3 weeks post op! Completely FLAT!! - Washington, DC

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I am a 5'9" 27 year old female living in...

I am a 5'9" 27 year old female living in Washington, DC. Since I was a kid, I was overweight. As I grew older, so did my girth. I grew out of junior's size clothing at 12 and had to wear women's sizes. By the time I got to high school, I was 200lbs. With my age, my weight increased, until I hit my peak weight in 2009 of 245lbs, wearing a size 22.

I have been struggling with my weight for years- I could never motivate myself to go to the gym or diet properly. I was in a relationship at the time, and had settled into the "I'm just going to be fat forever" mentality. I became increasingly unhappy with my live-in boyfriend, and in August 2010 I moved out and decided I needed to change my life, to stop wallowing in depression and food, and lose the weight that had been dragging me down since I was 9 years old.

In the past year, I have lost 85lbs with diet and exercise and am down to a size 12. I bike to work every day (1.3 miles each way) and take classes at Jordin's Dance Paradise in DC 3 days a week, 1 hour a day. With conscious moderation of my eating and maintaining an active lifestyle, I am now 160 lbs and have maintained my weight without fluxuation / yoyo-ing.

Despite this weight loss, I found that I have a heavy panniculus. Working out at the gym, I hear it slapping my thigh. It is difficult to fit into clothes that I otherwise could without it. After speaking with my family, I got a consulation from Dr. Otero regarding a tummy tuck.

Thanks to the dilligence of Dr. Otero and myself in documenting a terrible yeast infection surrounding my belly button (along the line where the skin touches), my health insurance has approved me for surgery! I cried when the doctor's office called me, because I honestly could not afford the surgery without the help of insurance (it will be closer to $1500 out of pocket than the $8000 it would cost without).

My surgery is scheduled for the 27th of September. I am excited, but nervous! One of the wonderful assistants at Dr. Otero's had recently had this surgery herself, and talking to her regarding her experience, as well as reading the reviews here, have eased my mind and bolstered my confidence in getting this surgery!

I am counting down the days! Next summer, I will wear my first two-piece swimsuit. I haven't been able to wear one for 18 years.

Added some before photos!

Added some before photos!

Less than a month until surgery! I'm getting a bit...

Less than a month until surgery! I'm getting a bit excited!

A few things I discovered - my insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield Preferred PPO) does NOT do preauthorizations for coverage on outpatient procedures, which is why I can't get confirmation of insurance coverage in writing. According to the surgeon's insurance coordinator, she called and got verbal confirmation that I would be covered should the paperwork be submitted, but a ruling is NOT made on this until AFTER the surgery... which means the insurance could deny my claim and I'm stuck the whole TT cost.

After speaking with my family about the possible financial issues, we decided to go ahead anyways and appeal if the insurance declined my claim after the procedure.

While the insurance issues have me nervous, I want this panniculus gone so badly that with or without insurance, I would go through with it.

My mother has purchased plane tickets to be with me the first week after surgery. Every day I keep looking at my loose, hanging belly- when I go to the gym and get into squats and stretches, in the shower, the way it hangs over my thighs when I sit down.. and knowing every day is one day closer to getting rid of it.

I purchased two bikinis, my first bikinis in 15 years. SIZE MEDIUM!!! I am going to visit family in Miami winter break, and am looking forward to my first beach foray with my new body!

I've settled into a comfortable size 10. I'm getting in as many workouts as I can before surgery (I've been really into pole-fitness). Now... just to line up a good tailor to bring in these dresses and jeans...

Six days until my tummy tuck! My mother flies in...

Six days until my tummy tuck! My mother flies in on Sunday, and I've got a busy weekend, so I'm sure the time is going to speed by!

Surgery was yesterday at 9am! Wow, what a journey....

Surgery was yesterday at 9am! Wow, what a journey. The surgery itself went very smoothly. Dr. Otero removed over 2 lbs of extra skin and flesh. The procedure was supposed to be outpatient, but under the doctor's recommendation i was admitted to the hospital and stayed overnight. I was released at 11am this morning.

I can already tell my tummy is super flat!! When she came back to check on me this morning she opened up my binder and WOW!!!! you can actually see the muscle i've been working so hard on these last few months!

I'm back at home with my mom (who is taking care of me). I haven't been draining a hell of a lot (i also did NOT have lipo). Follow up appointment is set for Monday, where the doctor will remove the drains! I'm draining about 50 cc's combined, so were fairly sure i'll be ready for drain removal monday!

because of my previous surgery and scar tissue (old belly ring and the laproscopic surgery) the doctor is unsure about how my belly button will look once healed. Also, because of the looseness of my mons post weight-loss, my scar line is higher than i would like, since my mons pulled up. But that doesn't bother me. I'm honestly not afraid of the scar, or people seeing it. It's a mark of my transformation.

Going into day 4 post-op and I'm feeling pretty...

Going into day 4 post-op and I'm feeling pretty good! I got nauseous for the first time today (but did not throw up). I've been cleaning out my drains twice a day (8am and 8pm). The fluid isn't red any longer (it's starting to be that yellowy-clear stuff). One side is definitely draining more than the other! One bulb gets around 15-20ccs while the other is usually below 10.

I can get up and down the stairs and in and out of my chair on my own (with the help of a scarf my mom tied to the underside of my loft bed to aid in the rising). My mom's been an EXCELLENT nurse. It's her first time in DC- it's too bad I can't take her around the city!

The sutures itch SO BAD, SO BAD, especially on the left side. Finally washed my hair today (in the kitchen sink, with the help of mom).

I keep thinking I'll get some art done, but I find that I am constantly tired. I nap every couple of hours.

I had the worst headache today, but I honestly think it's caffeine withdrawl (I drink ridiculous amounts of coffee at work, and have had little to none here at home). No fever, taking the antibiotics on time!

My back aches from being hunched over all the time, but it's not terrible. I am desperate to see what my belly looks like under the binder, though! The anticipation is killing me!!

Got my drains removed Monday, yaayy!!!! Oh man, it...

Got my drains removed Monday, yaayy!!!! Oh man, it hurt SO BAD when the doctor pulled them out! Yikes!!

When she opened up the binder we found out why I was itching so bad... I had developed a terrible rash! The doctor surmises it was because I was allergic to the cream she put on me. It was Bacitracin Zinc Ointment that she had put on me after the surgery. She recommended I switch to Cortaid and the itching has subsided (which is the white stuff in the pictures below).

OH MAN that shower after the drains came out was AMAZING!! I languished under the hot water. The inside of my compression garment had a bunch of dried blood, so my mom washed it for me.

I am INCREDIBLY HAPPY with Dr. Otero's work! Although the scar line IS much higher than I had hoped, it couldn't be helped with the looseness of my pubic region after the weight loss. I can tell that once the swelling goes down and the scar heals, that it's going to be beautiful! Once I get back to the gym in a couple weeks, I'll be working on my summer beach body! Hope to get that six pack by the summer, bronze out and be the Amazonian I've always dreamed I could be!

The surgeon is out of town next week, so my next appointment is on the 17th! Wow wow wow, I am so happy!

Went today with my mom walking around the National Mall (she flies home at 6pm tonight), so she FINALLY got to see DC after being here for a week! Definitely overdid it a little- I am totally exhausted with just the walk from the Capitol to the Lincoln and back. But it was worth it! My mom was so happy, and well- that's my exercise for the week!!

These pics are 6 days post-op. I'll take some more maybe Sunday! :)

The rash has stopped itching, but it's gotten...

The rash has stopped itching, but it's gotten pretty dark and I'm concerned it is going to scar, the way my yeast infection scarred (but it was removed with the tummy tuck). Only time will tell.

Small milestone - I was able to climb into my loft bed last night with no pain. It feels so good to stretch out on a bed instead of the papasan! Piled up the pillows so I'm still elevated a bit, but OH MAN! BED!!

I forgot to mention - I measured myself today and...

I forgot to mention - I measured myself today and lost 3.5 inches off my mid-waist (the site of the skin apron). AWESOME!!

11 days post op photos! The rash is no longer...

11 days post op photos!

The rash is no longer itchy, but looks terrible! also, clearly this bikini is way too low for me to wear before the scar fully heals.

The skin is puckering pretty bad where the upper was connected to the lower. I massage it in the shower and when I put the cortaid on. Any suggestions on what to do? Will it just go away/flatten with time?

New pics! Scabs are starting to fall off now,...

New pics! Scabs are starting to fall off now, especially around the belly button! OH MAN, my belly button looks great! Guess my doctor's and my worries were pretty unfounded.

I'm still concerned about the puckering and if the rash will scar, but I see my surgeon again on the 17th and will bring up my concerns with her.

You know, when I was in the hospital before surgery, I was really nervous. But I had 3 separate people (the administrator who did my paperwork, the nurse who put in my IV, the one wheeling me to the operating room) told me not to worry, Dr. Otero does really good work. It's really something for the hospital staff (not the surgeon's assistants or aids), who see Dr. Otero's patients go through surgery day after day, tell me she does really good work.

I have to agree.

Today was my first day back at work. For having a...

Today was my first day back at work. For having a sedentary job with little stress, I was EXHAUSTED by 2:30pm. I didn't wear my binder (it gave me a blister, and bunches uncomfortably when I sit straight up at a desk), but one of those spanx garments I had pre-op that holds me in. OH MAN, i swelled up like a balloon by the end of the day. Got home and put my binder right back on and I feel a lot better (though i can't sit up straight to draw - I draw comics as a second job, and this binder makes that very difficult).

I'm completely spent from just 8 hours of sitting at my desk. I also feel like I've been dragging so much because I haven't been exercising, which usually gives me that nice rush of adrenaline and some pep during my day, I feel like such a slug!!

My good friend came and visited me on Friday and gave me a gift certificate to modcloth.com (a fantastic retro-vintage website), but I need to wait for the swelling to go down to get good measurements.

I checked my incision today and massaged more cortaid on it - it does look like the puckering is going down and the scabs are definitely falling off!! I feel like I've had a huge setback in the appearance of my scar because of this rash (everything is still discolored). I really do hope the discoloration goes away, and that my incision line drops a bit once the swelling goes down.

Can't wait for my 3 week post-op check-up on Monday so I can talk to my doctor about starting up exercise (i want to start biking to work again) and about the scar and rash discoloration.

So, three weeks went by so quickly!! I've been...

So, three weeks went by so quickly!!

I've been wearing a Spanx garment during the day and my binder at night, until Thursday night. I woke up with severe chest pain - i mean SEVERE!! I thought I was having a blood clot or a heart attack! I loosened the binder and fell back asleep, just to wake up with that feeling, but even worse! I removed it completely and after 5 minutes, the pain in my chest went away. I haven't worn in the binder since.

I called Dr. Otero's office first thing Friday morning, but she was already in with patients and I was told to leave a message with the nurse. WELL, they never got back to me!

I went in for my 3 week check-up on Monday and Dr. Otero told me there was no need for me to wear the binder anymore. The dark blotches from the rash have not faded in the slightest, so Dr. Otero prescribed me Hydroquinone USP 4% - which is a skin bleaching cream, to apply to the affected area. I only started using it today, so I haven't noticed a difference.

Almost all my scabs have fallen off and I was told I can start putting on cocoa butter or vitamin E. My friend swears by Mederma, so I might give that a go! Overall, the puckering has gone down significantly, but is still visible.

The swelling varies from day to day. Some days my belly is COMPLETELY flat and it's amazing, and some days when I walk a lot, like on Monday, I swell up like a giant balloon!!

Overall, super happy. The doctor says no riding my bike for another 3 weeks, which is a total bummer!! But after how awful I felt walking to the doctor from the metro (columbia heights to washington hospital center - 1.4 miles) and then back to the pharmacy, I guess I'm not ready for it anyways! :(

Completely flat (unswollen), my measurements have dropped from 38-33-42 to 38-31-39. I'm wearing 8-M/10-L depending on the fit and style. My mom sent me a size 6 suit that ran big and it fit me perfectly!

Now, if only this scar would look less heinous!!
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon

Dr Otero was lovely, and everybody at the Washington Hospital Center was very kind and caring. I had a great experience! I've only had one follow up so far (next is on the 17th). The office does NOT finance, so all money has to be paid up front for cosmetic procedures (hence the 4 stars on payment process). I had to pay the 2851 up front, and the rest is being billed through the insurance.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 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
4 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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