30 Years Old, Whole Thigh Lipo - South Korea, KR

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Quick Stats: 30 years old, no children, 5'6". My...

Quick Stats: 30 years old, no children, 5'6". My usual weight is somewhere between 120-125 lbs, however I have gained some weight in the last 9 months and am now between 130-132 lbs. I know that going back on a consistent exercise regimen and clean eating will help shed the weight, slowly but surely.

I have always been unhappy with my bottom half; my shoulders, chest, and waist are very small, whereas my hips, thighs, and butt are very wide. Even at my lowest weight (-115 lbs), I still had 38" hips, despite doing rigorous cardio 5 times a week, resistance training, etc. My current measurements are 33.85" bust, 25.98" waist (or the smallest part of me anyway, I would say the area around my belly button is a bit bigger than that, but I forgot to measure that area), and a whopping 40" hips (mainly due to giant saddlebags). My shoulders are tiny, measuring 26.3" around. I had trouble measuring each thigh individually, but it seems like my right thigh is 24.8" and left thigh is 23.62".

Although I am okay with being 125 lbs, I prefer weighing less, as I can then fit into my pants more comfortably. I was extremely happy with my legs at around 115 lbs, but that weight is unsustainable, and even managing to not go over 120 lbs is difficult. Additionally, when I weigh less, my chest shrinks way too much...whenever I lose weight, my face and chest are the first to go -- I wish it would leave my bottom half instead! I currently struggle with coming to terms with my current weight, I do not want to buy larger clothes and have been wearing lots of stretchy-pants of late just because I literally cannot put on jeans or pants anymore. On the plus side, I've gone from a 32 large A/small B to a filled out 34 B. I now have unsightly bra fat, but I like having a little more volume to my chest, and I know I won't have the back fat if I buck up and buy a 34 B.

The reason I'm getting lipo is that I am sick of having to choose between chest or hips; when I weigh much less, my bottom half is manageable but my chest is tiny (you can see my chest bones/rib bones running across the top of my chest), and when I weigh more, chest is okay, but my bottom half is unmanageable. I am tired of buying XS or S bikini/workout tops, and L or XL bottoms. This is something I've wanted for over a decade now, so I think it's now or never.

I am getting the procedure done in less than 10 hours, so I'm feeling pretty nervous right now!

Surgery Day

Wow, I can't believe it's been more than 48 hours since I had my procedure. I'll start with surgery day.

-Surgery Day/Day Zero
I went to the clinic at 9AM to fill out paperwork and prep for my 10AM surgery. I was extremely nervous, didn't sleep much the night before, and was very anxious. I found some before/afters of other people who had similar body shapes to me and saved them onto my iPad to show my surgeon and ask if these were realistic expectations.

After changing into the hospital gown, I was led to a small operating room where nurses took my measurements, photos (front, side, back, 45 degree), and weight. Then the doctor came in and I showed him the pics, and he didn't say much, just okay, he understands this is what I'm seeking, and that it will be possible. I also told him that whenever I lose weight, my hips are still very wide, so please be aggressive on my outer thighs, and he said okay (I was told that he likes to be conservative on outer thigh to keep the feminine curve). Then he told "Don't worry, everything will be okay," I suppose because I could see that I was pretty jittery. I then kept asking when he would draw the concentric circles on me (I thought that was standard procedure before every lipo?), and the nurses asked me if I wanted to see the "design" before I went under; um yes please! So then the doctor came back with a white eyeliner pencil and basically drew an oval around my outer thighs (saddlebags), another oval on the front of my thighs, and another one along my inner thighs and inner knees. I was a bit confused because he just basically drew giant ovals on every fat part of my thigh as opposed to the topographical/concentric circles I'm used to seeing. I didn't have much time to express any concern about that and I just took a deep breath and assumed since he does this multiple times a week, he knows what he's doing. Then I met the anesthesiologist, who was friendly and asked where I was from. I told him that I have two requests: one, that I don't wake up in the middle of the surgery (I was going under general anesthesia), and two, that I wake up at the end! He laughed and then they inserted the IV into my hand. It was a weird icy, chemical-y, funny feeling that crept up my arm and then into the back of my throat. I said "How long will it take for me to go under? 1 minute? 2 minutes?" and he replied "No, about 30 seconds" and that was literally it for me.

I woke up 3 hours later in a small recovery room with an IV drip in my arm. I was woozy but felt okay as I was coming to. I did notice that my right leg hurt much more than my left, enough to ask the nurse for some additional pain killer, which she gave, but was not very strong. I was also told that the procedure took 1 hour longer than planned, I guess I had more fat than he assumed...over the course of the next 5 hours, I laid in bed, would get up and gingerly shuffle to go to the bathroom, and eventually got extremely bored. I felt like I was stuck on an airplane. I just wanted someone to talk to but I couldn't use my phone much because my battery was dying. I kept asking if I could go early, but they told me I had to wait until my IV drip was finished, which was about 3 bags worth. About one hour after coming to, I went to the bathroom and found 2 extra incision sites that were not discussed or mentioned previously, so I was a bit shocked. There are two dots 2 inches above the top of my underwear, on my backside. Originally, I was told I would only be getting two incision sites, with 4 incisions total (2 in inner thigh/bikini area, 2 under my gluteal fold/butt crease). They brought the consultant/translator in and I asked her what happened, why do I have extra incisions, and she replied that he needed to make extra incisions to have better access to where I wanted him to contour the most, and that the original two areas discussed were not enough to reach the extent of my outer thighs (which I thought would be the case, as I was confused how he could reach my saddlebags just from the gluteal fold area). Two extra scars for extra fat removal, I hope this mixed blessing will have a better overall result.

As I waited for time to pass, I was bored out of my mind. However, every staff member was really kind and patient with me. I was finally released at 6PM when my husband came to pick me up. Getting home was okay, I was told I had to eat dinner that night and take the medicines they had prepared for me. So I ate a little bit and took the medicine. I googled them and they are things I have never heard of, probably because I am American and got this procedure done in Korea, the pharmaceuticals have different brand names in different countries. Of the 4 medications, one is an antibiotic, one is an NSAID pain reliever, and two are for reducing swelling and clotting.

I eagerly (but gingerly) took off my pants and checked out my new shape in the mirror that evening. WOW. My saddlebags are gone (from the front anyway), and I can definitely see that my outer thighs are a different shape. My stomach is so swollen though, I could not believe how much fluid I was retaining in my tummy.

I was pretty exhausted and wanted to go to bed, but the pain (especially in my right leg) was making me too uncomfortable to feel relaxed enough to sleep, so I had no choice but to take some Vicodin I had. I assume that Korea does not allow the use of heavy narcotics/pain killers, because I was not given a morphine drip (not sure if that's standard though for post-lipo pain?), I was just given an NSAID to take at home (similar to Aleve/naproxen sodium), and one time, my husband had pain from a serious knee injury and was prescribed a pain killer that my parents' arthritic dog takes, haha.

Short summary: had surgery, woke up with some pain, swelling, feeling like someone hit my right leg with a bat, had extra incision sites, came home, shocked but happy over my new shape, took Vicodin and other meds, went to bed.

Post Op Day 1 & Day 2

- Day One
I did not sleep well on the night of my surgery. Even though I was exhausted, I could not fall into sleep, and it did not help that my husband was snoring like crazy. Additionally, I was too scared to roll onto my sides (I am a side sleeper), so I laid completely straight the whole time, which made me feel like I was in a coffin. I was not in pain, but I was definitely not comfortable either. I got up in the morning and forced myself to eat a little something because I was told to take the medicines after breakfast and after dinner. I had no appetite, but managed to eat an egg with a little cheese. I did not count how much water I had before 10AM, but from 10AM until 1:30PM, I drank almost 2 liters of water. I was worried because I did not feel the need to urinate, though my stomach was swollen from all the water I was drinking. Moreover, I had extreme dry mouth, and was feeling a bit lightheaded. I left for my first post-op checkup at 2PM, got to the clinic at 2:30, and was told I would be having my bandages removed, dressings changed, an antibiotic injection, and then put on my new compression garment. I was feeling okay until the nurse got to a particularly sticky bandaged area, and I yelped in pain because it was near the incision site of my inner thigh. After that, it quickly went downhill. I started to sweat profusely, felt like I was burning up, then felt extremely nauseous, my hearing was going out, my vision was getting blurry, my breathing was getting very shallow, my mouth was parched, and I had a hard time talking. The nurse rushed two other clinic helpers/English translators back into my exam room, and they immediately checked my blood pressure. I heard gasps, and one of the staff members commented on how white I was. My blood pressure had dropped to around 90/50, which is dangerously low. The nurse wheeled in an IV drip and the thought of more needles poking me made me feel even sicker (I absolutely hate needles). I think they also wanted to give me a catheter to drain all the fluid I was retaining as I couldn't urinate. Both ideas were making me so ill that I just begged them to let me lie down and rest for a few minutes to calm down. I was moved to another room with a bed and told them I just wanted to take a 30 minute nap. I drifted in and out of sleep, but after resting for 30 minutes, I felt so much better. I was able to urinate (a little), finish taking off the dressings, have the antibiotic injection, and squeeze into the compression garment (which took 2 people to help me put on!). I think the combination of the lack of sleep, dehydration, and the trauma that my body went through not even 24 hours prior just did me in. I felt terrible because I must have seemed like a drama queen, but I've never had anything like that happen to me in my life before. I've passed a kidney stone, had a kidney infection, had a thyroid biopsy (ick), and came out okay, but the feeling of my blood pressure dropping so low so quickly was terrifying in a different way. I never want to experience that again!

So I finally finished up after being at the clinic for 2 hours, and an aid accompanied me to get a taxi. She also told me that pumpkin is very good for inflammation and swelling, and asked me if I had any pumpkin juice. I said no, so she took me to a pharmacy and helped me purchase some. I'm supposed to drink 3 packets of pumpkin juice a day, for 9 days. I googled this and it seems like it's only commented on/related to Korean plastic surgery, so I'm not sure how well documented this is, but hey, it tastes good, so I'm not complaining.

I got home, slept for 2 hours, woke up when my husband got home from work, ate a small dinner, drank some Powerade, took my medicines, took the Vicodin, went to bed.

Day 1 Summary: Dehydrated, didn't sleep well, almost fainted in office at post-op visit, felt better the rest of the evening. I feel very stiff and swollen, certain areas are quite tender, such as the inner knee and outer thigh of my right leg. From what I can see, bruising is minimal, but I wasn't able to take a pic.

-Day 2
I noticed that my legs were much less swollen this morning, and I was delighted to get up and look in the mirror and see my new shape. It's always a pleasant surprise skimming my hands down the sides of my hips/outer thighs and have it feel so much smaller. I'm quite happy so far with that aspect of the procedure. I think you can see a difference in my shape already through the picture I posted, even though I am wearing thick sweatpants in my "after" pic.

Going pee is always a struggle. I've noticed that I urinate very slowly, and whenever I initially stop peeing, I feel like I have more to pee, so I will sit there for a minute or two, and then lo and behold, more urine comes out, faster too. I'm not sure if it's because I am sitting funny on the toilet (I'm favoring my right thigh, so I lean on my left thigh, and sit at the very edge of the toilet because the backs of my thighs are tender too), or if it's because stuff is just out of whack down there...just something I've noticed. My stomach is still swollen and a little firm, also not sure if it's from the amount of water I'm drinking, or from the lipo (I did not have my abs done though).

Had a light breakfast, drank lots of fluids, noticed that my knees feel so tight and uncomfortable in the compression garment. I lounged around, but got up at least once an hour to walk around. Pain is bearable, but I am definitely still very stiff, swollen, bruised and tender. It's hard for me to bend my knees, which makes changing, putting on shoes, etc. difficult.

Went to clinic for second post-op dressing change and antibiotic injection. My husband took the day off work to help me and he accompanied me to the clinic and ended up wowing the staff with his piano skills. There is a large grand piano in the lobby of the clinic, and my husband, being a very talented piano player, enjoyed playing the piano for everyone. The surgeon's wife gave him sheet music to play, a clinic director printed out more sheet music, and everyone took out their cell phones to record him. They even asked us to stay and eat some sweet potatoes they were roasting, yum! When I was given the antibiotic injection, I could hear my husband's piano playing, which was definitely calming and helped me get through any anxiety I had, so that was a nice treat. I don't like getting up/sitting down, so I mostly stood while my husband played, I think I shuffled around for a good hour or so. I felt fine, so I was shocked to see that my knees swelled up to the size of my thighs during the taxi ride home! My right foot was also so swollen that my flip-flop band left an indentation on my foot...gross. I went home and immediately propped my legs up in bed and rested. Overall, the swelling tonight seems to be worse than the swelling yesterday, as my legs feel really puffy and I find myself having to move much more gingerly. I am walking like an arthritic, limping sumo wrestler or penguin, waddling, shuffling, and not able to bend my knees, and am favoring my right leg.

Some other comments/thoughts:
- I do not have much bruising or discoloration at all. I'm wondering if it will just take a few days to show up? I was expecting to have black/blue/purple/green thighs by now.
- I am taking arnica, Emergen-C, drinking Amazing Green Grass...thinking about adding bromelain, but not sure how readily available it is in Korea. Pineapple is quite expensive here too. I'd like to reduce the swelling as fast as possible, shuffling around is not very fun.
- My original consultant/English translator said I would only have to wear the compression garment for 2 weeks. Then the nurse told another translator that I would have to wear it all the time for 1-3 months, but that I should take it off in the evening. I'm pretty confused what I should do, and I forgot to ask specifically today, so I'll ask again the next time I go in (Sunday). General consensus is that a tight compression garment should be worn at least 2 weeks to 1 month, and then a lighter one can be worn after that, but that a compression garment should definitely be worn at nighttime.

Day 3 & 4

-Day 3

Third day post-op was much better in terms of tenderness, swelling, and pain. I am drinking about a gallon of fluids each day, but find that the area between my lower abs and upper thighs are still swollen; I must be retaining fluid there. Things that are still hard to do: bend my knees, sit on the toilet without favoring my right thigh, stand for a long period of time without getting swollen. That being said, all those things are easier to do than even the day before, and I am waddling a lot less. Pain was managed with two Vicodins, and the NSAIDs the doctor prescribed.

Although my PS advised waiting until the fourth day to shower, I saw that many people were able to shower on day 2, so I went ahead and showered late in the evening. I saw my thighs in their entirety for the first time since I've had the procedure. Bruising was not that bad (some areas are magenta, some are greenish, a little are dark purple), I would say about 1/3 of my thighs (inner, outer) are bruised, along with all of my inner knees. Touching my thighs for the first time was also weird too -- hard and swollen, yet tender. The water felt nice though. I gingerly applied arnica gel after I toweled off.

I was shocked upon coming out of the shower. I looked at my backside and all the happiness I felt from seeing my shape change from the front was immediately negated by the lumpy, dimpled appearance of my back thighs. I have cellulite-like dimpling from my butt all the way down to my knees...ugh. Hoping that it is just uneven swelling and a reaction to the lipo. My PS said my cellulite would improve marginally, but did not say that it would get 1000% worse! I know that lipo *can* make cellulite worse, but that some lumps and bumps post-op are normal and will diminish over time, as we heal, so I'm hoping it's the latter. Went to bed pretty sad and disappointed.

-Day 4

Every morning I wake up feeling great, as that's when my body is the least swollen. By the evening, I feel like sausage wrapped in too-tight casing, kind of frustrating, but I guess it's expected.

Pain and sensitivity from the swelling is less today, I can bend my knees further and sit on the toilet with less discomfort. Standing up for more than 30 minutes makes me swell though.

The increase in dimpling has been really bothering me, so my plan of action is to get a foam roller, and roll across my thighs as soon as I'm up for it. I'm also going to get a lymphatic massage, probably early in the upcoming week. Additionally, I'm going to start lifting some dumbbells tomorrow, and do some light treadmill walking. I want to de-swell and get in shape as soon as possible!

One other thing, I noticed that there is an increase in a dent on my right buttock, post-lipo...a bit bummed about that. I'm having a hard time taking a picture of it, but I read a description of someone on RS who had a botched lipo job and she described the look as if someone "punched" her butt cheek, and it left an indent. That's exactly what I'm seeing. I know my right buttock had this before, but it seems more pronounced now...hoping that will change when I begin to work out again.

Week 2

My previous concern of the dent on my right butt cheek is no more, thank goodness! I suppose it was just something strange with the swelling. My butt is rounder once again.

On day 6 I felt so good that I went on a +3 mile walk with my dog, then walked to the supermarket, then strolled around and went shopping, then went home and cooked. I was on my feet a lot and clearly overdid it, as my legs swelled up immensely.

Day 7 was my first time getting a massage. Instead of a gentle lymphatic massage, I got some crazy kneading action from the masseuse, and was grimacing in pain. It was worse than the lipo! Afterwards I felt much better and managed to walk around some more. However, I woke up very uncomfortable and in pain in the middle of the night and had to take a Vicodin.

Each day there is less pain and less swelling, however the bruising began to take on a lovely purple maroon color. So glad it's pants/leggings season right now!

I really saw a difference in my silhouette beginning day 9 (pics attached). Right now I'm on day 17 and frankly, it feels weird to have significantly smaller thighs, despite being significantly heavier than I usually am (I was 130 going into the procedure, I am 132 today, and usually feel and look my best between 120-125). I am now worried that my love handles and lower ab looks wide, and that I'm turning into a rectangle shape (maybe I should have done my flanks too?); it's probably also due to the fact that my waist and love handles looked much smaller relative to my huge gross saddlebags, and now that those are gone, I'm seeing what overweight me minus saddlebags looks like. I'm hoping it's because I'm out of shape, and can't wait to do more aggressive exercising once I can.

I can fit into a couple pre-op "fat" pants (mainly yoga pants and one or two "fat" jeans), but my lower ab/high hip area is bigger now (probably because I'm swollen and gained weight?) and I have a hard time buttoning anything up. It's difficult for me to differentiate between gaining weight and having a swollen stomach. I'm just observing that my stomach is bigger than it was pre-op, though I haven't been eating more.

Still wearing compression garment, legs still get swollen if I've been standing or walking a long time. Stopped using pain killers by day 8 or so (days 1-5 I would take 3 Vicodin, day 6-7 I took 1). Got stitches taken out day 11 or 12, incision sites healing well, going to start putting scar stuff on it soon.

Have one small issue with my inner thigh -- see day 16 pic, look at inner thigh, nearest my underwear. There are 2 wavy areas on my left leg. Will ask the PS when I see him again for my 1 month post-op appointment.
Dr. Yoo

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