I Can't Believe I Am Finally Doing It! - Miami, FL

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I am scheduled to have a lower body lift by Dr Mel...

I am scheduled to have a lower body lift by Dr Mel Ortega June 10. I could not be more excited! I have had my share of surgeries in my life. I had a gastric bypass 20 years ago and lost 165 lbs. since that time my weight has been up and down. After getting a divorce 2 years ago I finally kicked it into gear and lost 70 lbs to achieve my goal weight of 135. I am going to post my before pictures, though I can barely stand to look at them. I have a big mid line incision from the gastric bypass. They didn't do them laparoscopically back then. I had a poorly done panniculectomy 18 years ago that left me with "dog ears." I am 58. I do not expect to look like a bikini model. I just want to feel reasonably comfortable getting naked, I'm dating, after all ???? I am a nurse, so I will share my experience as a patient and as a healthcare provider.

My bags are packed!

Traveling to Ft Lauderdale in 36 hours. I am leaving a day early to try and see some friends before surgery. I am anxious to get this on and over with!

The night before

I am here at the recovery house (Elite Concierge Nursing). Mary is great. The house is comfy and it is in a quiet neighborhood. I have to be at Spectrum at 11:30, so I expect my case will be at 1 pm or so. I am doing a CHG bath tonight and then again in the morning. I will ask someone to take pictures when I am marked to share here. I expect next time I post I will be on my he other side!

The first night

I have been at the recovery house for about 5 hours now and I am amazed at how well i feel! They have me in a recliner and I am able to get myself up to go to the bathroom and have been walking around. Dr Ortega has me in a binder rather than a full garment, so that's not even very uncomfortable. He also told me that he used a lot of local anesthetic, so that is likely why I am not feeling much pain. I will try to get some pics tomorrow. I can't really tell what all is going on under all this, lol. BTW this recovery house rocks!

I could just cry

....because I am so happy! Just came back from Dr Ortega and my first peak at his magical work.

I came in yo this with a completely realistic expectation about what could be achieved. I am 58 and have been on a weight roller coaster my entire life. I've already had multiple surgeries so there are plenty of pre-existing scars. I think that given the materials ha had to work with, the results are nothing short of miraculous!

I am sure my "pre" photos are burned into everyone's brains. I know I can never forget them. I am posting my post op day one sneak peek today. Not sure if I mentioned before that I have not had a belly button for 18 years and already had a midline abdominal incision. I am ok with that. He did another midline so that he could cinche me in and give me a waist for the first time in my life.

My belly is obviously quite swollen but I am excited to see how it evolves over the next 6 months. When he lifted the back (my ass no longer hangs down my legs) he used the tissue to do autologous grafts to the upper buttocks. He tells me they will migrate downwards. I am fully aware, though, that I will never really have a booty. That's ok.

Anyway, tell me what you think.

Dr Ortega is awesome. He explains in great detail and is very caring. The anesthesiologist, Gabriel, was very nice as well. Yeah, the office staff is a bit of a hot mess, but in my equation, the surgeon is the reason I'm going there.

I will keep you updated!

Post op day 4

Every day is getting easier. This is much easier than I expected. I am getting out of the RH for a bit. I am going to get a Uber to the Whole Foods. I eat a healthy vegan diet and have been talking with some of the girls here. I am buying some bananas to make them some dairy free, oil free, sugar free Nice cream. Here is a quick picture after my shower. I see a bit more of a waist every day ????

Post op day 5

Things are chugging along. I see Dr Ortega tomorrow for dressing change. Thankfully, what he uses at the time of surgery, so I was able to shower the day after surgery. He has already told me he likes to leave drains in for 2 weeks, so I have accepted that. I still am hoping he may take out the 2 that are putting out <10 cc/ day and leave the other 2. I will update again tomorrow after I see him.

Post op day 6

Today was a tough one for me. I took my last Percocet last night and didn't sleep well. I am very sore today. I had a 1 pm follow up with Dr Ortega. The only good thing about my visit was that I met another Real selfer that I have been following! Otherwise, it was a 4 hour hellish experience. After waiting an hour or do after the appointment time, I was ushered into an exam room and to,d to put on a gown. I them sat for 90 minutes in what felt like 40 degrees. I stepped out into the hall and the aforementioned Real selfer had her room open too and was wondering what was up.

Oh, 30 minutes earlier I heard Dr Ortega talking to other patients but then he apparently went back to the OR for another procedure without seeing us. We talked a bit and an anesthesiologist came through and asked who we were waiting for. She goes into the OR suite and comes back and tells us it will be 5 minutes. (Yeah, right). She makes us close the exam room doors for "patient privacy". It was just us and we were talking to each other.

Back on the table and finally, at 4:40 ish he came into my room. He examined me, my dressing was changed. He apologized for the delay. I know things happen, but......

He wanted me to come back Monday or Tuesday to see him, but that isn't happening! There is no way I am putting the driver from the RH (or myself) through that. As long as all is well there is no point. My drains are still in. He does not take them out earlier than 2 weeks, so I will have to get that done at home.

Still very happy with my results and have additional work I would like Dr Ortega to do, but I will have to give serious thought before using Spectrum again.

Post op day 12

I have been home for 3 days now. I am definitely sleeping better in my own bed. I am beyond ready to lose these drains! Dr. Ortega always leaves the drains in for 2 weeks, so Friday should be my lucky day. That said, both of the drains for the back are still putting out at least 50cc/day, so they will probably need to stay in longer. I work in a hospital. I had planned to return to work Monday, but I am not sure that is going to happen. I am definitely not going back with drains in. I am way too worried about getting an infection for that! Otherwise I feel well. I haven't posted pictures because I don't know there has been much change. I still have a good amount of edema. When I can finally change this binder out for a full compression garment it should go down. I am trying to figure out how to change my heading to "worth it." I am definitely happy with my results. I must say I miss the women of Elite Concierge Nursing. I wouldn't use any other RH.

2 weeks post op

Whew, had 2 drains (the ones from the back) pulled today. The other 2 are still putting out quite a bit. They have to be <25 cc in 48 hours. Mine are doing 100 cc in 48 hours.

I took s few pics. My dressings are off. I do not have any open areas. This is something that Dr Ortega is very concerned with, especially in bariatric surgery patients. He is not as aggressive as some other surgeons because he has seen a lot of wound nightmares with people who have list huge quantities of weight and then have skin removed. I appreciate his caution and very glad to see everything looking nice and closed at the moment.
Miami Plastic Surgeon

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