44 Years Old, Tummy Tuck with Muscle Repair, Lipo, bbl/grafting - Dr Pantoja, Tijuana January 2015
Hi ladies! I've been meaning to start this review...
Before Pictures - 5"4 132 lbs
Pre Op Pics - Let's hope these post
More pre-op pics - taken the night before surgery (142 lbs)
Day of Surgery
Suzanna left me in the office with the nurse where I filled in all the paperwork, and then went downstairs for blood work. Hemo was 14.1 (hurrah!) so I was good to go. The only time I freaked out was when the cardiologist came in to do the EKG. The way it's done here started me having a panic attack - first they sit you in a big chair (the same kind you see folks get electricuted in!) and then the cardiologist started putting metal wraps on each wrist and on each ankle. Oh my god!! It didn't hurt at all, just looked so barbaric that I couldn't breathe. My EKG came back 'abnormal' and the cardiologist and Dr Pantoja wanted me to go have a stress test but fortunately, I was able to reach my dr in the USA and have them email over an EKG I had just completed in the USA a few weeks ago and so I was cleared for surgery. Two lessons I learned from this - (1) make sure you get all your testing done in the USA before going to Mexico so that you know your surgery will go as planned - nothing worse than getting all the way down here only to find out you can't do the operation. and (2) bring copies of everything with you - double copies of all your medical reports and testing. I had brought everything EXCEPT a copy of the print out from my USA EKG test. I was so focused on my hemo level being good that it never occured to me something else could derail things.
I was impressed that Dr Pantoja was so serious about the EKG results and the cardiologist was right on point. They are a great team - really care about the patient and their number 1 focus is patient safety. Throughout all of this, Nadia was by my side interpreting back and forth. She is WONDERFUL!! Very professional, great bed-side manner, and very efficient (reaching out to my US doctor and resolving the EKG issue in a short period of time).
Day of Surgery Continued
As he marked me up he told me I didn't have much fat in my back but he would take it all out and graft it to my hips/butt. Then I was taken upstairs to the recovery room where I got into a surgical gown and had my IV started (nurse Carolinena - she was amazing and so kind). Next I met the surgeon that works with Dr Pantoja (Pedro). He is very handsome so that was a good distraction...lol! He asked lots of questions and made me feel really at ease. Next I met the anesthesiologist and he also asked a lot of questions. He was super nice too. I can't say enough about the great staff there at Dr Pantoja's office - they are genuinely nice and caring.
Next a woman came to give me a massage to help me relax. I guess Dr P does this instead of giving meds, and I think it's a great idea. Unfortunately, the massage lady was very aggressive so it wasn't relaxing in the least! She slapped loads of oil all over and just rubbed my head and body randomly. No way she was trained as a masseuse! another downside - all that oil and rough head massage made me look like I had been sleeping in a bush for a week, crazy hair sticking everywhere!! Maybe just my experience, but I will be giving feedback to Dr P at my follow up visit.
When the 'massage' was over, Dr Pedro and the nurse walked me across the hallway to the operating theatre. The whole team was in there and Dr Pantoja was happy and seemed relaxed and confident. They had me lay on my side on the operating table, curled up in the fetal position. They do this so they can apply the spinal block once you are alseep from the meds. Next the sleepy meds started to be injected into my IV and before I knew it I was out cold and waking up in the recovery room - operation complete! Dr Pantoja was sitting in my room eating some lunch and keeping an eye on me, along with a few nurses - everyone wanted to make sure I was comfortable and let me know the surgery went well.
Post Surgery - Day 1 / Day 2
By the following morning (Thursday - day 1 PO) they brought me a lovely breakfast of oatmeal and fruit with honey. It was yummy. For lunch I think I had chicken soup. The whole day is a little bit blurry but I do remember being VERY stiff and swollen, not in any pain but quite uncomfortable. The nurses got me out of bed to walk around - oh my gosh. It took forever for me to get out of bed, even with 2 nurses helping me. I was convinced that my back was somehow velcro'd to the bed! Dr Pantoja and Dr Pedro came to check on me several times in the day to see how I was doing and check my inscisions etc. I was not really wanting to look at the inscision so I just looked away! Dr Pantoja said he lipo'd 2000cc's from my back and put 950cc in each cheek. If I wasn't drugged up I would have freaked out, because I was not looking for a big booty, just adding a little bit to refresh what I used to have when I was younger!
The second night in the clinic was much harder for some reason. I think everything was just catching up with me and the bruising started to surface from the lipo. I was definitely feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of so many days recovery ahead.
Friday morning the nurses removed my catheter and IV, gave me a shower and got me into the compression garment. Then Suzanna from club med/friends house came into my room to pack up my few things and take me 'home'. I was so happy to see Suzanna - she has such a comforting way about her that you just feel you can relax and give it over to her! 15 minutes later we were at FH and I was sitting in a chair watching the amazing ocean view and feeling restful.
After a nice lunch, Suzanna pulled my garment down so she could spray the antibiotic stuff on my incisions (Dr Pantoja requires you do this twice a day - the spray was $15 from the pharmacy here in TJ).
Post Op Pictures - Friday (Day 2)
You can see that the bruising is not super noticable at this stage.
The orange color on the incisions is the antibiotic spray.
Sunset view from my bed at FH
Post Op Day 3 - Saturday
I was supposed to have a massage with Maripaz at 4pm and took percocet ahead of time, just to be safe - had no idea what to expect and was definitely nervous! Unfortunately she was delayed with clients at the clinic so it was around 7pm when she arrived at FH. Maripaz is gorgeous, and adorable. She is very sweet but speaks very little English. She stripped off my compression garment and was trying to get me to lie down on my back on the bed. I don't know why, but it just felt like an impossible task (of course, all in my head thinking my stitches would rip open or something!) and I started to cry. I pretty much cried through the whole massage - not because it hurt (although it's definitely a little uncomfy at times) but I think I was just releasing all the stress of the last few days. I think also just a release, feeling happy and grateful that I had made it safely to the flat side and knowing I was taking another step on the recovery journey. I'm also the kind of person that needs to know what steps are happening - so with the communication barrier I wasn't quite sure what Maripaz was going to do next, how she wanted me to move, how long was left of the session etc. I am going to write up some 'instructions' and leave them at FH so that other girls who are like me can see the 5 steps involved with the massage. Maripaz uses her own special arnica and herb oil. It smells great and it's nice to get the skin hydrated after being stuck in surgical stockings and a garment all day!
Post Op Day 4 Sunday Updated pictures!
Here's a few pictures from PO Day 4. The orange color is the antibacterial spray on my incisions. In addition to the tummy tuck I had lipo to the back bra line, upper arms and inside thighs - the entry points for the lipo are stitched up with dark sutures (one on each arm, 2 on the back, and i've no idea about my thighs - I can't seem to see any sutures down there but I can't say I've spent any time looking for them...lol!)
Post Op Day 8 - updated pictures!
This afternoon Maripaz came to the house and i had my 6th lymphatic massage. I have had one every day starting on Day 3 PO. If I take a percocet then the massages are fine. If not, I do find myself crying - it's not the most pleasant thing in the world but again it's more that I psych myself out thinking about what's going on (all that warm fluid gushing out!) I highly recommend the massages and it's great that Maripaz will come out to ClubMed. I can't imagine getting in the car and dealing with waiting around at Dr P's office every day.
I'm trying to think if there's anything else I need to share from the last few days. Ah yes! The poop milestone! Every day since I came to ClubMed i would ask suzanna "Should I take stool softener" and she would say "there's nothing in your system, you're not going to poop until day 5" and she was 1000% right! I didn't feel any heaviness or urge to go, so on the morning of day 5 I took half a dose of Milk of Magnesia and within a couple of hours I was having a nice poop - no pushing or struggling or anything. It was a beautiful thing! One more milestone crossed off the list :-)
The other thing I've been doing is drinking lots of Propel water. It's zero calories, tastes great, and has lots of vitamin C, B6, etc. I'm also taking the VitaMedica surgery vitamins (AM/PM & Bromelein/Que combo). And of course, still taking Floradix liquid iron every day. My hemo was 14.1 the day of surgery and 11 when I was discharged which I was very happy with.
I'm posting some pictures taken this afternoon - hopefully they load ok! I'm still bent over from the tt, lots of bruising from the lipo, but incision is healing really nicely. Can't wait to have boobs to match my new tummy later this year!!
Post Op Day 17 - updated pictures
A few random observations:
*The recovery is taking longer than I thought. I'm 2.5 weeks post op and see other reviews where girls are back at work and doing long shifts, or are asking how soon they can work out. Unfortunately I don't fall anywhere on that spectrum! I did start back at work full time last Monday but thankfully I was able to work from home. I am supposed to be in the office next week but I'll be reaching out to my boss to see if I can work from home for at least a few more days.
*I had 9 lymphatic massages with Maripaz at Our Friends House, and I have found a local lymphatic specialist now that I'm back home. The process is very different. Maripaz is more focused on moving the fluid out of your body. My local person is more gentle and focuses on helping the lymphatic system 'heal' itself. There is no fluid extraction. I have not had to take a pain pill for the sessions since I've been home. I have had 2 sessions so far and have 8 more booked (every 2 to 3 days). A pack of 10 sessions was $450.
* I have not driven since my surgery. I think I will try tomorrow. To be honest, I'm pretty terrified. It takes me 5 minutes to climb into the car as a passenger and even short rides feel very uncomfortable. I am clutching a pillow to my tummy but seem to feel every bump and twist in the road. It's exhausting!!
* I still have my front drain but I think that will come out soon. The fluid has been very clear for several days, but I'm still putting out around 40ml every 24 hours. Thankfully the drain itself doesn't bother me so I'm in no particular rush for it to be pulled although it would be nice to check off that milestone. I have an option to go back down to Dr Pantoja next weekend to have the drain & all my stitches removed, but I'm leaning towards seeing a local surgeon here to take care of everything. In either case, I have a lot of anxiety over the process. I do not like to have my stomach touched at all, and the thought of the stitches being clipped makes me feel faint!!
* My external bruising is pretty much gone, but I'm still very tender and bruised internally on the lipo areas. My incision is healing really nicely. I'm applying medi-honey or neosporin once a day. I'm still walking hunched over and the lower back pain is awful. Sometimes I just cry, it feels like it will never end. Then I remind myself it's only been a few weeks and pull myself together! There is definitely a big emotional component to the recovery and hopefully that will settle out soon.
*I am able to get in and out of bed by myself. I can put my compression garment on by myself and it only takes about 5 minutes. I think I might need a smaller one soon, but the one I'm wearing still leaves big marks all over my skin so I'm not quite ready to squish into something even tighter just yet! I am eating normally and have no trouble with going to the bathroom. I've not had to take anything to help with this, just a regular balanced diet and lots of water seems to be doing the trick. I am still on 5mg of percocet in the morning when I wake up, and again early afternoon. I take 800mg Ibuprofen early evening.
Happy healing everyone!
Sunset at OFH
3.5 Weeks Post Op - Another Surgery and Feeling Frustrated
Unfortunately they were not able to get the stone out but they did push it back into my kidney so the blockage is clear (for now) and they were able to insert a stent. I potentially have another surgery next week. This has been so hard on my mental recovery - I have been working from home since a few days after my TT surgery, but was set to be back in the office this week and of course did not make it. I am also on a bunch more meds - including another round of antibiotics, AZO (to numb the bladder so I don't feel the stent pain too much), and of course on Percocet (also to manage the stent pain).
So...with all that going on, here's my TT/fat graft update!
* I had my front drain pulled an all my stitches out 2 days ago. My primary doctor was unwilling to do it but she referred me to a surgeon and he was very kind. I took 10mg of Valium and 5mg of percocet 45 mins before my appointment. I had so much anxiety around the whole process, but they were so kind and really put me at ease. I didn't feel the drain being pulled at all (although the valium was probably kicked in and doing it's thing by then!). The nurse took out all my stitches - it took her about 45 minutes. She couldn't believe how many stitches I had! She guessed maybe 400 - wow! She was super nice and supportive. At no point did they make me feel 'shamed' for having surgery in Mexico. After the stitches were out, the doctor came and checked everything - said the incision looked great, but had the nurse put steri-strips on the tt and the bb. He also prescribed antibiotics for a week (to be safe, with the drain being pulled until the drain hole heals). I am going back in 1 week for a check up.
* I still have a lot of discomfort/stiffness around my sides and lower back - especially when I wake up in the morning or stand up after sitting down for a while. My bra line lipo is also still feeling very bruised internally - it's hard to explain really. I am not able to lift my arms above my head fully without tremendous pain. That's ok - It's not like I need to do that much, but it does mean I can't reach for things up high on a shelf in the kitchen. There is no external bruising. I hope the discomfort and stiffness goes away SOON!!
* Because of my kidney stone and surgery, I've not been able to wear my compression garment for the last 5 days. I will maybe try to get it on today for a few hours. I don't 'feel' swollen but I guess I must be since the elastic from my undies leaves a big mark on my thighs.
* Since my stiches came out, I feel a lot of 'pulling' around my belly button. Just in the general area, not the bb itself. I'm wondering if that is the muscles re-attaching of if it is something to do with residual 'pain' from the drain being pulled, or residual pain/swelling internally from my kidney surgery (it's on the same side, so hard to tell).
* I have no idea how my fat grafting is working out. Thankfully it wasn't really a big focus for me - mostly just did it for a little 'refresh' in my tush. I do sit on a boppy in the day. At night I sleep on a boppy or on my side but I am not religious about it. I see folks on RS who don't even sit down for a month or more. I could not be one of those people, especially with my tt and muscle repair. I have not taken pictures or done any measurements. I guess I'll get a good sense when my drain hole is healed and I'm able to try on bikini bottoms!
* I have not driven yet - mostly because of my pain meds this week for my kidney. I also still feel nervous about getting behind the wheel. Just one more mental game my head is playing with me. The emotional part of the recovery has been much more challenging than I ever anticipated. I'm happy and mostly upbeat, but I do have the occasional cry, mostly from frustration that I'm not doing all the things I was hoping to do by now. Everyone heals differently but I see so many ladies on here who are back to 'mommy duties' by this stage, and I just am not quite there yet.
I will try to post some updated pictures later today - not much to see since everything is covered with steri strips, but I know how much I looked forward to pictures when I was reading reviews pre-surgery so I will put them up anyway!!
Happy Valentines everyone! x x
24 days PO - Updated Pics
29 days Post Op - 2nd follow up with local plastic surgeon
I'm still walking really hunched over, but today a little straighter. I'm also walking really slow - just so much stiffness. The nurse today said it's likely related to my kidney stone and will resolve in a few weeks.
I'm still taking percocet in a morning (5mg) and Ibuprofen for the inflammation (800mg). I'm trying to remember to rub arnica cream on my shoulder blade area each night - its still very tender there from the lipo. I have no pain on my upper arms where the lipo was done - I barely bruised there either, so maybe he only did a really tiny amount - but I had read a lot of reviews where that was so painful during recovery so I'm happy to have scored a break there! I also have no pain on my inner thighs from the lipo there. The bruising is gone but still a lot of swelling.
Sending positive thoughts to all of you out there in recovery or about to have surgery!
Picture for CHB97 - indentations from cg
6 weeks post op - Updated pictures
After reading many reviews and looking at before/after pics, I was super impressed with Dr Pantoja's tummy tuck work. He is very caring and professional, treats you like you are his daughter. His staff are wonderful and everyone was so nice.