Category Archives: Plastic Surgery

3 Weeks (and One Day) Post Surgery Update

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:

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!

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2 Week Post-Surgery Update

I am now 2 weeks post-surgery, and finally feeling a bit more human, so time for an update! This will be long, and full of lots of TMI (too much information), so proceed at your own risk!

Since my husband can’t drive, my parents came out before the surgery to help out with kids and driving. Ridiculously early on Tuesday, I was driven to the surgery center by my dad. Prep for surgery was very simple, I removed all my clothes and got into the hospital gown. The surgeon came in and drew all over me with a sharpie, just like they do in those reality shows. The anesthesiologist came in, introduced himself, and inserted an IV. As they wheeled me into surgery, the anesthesiologist started giving me some happy drugs through the IV. My last memory is waving goodbye to my dad. Then I woke up post-op. I always say, the surgery itself is much harder on the family waiting for news. For the person getting the surgery, they just go to sleep, then poof! and they wake up again. My dad and husband picked me up from the surgery center around 1pm, and took me home.

When I left the surgery center, I had drains in both my breasts, and two in my abdomen. Taking care of the drains is definitely the grossest part of the surgery. Seriously, yuck! It is so gross that I don’t want to talk about it. Go ahead and read the link above if you are curious. I had gauze around my stomach, and an abdominal binder around that. On my breasts, I had the bra that the surgeon had told me to purchase and bring with me, and gauze on top of that secured with tape.

The first afternoon and evening is a bit of a blur. I was in quite a lot of pain, and taking Vicodin for it. I was told that I could eat and drink, so I started having some water. I still had a bit of nausea from the anesthesia, so didn’t try eating anything for awhile. However, I was told by my surgeon that the pain pills would cause constipation, so I should have prunes every time I took a pill. When I tried that the first time, I had a terrible bout of nausea. I knew that puking with a big gash in my abdomen would be beyond unpleasant, so I fought hard to hold it down. I didn’t eat anything else the rest of the day. I spent the rest of the day sitting on the couch with my feet up, intermittently fighting off nausea.

The next day the nausea was thankfully gone. I was able to eat fairly normally. And drink coffee! Blessed coffee… I was still in a lot of pain, so didn’t do much besides sit on the couch with my feet up and pop pain pills. I had a check in with my surgeon that day, and he told me everything was progressing fine. As he took off the bandages on my stomach, he told me “look at your stomach, it’s fantastic!” I had a hard time telling from my vantage point from above, and I think I was in too much pain to have it register. I went home bandage free, but still had to wear the bra and abdominal binder 24/7.

I was told I could shower (the one time I get to take off the bra and abdominal binder), since all the bandages were off. In order to shower with the drains, I need to hang a piece of an ace bandage around my neck, and use safety pins to attach all 4 drains to the bandage. My husband said I looked like a Borg with all the tubes coming out of my body. Very sexy. However, I did take the opportunity to look at my tummy in the mirror, and I was pretty amazed. The overhang was gone! Even the stitches looked better than that big overhang (which is apparently called a panniculus…thanks to one of my friends for educating me about that on Facebook). Seeing myself with a flat tummy and un-flat breasts was rather surreal, like I was wearing someone else’s skin. I wonder how long it will take to get used to seeing that in the mirror?

As I mentioned earlier, before the surgery the plastic surgeon warned me that pain pills cause constipation, so I should eat prunes every time I took a pill, and eats lots of fiber and take a stool softener regularly. Apparently all of those precautions were still not enough, and on Thursday I got to experience the joy that is constipation after stomach surgery. Let’s just say “OW!!!” and leave it at that.

I went back to the surgeon again on Thursday, and he took the drains out of my breasts. He said everything looked “Fantastic!” which my husband and I have now realized is the surgeon’s favorite word. Every appointment he describes my progress as “Fantastic!” Hard to say if I really am doing very well, or he just loves that word. I also realized my surgeon is a bit of a liar. He took the first drain out, and it stung like hell. I started to tense up when he went to the other breast, and he said “don’t worry, I’ll tell you before I do anything.” Then he pulled out the drain without telling me. “There you go, it’s out!” I understand, it is a bit like pulling off a bandaid…just a lot more painful.

He also gave me a set of “exercises” to do every day on my breasts. The implants went under the muscle, in a pocket that has room on the top and the bottom. At the moment, the implants are a bit high up in the pocket, I think the point of the exercises is to move the implant around in that pocket and have them eventually settle lower and more naturally. He had me demonstrate doing the massages while I was in his office. Apparently I did “Fantastic!”

Over the last week I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. It has also been a bit of a learning process for me. Over the last year and a half, I have been actively making myself healthier, and I thought I could somehow do the same with this. I took a fairly short walk about a week post-op, thinking it would somehow help, and then paid for it the next day with a lot of pain, a day spent on the couch, and a bit more swelling in my abdomen. It made me realize that the best thing I can do for myself right now is to take it easy and allow myself to heal. Hard lesson for me. I also had a few low moments where I wondered why the hell I had decided to do this to myself, when I was feeling so good before and now I feel like crap. However, in my less pain filled moments, I know I will be back to exercising and feeling good soon, and doing so without all that extra skin will be wonderful.

My parents and husband were amazing during this whole process, taking care of me, the house, and the kids without any of my help at all. My kids were great, being careful with me, and hopefully not too difficult for my parents. My parents left on Saturday to visit my brother and his family. There were a few moments of panic before they left, thinking I wasn’t ready to take it on without them again, but it has gone okay so far.

Yesterday I saw the surgeon again. The swelling in my tummy has gone down a bit, and he said it looks “Fantastic!” My breasts also look “Fantastic!” I had one of the drains in my abdomen removed; again he said he would tell me before he did anything…I knew he was lying that time though. It felt so strange coming out, I can’t even describe it. Now just one drain left! Unfortunately, I currently have a lot of pain where that one goes into my abdomen…it seems like some kind of friction issue as it constantly moves just a little in and out as I move around. The surgeon told me I could put a little antibiotic ointment on it with a bandage over it, and that is helping a bit. I need to call the office on Wednesday and let him know how much has drained out of it in the past few days, and it should be out by Friday at the latest. That will be a huge step, to be drain free.

I’m currently only taking Advil during the day, and just one Vicodin per night to help me go to sleep pain free. During the day it is mostly just uncomfortable instead of painful, and I feel like I am making pretty steady progress towards a full recovery. Yesterday I ran a bunch of errands, and didn’t pay for it too badly last night, I was just a bit extra tired. Tomorrow I will be trying to go back to teaching my music classes, however I’ll be sitting in a chair instead of down on the floor with the kids.

I’ll try to start updating the blog more often now that things are getting back to normal. Thanks for reading my long update, that’s “Fantastic!”

First Surgery is Scheduled!

As I’ve mentioned here before, I have a lot of loose skin left from losing 100 pounds. My skin was stretched out for a very long time–pretty much my entire life–and I’m at the age where it is not going to return to where it should be on its own. So, I will need a few surgeries in order to remove loose skin from my stomach, arms, thighs…and don’t get me started on my boobs. They are just sad deflated balloons.

I found a plastic surgeon I really like, and my first surgery is scheduled for October 15! This surgery will be a tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty) and a breast lift (Bilateral Mastopexy) and augmentation. Last week I got to pick out my new boobs. That was rather surreal; I wore a stretchy bra to the appointment, and the surgeon put one implant into one side, and a slightly larger one in the other. Then it was like an eye exam, “which one is better, the left or the right?” First he went up in sizes, from pretty small all the way to what he called “ridiculous.” The large implants made me look heavier, and felt fairly unwieldy, I can definitely understand why women get breast reduction surgery. On the way up in size, I was leaning towards going pretty small, I guess because I am small right now. However, on the way back down, the ones that looked best to me were sort of medium-sized, around a C cup probably. Apparently that is why he does it this way, it is only on the way back down in size that you can get a really realistic view of which size will work best for you. I hadn’t realized until I was there what a monumental decision it was, these are the breasts I will have for the rest of my life. Very strange to be able to choose that.

I am nervous, but more about the recovery period than the surgery itself. I am also anxious about how long it will take for me to get back to my regular exercise routine, which I have come to really enjoy. It is outpatient surgery, so that’s a little scary. My parents are thankfully coming out to help with the kids and the driving. My wonderful, supportive husband is working from home all next week to help out. Even with the feelings of anxiety and nervousness, I feel ready, and very excited, to take this next step in my journey! I will keep everyone updated on my progress.