I started putting on weight at about 7 years old...
I started putting on weight at about 7 years old and continued to gain until I was 14. After a certain point I was too embarrassed to weigh myself, even though I was the only one in the room. When I stopped weighing myself I was about 220 pounds and spilling out of size 16 clothes. At that time I was shorter than I am now, maybe 5' 2" and I had developed C-cup breasts.
I've always been good at sports and even at my heaviest I enjoyed playing softball and light activity like walking and golf. I grew up on military bases and always had a lot of freedom to roam. I was riding bikes all day, playing in the woods, and doing P.E. at school; but I was also going to McDonald's every day and buying myself 'treats.' I couldn't out exercise my appetite.
One day after school, at the start of the summer when I turned 15, I was sitting on the couch eating and I suddenly felt inspired to go for a walk. It was raining but I've always enjoyed walking in the rain so I grabbed an umbrella and went out the door. For whatever reason, partway through the walk, I decided to try running. I didn't make it very far before I had to stop and walk again, but I decided to try again the next day. I followed that pattern for months and also started doing mini-laps around my backyard. After I had worn a circular pattern in the grass my mother demanded that I run on the street instead. Eventually I was running 5 miles a day with a day off here and there. I discovered that I absolutely love running (I know that makes me weird to most people).
Over that summer I lost so much weight that I looked like a different person. In fact, most people who went to high school with me think that I transferred in at the start of sophomore year.
In college I got down near 120 pounds and was wearing a size 5 juniors. I was still running all the time but my diet was horrible and I was 'skinny-fat.' After I graduated I joined a local running club and I noticed that the fittest, healthiest looking people had some muscle and weren't just thin. So I joined a gym with my friends and started a weight lifting routine. I promptly gained 10 pounds and lost a few inches off my waist. A couple years later I worked with a personal trainer and gained 5 more pounds of muscle and lost two more inches off my waist. Don't ever skip weightlifting!
It's been years since then and I've gained more weight, but my measurements have stayed the same and I'm very happy with my appearance other than the extra skin. Losing the weight caused my breasts to shrink to a B or sometimes an A-cup depending on the bra. Now my weight hovers at around 140-145 and has been there for at least 3 years.
Going from over 220 to 120, then to 130 and now to 145 has done a number on my stomach and breasts, and I'm more than ready to not have to shift skin around when I put my clothes on. Yoga pants are awesome but it would be great to be comfortable in jeans one day.
My surgery is expe$$$ive. I'm going to be staying overnight and there will be a second surgeon to assist with the procedure.
Went to the pre-op today to make my final payment and go over any questions. I'm nervous but I feel like I've been nervous for months so it's just the new normal.
I've been working with Audrey and Kolbie in addition to Dr. Wheeler and they are both great.
When Kolbie measured me for the compression garment she said, "you're so tiny," and I had to laugh because she's right, I would consider myself a small person if it wasn't for the skin/fat rolls. I can't wait to stop pulling my workout pants up past my belly button to keep extra fluff from sticking out.
We discussed the implants and ultimately didn't make a choice about over or under the muscle, he'd prefer to decide during surgery so he can make the best choice for my body.
I had an option to get a prescription blood thinner to reduce the odds of clotting and I decided to take it. It increases the chances of there being blood around the incisions (more bleeding over all), which ups the odds for capsular contracture, but that won't kill me and a blood clot would. He also prescribed a stool softener that I will start taking a few days before. Plus the usual pain meds and an antibacterial soap for washing the week leading up to surgery.
After that I walked over to the lab a few blocks away to get blood work.
I can't believe it's only 22 days away!
Surgery is tomorrow at 9am. I went in this morning for markings and the permanent marker smell is already driving me crazy. We talked briefly about how low I want the scar for the TT to be (as low as possible), and also about the size of my areola, which I hadn't thought about and I don't really care. My belly button is pretty far off-center naturally, so I know to expect it to still be off-center when I'm all healed.
I think I'm nervous but it's hard to tell. I've done everything possible to prepare and I feel extremely ready, so I don't have anything to fret about. But there's a part of me that just wants to worry about something.
A few of our friends who are nurses have offered to stop by once a day to check on my incisions, make sure I'm handling the medication, and help me stay sanitary. My husband turned in paperwork today to get leave under FMLA to be with me full time for at least the first week or two.
I'm glad I'll be staying at the surgery center overnight because I have three little dogs who don't understand personal space and I know it's going to be hell trying to keep them from crawling all over me. I read someone's post that recommended keeping a pillow over your chest and stomach at all times in case of pouncing dogs. I will definitely be doing that since mine like to wake me up in the morning by standing on my chest.
Made it to the flat side
I had my surgery on Thursday and it's now Saturday. I've been awake for 2 hours, this is the longest I've been able to stay awake so far. We had nurse friend come over to help change my dressings and it's a good thing because I nearly passed out. It took three people to keep me from falling onto the floor. I've been able to walk to the bathroom but not much farther. Just the act of going to the bathroom drains all of my energy.
The doctor said surgery took 5 1/2 hours. They removed 2.5 pounds of skin and over a liter of fat from each of my flanks.
I'm really happy with my results so far. The TT scar is nice and low and the breasts look good.
Bye Bye compression garment
I had to stop wearing the compression garment because it was cutting off my circulation in the crotch. Basically my butt is too large and it was squeezing out of the hole like a baboon ass. Our nurse friend noticed when he was changing the dressings around my drains, and he said it would become a bed sore if I kept wearing it. My husband called the doctor and he confirmed that I should stop wearing the garment and find some Spanx or high-waisted tights instead.
No bowel movements yet but my stomach is feeling alright. I've had some gas and lots of gurgling sounds but nothing painful. The day before surgery I ate bland, light foods like egg whites, smoothies, and bananas. I haven't had much appetite the last few days and I'm not consuming anything heavy or spicy.
Our larger dog got excited yesterday and jumped with his full body weight onto my stomach. He only weighs 10 pounds but it took my pain from a 1 to a 10 instantly. We had to banish him from the bedroom for a while and he cried the whole time because he didn't understand why he wasn't allowed to stay with me. He's back with me now and is being much more gentle.
Yesterday I took my first shower and it went pretty well. I have my drains hooked to a lanyard around my neck. My husband stood just outside the tub in case anything went wrong. I wasn't able to wash my hair very effectively, it's still pretty greasy, but I was able to wipe down with antibacterial soap and it felt amazing to be clean for the first time in days.
I'm shocked at how well recovery is going. I'm exhausted and it's hard to be immobilized when I'm used to being active, but I still expected it to be a lot worse. The only weird thing is that I've been screaming in my sleep. I actually woke myself up screaming last night. I know I've been having nightmares but I can't remember them after I'm awake. I think it might be a side effect of having been under general anesthesia. I had never been put under before, and I read that some people cry and have nightmares afterward.
1st Post-Op Appointment
I visited Dr. Wheeler's office today. It looks like things are healing nicely. They replaced the tape on my breasts and removed one of my drains. I now have a bandeau around the tops of my breasts to push them downward so they eventually drop into place. They sent me some nice flowers that arrived this morning.
I took my last dose of Oxy last night at 11:30 and I'm not taking any more. The nightmares are too much. The amount of pain I've had isn't enough to make it worth being terrified to sleep. Today I've been taking 2 ibuprofen every four hours and I feel awesome. I'm finding it easier to concentrate and to stay awake. I got Far Cry Primal for the PS4 and I haven't been bored at all.
After the doctor visit we went up to Target and bought some Spanx to replace the compression garment that was causing bed sores. I haven't worn anything for compression since Sunday. I rode one of those scooters around Target and kept crashing into things, it's a good thing I'm not driving a car. We bought the high waisted kind with mid-thigh shorts, one black and one tan. Then we stopped for frozen yogurt. By the time we got home I was totally wiped out and I had to nap for a couple hours.
I have the Spanx on now and it feels weird and uncomfortable, hopefully I will get used to it.
Progress and complaints
Today was an amazing day. I was able to walk around the block a few times at a slow pace with one of the dogs. I found myself able to stay awake the entire day and get up and down from the seated position without much trouble. I have zero pain, just a lot of sensitivity in my nipples where I am used to wearing a bra but now they are rubbing on my tank top all day.
I weighed myself this morning and was happy to find that I'm only up one pound, even with the swelling and the new big boobs. Pre-op I weighed 142 and today I was at 143. My waist is at 30 inches and it was 29 before surgery.
Yesterday my husband and I went in to Dr. Wheeler's office to get my last two drains removed, as they were both outputting less than 25 CC in a 24 hour period. We did not see the Dr himself, he had told us on Wednesday to just drop in when the output had slowed to have the last two drains out. The nurse who 'helped' us refused to remove both drains (saying that it's not possible to remove two at once), did a terrible job of dressing the drain hole on the one she did remove, and it hurt like a son of a bitch when she pulled the thing out. It was a very disappointing experience.
Since it was Friday at 9am, I was going to be left with a drain that was barely outputting for another 72 hours, when it had already been in place for over a week. You don't have to be a doctor to realize that presents a huge risk for infection. Over the next 24 hours the drain put out less than 5 CC.
My husband called a nurse friend of ours to remove it for me because I was distraught and was ready to remove it myself. Luckily he was able to drop by and removed the last drain with zero pain. It was one that snaked all the way around my left side so I could feel it being pulled along under the skin but it didn't hurt. He also redressed the wounds and I feel much better about the whole thing.
Back at the gym!
Another great day! I was feeling productive so I emailed all of my clients and let them know I'm back at work. I've got a few meetings scheduled for later in the week and the projects are pouring in.
Both my husband and boyfriend are impressing the hell out of me with everything they are doing to help out around the house. If I had known this was the way to get them to do chores I would have done this a year ago.
The weather here was pretty nasty today but I did manage to go to Wal-Mart to pick up some new sports bras while I wait for the fancy special order bras from Victorias Secret. I nearly cried in the fitting room because it was the first time I have ever seen myself in a store mirror and not hated my body. I am so proud of the way I look now and I can't wait for summer so we can spend time at the lake.
Instead of walking outside I decided to go the gym and walk on a treadmill. But when I got there I was inspired to use the stair climber instead. I did 30 minutes at the level 6 pace (I usually go at 8 or 9 for an hour). Then I did a bit of light stretching. It felt amazing to get sweaty and loosened up after a week and a half of being sedentary and having stiff muscles.
I can tell that I'm swollen but it's not unbearable. The swelling I had the first week was rock hard and painful to the touch, the swelling I have now is just a little bit of puffiness but the skin is still soft. I have a few residual dark bruises on each of my hips, and one on my left breast. The bruising on my back has gone to a very light yellow and is barely noticeable, though the skin is still tender to the touch. I'm slowly getting the feeling back in my lower abdomen. Today is the first day I've been able to feel the fabric of my shirt touching that area, previously I could poke the area and feel pressure sensitivity, but no feeling on the skin itself. The three drain holes in my pubic area are closing nicely. I am changing the dressing on them every other day.
To be honest I haven't been wearing a compression garment or spanx most of the time. It's just too uncomfortable for me. I wore the spanx when I went for a walk yesterday and I'll probably wear them when I go to meetings and have to wear business clothes, but otherwise I dread putting them on. I feel good and I look great so I'm not going to fret about it.
New bras and first look at incisions
Last week I got fitted at Victoria's Secret, they put my new size at 32DDD or 34DD. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything in the store that fit and was also wireless, so I had to special order a couple bras. I got one t-shirt bra and one sports bra. I chose the "Knockout" bra for sports bra because it has an inner bra with supportive cups and an outer zip-up stretchy layer for compression. I haven't been wearing a bra at all most of the time because I want to avoid friction on the incisions. I did wear it to a meeting last week and to the store yesterday so I can say it fits really well and it's comfortable. I can't wait to wear it for a real run.
The tape has started peeling off of my breasts from showering. The parts of the incisions I can see look really good, there aren't any open wounds. A few days ago my skin on my right breast got really irritated where a little suture end was poking me. I tugged on it a little with tweezers to reposition it and it's much better now.
A few days ago I went to the gym again to do the stair climber and some light stretching. I'm still using the stairs at level 6 but I plan to increase to 7 next time I'm there because it didn't cause any problems. Yesterday and today I've gone for 3.5 mile walks around the neighborhood. I'm walking 15 minute miles. I was also able to ride my cruiser bike to the store and back, about 2 miles.
Last week I noticed that my abdomen would become tighter and I would progressively hunch over as I walked, but this week I'm able to stay upright for the duration of my light workouts.
I went to Costco yesterday with my husband but I didn't push the cart or lift anything, I don't want to take unnecessary risks with the healing process.
By the end of each day I have swelling in my flanks, where lipo was done, and that area is still a bit sore. However, all of my bruising is gone and I'm able to lightly massage the area to help circulation and relieve tension. I plan to get a real massage once I'm fully healed.
No more gross tape
Visited the Doctor's office today for progress photos and got the remaining tape removed. Everything looks great. I asked about scar treatment and he recommended silicone cream or sheeting so I picked up some Scar Away sheets. I'm naturally very pale so they won't be very noticeable once they fade to white, I have tons of stretch marks from being overweight and you can't really see them unless the lighting is exactly right.
There were lots of little black scabby bits stuck on all of the incisions. I took a shower after the appointment and most of them came off but I'm not going to force the remaining scabs, they will fall off on their own.
There is a little discoloration above the middle of my abdominal scar where I had a birthmark around my belly button that has now moved down. It always bothered me when it was in the center of my stomach but I don't really notice it now that it's down low.
Dr. Wheeler said that the skin along the incisions will flatten out over time. It looks scrunched right now from being kept in place by the steri-strips.
We looked at some side-by-side before and after pictures and I'm very impressed with the results so far. Final results won't be visible until a full year has passed but I'm already so happy with the way it is turning out.
Feeling Too Good
I'm in the frustrating part of recovery where you feel awesome but you still aren't allowed to do much.
The weather has been good so I've been out walking every day. Some of my walks are with a 25 pound backpack. Yesterday I did 5 miles walking with the pack at a 17-minute mile. I have a ruck race coming up in two months and I need to get used to covering distance with the added weight. I've also been going to the gym maybe twice a week to walk on the stairclimber and do some very light weightlifting.
I noticed that I had weird, painful lines under my breasts when raising my arms. It looks like there are cords attaching them to my upper abdomen. Turns out this is called "Mondor's Cord" and it's just inflamed veins. I'm taking ibuprofen to help them get back to normal.
Yesterday morning I weighed and measured myself. Here are the current stats:
weight: 141.5 (down almost a pound from pre-surgery)
bust: 37" (up two inches from pre-surgery, and went from an A to a DDD)
waist: 28" (down one inch from pre-surgery)
hips: 36" (down two inches from pre-surgery)
Ready to run again!
I made it to the six week mark and I can officially start running again. I'm planning to do 3 or 4 miles this afternoon at an easy pace. I have a 5 mile trail run coming up this weekend that I need to be ready for. I've been doing fast hiking with a heavy pack for the past couple weeks to keep my cardio up.
All of my scars are healing up nicely. My breasts have softened and dropped, they are starting to feel like part of my body instead of foreign objects. I'm able to lay on my stomach for a little bit, but it feels like I'm laying on an inflatable swimming pool float when I lean on my breasts.
I have swelling in my flanks right above my butt that never seems to go away, not even in the morning. I'm hoping my body reabsorbs the fluid soon because it jiggles and feels weird when I walk fast.
I can't believe how smooth this entire process has been. The weather has been getting nice here and I'm excited to get out to the lake and enjoy my new body with confidence!
Latest Post-Op Appointment
11 May 2016
2 months post
I had another post-op appointment with Dr. Wheeler this morning. Everything is looking good. He showed me that I can push on the remaining stitches under my skin to break them, which was awesome and oddly addictive. When I raise my arms up I can see them under my breasts and they pull a little, so it's a relief to know that I can release that tension. There are also stitches along my TT incision that I can pop whenever I feel like it. He said they would dissolve on their own within the year, but it's more fun to break them myself.
I'm cleared for all types of exercise as long as it doesn't hurt. I will probably go back to yoga and start rock climbing again next week. Might get a massage too, I haven't really stretched in almost 7 weeks because I didn't want to tear something and I've been stiff.
They said that irritating feeling of jiggly fluid above my butt is normal. I was already ignoring it and running anyway, but now I can do that and not feel guilty like I'm messing up the results.
A few weeks ago I bought Scar Away sheets and I was using those on the TT incision but I got lazy and stopped using them. Dr. Wheeler said to start using them again because every little bit helps. At some point today I'll bribe myself to drive to the drug store by buying a fancy coffee or some other treat.
Fitting in my jeans again
19 May 2016
2 months post
I'm finally at the point where I can wear jeans all day and not be uncomfortably swollen. All of my pants are a little loose in the waist now but they still fit my butt and thighs. Jeans used force a weird stomach/skin overhang in the front that I wore big t-shirts to hide. But now they sit nicely on my hips.
I'm still using ScarAway strips on my TT incision. I ordered the c-section size (7.5" x 1.5") from Amazon and they should be here in a few days. The ones I'm using now are shorter and it takes a lot of them to get all the way along the scar.
Monday I did a 16 mile hike with a 30 pound backpack. I'm planning to do that distance every Monday until the ruck race in mid-June. Tomorrow afternoon I'm going back to the climbing gym to start working my way back to where I was last summer.
One of the coolest things about having the abdominoplasty is that I can see my body changing as I get back into shape. I never got to see any progress before with all of the extra skin on my stomach. But now I can see my abs after a hard workout. In a few months I might be able to see them all them time.
23 Jun 2016
3 months post
I'm still loving my results. This past weekend I competed in a long distance ruck race and we won 1st for a co-ed team. I hiked 15 miles up and down a peak with a 30 pound backpack. It's hard to believe that surgery was only at the end of March because I'm feeling amazing.
Yoga is going well, I started going again a couple weeks ago. The first few times were terrible because I couldn't even do the easy stuff, but now I'm able to get into a full backbend again and do most of the hand balances that I used to do. Each time I've gone to yoga I feel more of the internal stitches popping. It worried me at first but now I make it a goal to break them because it means I'm getting deeper into the poses.
I also went back to rock climbing a few times a week. My strength isn't anywhere near what it was but I'm definitely making progress.
I don't know if the Scar Away strips are actually doing anything. I wear them as much as possible but it's a pain in the ass to wash and dry them, and sometimes they catch on my clothes and get rolled up. I panicked the other day because I thought I had a bug or something in my pants but it was a scar strip that rolled up and dropped down my leg.
My TT scar burns on my sides in the mornings, like when I roll over and sit up to get out of bed, and I still don't have feeling below the navel. When I touch certain areas I get an electric shock feeling. The scar is a bright pinkish/purple color and it's fairly flat. My belly button is tan/brown inside and I'm not sure if it will ever lighten up.
Final Check-up with the Surgeon
11 Aug 2016
5 months post
Yesterday I met with Dr. Wheeler to take a final set of pictures and look at my results. Everything is healing beautifully. I'm back to my regular activity level. My scars at at their darkest and I still think they look great. They should start to lighten in the next few months.