32 Years Old, Lost over 80 Lbs, and the Road to Removing Extra Skin and Stubborn Fat. Schaumburg, IL

My story--I have a large extended family and we...

My story--I have a large extended family and we are all close to each other. We had been very lucky in that no one had any major health issues. Then in December 2009 my aunt Mary, who was also my godmother, was diagnosed with lung cancer. In November 2010 my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. In early 2011 my aunt Lynn was also diagnosed with breast cancer. The three of them are sisters and the only girls among nine siblings. They’ve always been around me growing up. The three of them together were always my rock holding me together. And then they all were diagnosed with cancer within a year of each other. This whole thing shook up my entire family. For me it meant I needed to get healthy. I’ve been overweight since I was a young child. I would go back and forth between one diet after another always ultimately gaining more weight after I was done trying to stick with it. I was unhealthy. It took the three most important women in my life getting cancer to finally kick me into gear. I changed my eating habits ultimately finding a Paleo lifestyle worked best for me. I joined a gym, and hired a trainer in January 2011. It was my aunt Mary that first noticed a change in me. Weight started dropping off of me quickly to a point where I needed smaller clothes every few weeks. I jokingly told my aunt Mary that I might need to slow down because this is getting expensive. She looked me straight in the eyes and said “Don’t you dare stop. Don’t you dare slow down.” In April 2011 my aunt Mary passed away. I promised her that I would keep losing weight. I promised her I would get healthy. Around the same time my aunt Lynn and Mom both had surgeries and are currently cancer free. That year was the hardest year of my life and I came out the other end physically stronger, healthier, and with over 80 pounds of weight lost and more muscle than I knew I had. That was in 2011. In 2012 my Aunt Kristen convinced me to try running. I ran the Toledo, OH half marathon, the Chicago full marathon, and a 5k race put on by my gym. The extra bulges would not go away. In 2013 I hired another trainer and built a lot of muscle. But the bulges remained. In 2014 I loved my new healthy lifestyle so much that I obtained a personal training certificate. Yet I still had the bulges that plagued me. Then I saw an add for a free consult with a plastic surgeon. My case manager, Angela, only needed seconds of looking at me to tell me it was skin and pockets of stubborn fat that would only maybe go away if I were to be starving myself. I was able to see Dr. Paresi who agreed that healthy diet and exercise would no longer be enough to remove my bulges the worst being around my belly, outer thighs, and butt. Angela was terrific in answering all of my questions and assuring me I would have great results. I looked online and saw other people's stories on this site and it was instrumental in my decision to go through with this. For me it came down to rashes, chafing, and back aches the rest of my life or surgery. Once I discovered I could make reasonable payments I chose surgery.

My first day back home

So here's what has happened so far. The day of my procedure I went in with some anxiety because I didn't know what to expect. Felicia, another girl I had been speaking to quite a bit in the final couple days before surgery, was there and reassured me. I also had my Mom there for support. My procedure I was told took about 5.5 hours. I was also told it took me a long time to wake up. I hadn't been able to sleep all that well in the final couple days just trying to make sure I would be as comfortable as possible afterwards. In addition by the time I was done I had also as it turns out been fasting for 24 hrs by that point. Can anyone blame me for wanting to stay asleep? Haha. The car ride home was a little rough. I had to brace myself during every hard turn but fortunately there wasn't much traffic left and it took about half an hour to get home. Unfortunately I threw up about half way home. So I had to change before I could settle in on the couch. That first night the 3 steps to get in the house was really hard. Walking at all was really hard. Think baby steps and slow!! Very slow. I had to almost have a death grip on my Dad's arms to take the 20 some normal sized steps to get to the couch. You will need someone to help you walk at first until you gain some strength back. I would also suggest you wear short sleeves but have a nice warm blanket with you. That first night after I settled into cocoon of pillows I remember going back and forth between shivering and being really hot.

My first full day back at home I spent the day sleeping for a few hours and then waking up for a couple hours. I began the day drinking this plant based protein juice I found at Whole Foods called Botan to begin getting some strength back while also starting to rehydrate myself. As the day progressed I think I was able to get up and get to the bathroom every 3-4 hours. I even walked around the kitchen a few times. My legs and butt were aching to move. By the end of the day I was able to keep down some berries and mashed broccoli/cauliflower. The more I was able to eat and drink the stronger I felt and was finally able to walk a little on my own. I was really excited about that!!
My second night home I found myself able to sleep pretty well. I still woke up every few hours, needed help getting to the bathroom and back but then fell back to sleep not long afterwards. I do remember though in the middle of the night it had been a little too long since I had taken any pain pills and I was really stiff so it hurt and I was back to moving pretty slow.
I am thrilled to report that I was able to get myself to the bathroom this morning!! I just needed help getting my feet propped back up. But my strength is starting to return!!

The good, the bad, and the ugly....

Last night I had a terrible time getting comfortable. My butt was so sore all night!! I finally managed to shift a little to my side and that felt AMAZING but it was a struggle to figure it out. And today I'm trying to get up and walk even more than yesterday. The only reason I want to grab pain meds is for my sore butt! I guess that's what is going to keep me moving.
I just had a sponge type of bath and got my hair cleaned today. Oh wow I feel refreshed.
Unfortunately I discovered I started my period sooner than I thought. Thank you so much Aunt Flo, as always your timing is impeccable.
Trying to keep my spirits up.
I'll try to get more photos up soon.

Scared and relieved.

Yesterday was a real struggle. It started off just before noon I was going to lie down to rest for awhile. The next thing I knew I felt like I couldn't breathe!! After 2 mini boughts of that my Mom loosened the top of my garment and called 911. I was finally able to breathe after the garment was loosened but I was still brought to the emergency room. Seven hours later it took them a number of times to finally draw blood because of my small veins, it took constant explanations that I just had a body lift surgery done which means it's not easy for me to bend/twist/straighten as fast as they wanted me to especially without food/water for so long and without any pain meds!! Thank goodness a nurse finally understood and gave me pain meds so I could finish getting all the tests done they wanted. In the end I was sent home being told I do not have any signs of any blood clots but that I was a little anemic. Silver lining my first ambulance ride and I was able to go home?

Today I have now officially conquered stairs and had my first BM since surgery. Oh the relieve. TMI? Sorry.

Holy itching batman!!

All day long my incision sites have been itching/tingling like crazy!! Even after cleaning it and applying new dressings. I guess that's a sign of the healing process, but man what I wouldn't give to be able to scratch without fear of causing more harm than good.

Before photos taken the day of surgery

2 weeks post surgery photos

2 weeks post surgery updates

So much has happened over the last several days.

I went into my 2 week post op appointment on Thurs excited to report I've been completely off any pain meds including Tylenol, I felt like I was standing up almost perfectly straight, I had managed a short walk around the block and was feeling well enough to even be able to drive again as soon as my drain was taken out. I had been keeping my garment on all the time as instructed during my first week post op visit and felt great about being able to move more and more each day. I was really looking forward to being able to have that drain finally taken out. I went into my appointment feeling like I was progressing nicely.

That was all before I had a chance to see the doctor. I did have a few lingering questions that I wanted to ask before after major poking and before the discomfort of the garment being taken off. But I had my questions written down. What happened? The nurse had me take off my garment first thing and was told the doctor would be right with me. I thought Ok. Fine. I have my questions written down so I can do this. I'll just make sure I do that before my drain comes out. I had to sit there alone for over 20 minutes!! Remember at this point I had kept my garment on all the time as instructed so having it off all that time was more and more uncomfortable the longer I waited. I felt lightheaded and unsupported. Then someone finally comes back in, not my doctor but I was determined to ask my questions while I could still think. I had barely begun when the doctor walked in. He actually seemed annoyed that I was asking questions!! He immediately started poking and looking at my incisions even though I kept asking him to wait. He was angry that I had not been applying ointment to my belly button all this time. Because this is the first time I'm being told of such a direction. That immediately led to a few other questions to clarify what kind of ointment, how often, etc. While I was trying to ask those questions he yanked out my drain! Whoa ouch! (Momentary ouch, but ouch! And he yanked it out of my crotch area. Double ouch.) He then has me stand up and move right away. I'm slow and shakey to stand. Can anyone blame me? I'm lightheaded from having my garment off for the longest time to that point, I just had a drain yanked out, and I'm frustrated with his poor bed side manner. And then he's annoyed that I can't straighten up and am struggling to stand!! From there he assumes that I have not been moving at home and am so far behind where I should be!! He claims I should be more than comfortable with having my garment off all day long and only be wearing it at night. He says I should almost be back to completely normal after two weeks. Now wait a minute, but wait where are you going? He left the room!! I was left a nurse and Angela, the consultant that had really gotten to know me before surgery came into the room as the doctor was leaving. What horrible bedside manner. If you notice I changed my review of my plastic surgeon. I am happy so far with the actual work, but after all that...well all I can say is thank goodness that nurse and Angela gave me the time and understanding I should have received from the beginning. Thankfully they were able to answer my questions. They were able to listen to what I have been able to accomplish to this point and tell me when he said I should be close to normal function that I really was close to where I am supposed to be in this process. My normal pre surgery routine of spending 10 hours in the gym every week and then walking an hour or two each day on top of that is not expected yet. Being able to get around the house and do simple self care tasks and start to be comfortable with getting out the house for short trips. That's where I should be and that's where I was. Thank goodness for someone that treated me as a human.

The next day after I woke up I tried taking off my garment like I am supposed to be able to do. Aaaannndddd I fainted! Yes I was sitting when I took off my garment, but apparently that was not enough. I got a sore ankle and a scrape above my eye in the fall. Looking up other people's stories I see being lightheaded and even fainting is a common thing when you take off your garment for the first few times. Thanks doc for warning me and/or recognizing this common occurrence might be happening to me.

Now that I am used to being able to take off my garment for extended periods and my ankle feels better. I am back to being able to walk around the block. I've driven my car for short trips to the grocery store. I'm back to being able to move more and more each day. I'm trying to figure out the balancing act between how straight I can stand and feeling some pulling/stretching. That sensation will go away eventually, right? I'll get used to it somehow eventually? Right? Well, everyday tasks might still take me a little longer to accomplish, but I am able to get around and take care of me on my own.

I got copies of my before photos while I was at my appointment and have uploaded them. I also took some photos of where I'm at now. There appears to be a noticeable difference. A lot taken off my waist (no wonder that's where I often feel the pulling). I do hope there is a little swelling still left, but overall it's a far cry from where I used to be even if most of my clothes still feel tight. That's surely due to swelling I hope.

Anyway those are my updates for now. Until next time...
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

I'm happy thus far with the actual work done, but his after care and bedside manner leaves much to be desired. Thank goodness the rest of his staff has more than made up for his shortcomings.

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