The good news for today is that I got the stitches out; the bad news is that it was really really painful. The surgeon and his nurse first removed all the steri-strips (like taking off a bandaid…over and over again), then the surgeon pulled out each stitch. And they had sort of fused with my skin at this point. Ouch. Let me just remind you that I had a boob job…and they had to remove the stitches from there too. Yeah, ’nuff said. However, on the plus side, that should be the last really painful thing I need to go through, so I am very happy about that…as I sit here recovering from the trauma.
Anyhow, I am feeling better and better each day. I actually start each day feeling pretty normal. Unfortunately, by most evenings I have entered what the tummy tuck boards refer to as “swell hell.” At the end of most days, my belly is so swollen that I look like I’m about 3 months pregnant. I have started calling it my “fluid baby.” I found the best explanation for this phenomenon on the Real Self boards, posted by Dr. Michael Bogdan, a plastic surgeon from Dallas:
A tummy tuck is a major procedure that requires “lifting up” your stomach skin (dividing lymphatic drainage vessels from under the skin surface), pulling it down to reset the tension of the skin, and then an excision to remove the excess. Basically, the skin from the scar up to your ribcage is in a new environment. It can only drain fluid “up” and to the sides. Until new lymphatic connections occur across the scar line and down to the stomach muscles, all this swelling fluid has to run against gravity to get out of the skin. This is one of the reasons that we suggest patients wear compression garments for a period of time after surgery – these garments assist with the “uphill” removal of fluid, and you may feel more comfortable wearing them until those new connections occur.
I asked my plastic surgeon about it today, and he said the swelling can last up to a year. Hooray. At least I can switch from the abdominal binder I’ve been wearing to some Spanx type garment during the day. I can also stop wearing the special bra he had me buy. Time to go shopping!
The surgeon also told me that I can start slowly adding some exercise back, just to listen to my body to see what’s appropriate. By 6 weeks, I can be back to my full routine. I can’t wait to start feeling those endorphins again!