I am 33 years old, 150 lbs, 5'9 and have 3 kids...
I am 33 years old, 150 lbs, 5'9 and have 3 kids who I've dedicated the past 10 years and probably the rest of my life to (no regrets!). I love being active and seeing how hard I can push myself in the gym. One day I suddenly noticed how amazing my shoulders looked, and wondered why I hadn't noticed it before. I realized it was because my eyes were always drawn to how disfigured I felt with an odd round pooch and a flat chest. Nothing wrong with being small chested, but being a more "sturdy" woman, I felt like unproportional. In my mind I "wasn't that bad looking", but never recognized the girl I saw in the mirror.
I had been saving up for a tummy tuck since my 2nd baby. She was a 9 lb chub and I carried her like a horizontal watermelon. My belly button drooped and it was hard to let my husband touch me I was that self-conscious. And with a serious diastasis (separated ab muscles) it made core work-outs uncomfortable. When I went in for a consultation just to see how much I was looking at, the surgeon pointed out that I had a "good sized" hernia. That pushed us to have the surgery done now instead of a year later like we had planned.
It was pretty stressful finding a surgeon since we didn't have a referral to go off of. But with the help of yelp, realself, and endless phone calls I'm really happy with the surgeon we found. My husband made a great point to not expect "perfect" results, but expect to look "better". This advice has been monumental in my recovery. I'm a perfectionist and it was so easy to nit pick this and that. Obviously i'm not going to look like a super model or even close to what I did before having kids. But now even just 3 weeks out I can look in the mirror and say "wow, I look hot!"
Here are my "lists"
Necessities of what I actually used:
ELECTRIC RECLINER!! I really wanted to get away with not getting one, but my husband insisted and I am so glad he did. I slept in that thing for 4 weeks, and it just made getting up and down so much easier and less painful. I've also heard a lift chair is great too.
Prescriptions (pain and nausea)
Facial Wipes (b/c that first week I could barely brush my teeth let alone wash my face)
gauze and athletic tape
some long camisoles to put under my binder
a button up pajama shirt (this made getting dressed after the surgery so much easier. you won't be able to lift your arms)
a button up regular shirt for when I needed to get out of the house
a sports bra one size larger for when I needed to wash my surgical bra.
and lots of water!
that's it. Unfortunately I bought a lot of stuff that I ended up not using. I like to be prepared and was able to return a bunch of what I had bought at target.
What I put in the box next to my bed:
ear plugs to listen to the audiobook late at night when I couldn't sleep.
Selecting a surgeon
realself won't let me back log so hopefully it doesn't get confusing putting this out of order.
I just wanted to make a comment on my experience selecting a surgeon. It was hard without a referral so I relied a lot on yelp and realself. I had a hernia so I needed a surgeon that worked with my insurance. That in itself proved difficult. I consulted with 4 surgeons. I could lump them into 2 categories:
conservative: 2 different surgeons wanted to do very modest implants based on measurements they took of my chest area. 1 wanted to do 225, and the other 300. These 2 surgeons wanted to team up with a general surgeon to fix my hernia. They also felt that being under anesthesia that long was risky, so they wanted to split the procedures into 2 surgeries. I really really liked and connected with 1 of these surgeons and his staff, Dr. Liu from Los Gatos. However with 3 small kids doing 2 surgeries and 2 recoveries would have been extremely difficult. Plus he likes to do a lot of post-op appointments, which I believe showed how much he cares about his patients, but it was an hour plus in terrible silicon valley commuter traffic.
Non-conservative: These 2 different surgeons recommended larger implants for me based on my wants and overall body size. They were also willing to fix the hernia themselves and do all of the procedures themselves. I felt that being young (which is a relative word I know), healthy, and in good shape that this wouldn't be too risky given a confident surgeon. Dr. Behmand from Walnut creek was my favorite of the 2 because I liked his before & after pictures. It seems silly to base a decision like this on pictures from a website but I assume that they put their best ones up and you can't expect your results to be any better. (of course ask all surgeons to show you pictures of what they think your results will look like).
I selected Dr. Behmand. He gave me one of the highest quotes, but I've learned in life that you get what you pay for. And when it comes to something as life changing as cosmetic surgery, you don't want to skimp out. I can say that even just 3 weeks post-op the results were definitely worth it.
First week of recovery
The actual surgery was the easy part! I've never been put under so It was quite an experience. One minute I was transfering to the operating table and the next I was trying to find a clock to see what time it was. It took 7 hours!!! ( was told it would take 5, but all the nurses said it would probably take longer)
Dr. B met with my husband in the waiting room to let him know how things went. I had 3 hernias and 6 cm of diastasis! yikes! It took me 3 hours in the recovery room. I felt fine and dandy until I tried to sit up to use the bathroom, immediate vertigo and puking (and I'm not a puker, not even during pregnancy). The nurse quicky gave me some meds in my iv and I felt much better after that. After being able to get up and use the restroom they helped me dress (Button up pajama top and your loosest yoga pants!) and wheeled me out to the car.
The next 3 days were a blur. Dr. B used experidol (sp?) instead of a pain pump and I had a drainless TT, so there really wasn't much to bother with. Just take my pain pills. Not even an antibiotic b/c that was administered via IV during the surgery. the experidol really helped with the recovery. I did everything I could not to cough, my husband had to help me up and down into the chair and walked me over to the bathroom. The recovery nurse showed me how to sit up and down with my legs under me which made it easier.
I weaned off the pain meds in 3 days. I probably would have bit a bit more comfortable if I had used them for another day or so, but I was paranoid about constipation (it was already a constant struggle and with no exercise, sitting all day, and the pain meds I knew it would be tough). Dr. B had me use colace the day before the surgery (and lots and lots of water), and I continued this and miralax the day before I knew I'd stop the pain meds. I had to use 1 suppository to get things moving but after that the miralax, colace, and water kept things going nicely.
I had 2 huge rules during this week. Lots of water and DO NOT LOOK! I know a lot of girls post pictures right away. But I knew if I did I would freak out about this or that. I was already stressed with how swollen my girls were, thinking I went way too big. (I had 350CC silicone, which were definitely NOT too big, but I still stressed anyway).
Day 4 I took a shower, it felt nice but weird! My husband had to help me into the shower and stayed around. Having the binder off I could defintely feel my stomach start trying to distend, and my breasts felt like a heavy weight on my chest. Oh, and I couldn't stand up straight. Dr. B said I didn't need to worry about staying at an angle or anything, but my abdoment was just so tight. (this lasted until about 10-14 days post op).
I had to have my first post-op at 5 days b/c the doc was going out of town for a couple of weeks. Wow, that 30 minute ride was tough, I wish I had taken one of my nausea and pain pills just for that trip. There was a mix up about my appointment time and so I had to sit in the office for an hour. I wasn't in much pain but I was so dizzy! I can't believe i didn't faint. I did take a peak when they took my binder and tape off. I was optamistic. I still had quite a few stretchmarks, but I knew this couldn't be helped b/c practically my whole stomach had stretch marks. But I was flat! swollen, but flat! They put some steri strips on m (to keep on for 10 days, told me to put some bacitracin on a blister (which was normal) and the belly button, and I was so happy to get back into my chair!
My husband took the week off to help with the kids. It was really nice being taken care of and to do all the reading I wanted!! The pain meds didn't make me as sleepy as I thought I would, and the reading helped to distract me from any discomforts. One night in particular it was really hard falling asleep. I was uncomfortable sleeping in the chair (i got used to it after a few days and it's hard to get me out of it now). I don't know what I would have without my books!
The Abominal Adominal
Dr. B put me in a binder instead of a compession garment. I think it really helped keep the swelling down but wow it was uncomfortable! Especially once the swelling startd to go down it rubbed on my hips (which had less fat than usual thanks to the lipo). It was also a constant struggle keeping it below my incision and tight enough (this was a good problem to have because it meant i was shrinking and had much better curves than what I started with). But I trust Dr. B and if he says the binder must stay for 6 week, then I'll live through it. I don't want to risk ruining the results!
At 7 days I started getting up and walking around the house a bit. I can tell when I over did it b/c I was sore and way swollen. At 10 days I started being able to stand up straighter, and the hubby went back to work. I was really worried, but my 8 year old helped with my 3 year old and they got to watch as many movies as they wanted =) One of the trickiest things is I can't pick up anything over 10 lbs for 6 weeks. I really miss picking up my 3 year old and sitting him in my lap. I'll forget here and there and try to adjust him in his seat or something. It doesn't hurt right away but pretty soon I feel "strained" in the abdoninal region. I also started taking arnica this week. Dr. B didn't recommend it (in fact he didn't want me taking any supplements before or right after the surgery b/c they arent fda approved or controlled, and didn't want to risk any complications). But I figured it couldn't hurt at this point and was hoping it helped keep the swelling down. honestly, I think the binder did the best job at that.
I replaced the steri strips and put on the paper tape given to me by Dr. B. I soaked in the shower for a few minutes before taking the tape off, it helped it come off easier. I just made sure to do it nice and slow. Then finished my shower to get all the itchy adhesive off. Even just at 2.5 weeks the incision looked much better than what I was expecting! it was super thin and more of a dull purple instead of a bright red which I had seen in a lot of photos.
The swelling in my breasts had me really worried I had picked too big of a size until about 2.5 weeks. So I know I picked the right size, b/c I didn't feel comfortable with them until the swelling went down. No boob greed here. I'm probably one of those rare girls who would rather go too small than too big. I'm super active and like to run, and i was never a big busted girl to begin with. I just wanted to get back to where I was before the pregnancy. These are still bigger than I was before, but not soo big they get in the way, so both me and my husband are super happy =)
I had my 3 week check up. Things look great. The breasts have really settled and are looking much more normal. I'm sure they will continue to settle, but I love them even now. I replace my paper tape everytime I shower (take it off before and put new on after). I can't start doing any exercise that will raise my heart rate until 6 weeks, and even then I plan to take it really slow and probably won't full on run until 8 weeks or do any core work out until 3 months. No sexual intimacy until 6 weeks. And be really really gentle with the girls until 3 months. They are still pretty stiff, but should be much more natural feeling and can wear a push up bra at 3 months.
Also no house chores until 6 weeks. I'm assuming the hard repetative motions can increase the risk for capsular contracture. So I'll do some light stuff like sweeping gently or folding clothes off my high bed.
Otherwise I don't feel any pain at all. I feel numb or strained if I overdo it by being on my feet too much, driving too long, or picking up too many toys. I'm a neat freak so it's been hard letting things go, but it's been good for the family. Without exercise or chores, I have a lot more time to devote to my 3 year old and we've had a lot of fun reading, painting, etc. I just can't takehim to the beach yet =)
3 weeks: a few things that I love about Dr. B's results
One of the things I was worried about was my belly button. I had seen a lot of pictures of "tummy tuck" belly buttons, some that were what we called "coin slots" and others that were tiny tiny. One surgeon said that b/c of my umbilical hernia, I might not have a belly button at all. When I first saw my belly button, I was a little disappointed. It was a bit smaller than I had hoped, but I think I was just comparing it to my pre-belly button. Then I remembered my goal was not to have a perfect body, but much better. It's grown on me a lot and I love my cute belly button. It's not nearly as small as some of the ones I'd seen and it's beautifully shaped. Dr. B said my belly button was completely detatched, and I have a feeling that had an impact on how big it could be. He said tha BB's are one of his hobbies and and he spent extra time on shaping it nicely.
Also Dr. B strongly recommends doing flank lipo with all tummy tucks. I didn't really want to do lipo b/c I didn't really feel like I needed it. There was some stubborn fat giving me lopsided love handles on my back, but this would have cost extra and added more time to what I was already nervous about (operating time and cost). But he said he would extend the flank lipo to as far back as he could. Even the first week I was super happy and surprised at how much he was able to get. All of the fat isn't gone, but I love my curves now ! At my 3 week check up he said I was still swollen back there (and a little bruised still) so the results can only get better!
If you approach Dr. B with your specific wants he really listens and strives to give you the best results you could ask for.
Binder vs. comression garment
Last udpate today I promise. I had read a lot of horror stories about compression garments. Getting them on and off and trying to pee through the provided "holes".
So I was really surpsied when he said I would just need a binder for 6 weeks. I knew it would be a little more uncomfortable, and it turns out a lot more "bother" with trying to keep it low enough and tight enough, especially as my new curves start to appear. It also tend to rub a lot on my hips, which now stick out more without the fat that used to be there, and that area was sore from the lipo. not to mention how hot it is in the middle of August!
At my 3 week check-up Dr. B's assistant asked if I was struggling with the binder, and I mentioned that I was. She convinced Dr B to let me switch to spanx, but I could tell he was reluctant and told me to be careful. I have a feeling that this is an area of disagreement, not just in the office but also among different plastic surgeons. I read about some surgeons not doing any sort of garment! But I know that when i wear the binder properly it keeps the swelling down. And given that Dr. B is the artist and knows exactly what he did and with the 3 hernias, I decided to continue wearing the binder even though he told me I could switch. I will buy a spanx anyway, I know from previous experience (I wore a binder after my 2nd and 3rd births) that it is nice to have something to ease into, and will want the extra support when I start exercising anyway. I might wear both (with the ac cranked high!), the spanx to give me overall support (the binder doen't get very tight on my upper abdomen anymore) and the binder to keep the swelling around my incision down.
New bra size
Dr b told me not to buy any new bras until 6 weeks. But I was at the Nordstrom rac and decided to try on a few to get an idea of size. I started out a 34a or 36aa. the size that best fit in this brand at least was a 36c! I was expecting just 2 sizes, but I guess when you start out with nothing perhaps the sizes go up in smaller increments?
Hip: 36.5 inches
Bra size: 34a, 36aa
Hip: 36 inches
Waist: 29 inches
Bra size: 34d/36c
Terrible quality pictures I know. But I'm mostly excited by the results. It's so easy to nitpick. that's one of the reasons we were willing to pay more for a doctor we thought would get better results. No matter what I know I got the best results possible for my body and can't compare myself to others.
My incision line looks wider than it actually is because of a little irritation from the tape.
I'm more swollen than normal this morning, but I can start to see my upper abs! The breasts have also really dropped. It's fun to see them change every week. The incision like suddenly looks redder, but it's still pretty thin. I imagine that's just part of the healing progress. A lot of the redness seen here is just irritation from the tape and a healing spot that had a blister in the center just under the incision from right after the procedure.
I purchased a compression garment for when I start to work out next week. I have a hard time "taking it easy" and can't imagine running in a thick bulky binder. I'll start off by just some quick walks and cycling to test it out and make sure I don't get too swollen. Perhaps some light 10-15 weights to see how my abs feel. Once I can do these for long distances without noticing adverse effects I will start ramping things up. No real core workouts for another month.
6 weeks, first workout, and sport bra hunting
6 weeks! Such a milestone! I shead the binder and dawned the compression garment for the day, including my first workout.
I just walked moderately for 2 miles, and felt good so I decided to try jogging. I felt one of my hernia areas strain and my chest muscles tightened like crazy! I was wearing a moderately supportive bra, no sweat from lulu lemon. I think I'll wait another week before trying to job again and just really ramp up my incline walking, and maybe some biking. I'll try the tata tamer from lulu next. But I was really discouraged at the lack of cute supportive sports bras. The Juno from moving comfort really keeps the girls from bouncing, but the straps look weird when they show from under my tank. I probably shouldn't be so afraid to jiggle so much, but really don't want to harm the results, especially since I'm still healing.
Bust: 38 inches
Hip: 37 inches
Waist: 30 inches
Super swollen from a good cardio workout this morning. Good news is that it goes away pretty quickly after laying down for an hour in the afternoon.
It's amazing how fast this month has gone. Those first six weeks after the tummy tuck were so slow, the next has flown by. I truly amazed at the difference just this last month. The swelling is really starting to go down, although at my last check-up Dr. B mentioned I still have swelling, but I'm already loving the results. I truly am so grateful for the opportunity to have this procedure done, and as imperfect as my body will always be, I'm excited to move forward with confidence about my body.
I asked my surgeon a couple of questions and wanted to post them here in case anyone else comes across these.
Can I sleep on my stomach: Yes
Can I go braless: Yes. Because I went with modest 350 implants (as opposed to 500) I won't have to worry so much about needing constant support.
Can I do chest presses and push-ups: Avoid them. Contracting those muscles will push the implants down and out. That's okay, I hated push-up's anyway.
Since I stopped wearing the binder, I've felt some discomfort sensations coming from my umbilical hernia repair, especially after I exercise. Almost like it's pushing out on my repaired muscle. It's been frustrating holding back from running as far as I'd like to not from pain, but from fear of ruining the hernia repair. He said that those kinds of feelings are still normal and will go away with time. Still I plan on keeping it slow. Also I cut my abominal abdominal binder in half and am using it almost like a hernia support belt when I exercise, hopefully that will help.
When do I know if I need replacement implants? He said he's never seen a silicone implant rupture, but I'll just not be happy with the appearance of my breasts anymore, and that would be the time to come in for a revision.
Again I am just so so happy with the surgeon we found. I get so nervous and worry about this and that, and he answers my quesetions i a way not only that assures me of his confidence, but also improves mine.
He asked me how I felt about the size I selected. 350's are exactly the look that I was looking for. I was so nervous about going too big, never having large chests before, I was afraid they would be cumbersome. However, now that I know just how fun they are, I find myself wishing I had gone 375 or 400. He said that when I do come in for a revision if I'm on the borderline of needing a lift I can avoid it by going a little bigger, which I have a feeling will happen down the road. But for now I am loving all my new curves.
16 Feb 2016
6 months post
6 months! For the first time EVER (because I wasn't a fitness but before having kids). I was able to do a proper bicycle ab set and push myself by lowering my legs lower. I was always restricted by my separated and and protecting my innards from poking out.
I'm not too thrilled by how much stretch mark skin is left, and as time goes on my skin gets a little more relaxed and they are more prominent. BUT, I remind myself that I knew this was a possibility and my goal was to get flat. I needed a new evening dress for my husbands work function and wow I look smoking hot! Finding a dress I liked would have been impossible instead of fun without this procedure and I am so so happy to be lucky enough to have it done.
Ugh, for goodness sake I don't know how to get these pictures to download upright.
But mostly I wanted to show the scaring. The middle is really starting to turn white.
1 Year Out!!!
It's been 1 year!!! When I started this journey all of the stories on this website were a huge help...but I always wished to see what happened after that 3 month mark. Not many posted pictures. After 3 months you're pretty much back to normal and my new Breasts and Stomach just started feeling like who I really was.
It took some time getting used to the new girls while running, now I hardly notice them and am not as paranoid about what kind of Bra I wear. Supportive, yes, but it doesn't have to be an ugly bulletproof stiff vest thing!!
I noticed that the super tight skin I got after the tummy tuck did start to sag a big. Even my healthy looking skin isn't as elastic as it used to be after having 3 kids and I'm sure that's normal. It need to be able to stretch a little bit to raise your arms!
I don't go around telling everyone about my surgery. But if I ever hear my friends talk about how they'd "like" to get a tummy tuck or breast aug one day, I don't feel too shy to pop up and announce, hey, I got mine done, totally worth it!