It Only Gets Better

Hi, all, I’m writing with the intent of “...

Hi, all, I’m writing with the intent of “filling in the gaps” for those who have read the many experiences posted here (as have I) and are committed to doing plenty of homework before embarking on something as serious as plastic surgery - in my case, a tummy tuck.

As you read, keep in mind we all differ. I’m sharing because it’s enriching to think I might help another sister should she choose a similar journey.

First, the physical facts:
I live in Tulsa and am in my early 60’s. I’ve wanted a mommy makeover for over 25 years, and this last summer finally made the jump (obviously, I don’t just look before I leap: I set up camp and grow crops). I’m a 5’3”, naturally curvy mom; with such a short torso, those babies stretched me out. Regardless of any efforts, everything stayed stretched and - trust me - age didn’t help (what a surprise, right?).

I’ve not been comfortable in my own skin for a long time. Big breasts have made tailored clothing look awful; the apron below my belly button made slacks hard to fit. And guess what? If I’m lucky enough to continue aging, it’s all guaranteed to get worse.

I’ve never smoked. I eat a good diet, have no known health problems, and have followed a solid exercise regime for over a year (more on the exercise in a bit), including cardio and Pilates. I’ve never had surgery until now.

Over the years, I’ve watched plastic surgery evolve into an art form. Although varied in approaches, it’s still amazing. So, having read other women’s experiences for some years on RealSelf, I began my own quest and soon realized this:
I wanted a surgeon who was board certified as a PLASTIC surgeon, NOT a cosmetic surgeon; many of those procedures require constant renewal, and my intent was to fix and fix permanently. I wanted someone with a ton of experience who continued to seek better ways at every step. If they charge for that, fine - they should.
I wanted a doctor who did the surgeries in their own clinic. I didn’t want to go to a hospital and risk infections outside what already existed.
I wanted to know his/her staff. These people are as important in their jobs as the doctor is in his/hers. I wanted to find experienced professionals in every role.
I wanted to see pictures, and, if possible, visit with people who had trusted this surgeon with their own bodies. I hoped to find they’d use their doctor again (or actually DID).
I was far more interested in a doctor who was no-nonsense, skilled, professional, and had a solid reputation than anyone who was all about selling something. And I had NO intentions of leaving the country for a cut-rate gig; I wasn’t even willing to leave the city, as I live in a city large enough to accommodate such criteria.


I found all of the above in Dr. Mark Mathers. I had a consultation in July then a tummy tuck in late August.

My consultation:
I admit, there was one disappointment but it only cemented my belief in Dr. Mathers being the right surgeon: he wouldn’t do a mommy makeover for me (ie. breast reduction and a tummy tuck). He believes a woman in her sixties is at greater risk when given prolonged anesthesia than someone younger. So I chose to do a tummy tuck (with flank lipo), as it was the hardest of the two surgeries.
Here’s my warning: if you want to do this, commit NOW and start saving. I waited too long, and if I want a breast reduction, I have to do it in a second operation.
Such is life.

The silver lining is that I’d met a doctor dedicated to doing it right. He urged me to look for someone else if my heart was set on a simultaneous breast reduction/tummy tuck (NOTE: REDUCTION, not lift - a BR is more surgery and anesthesia time). I saw his stance as conservative and wise, two things I want in a doc. He was honest from the start, and as I was cautious about a step this serious, that worked for me.

I checked out his “results albums”. I can tell from some of the lighting in images posted on RealSelf that many before/after pictures have had a little help with the “after”- women suddenly have styled hair and tons of makeup on, as well as new tan lines, if they aren’t out-and-out Photoshopped. His patients were genuine, taken with a cell phone camera, same place, same lighting. It was a realistic perspective to show varying results with this surgery, and I appreciated that.

When I asked about some of the more negative outcomes I’d seen on RealSelf, he was forthright. If over-liposuctioned, skin loses too much circulation and can’t heal. He often got patients that other doctors had overextended flesh this way, and many of his cases are repairs. Over the years, he’d built a surgical regime that was highly successful. If I followed it, I would have the best scenario for complete success as anyone could.

I believed him, and he was right: it worked exactly as he said. I had no trouble with nausea, constipation, excessive pain, or infection. NONE. I know some of this is luck, but most of it is FOLLOW THE RULES. Don’t think you know more than your doctor and his staff. Those info sheets they give you have been created for a reason, and the reason is for you to be successful first and foremost. Don’t be an idiot. Please.

The general stuff: he was on time, the clinic was lovely, and his staff could not have been better. He’s operated on many of his employees, and they were very comfortable sharing their experiences. Their respect and genuine care for him sealed the deal as far as I was concerned; to see a staff celebrate a physician as they did, having experienced something so personal then returning to a working relationship, speaks very highly of his professionalism and integrity as a person. The mutual respect shows.

It’s his policy for those who undergo a tummy tuck to stay in the facility overnight; I was “babied” well. They called him that evening because a small capillary had popped beneath a stitch, and he was there in five minutes to ensure all was well. The staff was kind and attentive; I went home with great peace of mind the following morning.

A side note: for many years, Dr. Mathers operated in South America restructuring cleft palates with Operation Smile and Interplast. I so admire such efforts - helping populations with no resources to receive live-improving gifts. Wow. And such experience (with faces, ie. crucial growing tissues/palates/teeth) will certainly hone skills for all other surgeries. He now does around 400 plastic surgeries a year. A YEAR.


Next, the mental/emotional side:
I did this for me. Period. I had no beliefs that my marriage would be guaranteed (it was fine already, but so), or I’d land a better job, or I’d impress anyone at all, or I’d suddenly find myself with no problems because I was a renewed cutie-pie and had turned back the hands of time. No magical thinking. In the end, I would still be me - and I liked me just fine in the first place, which is why I did it.

I WAS worried a little about pain tolerance, having over-educated myself to a degree. So I researched local therapists, and found a guy who’d dealt with pain control at the veteran’s hospital before going into private practice, and he did guided meditations as well as mindfulness/ACT therapy. After a few sessions, I had a new perspective on handling discomfort and believe the investment is well worth it for lots of other life events as well. His name: Dennis England, LCSW. HIGHLY recommended, easy to talk to, very supportive and kind - plus he knew what he was doing. I’d send anyone to this guy, he knows his stuff; I applied a ton of what he taught when I was my most uncomfortable and believe it contributed enormously to moving through it well. He’s had surgery, too, so he comes from experience (and you may have noticed I like that word a lot).

Although it’s not mental/emotional, I spent several weeks improving my fitness (I was already in decent shape - not a Barbie by any means, but good stats). I added strength training and it paid off in spades. After the surgery, thanks to the workouts, it wasn’t difficult to use only my arms to push up to a sit from a weird angle. My balance is better and I’ve healed fast. I’m also eager to return, and polish up my “new me”, so fitness before inspires fitness after. Win/win all around.

I’m posting my before, then one-week post, then two-week post photos. I’m hardly good at phone pics, so forgive the quality, but I think the general idea is there. I’m still swollen, but my waist shows up more every day and clothes hang better already; the greatest bonus I hadn't expected is the flank liposuction he did. WOW. My shirts don't get hung up on my backside any more; they drape freely and my bottom looks so much better! So, from here on, I’ll update every week or so to show progress, and you can watch the lumps smooth out with me.

Okay, here are some of the “little” things that have helped:
Practice picking things up with your toes, then placing on a higher spot where you don’t bend much to reach it. Be sure to hold onto support for balance. This can prove helpful if no one’s around and something falls on the floor, like the television controller. It will feel awkward, but could help later.
Make a nest you can fall into the second you get home. Clean sheets, a tray, mints, minor necessities that sound appealing. Make sure all batteries are charged and any new connections made for electronics.
Keep a pair of long tongs near your bed or recliner. Same idea: picking stuff up, even grabbing at a sheet’s corner to pull it over your toes.
Okay, maybe TMI, but you may also thank me: practice wiping by reaching between your legs from the front. For most, it will feel awkward - but when you’re back home, for a while, you’ll be stiff and this is easiest. It’s hard to twist and reach around to the back. Then keep some plastic baggies and baby wipes near your home toilet for when you MUST reach around to the back (it may be a few days). You may fear after surgery that you’ll never poop again, but you will (Dr. Mather’s regime worked great for me, but not everyone is so fortunate).
Buy cheap men’s tank undershirts (set of 3, Walmart). They’ll feel lots better under your compression garment, plus they’re fairly long so you can go commando and not feel too breezy.
Panty liners can be taped to the inside of your undershirt to cover incisions or where the tubes are removed, then you can put the CG on top. Waterproof, throw-away liners are good for lots - even standing on one for a sponge bath.
I have a friend who has lots of pubic hair and she had this surgery. She said when the hair started growing back in, she went crazy. Stubs itched and some became ingrown. So she tried something weird and it worked for her: creme rinse. Yep. Once the problem arose (about ten days out from surgery), she smeared a dab of creme rinse on her hoo-ha (only in the non-incised, shaved areas) for a few minutes in the shower, then rinsed it off. Tadaaa! It helped a ton.
Rent a recliner if you don’t have one. This is a must. Those “zero-gravity” chairs are fabulous (I borrowed one). Have all sorts of different sizes and softness of pillows to prop yourself. Your head and neck tire when you’re on your back all the time, and these help shift just enough to make it not so wearing.
Make and freeze some dinners ahead, then gather any favorite take-out menus. Remember: salt content might affect you later.
Save up that new television series and don’t let yourself start it until you get home. It will help distract you from any discomforts. Note: If you choose Vikings, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for what pain really is (LOL).
Call your doctor if you’re worried about ANYthing. Take care of yourself first and foremost; don’t forget, martyrs are called such because they DIED. It’s foolish to attempt a rush back to normal and your body will bitch-slap you in the worst way if you do. This is a long haul but worth it, and no one will remember details but you. So ask for help, and don’t hesitate, and don’t apologize. If it means enough to undergo this surgery, then do it right.

Best of luck to any and all who follow this path. For years, I did my best to talk myself out of wanting it, using time and finances and fear to not allow myself something I’d wanted since my last baby. A number of life events snapped me awake last summer, and I realized I was going to want this until I died - making it the ultimate in delayed gratification.
And that would prove… nothing.

So I made some resolutions, and this was one.

I have no regrets, and I fully intend to return to Dr. Mathers for a breast reduction soon.
Dr. Mark Mathers

See review above and the ratings below.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 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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