Tummy Tuck for Mama: Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together - Thousand Oaks, CA

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After 2 pregnancies resulting in diastasis recti...

After 2 pregnancies resulting in diastasis recti and umbilical hernia, I am nervous for surgery but looking forward to a new and comfortable me. I am 33 and my two young daughters need me feeling and moving my best. I've lost 20 lbs in 4 months and have been doing Pilates to strengthen me: it's go time!

Three days left of this belly and pain!

I only have three days left of this pooch and the accompanying back pain and hernia discomfort. I've been living with it for 5 years and my husband is probably so sick of me asking for massages. So... why am I soooooo nervous for this surgery?!

It's what I want! We reconfigured finances to be able to pay for it and planned it precisely to work for our family. This is a very wanted and scheduled surgery. But I cannot get over how afraid I am of a) being put to sleep and waking up from anesthesia (I'm not afraid of dying but afraid of WHAT IT'S LIKE! I have no idea what to expect and can't comprehend how it works and I don't like that); b) the surgery itself. I've seen too many videos and read too many RS posts. I know exactly what's going to happen and omg that freaks me out that THAT'S going to happen to my body. Out cold and being slapped around like a hunk of meat! Whaaaaat! The lipo looks so violent! Eeeeek! c) pain. I am not too proud to not take my pills. I WILL take pain meds. But I am still afraid of the pain; d) functioning after surgery -- going potty, taking showers, the little things. I have help for my two daughters and me.... between my husband and the two sets of parents nearby, I'm not so worried about the household but I am dreading how hard the simple stuff will be.

I went to a hypnotherapist and tried to work on happy thoughts and positive affirmations. I thiiiiink they can work, but I'm worried I will still let the REAL feelings sink in when it's go time. My mind is a hard one to take charge of. Very Type A. Very control-freak.

These next three days are looming over me. Part of me wants this week to go slow and part of me wants it to go fast. This is a very difficult time, mentally, and I don't think I'm handling it well.

Day Before = I'm a Basket Case

I’ll take “Unrelated, but related things” for $1000, Alex.

A Green Day song and how Alison is feeling.

What is a basket case?

ding ding ding!

I know, a very obscure reference, but underneath this set of Broadway show tunes ears is a 6th grade girl with a big crush on Billie Joe and useless knowledge about Green Day (Extra trivia: Sublime would become my next favorite band because that was what was necessary for cute junior high skaters to give me the time of day). So anyway, “Basket Case” is a song about Billie Joe’s panic attacks. And that’s basically what I’ve been experiencing all day. Where are my five Grammys and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction?

Oh, instead of those accolades, I get a new tummy. Totally fair.

Really, though, panic attacks all day. My husband has been out of town this week so I’ve been trying to carry on like business as usual around here, but it’s kind of hard to do when you can’t help but count down every hour and say things to yourself like, “X hours from right this moment, I’ll probably be waking up and I better not be nauseous and puke and say embarrassing things.” I’ve also been tidying up the house and redecorating. It’s like I’m nesting, but instead of giving birth in the near future, I’m getting sliced and diced. In my experience, it’s sort of the same thing, actually.

We are on the final day or so of our upstairs remodel so that’s also been taking up a lot of brain space, which is mostly a good thing. That’s the rule, don’t you know: You remodel your house and then you remodel yourself. Naturally. But now that it’s nearing the end, it’s the signal to me that my surgery is next. At least we have two brand new bathrooms and a newly created upstairs laundry room, a great improvement from sharing space with spiders and crickets in the garage. The irony is that in a couple days, I won’t be able to stand up to brush my teeth at my new sink or wash clothes in the new laundry room.

The greatest tease of all is that I’ve been working for months on a leaner and stronger body. Today was my last day of Pilates with my instructor until after the surgery. Now that I’m finally so much stronger than when I started to see her, my body is about to become super weakened. I know that working with her to prepare my body for surgery was the right thing, and I can’t wait for my six weeks to be up so I can resume workouts with her. Private Pilates classes two or three times per week made such a difference and I missed it on the days we didn’t meet. In addition to exercise, she has been a solid ear for talk therapy, a fountain of knowledge about how my body works — or, really, doesn’t work, and a wonderful cheerleader on this journey. We joked today that we’ve done everything we could and it’s out of our hands now, probably similar to how most of America felt after casting their votes last week.

I left her studio around 11, got in the car, and cried. I cried because I’m scared. I also cried because I accomplished a goal I never thought I’d complete or even enjoy: consistent exercise and body change. I took before and after photos last week and, the photos helped me realize that I’ve come a long way and, more importantly, how much I really do need this surgery. It’s clear I slimmed down in so many areas, but the belly remained the same: out, round, and pregnant-looking.

My wonderful friends have been so supportive because they know I am scared out of my mind. Last night, I should’ve gone to bed early to get rest (I never go to sleep early when my husband is away), but my mind was racing and just as I was about to start looking at tummy tuck videos because I am masochistic like that, a wonderful new friend I’ve made from My daughter's school messaged me on Facebook to check on me and we ended up chatting for an hour and a half about all sorts of things. She saved me from a panic attack alone in my living room. And today, I talked to two friends, a nurse and a recent rockstar tummy tuck patient, and they attempted to talk me off a ledge as well. Last week, one of my best friends gave me a beautiful quartz crystal for optimal healing. I don’t know what I believe in, but I know it’s pretty, it feels smooth to hold and rub my fingers on when I get nervous, and the most warming part is that it was a gift from a true friend who cares. I am lucky that my friends continue to be there for me even though I sound like a psychotic person right now. I am looking forward to feeling calm and feeling the anxiety disappear once I’m on the other side of this nonsense.

The second time I cried today was when I picked up all of my prescriptions. I really played up the easily nauseated part during my pre-op appointment, so that won me three meds to combat nausea. Of course the real prize is the Percocet which I plan to swallow round the clock, inhale, inject, and rub all over me. Seriously, I am so not too proud to take pain medication.

I went through the pharmacy drive-thru (god bless you, Walgreens) and was so shaky when I paid for the prescriptions. My hand dropped the credit card between the seat and middle console and I stuttered badly when the tech asked for my address. She could tell I was so nervous about the surgery for which her magical bottles would aid in my recovery. She gave me sympathetic eyes and then I asked her to hold my hand on Friday morning. Sorry, Walgreens Tech Michelle, for being the crazy lady in the drive-thru tonight. I hope you at least had a good laugh about me in the break room because I’ve really lost my marbles and there’s nothing anyone can do but giggle about it. When I drove away, I cried because it all became real again.

I can’t truly articulate what it is I’m so afraid of. I know I’m not going to die. I know I’m going to love the result in six weeks. I know I’m going to feel so much more comfortable and active in order to keep up with my girls. I suppose I’m afraid of the pain, but I’m mostly afraid of the unknown. The unknown leads me to research and well, we all know we’re not supposed to Google anything, but why would I follow that rule?

I want this today to go fast and slow all at the same time. I get bursts of energy and bravery where I just want to go go go and get it over with! And then I get a dip in blood pressure where I just absolutely dread what’s to come. I’m not really in charge either way. The clock is ticking and the sun will rise once more before it’s go time. I’ve got to just roll with the punches. But I just hope those punches aren’t too hard because, ouch!

On the way to surgery!

Just waiting for husband to get out of the shower and then we are headed to the surgery center. I slept a little. Not much. Woke up an hour early and tried practicing going to my happy place. Totally stressed if I'm wearing the right thing-- I have loose PJ pants, a button up pj shirt, and a fleece sweater wrap because it's cold this morning (well, for SoCal). I'm shaking and I don't think it's from the temperature in my bedroom! This must be what my dog feels like when i bring him to the vet. Haha

Applied my patch last night and just took my Emend with a sip of water. Trying to enjoy a free body and vertical position. I sort of have to poop but I know that's not going to happen in the next 5 minutes. Might be nerves and not actual poop. People reading this must think I'm crazy. Hi people! I swear I'm not a crazy person!

Just set up my pillows and wedge and towels on my bed so they are all set for me for when I come home. Practicing in this position. Not too uncomfy. I'm sure my tune will change.

About to make the 10 minute drive .... eeeeeeeek!!!!!!

Home! And apparently flat!

I am home now after a fairly quick morning at the surgical center. Very much a wham bam thank you ma'am situation. Amazing that I can be sent home so quickly after this kind of surgery.

In my preop I had some happy juice in my line and it helped except after about five minutes I got really white and hot and sweaty and spinny. My nurse slapped so oxygen on me and loaded Zofran and my line and that helped super fast. The anesthesiologist came and was so nice and I just wanted to hug him. He made me feel comfortable in addition to also making me feel comfortable pharmaceutically.

I had a tearful goodbye to my husband and was very intimidated by the operating room but I knew I was in good hands.

And then apparently I woke up. I woke up in just a little bit of pain around my incision site. I heard that's normal. And then before I knew it was time to go home so the nurse just me and put me in the wheelchair. However I was awake on and off before that but I don't remember any of it and my husband told me I kept asking the same questions over and over again but I'm relieved to know that I did not wake up crying and agitated like I was worried about.

So now I am home in bed in the V position. I ate crackers when I got home so I could start taking the Percocet. It was super hard to eat the crackers because I have really bad dry mouth for the patch and my throat is sore from the intubation but I got the crackers down even though it was like eating sand, took my Percocet, and now I'm feeling a lot better. I've just been snoozing this afternoon but just woke up from a little nap and wanted to touch base.

Thank you for your well wishes and encouragement. My goal l is just to get through one hour at a time and try to be as comfortable as possible.


I think it gets worse before it gets better, right? I am 2 days out of surgery and am just starting to feel irritated and annoyed. I don't know if it's because I am actually more pain or if my body is sick of the same positions.

My back hurts a LOT. Mostly my lower back. And I'm so itchy! My arms, my chest, my thighs -- places I didn't have surgery! Very weird. But now the skin under my binder is Itchy, so I wonder if I need to wear a cotton shirt under the binder.

I haven't showered yet. I'm kind of afraid to shower! I'll also have to treat my belly button by cleaning it and covering it with Aquaphor to keep it moist. Ew!

My husband is an excellent drain changer. So that part has been fairly easy.

Totally staying on top and ahead of my pain meds. Happy to say there's been no nausea which was one of my bigger fears. A lot of prophylactic anti-nausea drugs did the trick.

I did get to see my tummy yesterday. My friend used to be an OR nurse in plastics, so she came to check on me. Very cool. Can't wait to see more.

Recovery is not as horrible as I thought it would be. Definitely uncomfy, but I'm not totally miserable. Trying to keep my eye on the prize!

I Got the Post TT Blues

I'm sort of "over" the whole monotony and routine of this postop experience. Not good. It's only 6 days after my surgery. Perhaps I got my hopes up for a super easy recovery after reading some very encouraging RS journals and talking with a friend who had her TT a week before mine and was off pain meds and standing upright by the end of her first week. I don't see those trends happening for me right now and I'm pretty jealous actually!

I had to call in a refill for my Percocet because if I go beyond the 4 hours without it, I definitely feel pain. My original rx wasn't going to get me through the week since I've been taking it round the clock along with Advil.

I was also hoping to have my drains out tomorrow, Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and for a few days, it looked like I'd be heading that way but suddenly yesterday, drain #2 decided to start putting out more juice than it ever had. Usually #2 was my underperformer, but it's like it just got a second wind and is totally going to prevent me from drain removal possibility tomorrow. That means drains through the weekend and hopefully out on Monday. That will be at least 10 days of drains. While I know that's possible, I was really counting on a week. :( One of the drains is soooo uncomfortable. It tugs at my skin and I zaps me on the inside. Horrible. Plus, id like to start wearing underwear again or at least pull my pants up.

Still not able to stand upright and the hunching over is killing my back. Also, my position in bed, even with the pillows behind my head and under my legs, is killing my back. I feel so frozen. And rolling out of bed is the only way to get out without engaging my abs, and rolling over and over again on my hip is hurting the area where I had liposuction.

I've been reading about women who have been putting on jeans for the first time around this mark and I'm super jealous that I'm not able to try on other clothes yet. I feel like this is going slower for me than it has for others and that not so much has improved since day one.

I have showered a few times and while that feels productive I'm frustrated that I still feel smelly afterwards. From what I can tell it's the drain holes that are a little uh fragrant. I thought they were infected but a nurse friend checked them and said they're not plus there are no other signs of infection.

I know it's a long road ahead and that this recovery is supposed to be one of the hardest PS procedures, but I guess I was hoping for a little more progress at this point.

The crazy thing is that I look amazing. But I don't feel amazing. So when I see myself in the mirror, it's a weird out of body experience. Between the numbness and the pain, I don't match with how I feel. So it's hard to be excited about the result.

I KNOW it will get better but OHMYGOD

I'm 7 days post op and MORALE. IS. LOW. I've hit a bump mentally and I'm not doing so hot. If you've had the surgery, please give me some uplifting thoughts to put back in my head.

Yes, the pain from surgery is rough but my recovery/healing is taking a toll. I have severe back pain and spasms that are so debilitating ... my drains are making me bananas because they really hurt now at the wound site and I don't see an end in reach (my output seems to be increasing all of a sudden!) ... my binder is going to make my husband and I have a divorce because we argue every time we put it on me since we can't get it right...

I am not happy. Any nuggets of wisdom?

These drains are draining me

When I first began my research on plastic surgeons and their methods, one of the plastic surgeons I consulted with Brad about doing a drainless tummy tuck. It sounded pretty dreamy and almost to the to be true, but I thought that in general he did not understand my reasons for wanting a tummy tuck and was more of a vanity plastic surgeon than a clinical one. I chose a different practice that does not do a drainless tummy tuck but seemed to understand my goals and motivation for electing to have this surgery. In the back of my mind I had wondered if I made the right decision because drainless method seemed really wonderful, but I told myself that it was only usually 3 to 7 days of drains and more of the discomfort than an actual pain, so I was able to rationalize that I made the right choice.

Well. I am on post op day 9 and not only do I still have my f$&@?%! drains, but they are causing me the most grief of any of my tummy tuck handicaps. I completely understand how drains work and why they are so commonly used, but I am munching on one huge bunch -- no, vineyard-- of sour grapes. WHY ME?! I read that some patients only need them for 3 days. Maybe just a week. Why am I the freakin Ol Faithful of yellowish drain goo?!

At first they were just annoying. A tug here or there. Now, despite cleaning and keeping moist per doctors orders, I am a pile of crust and shmutz at the base of the tube on my skin; it hurts to move any which way that moves the pubic area, thus moving the tubes; stripping the drains even hurts now because it causes movement to the base even if I stabilize the bottom where it meets my skin; and there's a smell: I don't think I will ever be able to unsmell it. My olfactory zone has officially catalogued "Drains" in the file; and last night, I stood up after a few hours of TV bingeing and felt a drop on my toe. I looked down and my HOLE was leaking -- not the tube or the bulb but the HOLE IN MY VAG. I called the doc on call and he said that maybe there's a blockage and to strip them even better. I don't know how else my husband can strip them any differently. But now I've sprung a leak. He said we could take care of it on Monday and ditch the drains. Music to my ears but...

I am SOCLOSE to getting to the 25cc for two days straight. Drain 1 has really trickled off in the correct direction. It probably could've come out Friday or would have for sure been eligible on Saturday but... weekend. So I had high hopes that Drain 2, usually an under producer, would follow suit. No. Drain 2 decided to get a second wind. So now not only is it suddenly producing more than it ever did in my first 3 days post op, but it it's exceeding the daily max it's allowed to produce before being allowed to be removed. Drain 2 is NOT getting the memo. So we have to hope that today, Sunday, the drains will both cooperate and be under the 25cc amount so that they can come out tomorrow, Monday. Otherwise I'm stuck with these aholes for another day or two.

I am running out of steam. I don't know how much I have left in me. I am in shock that I haven't cried in the 10 days of being sliced open, but I am very very near sloppy messy sobby frustrated girl crying. It's just not faaaaaaaair. These drains are completely taking anything I have left in me after this beast of a surgery and totally breaking me down. It's hard to believe that what should be a nothing, no-drama, side effect of major surgery has become the headlining act and lead source of my discomfort.

Pity party table of 1 please.

I guess I'm not "most patients"

"Yeah, most patients get their drains out anywhere from 3 to 7 days post op. It really depends on their output. You must be an oozer."

I've been called many things in my life. Oozer is a new one.

Yes. I still. Have. Drains. Let me break that down:

Surgery was 11/18
Today is 11/28. I still. Have. Drains.

I want to die. This is the worst part about my tummy tuck and it has nothing to do with my tummy or its tucking. I am beyond delirious about this.

Theoretically they can come out tomorrow and I think they will. I'm waiting on #2 to cooperate. It was in the 20s for sooooo many days early on. Then it got a second wind. Then on Friday it was 25. Then on Saturday it was 29. Sunday it was 15. They wouldn't let me take it out today because of that spike to 29. Fuck you, Saturday.

I'm terrrrrrified to have them removed tomorrow because of the forest that has grown at the base of the drains on my skin. The skin is so angry and irritated. I think it's going to be really awful and my husband is going to have nail marks in his arm from me freakin out during the yank.

Once these drains are out, I expect to be able to heal much more efficiently.

Showers are my happy place

Nothing like enjoying the warm water relax the tense and sore back that seems to be more painful than the actual surgery area.

My husband still has to help shower me since I can't twist and turn to reach shower products or parts of my body. You haven't lived until your husband washes your tushie crack. Really. Oy. All that "in sickness and in health" mumbo jumbo is legit! Good guy. Quite a mensch.

I do love how I feel after I shower. After sitting around all day in the collective musty stink of the drains (on their way out in 9 hours!) and feeling all hunched, the water and soap kind of rejuvenates me. I have a shower chair and I like to sit there and just let the water hit me. It's warm and relaxing. This mama needs more relaxing!!

For the first time tonight I actually didn't wince and cringe when I saw myself in the mirror. People keep asking me how I feel when I see myself and honestly, I get weak. I'm not excited yet because i am not a finished product and i have FELT so crappy that the outside didn't match my inside. But tonight I was actually a little amazed at what the doctors did and what I'm becoming.

I'm Freeeeee!!!

Did ya hear the angels singing?! That was the sound of my drains coming out after 11 days of those bloody udders hanging from my body! So so relieved those things are gone.

I was super nervous it would hurt to have them removed. But I was happily surprised to experience zero pain. Didn't even know they were out until the doc stood up to throw them away! Phew!

The minute they were gone, my posture changed and my pain level shifted. I could pull my pants up! I took a shower when I got home and it was so much easier and more relaxing. Currently my only symptom is tightness from the tuck and numbness from the lipo. These are totally tolerable.

Doc confirmed that I had a huge diastasis and they sewed me up tight. I explained that I feel like I'm not only wearing a super strong 18th century corset, but that it feels like there's a tourniquet inside me, bisecting my muscles. He validated my feelings and said that's basically what they did to me. Wow. Science is cool.

Anyway, I expect smoother sailing now. I am in a much better place and healing can truly begin.

Life without drains = back in business!

I had my drains out Tuesday, 11 days post op, and my oh my, life is gooooood.

I haven't taken a Percocet since the morning of the removal and have only taken 600mg of Advil maybe once or twice a day. Feeling stiff and only slightly sore to the touch in the lipo areas, but I do not have any pain and my overall function is much improved.

On Thursday, 13 days post op, I went for a walk around the mall with my mom and it felt good to get out and see the world and move my body. And the next night, I went to the theater to see a show and I had no issues. It is so exciting to be unchained from my bed and house. I am even doing some things for my kids. I felt guilty being such a worthless mom for almost two weeks. Of course I am not lifting or doing any housework (oh darn!) but I can at least help pick out clothes for the baby or heat up a meal for the 5 year old.

The drain holes are clearing up nicely and I'm wearing a less intense binder. Doc said I don't HAVE to wear a binder anymore, but I do feel better wearing it so I am.

Oh and after 15 days, I finally had my first sneeze! It wasn't terrible but I felt lots of spasms after. A little scary! But I think I'm still in one piece. Whew! :)

15 days photo comparisons

Side by sides are cool when there's progress!

The photo with 4 shots: left side is July; right side is November a week before surgery. There's a 20 lb weight difference thanks to Whole30 and Pilates. Diastasis persevered.

Next two pics are the belly and sides at 15 days. WHO IS THAT?!?!

Zebra stripe swelling!

I keep joking that i need to fake some more pain. I'm 2 days shy of 3 weeks post op and this last week I started to feel really good -- in comparison to the horribleness that was the first two weeks. My husband is going to start expecting me to do things around the house if I keep pitching in little by little and I don't think I'm ready for the momcation to be over. .... physically and mentally.

I might have done too much today???? Volunteered in my daughter's kindergarten class, did my first shopping trip to the market with my husband, and even picked up some toys around the house. Still not lifting and driving but maybe I should lay down more. Why?? Well.... just got undressed for bed and I have swelling stripes on my sides! Whoa!

Maybe it was my outfit today? Broke out of the PJs and wore a pair of yoga leggings (they're tight.... lived in them before the surgery since they flattened the diastasis pooch) and a tight long sleeve shirt and a puffer vest over that (it was 62 degrees today which is the tundra in SoCal haha).

Anyway.... made sure to put my binder nice and smooth and tight for bed just now. Not sure if this kind of swelling is normal or if it's my fault. Eeeeeek!

Otherwise, I'm not in toooo much pain. Just sore. But that seems to be the new normal.

Ok, I'm A Believer

I never doubted the positive outcome that would be my post surgery body, but I can out officially say that I am a believer. Was it the Monkees who said "Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer" ?? Swap belly with face and you got yourself a new song.

Sunday the 18th was exactly a month postop and I can now say that I am very pleased with my results. I'm not saying that I wasn't pleased before, but I just didn't have enough of a visual to really understand what they did to me and how it has improved my body.

At this point I am 99% standing up straight. It's such a relief. I hated looking like an old lady all hunched over. I just have to be more conscious about rolling my shoulders back. That roundedness is not attractive. I didn't pay all this money for a hot new body just to look like my grandmother.

The tightness is definitely still there, but not so much that it takes over my entire feeling and awareness. I think it has helped that about two weeks ago I stopped sleeping with my legs propped up. Now I can sleep on my back with my legs straight out, which kind of helps my abdominal area stretch out. That stretch during my sleep makes my waking hours much more comfortable. I would suggest to anyone who feels up to it that they should sleep without their knees being propped up as soon as the doctor gives them the OK. Really helps with the lengthening of the body.

I'm pretty much doing all normal activity. I can bend and sit on the floor and pick things up that are under the 5 pound weight requirement. The only thing I'm not doing is exercising, lifting my kids, or having sex. I probably could do the latter, but let's be honest, zero libido. My poor husband can't even touch me. He actually really wants to just give me a hug around my waist because it's so small now, but I'm very numb there still and it's weird to feel anything on my skin. So I won't let him hug me without the binder on. I know, so sexy.

Speaking of the binder, I'm still wearing it. I need it a little bit for support. It just feels good. But actually more than anything, it acts as a barrier between my shirts and my skin because I don't like anything to touch my skin. It's not 100% numb on my side and belly, but it's just enough that it just feels really weird. Like when your foot falls asleep and you have pins and needles, and it feels really heavy, that anything that touches it is not pleasant. That's how I feel. I really really really hope that goes away eventually because I can't imagine a lifetime of that kind of numbness. I had numbness at my C-section incision and that wasn't bad at all. But numbness on my sides and on my front between my bellybutton and my incision is not an enjoyable feeling.

I am including some photos from this week which is four weeks out of surgery. It will be five weeks on Friday which is in two days. I'm super impressed. Who is that?!?
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