66 Year Old, Mom of Two, Who Never Needed a Tummy Tuck Until After Menopause - Southfield, MI

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Greetings to anyone who might be reading my story!...

Greetings to anyone who might be reading my story! I am actually 10 days post op at this writing but that is because I have spent 2 hours on each of two previous occasions, writing my entire review, only to have it disappear and revert to the homepage (1st time) and then I deleted it myself on the second attempt when I selected 'done' instead of 'continue'. I was still feeling ill & I was just going to forget it. But then I realized how much help I had gleened from those before me, those who laid themselves out there in graphic technicolor and decided maybe I could, in turn, help the next girl- or guy- looking to improve themselves but wanting some more 'personal' information than they got from the surgeons' office. Plus, I never did find a story just like mine. Not that I am bizarre or 'in the extreme' for sure, just a 'variant' if you would.

I want to apologize ahead of time to what seems to be 90% of the moms out there, who have suffered after childbirth, with their ripped and ruined bodies! Nature is SO cruel in the havoc it wreaks, even on young, healthy bodies, all to bear a beautiful child. And that is why I am sorry! I was one of the unusual, rare, oh so lucky ladies who came through it pretty much unscathed. Returned to pre pregnancy weight right away, no loose skin, no stretch marks and totally flat tummy. SO lucky! I had both kids before I was 20, was genetically super skinny and without the internet I just never knew my good fortune!! I am currently 5'4", 118 lbs and though I have struggled occasionally, like anyone else, I have never weighed more than 127 lbs. I exercised faithfully through my 20s, 30s & 40s. Any weight I gained was butt & gut but in my home the sun rose and set on my scale. Though, please believe me, I NEVER had an eating disorder. At first I watched to keep the weight ON. I know, I know- big deal, right? It's hard for me to relate to now, okay? Just saying... Anyway, the am/pm weigh in is my habit and ritual and when I see a couple of pounds trying to sneak aboard I put the dang cashews in the back of the pantry!!

So when my early 50s approached, I had started a job where I traveled (car) at least 10 hours a week and often worked 10 hour days. With menopause looming I was exhausted and exercise was tossed out the window. I became aware of how often I seemed bloated and started looking for a culprit in my diet. To no avail. I continued to look for answers as the years rolled on and menopause brought me to my knees. I got ALL the usual symptoms, vicious hot flashes, poor sleep, formication, migraines- you name it. By my early 60s I was trying to come to terms with this gosh awful gut that now never seemed to ebb. I didn't think it was viceral (inside fat) because it went flat when I laid on my back and I could still 'suck it in' but only with monumental effort! And my weight was the same, too. WTH?

And so I began to consider a tummy tuck. I got grief from my fitness guru daughter who assumed I just needed to get back to the gym. Really? Huh- wonder why I never thought of that? Yes, I tried the gym- complete with fitness trainers. (Cute guys! Teehee!) But my core & balance were strong. I actually didn't mention my desire very often because it always drew the same response. My friends & coworkers, used to seeing my perpetually skinny body, would first roll their eyes. Then the same "you don't need THAT!" Sigh. So I finally gave up the charade and lifted my over sized tee for them to see. Oh yeah- that shut 'em up mid sentence with a shocked "OH!!!". Like I was saying- need a tuck!

I need to mention my husband was the one who suggested we dig into retirement funds and get it done. Very sweet and not like him at all- lol! His biggest concern was "what if you go through all that suffering & money & then you get all blown up on the inside and it gets ripped out?" Ouch. Well, I am just going to deal with that another time, perhaps in the near future!

Okay, so I had my surgery Aug 25 and am writing this starting 11 days post op. Again, I apologize, because (so far) I have been incredibly lucky! No swell hell to speak of (cept maybe my poor miss muffy), haven't coughed or sneezed, had any leaking, wet my pants, no issues of any kind! I will post the pre op photos with this part of my review followed by others as I put in notes from the days following surgery. I know this has been long winded but I always write this way. If face to face I barely speak- but thats a different story! ;) Will add more later today if I manage to get this one to post.

Need to catch up...

The day of surgery was a blur. Arrived 15 minutes late due to construction from a major expressway flooding MY route. It was earlier than rush hour, too! They took me directly back & got the IV in on the second try- thank goodness- as I have tiny veins. My hand/wrist is still bruised almost two weeks later. ;( I have already been using Miralax daily and was hoping I would have smooth sailing after surgery. Also hoping no accidents DURING surgery. The doctor marked me and we discussed my slightly off center belly button due to mild scoliosis. I wanted to be sure my new one was in the middle. I emphasized wanting a low scar and agreed on a vertical scar to close my original bb hole so this would be possible. My nurse anesthetist decided to use deep sedation along with numbing agents in the actual surgery area. It worked great and I had zero nausea upon awakening. Had almost zero pain, too, but I think all the lidocaine pumped in the front of me had a lot to do with that. I slept all the way home and all the rest of the day and night. I was safely ensconced in hubbys' lazy boy & I think I called him for help twice to use the bathroom.

I only have one photo of me looking down at my compression garment because there isn't anything else to see! I forgot to ask for photos in the OR because I was frazzled about being late. And I wanted to say: I forgot to mention, in my first entry, that my tummy tuck would be drainless.

Another thing I forgot to mention in that prior entry is that during my research into menopause I was surprised to find how insidious some changes can be. Affecting us on so many levels, some obvious and others completely behind the scenes. Not only do we loose muscle and gain fat but the ebbing hormones do not now, necessarily, direct any excess fat to the usual areas of insult such as butt, gut, back, boobs, etc. These areas are different for each of us, of course, but generally we have some of it going everywhere. Then our bodies get lazy and less particular and opt for more if a one stop, one drop dumping ground- the belly. ;( Well, isn't that nice? Sigh. I was acutely aware that my previously thin skin had progressed to 'tissue paper thin'. How could I miss it? Bad enough it was ugly but it also meant 'old'!!! My point about this is that in spite of all my hard work, all those years of exercise, my abdominal muscles had also thinned- a LOT! Allowing my insides to spill out of me, forming that huge, stretching, shiny bulge. As I suspected, I did not have the split down the middle, the one that is often acquired from pregnancy, the dreaded diastasis recti. Rather, all my fascia and all my abdominal muscles were super thin and weak. They told me that areas of muscle were so thin you could see through them!! Ew! It required a lot of extra repair. He also told me I had no fat so that whole belly bulge is just my guts. Huh. Gosh, I kinda thought SOMETHING weird was going on, you know? But I confess I felt better that I wasn't in denial and all that was needed was to get my ass to the gym! They told me there was nothing I could've done to fix my poor muscles. :) Okay, okay, if I am not in denial and being truthful here- I really DO need to get my ass to the gym!!! Hahahaaha! My abs do need strengthening as does all the rest of me- when I get the all clear, of course.

Well, I will add my first after photos today and do more catching up tonight or tomorrow. Happy healing prayers to anyone else either healing along with me or about to make their own journey! Big hug, too!

Hmm. I wasn't able to add comments under the photos so 1) i have my shirt pulled up looking down at the compression garment. 2 ) I hadn't actually seen my tummy yet, just getting cleaned up. But... I think I see some waistline trying to reappear! :) 3)Wow. I kind of remember I used to be pretty narrow from the side! How soon we forget!!

Still catching up...

So, the first days following the surgery went pretty much as expected. It hurt a lot but I wasn't surprised. I had to have surgery three years ago to have my butt muscle reattached to my hip bone and that was much worse. Not to mention I was in a body brace with my leg sticking out to the side at 30 degrees for four endless months! I guess it helps to have an equally traumatic surgery to keep it all in perspective! And I suppose it did help train me to sleep on my back because it was my only option. But for the record, I HATE sleeping on my back. Anyway- back to the present- I remember the third night was really rough. Could not get comfortable, no sleep, feeling too warm, hoping no fever. I did have a nice healthy on day three, however! (BM). Thanks to continued use of Miralax & a single dose chaser of MilkofMag. One obstacle hurdled! I am the constipation Queen so I planned ahead. Whew. Day four was remarkable in that I felt remarkable. Had turned a corner, felt more 'with it', moving more. Was feeling quite cheerful! This was in no small part due to my darling husbands constant attentiveness! Huh! It is a long story but he just hates playing nursemaid for more than a day and normally gets sidetracked and forgets about me! Lol! But for some strange reason he has been wonderful! Has been here every second, feeds me, helps me up & down, always smiling and pleasant, gets up twice a night for bathroom runs, ready with a kiss or kind word. ??? WTHeck? Who is this guy, what did he do with my husband and can I keep HIM instead of that other hubby? Please?? :). Lol! Wow! It sure did help my outlook AND it lasted a whole week. :D It was the biggest surprise of all and I am still in shock. And grateful to the point of tears!

The day before and day of- the unveiling

So on day 6 po I needed to get ready for my first return appointment and needed to properly wash my hair. No shower yet- yuck. I used a sprayer in the laundry sink & thought my back was going to break! Everyone thinks their back hurts from being hunched over but from the very first time you stand up? Not likely! My nurse said it's from all the pulling forward & down of the ab muscles. It is all connected after all, right? So how come not a single surgeon on here has mentioned that little complication, I wonder? Hmm. Trying to upload more photos with captions. Day 7 was my unveiling! Darn! Still can't caption but the first photo is in the doctors office after changing the tape. I was a bit disappointed by two things. 1) the vertical scar ran all the way from bb to incision. :(. Not sure why. Won't talk with dr until next Tuesday. 2) the incision is higher than agreed upon and higher than he marked. Though all the marks were gone, I had my own orientation owed to three small moles that formed a perfect isosceles (equilateral) triangle. I dubbed it my Devils' Triangle. Hehe! I was paying close attention when he drew the line but what can I do now? I am going to assume that, like the long vertical scar, he had his reasons. I learned long ago that life just isn't perfect and neither am I. All in all I think it came out great and I am thrilled with my new tummy!! In spite of the unnatural doughy look and odd swelling along my upper left ribcage.

Moving along

This next group of photos is still day 7 po whenI got home from my first po dr appointment. I am unable to stand straight but quite happy to be reasonably free from any swell hell- so far- and SO happy my surgeon did this drain free! I have had drains in the past they are such a hassle. Worse than that is the added scars they leave! I like my belly button, too. The picture is taken looking down at it, or from my personal perspective. The shot where I am laying down is after my first shower and shows that odd swelling on my upper left quadrant. It sits just under my ribs. My vigilant guard dog is in one picture. She keeps trying to jump on my lap!

New plan

As of late yesterday I am hoping my good luck hasn't run out. It is now close to 4 am on Thurs, Sept 8 and I am again quite uncomfortable. I needed to eat so I could take additional meds. I need to get caught all the way up, just in case.

After my po visit on day 7 po, I was finally able to shower but it took forever & I didn't feel great after. Days 8 & 9 I had increased mons swelling and tenderness. Swelling is bigger on the left side. Bb is looking just a bit elongated and I noticed the juncture of the vertical incision (where it joins bb) is ever so slightly separated. Sent photo to nurse to show how I used a steri strip to keep it snug at that spot. She talked with dr & was agreed to leave it on.

The night before day 10 I slept on my side (ahhhhh!) with a pillow between my knees but very sore in the am of day 10 po. I slept almost that whole day, as well, feeling a bit week. I've spent all nights on my back since then.

Day 11 I indulged in another shower and observed the area above my bb seemed oddly darker than before. Like maybe deeper bruising coming to the surface. Again, nauseated after the shower. That evening I was having a deep aching in that area

New plan cont...

Grrrr. I scratched my nose & messed up the entry. So... was having that deep ache and there also seemed to be a mound there about 3" across. Nothing crazy. I went to sleep for the night.

Day 12 the center area felt better but experienced a pinching pain in the original puffed area (I had observed in the first couple of days) just under my upper left ribs. Sure enough it was swollen again and I observed that dreaded waterbed response when I pressed on it. I used a round corned piece of plastic to add pressure under my garment. It definitely went down after that and I knew I had my second po visit in two days. I really should have called anyway! I hate to bother anyone but still...

Day 13 po, I took another shower & my poor muff still so swollen but not as bad as some I have seen here on RealSelf. The whole area above bb (up to breasts) seem to darken again during the shower but when I pressed on it the swelling rolled up above the incision tsunami like. Even an extra wave or ripple after I released it. Whah. I have LOVED being drainless! It is also tender & so now I don't know what to think. Seroma or hematoma? Not a whole lotta good options here! Will call in a few hours before my appointment to be sure I go to the location where the dr is and not just his nurse. I was only going to see her today but both of his offices are an hour apart. Sigh. Always a catch. I was feeling pretty good today, otherwise. In spite of the fact my poor little bowser got sprayed by a skunk. Ew!

Guess I do have some fluid forming

When I got up today I was uncomfortable (pressure) & opened my garment to check it out. First thing I noticed was a spot of drainage that leaked from the juncture of the where the vertical incision met the horizontal one. I wasn't happy! I then took some video of the 'waterbed' effect- the odd rippling- that happens in one area after I press another part of my tummy. I sent this to my surgery nurse and she agreed I should see the dr today. Will probably draw some fluid out with a needle. Oh joy. Can't wait. ;(. That is in a few hours. Going to post more photos & will try to upload the video, too. Talk with you all later.

More photos and a video

Unable to upload the video

Sorry, but I was only able to access photos from my library. Too bad. I think it was a good visual of what the fluid looks like under the skin. These things happen. I just hope he is good with a needle draw! These last photos are just from the last week. The bb ones are to show the tiny separation at the bottom of the bb and how I taped across to keep it from getting bigger!

I want to add that I have not had any weight gain at all and may have even lost a pound. Perhaps there hasn't been any fluid retention (aside from darn seroma) because there wasn't any lipo done. I know that most of the reviews and even the doctors tell you not to weigh in because weight gain can be expected and is discouraging. As far as measuring? Hey, I only know my waist was almost 30" before surgery and that has not changed! Lol! Here's to having hope! :)

Guess my photos didn't upload yesterday.

I had a lousy day. Went across town in lousy traffic and instead of seeing my surgeon (who was now back in surgery?) I saw his associate. This guy ripped off the tape and some of me, too and then said "oh you're fine!!". I was so rude to yelp as he tore off my skin! My apologies! He observed the waterbed effect and said it was fine- just swelling. That the 'fluid' would be absorbed. So is it swelling or fluid- I asked? Well, it was fluid but not enough to worry about. So when is it enough to worry- I asked? Well, maybe if you were twice this big, he says. I ask about the inflamed sticky area of the vertical incision. He tells me it looks good. Really?? Good?? No it does NOT look good!! Maybe, just maybe it doesn't look too bad but that gooey, nasty, separating incision does not look 'good'. I just feel sick and extremely uncomfortable. I want to get out of there before I DO get rude. I have seen enough on RealSelf to know a longer recovery and a revision await me. He places some bacitracin, new tape and gauze over the wounds. I get home & call my nurse. She requests photos and then arranges for me to see my own surgeon the following morning- tomorrow. My day was exhausting and a waste and I am SO sad that my incision has opened. I am going to try to post photos again. You can see how gross it looks- but keep in mind I look 'great'. Right...

A better day

I got up this am in better spirits. I had used 2 different laxatives that finally kicked & that sure took some pressure off. Sorry to be so graphic. We headed back to the doctors office early this am to see MY doctor this time and within a few minutes he had aspirated the fluid sloshing around in there. It was pretty much painless except for the numbing shot. Those always sting! He was surprised at how much feeling I had already regained. We discussed why my incision had opened. I have Raynaud's disease which affects the tiny capillaries in the skin of my extremities, mostly fingers and toes. I get frostbite grabbing an ice cube out of the feezer. He said it probably played a role as the tiny blood vessels along the edge of the incision could be compromised. I had remarked on how I observed my tummy, in that area, darken (turn bluish) during every shower. It made sense but I still felt sad. He told me not to worry, that if the scar healed too wide it was an easy fix. He commented that the intersection of two incisions was always a weak spot, too. Well, it is what it is!

I did want to mention here that with further scrutiny on my part, I realized that the horizontal incision WAS as he had marked it. It just seemed higher to me because as it was all closed up, it also raised a bit along with the mons. It will all be fine and all covered by a swimsuit (except an inch of the vertical scar) when all is said and done.

I want to remind everyone that it is really important to take it easy even after you are feeling better. An increase in activity seems to be one culprit in seroma formation. Just some advice.

Day 16, post op

I had a restless, uncomfortable night. Felt too warm but no actual fever. Odd twinges in the area below belly button but nothing scary. I have zero energy and zero appetite. Feeling generally unwell but it might just my mind messing with me. I finally got cleaned up and redressed the wounds. I have a single photo to offer. I think it looks better but not sure. Wishful thinking, maybe? Still not anywhere near a 'good' category! Found some really incredible new 3M tape for sensitive skin. It sticks good and removes easily without leaving any redness or irritation. Even the gentle paper tape was leaving little itchy blisters. The catch? (Always a catch) It is also incredibly expensive. I bought the first one on sale at Target for $3.99. Okay- not too bad. Today hubby picked me up another roll at CVS for a mere $9, including tax. So how many months is this going to take to heal, I ask myself. $$$$$ ;(

Well, just when I thought I was on the mend...

I went to see my ps yesterday, 9/13 and he didn't find enough fluid to draw out, indicating the seroma was subsiding. He then debrided the small opening in the incision. Ew! There was some increased kind of 'even' swelling and I was told how to increase compression inside my garment with a tea towel and/or an ace bandage wrap. I did both later that evening and also added a thick, soft washcloth over my swollen mons because THAT has been the most uncomfortable area for me. After the appointment we enjoyed lunch in their quaint, historic downtown. Or, I should say my husband enjoyed his lunch. I had very little appetite. Overnight I slept okay considering I was too warm and got up three times to pee.

When I awoke today, I had a splitting headache and ached everywhere but mostly in areas of surgery. So I decide to check my temp which has run an average 97.7 for the last 20 years. It was up a bit to 99.7. I felt worse as the day went on & it crept up to 100.9. Every time I stood I felt my stomach turn & my knees get week. I had no additional virus symptoms other than fever. I had been wondering last week if I had a uti because my urine was tinted a very pale green. Very odd so I googled it & it came up a uti. Still, not much else, no burning or urgency. My only other option is an infection from surgery and as I have been a GOOD patient, following all instructions to the letter, it just seems unlikely. Sigh. I am just feeling so ill, and though I slept away the day, I think I will call it a day and go back to sleep. Am hoping tylenol will keep my temp down enough until I talk to my dr in the morning. To anyone else going through a tummy tuck or ANY procedure recovery, my prayers for healing go out to you! G'nite!

Maybe, just maybe, have turned the corner.

22 days po and third day with fever. Saw surgeon yesterday & he confirmed the fever was surgery related and cultured the wound to be sure the antibiotic I am now on was appropriate. I was asked by another reviewer if the yellow area is pus and I still am not sure but I think 'active' pus is more of a liquid. I am loathe to discuss such nasty occurrences, I do so only to help anyone who may follow me! The fever started Weds morning the 15th and never broke even with meds. I saw the dr on Thurs the 16th and still presented with a temp that gradually got up to 101.9. I felt really ill with zero appetite & fell asleep at at a moments notice. DID sleep, in fact, all day. I just hate dressing the wound mostly because I hate looking at it! Today is Fri the 16th. I woke with the ever present fever and was aware of some increased discomfort right in the bb. I swear I did not want to look because the bb has been okay and I had prayed it would stat that way. The fever did not go over 100.5 which was a good sign and finally broke to normal (amen) around 4pm. I gutted up to go change the dressing and check the incision. Well, the silvadene did a number on it for starts. When I pulled off the dressing, all the gooey insides of the wound opening pulled out, along with the pad. Soooo gross! I was squirming as I tried to gently remove the excess medicated cream (because there was a lot) and then fill it back up with more silvadene. The other thing that I did not want to see was that my poor bb was looking darker than yesterday and it scared me. Okay- that was the bad part. The good news? The dark red area surrounding the incision had subsided a lot! I am so hoping this is significant and means the worst is behind me!! I have a photo from Tues evening and one from today. The today one is gooier looking due to the volume of cream they slapped on there on Weds. I do not know why I didn't tend to the dressing yesterday! Except that I was totally out of it with that fever. I have had higher temps in my life but have never felt so completely, all consuming sick before! So, to all who might read me, now or in the future, please believe- I am still not sorry!! Happy healing thoughts to anyone going through recovery!! :) On the photos, it is the same lighting, same camera and the red is THAT much better. :)

Day 26 post op

Finally, today, I woke without that 'fever' taste in my mouth. Such a relief. I saw the surgeon yesterday and he told me the antibiotics had done their job and normal healing would now continue. He cut away the dead tissue and gently squeezed the wound and I could see that this made it bleed. I knew this indicated a good blood supply which is so critical to healing. He explained how granular tissue would begin to form in the bottom of the separation and that as healing continued, the edges of the wound would contract, actually pulling itself together. Wow. It still looks so awful that it is hard to envision but, I am feeling hopeful and much less sick!

The horizontal scar is looking fantastic like a fine line. That part made me so happy but again, so sad, that everything didn't look like that! Sigh. Such is life. I trust him, I do, so will continue to just- wait!

I am posting a single photo that I took while laying on my back. When standing there is more general swelling these days (nothing profound) and the skin has areas that look dusky or sometimes more red than other areas, with gravity allowing for the biggest reservoir of swelling to pool in the mons area. Most actual redness is below the incision, either on, or to the sides of, the mons. I believe it makes the incision look even higher than it is because this is not my 'natural' anatomy. Not by a long shot. The area with hair has some nerve pain making it excruciatingly sensitive! It is totally numb to press yet gets electric shock pains if fabric moves against it. Total torture! So hard not to gasp in pain when it happens. Yet, from what I read, this can be quite normal for areas that are growing back cut nerves and a good sign that feeling will return. I would prefer sooner rather than later. :(. Prognosis: mmm- 8-12 weeks to resolve. Guess I gotta wait on this , too.

Anyway- the photo- I was rather amazed at how my skin returned to all the same color when on my back. And even better was how my Ken doll mound also sort of melted away! Can I really be healed & sealed & back to all female & all one color in just 3-4 weeks? That would be SUCH a relief!

3 weeks po- yesterday

Well, I can't post a photo because my storage is full so until I find a solution, I will tell you of my ongoing issue. I saw just the nurse yesterday. She is gentle and capable and a caring person. As she was debriding the wound she tells me there is no sign of infection and the tissue underneath looks healthy. Okay, but it just doesn't look like there is any actual improvement to me! ;( The separation just keeps getting wider. Doesn't that seem like it is getting worse? From a strictly healing standpoint it seems like the greater the distance, the longer it takes to heal, right? So what am I missing here? And it hurts. A creepy, deep, weird aching with vague burning. I fight so hard against tears and depression but it is wearing me down. The seroma was also back and had to be drained. I am so ready to graduate to a softer spanx garment but it is too stressful on the wound to get it on & off without zippers. I will try to be patient that I will soon see something that looks like progress to me! Thanks to all who listen. Happy healing to anyone in the recovery phase!

Sorry! Make that FOUR weeks po!

Yikes!! 4 weeks! I think the week with fever fried my brain. Hard to believe so much time behind me yet so long before I get to be 'normal'. ;(

4+ weeks po and time to take a break

I realized when I awoke in the middle of the night, last night, that my review is just endless gruesome photos without much change. When I first began to post my journey, I never dreamed I would be one of the cases with 'complications'. I do not smoke and never have and I really thought that necrosis was one thing I would not have to deal with. Alas, it turned out to be quite a kick in the pants! I know I will heal. I know the scar will be wide and need revision. I do not think anyone is to blame. Not at all! It is a major surgery and with my age AND my health issues I suppose I should not have risked it. But guess what? I am NOT sorry! Not one bit!! Life is a crap shoot & I took my chances but all the work beneath this ugliness is intact and done well and I love my new figure! I am still amazed at the remarkable changes!

As to my review, I would not not be following me if I was checking out tt stories! Lol! Too discouraging. So I think I will pause until the incision finally fills in and it becomes time for a revision. I don't know if I will return here, to this review, or maybe just start anew. It has not escaped my attention that there doesn't seem to be anyone else who continued to post with pictures to show progress of a wound that is finally healing, showing the slow but inevitable progress. Even photos of finally healed scars- in need of revision- aren't as numerous for tt's as they are for breast surgeries and facial scars. There are many reviews of tt revisions but these are more about botched first attempts rather than just scars that are less than ideal. I think this happens a whole lot more than anyone wants to reveal and that is too bad. Information is, after all, what we are striving for on this site, is it not? I am going to add farewell comments to a few remarkable ladies who have touched my heart and I will always be grateful for the unexpected gift of having met them! That will be done in separate comments. To any other older gal considering this surgery? Oh hell, yes, go for it!!! Don't ever stop caring about your appearance or how you feel about your body. A woman's self esteem is an important aspect of her happiness and we understand that all too well, now don't we? Until we meet again- hope and healing to all! :)

Decided to stay

After some encouragement from a dear woman I met here during HER review, I have decided to stay, at least for now. Things sure got worse all of a sudden and the same day I posted my last update! In fact, all hell broke loose.

I decided to clip my big toe nail that I had torn so it wouln't get worse. I had no problem folding up to sit on the floor & it only took a minute. But when I stood back up I could see a small spot on my garment that grew to 8" before my eyes. I hurried to undress and discovered a dark, open hole in the middle of the wound was gushing out liquid faster than I could mop it with hand towels. I was relieved it wasn't blood and was pretty sure I was looking at seroma fluid that had been building. It had found its' own release through the wound. So all I could do was wait for it to slow. I caught up with my nurse, who forwarded photos to the dr and then she texted me a brief message: 'surgery in OR on Monday. Details tomorrow.' Sigh. That was on Sat night giving me a whole day to prepare. Good golly miss molly. ;(

Last night (Sun) I talked with her again. She told me when to arrive, etc. I was not sure what he would do past cutting out the dead stuff. I mentioned that at about 5pm the drainage was a strange green color and she wasn't sure what it meant. We would ask dr before surgery. Of course I had to go online. The bottom line was that it wasn't anything good. I did send photos of the pretty new green this am (Mon) because I want her to show him in case he wants to change his plans. In the wound photo (fr Sat) I am sitting on the throne, looking down, watching a fine stream of fluid trail down into the towels. The other two are just, well, the green stuff. :( Yuck.

I probably won't add any more until tomorrow. I usually escape into sleep after unpleasant things like surgery. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with delayed healing. These things happen- there isn't always an answer. Just have to put on our big girl compression garment and deal with it! I can't wait to get into some softer spanx, though! Healing thoughts to all! Both guys & dolls. xoxo

5 weeks po tomorrow

So hard to believe that 5 weeks has gone by. Been a rocky road to be sure and it isn't over yet but I can finally face a new day knowing that things ARE healing and maybe I can eventually post a full figure photo instead of something more akin to Halloween special effects!!

I did NOT have surgery yesterday! I was SO relieved! I was resigned and ready to go but the dr wanted to examine me first. He was so happy when he got a good look that I felt immense relief. He said in the photos he had received over the weekend it had looked much worse. He pointed out the granular formation we had been waiting for and how the edges of the tissue were beginning to contract. He told me he WANTED that big hole in the middle to stay there, allowing the seroma fluid to escape instead of causing problems on the inside. Yay! So he debrides it a bit more and then starts pressing on my poor, sore abdomen. OWWWW!! :O

And here we go again! Mt St Helens comes gushing up & out, flooding the place yet again. My ego did take notice that my belly was holding the liquid in a 'bowl' shape at one point. With the opening in the bottom. Totally concave, you know, so it dipped DOWN between my hips. Haha! Now that is way past flat! Of course my joy was brief as there were now four hands squishing my poor belly forcing further fluid out. I sure never, ever thought I would be witness to such gross and graphic images right under my nose and on my very own body! I doubt I would've proceeded with a tt had I known but without any choice in the matter now, I know I will get through this and that happier days await me.

They have been mopping me up with towels and finally he finishes by packing the wound with special gauze and the usual bandages. He finishes with a sterile towel from the OR placed over everything. He then indicates he wants me to do the pressy/squishy thing at home to force out the fluid as it forms. WHAT???? Nooooo!!! I don't want to!!!! Whahhh! Damn. No end to the good times here at Sharons' private party. Sigh. Yeah, yeah, okay. I will do it because I must. Damn. They give me a new care package full of thick gauze to soak up drainage and two more sterile towels. I went home to sleep away the rest of the day. :(

I think I might try later to get a full shot photo with some pretty panties on or something. Something more attractive than a gaping wound for a change. Maybe that will cheer me up. :) Love & hugs to all my fellow tummy tuckers! xoxo

Not quite 5 wks po

Yesterday was the day after the seroma flooded the drs' office. I knew it was time to check things out and try to press out more fluid. I was dreading it SO bad. :( I prepared with towels & such & a comfortable place to sit on the floor but not mess up anything of value. I was cold with dread. I noticed there had been a LOT of drainage since leaving the dr and the edges of the fluid in the big sponge pad was crusty with blood residue. Sigh. They were really pressing hard so I wasn't all that surprised. Mostly I was annoyed because in spite of all the padding and even a towel- I had stains in my garment. Dang- that stuff is such a pain to get out and the soft fabric under the zippers takes forever to dry!! I get myself on the cold floor and start to press like the dr & staff were doing. Nada. I tried everything, even folding a hand towel to get extra pressure in mons area. Not a drop!! All I did was make myself extremely sore. ;(. I should note I didn't see any fluid/ waterbed/ wave evidence but I really did want even a small amount out of there.

I put myself back together, fresh bandages and sponges. Added a fresh, sterile towel over it all & called it a day. Today, I checked it out early because I need to get my garment washed and I could see there was more drainage than I expected, the edges again crusty with blood. Sigh. Can't wait to make myself hurt again. I think I might be missing all the pain!! Haha! (Just a little humor.) Hope I have some luck unloading some fluid this time, at least I will feel there is a purpose to this gosh- awful ritual. Wish me luck... ;(

Tomorrow I see my OR nurse for additional, ongoing debridement. I will be glad when the wound can finally be left alone to finish closing.

Looking for light in the darkness.

I went to sleep at 11pm last night only to find myself wide awake at 1am, contemplating my new reality with my hideous scar and gaping hole that is still causing me constant discomfort. Feeling as ugly and hopeless as I did, I decided to try and be more positive.

Okay, even with a revision there are obviously no bikinis on my horizon but considering my once cute butt has succumbed to gravity by age 66, I think I can accept this. :/

I do love having a waistline, a flat tummy and downright girlish figure but... I doubt I will ever be comfortable undressing in front of my husband again. :(

I have no doubt I will be happy with how my clothes fit and it will be fun to buy jeans again without cringing at the muffin top spilling over the top of todays low cut pants. But... I will want the lights out for sex. :(

I am not blind and know I still have a better figure than any other old lady I know. But... I know I will NEVER shower at the gym again or if there is any chance someone might walk in on me at home for that matter! ;(

Hmm. This isn't helping. Must try harder.

In truth my husband will not mind if I hide under a new nightie as long as I am still giving it up! :)

The scars are NOT on my face! I am not a young woman, concerned with new dating encounters- thank goodness! :)

I remind myself, knowing the true heartbreak of others, this is not 'the end'! I will heal, the pain will fade and my life after a tt will go on. I still have many good times ahead of me! I will do what needs to be done and refuse to feel sorry for myself. I have survived a near death event and this doesn't come close. Tomorrow I shall buy a new nightie! Yeah- thats the ticket. Perhaps a slinky vintage number from the forties! Haha! :)

Okay, that was better. Best get back to sleep. Talk to you all in the morning. Back to see the nurse tomorrow. G'nite!

Day after my midnight meltdown. 5 wks po

Headed across town today for another date with one of the surgical nurses. She has been exceptionally kind and caring and I am glad she has been with me throughout my journey. It was a routine visit and she treated and repacked the opening, pointing out how well the healing tissues were doing. She then repacked it, gave me instructions and more bandages and I was on my way. Later she called to tell me the culture the dr took on Monday was positive for pseudomonas, an opportunistic little bacteria that seems to only get serious if you happen to have a compromised immune system. Like mine. ;). I am on a new antibiotic that is quite successful in combatting the little perp and hoping to feel much improved in the next few days. At least I know now what has been ailing me and hindering my healing!

I would very much like to apologize for my middle-of-the-night meltdown last night. I think my perspective was distorted, waking from an unpleasant dream, and I felt very overwhelmed. Of course, like always when you are tired and ill, everything bad seems magnified out of focus. By morning you wake, refreshed, realizing that nothing is really so bad! It will be a longer recovery by only about a month and in the end I will still be pleased with my result!

Scar turned purple?

I did a really dumb thing yesterday and ate a yogurt for breakfast before I remembered I can't have it with my medication & now had to wait SIX hours before the calcium would clear enough to take the med. ;( VERY careless of me! And sure enough, within two hours my temp started to creep up. This infection is kicking my butt! Back on track now, though.

Last week I got up one morning to check things out and was shocked to see my entire scar from hip to hip had turned black- overnight! Upon closer inspection I could see it was actually more purple. I have scars all over me from both injuries and surgeries and have never had an issue. I am very pale and never get hyper pigmentation. It worries me it is related to the Raynaud's disease as I am familiar with how my fingers and toes can turn suddenly black/ purple. I am praying it isn't circulation related. I see the ps tomorrow.

The scar

All I could do with this new twist was smh! I thought: wow! Isn't that special?. ;)

Moving so much better!

I am not a new woman just yet but I am sure feeling better and moving more. I was in for another wound check yesterday with my ps and he was very pleased. Said there is absolutely no sign of infection and he didn't need to debride anything! Whew- I hated that part. He pointed to a couple of areas that had closed at the top of the hole and how the whole thing had shrunk a tiny bit. I myself noticed that a couple of tiny spots on the horizontal incision that were previously inflamed with a bit of yellow stuff in the center, were now gone. I have been driving myself (finally!!!) to run errands yesterday and today and though I do feel more sore this evening, I also feel pretty darn good! Having no evidence of the seroma helps when walking. I hated that liquid sloshing around in there. ;). I have a graphic photo of the healing hole. The dr and his staff have emphasized that the 'meaty red' appearance is exactly what you want to see. Well, maybe what HE wants to see! I would prefer to see only my lily white skin and fully healed scars! Lol! Hey, one can always dream, right? I had to change antibiotics because Cipro can cause tendon tears and I already lost my ass (gluteus medius) to that some three summers ago! I will still be on the meds for awhile just to be safe.

8 weeks po

Hello! Sorry I've been lax in posting updates. I've been making 2 hour round trips to the surgeon 2x a week for wound care. Closure has been painfully slow but sure. Not there yet but see more progress over the last few days so am hoping it will go faster toward the end. The biggest change is in the depth as it is much more shallow than before. I will post a couple of photos. I do feel fortunate that my tummy is quite flat and this photo was taken in the evening.

A note about the last post.

Just wanted to say: please forgive the big dent in my butt cheek. :) That is the scar from a previous surgery to reattach my butt muscle (gluteus medius) to my hip bone. That surgery was almost more fun than this one and it took a year to recover from, too! ;) Didn't have to deal with numbness & nerve pain, though, so I think, maybe, it wasn't quite as uncomfortable over all.

6 weeks post op

Well, I am sitting at the ps office again at 7 am. Waiting for surgery on someone else this time- thank goodness! However, being as men are the worst patients, his recovery will probably be harder on me than on him. ;(

Today marks 6 weeks for me and the hole that opened in my incision is down to only a mm. Maybe 2 mm's. I think it might need a little debridement but I won't know until my appointment tomorrow. I am sure feeling a lot better these days but not doing any exercise yet as I haven't been cleared. I do walk, of course, but my energy level is only just returning. I have been wanting to update and reply to some of the comments left for me but Halloween is a big production at our house and it took ALL I had to drag it out and put it up. It is now only halfway put away again. All the climbing, bending and squatting is the most exercise I have had in months but it let me know how badly I need to get back to work. ;) I am including just three photos for now. One is my improved contour and the other two are what is left of the hole. The horizontal scar is definitely getting flatter but is still dark. Almost there!

Oops! Make that 10 weeks po!

Sorry! I have been up since 3:45 am and didn't get to sleep until after midnight! I knew 6 weeks didn't seem right but I also didn't figure on being unable to count to ten!! After all I do still have two hands available. (Cough, cough) ;)

6 weeks post op

I saw the ps today for another follow up on the wound today. He removed the hard skin/scar stuff in the center. He mentioned 6 months until he could do a revision but that is fine. I am not anxious for any more healing right now! I mentioned to him that the area of the opening still really hurts sometimes and he said it was new nerve endings but that it would eventually all be gone. You can see on one side of my horizontal scar that it is still a fine white line without any stretching. It should all end up like that once it has faded.

Photo from previous entry

Almost 3 mos post op!

Wow. It will be three months on the 25th. I wish I was one of those who could say it flew by but... no!, it did NOT! A lot of suffering and extra work but, I am afraid to say it, the stupid hole is finally closed! Wooohooo. I took my first bath in three long months today and I am not ashamed to say I wallowed in it. ;) I did put a waterproof bandage over the wound because I know it is still thin and soft. I am feeling much better in general and can move with ease at last. The previous hole doesn't hurt anymore either. I am having contractions (painless spasms?) that are very annoying but I read they are normal and will pass. The dr said he can do a revision in 6 months but I will probably wait about a year. I want to heal as best as possible before I do anything that needs MORE healing. I do have a tiny dog ear on each end and about three inches to the right of center on the horizontal incision is very thickened from where the seroma was. The vertical scar really veered off center with the opening (hole) and I hope that can be improved. There has been some some distortion to my bb from the scarring that occured in the vertical incision and I don't know if that can be helped or not. I only have one current concern and that is a bulge above my bb. It gets bigger, but not a lot, by the end of the day and gets really uncomfortable. It also still hurts there when I sneeze or cough. The dr told me it was nothing, maybe fat or bloating but I disagree. I will include a photo of me in my spanx where it is easiest to see. I don't think it is anything serious but would still like to know what it 'is'! It is hard to the touch. Anyway, I am just happy to be able to get on with my life and face the holidays without trips 2x a week across town to see my ps. I am really, REALLY grateful for the wonderful ladies who have been so kind and supportive! I would've felt so alone without you and you helped me more than I can ever say. Blessings and fast healing to all! I will continue to update as things continue to progress. Much love! On a different note I want to share that I collect vintage dresses. The dress shot is one from the 30s that was too snug in the waist before my tt. I am elated that I can now wear it with ease! It makes all that I have been through so worth it that I could cry. xoxoxo

4 months po

Hello fellow realselfers! I promised a friend I would do an update so this is it. :) All is well, mostly. The hole finally closed but it does still hurt me most of the time. The doc says it's because the nerves were exposed. The awful shooting electric pains in the mons area are gone with just some risidual, mild shocks that do not happen often.

The worst discomfort I have now is the bulge above my belly button. It is hard to discribe. Sort of a really hard pinching sensation that only feels better with pressure such as keeping my hand over it or wearing my trusty compression garment. I just deal with it most of the time the ps said he thinks the bulge is where a stitch may have 'pulled through' and he believes it will resolve itself with time. Yeah. Okay. Whatever. From what I have read here on RS, there isn't much to be done short of another tummy tuck to be able to access it and that isn't going to happen.

The scarring where the vertical incision opened is very skewed and he thinks he can center it better when he does the revision in about 8-10 months. I am hoping it will also improve my bb that also has skewed out of round from the scarring. No bikinis for me. ;)

My hubby & I just had our 50th wedding anniversary & are heading for Aruba in Feb. I regret I won't be able to expose ANY tummy skin but wearing a swimsuit without angst will still be fun! I did some quick pics today to show my progress! Love and LUCK to all my friends in this new year of 2017!!

Sigh. I went through google so I could comment under each photo but it denied photo access. So will now put them up through my equally messed up app but without attached comments. :(

4 months + po

Here are new photos. WITH comments! Couldn't do this before!
Dr. Rouchdi Rifai

I knew Dr. Rifai from 24 years ago when he did a midface lift with lower bleph for me. He also did my daughter-in- laws tummy tuck 17 years ago. He had a lot less personal input this time which I missed. Yet, after more than 33 years of dealing with vain women? I didn't blame him. People suck. Always wanting something for nothing, always want to blame someone else for their own shortcomings, expecting unrealistic results, not following instructions to the letter... you get the picture. I hope he reads this and sees that I still love him and never considered anyone else- not for a minute!

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 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
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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