So here we are about a week and a half past surgery, and I am feeling amazing. If you didn’t know I just had major surgery, you probably wouldn’t guess it because I am getting around well, albeit a little slower than normal, and standing mostly upright at this point. I still have a lot of soreness and stiffness when I first wake up in the morning, but it’s getting less each and every day. I am still quite tired and things that seem like they shouldn’t require much energy completely wipe me out, like taking a shower. I did that on Monday (my first unassisted one!) and passed out for almost 3 hours afterwards. But besides the fatigue and soreness, plus some random itchiness and twinges from nerve regeneration, I am feeling pretty amazing and thankful that my body is healing so well.
I’ve gotten a few questions about exactly what I had done, so I thought I’d spell it out here. I had my surgery with Dr. Paul Ruff of Ruff Plastic Surgery on July 29, 2013. Here is a breakdown of the procedures:
1.) Extended Abdominoplasty – it was “extended” because the incision starts right in the middle of my hip on either side, basically straight down from the center of my armpit. The reason is because I had a lot of excess skin to get rid of, and they have to cut longer than the skin they are removing. I had full muscle repair as part of the procedure as well, which feels like you did two million sit-ups in one sitting at first, but has gotten less sore with time.
2.) Flank Liposuction – this was actually something I wasn’t expecting before my consultation, but apparently it goes along with many tummy tucks. Dr. Ruff explained that when they remove the skin/fat on the front of you, the flank liposuction helps contour your body and slim your waist so that you have a more hourglass shaped figure.
When I wrote the post the night before surgery, I had some big concerns going in. They were:
- That something will go wrong during the procedure. it didn’t.
- That coming out of anesthesia will be rough. it wasn’t.
- The pain during recovery. that proved true and was not fun, but thankfully I’m over the hump.
- The scar I’ll be left with from hip to hip. I still haven’t seen the incision itself because it’s covered in steristrips (clear tape), but that comes off Monday and then I’ll get a good look. It’s pretty enormous, but I would take the scar (I think) over what I had going on before any day.
- Having to deal with the surgical drains during recovery. these were not nearly as bad as I expected. Annoying, yes. Painful, no. I actually liked seeing the progress in the drainage as it went down over the days after surgery and turned from red to lighter in color. I also liked that the fluid came out of me instead of staying in there. I got one drain removed at 5 days post op (PO) and the second one at 7 PO.
- Not being able to do things for myself. This is something I struggled with a lot, and still do to some degree. It’s hard to be slower than I normally am and I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that I am recovering. I need rest so my body can keep working on healing me. Having to be given a shower was probably the hardest part for me.
- The fatigue and run down feeling I know I’ll be dealing with for weeks. Yup. Dealing with it. But it’s manageable. It’ll be a lot harder when I go back into the office full time.
- Swelling. I am about 10 lbs swollen right now. I know this because my weight is still the same as it was pre-op, and they removed 10 lbs of skin/fat from me during surgery. I am definitely feeling a little swelling/bloated, but it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m told it gets worse in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
- Not recognizing myself in the mirror. Sort of, but this is actually a good thing. I still can’t believe how slim my waist is. And this is with medical foam padding under my compression garment AND 10 lbs of swell.
- That I’ll be unhappy with the results. So far, I am ecstatic with the results of the surgery. I still have a long ways to go as far as healing goes, but the progress I’ve made in the first week is amazing. Our bodies are incredible.
So what you’ve all been waiting for! The pics. Just a few things of note. First, I am healing VERY well. My doctors have been impressed with how great I look for this soon after surgery. Also, I am dealing with about 10 pounds of swell right now, so my stomach is going to be even flatter over the next several months as my body fully heals. Also, I still have a lot of stretch marks. If all the stretch marks are below the belly button, they will all generally get removed in surgery, but mine were all over the place, so they did not. The stretch marks will be come less prominent as the swelling goes down, though, and most of them are now below my new belly button. I also have not seen the actual incision yet since it’s covered in steristrips. Those come off on Monday, so I will show you guys the scar itself once I see it for myself and how it progresses with scar treatment therapy. Ok, enough with the disclaimers.
I literally get sick to my stomach with the thought of posting these “before” photos of my stomach. Ironic, isn’t it? I hid it quite well in clothes and always felt like I was hiding something because, well, I was. But, this is not my body anymore and I know a lot of people who undergo massive weight loss deal with issues of loose skin and flab around their midsection, too. So I’m going to take one for the team here and show you what I looked like until last Monday. For comparative purposes, my stats are: 5’8”, ~175lbs, size 10 pants/medium top. Here we go. Gulp.
Before Tummy Tuck Surgery
The one on the far left is with everything “tucked in” and the one on the far right is with it… not. The scar above my belly button is from the time I decided piercing my own belly button with a sewing needle would be a good idea at age 16 (and shockingly it got infected) and the rest is just from being obese for so many years.
And here are some photos from the after; the now.
Post Op, Day 3
Post Op, Day 5
Post Op, Day 6
Post Op, Day 7
This was the day they removed the gauze/tape from my belly button, as well as my last drain.
Day 3 – Day 5 – Day 7 Comparison
Before and One Week PO
I am terrified to press publish. Please be kind.