from surgery because they helped me to maneuver myself when my body was weakest.
I came here for surgery alone and even tho' Arelis is available 24/7 - well I am fiercely independent and I just abhor the idea of needing to have someone at my beck and call just to go pee pee or because I wanted an extra snackie or some lotion for my suddenly dry hands, etc.
Here's my short and easy and priceless exercise list:
1) Walk walk walk- around your room at home- or if you're blessed enough to live in the country like me- outside in the fresh air is so lovely- just 30 minutes a day as fast and brisk as you can! That's all you need. If you can do more great! But at least get to where you can do 30 minutes walking as fast as you can every day.
2) SQUATS! Ohmigosh I cannot emphasize the benefits of squats. There is a squat challenge that I looked at and I just recommend at least reading one to make sure you are doing them properly. Then, if you can get to where you are able to do 50 squats with 3 repetitions every day, you will have the core strength to recover so much easier from major surgery. That's it!
3) Wall arm push-ups! No GI Jane one arm push-ups required- not even parallel to the floor! Just 30 against the wall push-ups with 3 repetitions every day and you will have the arm strength for getting in and out of bed so much easier during your recovery.
4) Crunches! Upper and Lower abs - and hold for a couple seconds as you crunch at your core and move at a steady pace as you do 30 upper and 30 lower for 3 times a day.
5) Finally stretch! Reach in all directions with your arms waist and legs and ankles and wrists and neck- just do it gently- stretch all those joints and hold for about 5 to 15 seconds daily and you will be limber and so much more comfortable during your recovery!
There are thousands of online short instructional guides on these key exercises I'm mentioning here. I did them throughout my workday. During my lunch break, between patients, I would fit my workout in between my life's stuff so they were easy to accomplish on a daily basis and I didn't have to take time away from my kids and my husband when I got home from work in the evenings so I could enjoy the time with my family.
Dr Goico's Lymphatic Massage Specialist, Edu is The Best!
I just felt compelled to say something about the Lymphatic Massage: IT DOES NOT HAVE TO 'HURT LIKE HELL' TO GIVE YOU THE ABSOLUTE BEST RESULTS!!!!
It saddens me and frustrates me to no end when I read about these women subjecting themselves and their bodies to such horrific pain with well intended but unnecessarily cruel treatments of their minds (from dealing with post surgical pain) and their bodies (from dealing with post surgical pain) all in the name of beauty achieved from post surgical lymphatic masseuses that just don't understand the key to optimal healing.
Pain causes inflammation! Inflammation is breakdown of tissue which is the opposite of healing!
I learned that lymphatic massage is a very gentle technique that takes away swelling to boosts the body's ability to heal itself from a wonderful lymphatic massage specialist in my hometown of Texas, U.S. Several doctors refer their patients to her for healing.
Good news everybody!! Dr Goico had his lymphatic massage specialist here in the Dominican Republic that has been trained in this exact same way! She is gentle but firm in her soothing technique that breaks up hard knots of fluid and flushes them out with gentle kneading through your lymphatic system.
The first two or three days Postop your body will be on fire to the touch - unless your totally doped up on pain pills which I do not recommend because it impedes healing and may cause you to inadvertently hurt yourself because you can't sense where your body is really at in the recovery process when it's all numbed out artificially.
So, Edu is the third member of Dr Goico's personal staff that makes him Hands Down the 'A Team' for the best surgical results.
I love Edu so much I want to take her home with me! She makes the lymphatic massages something I am grateful for in my body's healing and recovery process. Rather than an event I would dread and even fear particularly when lymphatic massage post surgically does not have to be a painful event.
I am so grateful that the Lord brought me here to the beautiful Dominican Republic with these beautiful and kind hearted people!!
13 Days Post Op pics
Dr Goico did an amazing job in sculpting my figure. Now I just have to be patient and let time take its course for all the ucky swelling to dissipate. The scar looks amazing. And I like my new belly button too. And my upper abs function beautifully - I can already do the tummy roll using my newly fixed muscles. I am so looking forward to the swelling part being over! But I'm already so thrilled with the results!