This page will contain my plastic surgery experience.
For those of you who have not read it in my blog ....
I will be having abdominoplasty and liposuction of the circumferential thighs on May 9, 2012. At 8 am. I have to report to the surgical center at 6:30 am. My surgery will take about 4 hours, plus two hours of recovery time.
I have lost a significant amount of weight and have been left with excess skin. I'll be having the abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) to remove this skin. Unfortunately my surgeon told me that despite the work I've been doing as far as my exercise, the fat cells on my thighs just will not go away on their own. Some have, and some have shrunk. The result is a little bit of excess skin and so many bumps that my thighs resemble a topographical map.
The form of liposuction that I'm having done is called SmartLipo Triplex. It is laser lipo, but it's more effective than other types. It also has a faster recovery time and is safer. And it promotes the tightening of the skin (because the laser stimulates collagen). This may mean that I won't need a thigh lift in the future, if I'm happy with my results. The cannula goes into the skin and targets the fat cells. They are dissolved and sucked out.
On this page I will write about my experience, my recovery, and when appropriate for me (scars don't look as bad, swelling is down, etc.) I will post some pictures, including "before" and "after" shots. Healing continues for several months, so I will try to remember to monitor progress monthly.
Surgery/Day One: I got through surgery pretty well and without much pain. I woke up crying, which I did when I had my tonsils out. I told the nurses that I was sorry and I must have forgotten where I was. I had a little pain in recovery but it wasn't horrible. The pain later in the day was a little worse. I had a small drop in my oxygen level so I had to have that on for a little while during recovery. I had moments when my level dropped that I felt like I'd stop breathing and get a little startled. I also woke up with some nausea that lasted most of the day. I was also really pale, according to my Mom. I felt better after I got out of the car and was home for a while. I pretty much just came home and slept. I woke to take my pain med and then drifted off again. I got up to walk around the house a little and to use the bathroom, which was difficult. There's a hole in the compression garment but it doesn't pull close enough to pee through it. I tried to and nearly peed on myself. After that I have had to take the garment down each time. My Mom had to help get it unhooked and unzipped but I did okay with it. Later I was able to do it on my own. There were a couple points yesterday that I thought "what was I thinking?" but those didn't last long. I was better when I was able to stop moving and took my Vicodin. If I am in one spot I'm okay.
Day Two: Day two started a little early and with a little drama. I had fallen asleep in the recliner chair because getting up for bed seemed like too much work. I woke up between three and four this morning to pee. I wanted to try to wait until morning but couldn't. I eventually got up (which wasn't fun since the pain med had worn off) and went to the bathroom. I was getting my garment pulled up and started to feel woozy and very sweaty; I couldn't do it. I yelled for my Mom who was sound asleep and didn't hear me. So I started yelling louder and banged on the bathroom door. I think I was going to try to turn around to sit back down but didn't make it. I passed out, luckily I fell backward, which woke up both of my parents. I put my arms around my Dad's neck and he lifted me off the ground. They got me on to my bed and tried to get my garment back up. By this point I was in too much pain and couldn't do it. My Mom got me some Vicodin and after that kicked in, I was able to stand long enough to get that pulled up and then went back to bed. My parents thought that maybe the pain caused me to faint. The poor dogs got all riled up too. It scared Buddy so much that it literally scared the sh*t right out of him. Then he knew something was up or sensed my fear or pain and wouldn't leave my side. I freaking love that dog. I woke up this morning and had too much burning pain to get up. Mom gave me a Vicodin and when it kicked in I got up I decided to pee and my Mom thought it would be a good time to change my dressings. After I stood up and the bandages were off, my Mom said that the abdominal incision looked good; and being a nurse she was very impressed. She told me to look at it and as soon as I did I got light headed,sweaty, and pale again. So I sat on the toilet for a few and then went back to my bed. She changed most of the dressings that she while I laid there. I was okay to stand when she finished. There are somethings in life that make modesty go out the window. Having to have my parents get me up from the floor half naked is one of those times. My Mom helping with dressings is another. Normally I'd be embarrassed. Apparently being in pain and wanting things to be over are more important to me than worrying about things. Slight problem tonight thanks to the pain med. Got through it and was fine after. I'll add to this as I have updates...
Day Three: So far the day has been pretty good. I have less pain than yesterday but I'm still pretty tender. After my issue with the Vicodin (and other drugs from surgery...man they loaded me up!) I am DONE with it. I have taken Motrin a couple times today but that's it. No more Vicodin for me...Unless I really need it, but I'm gonna try to be a trooper! I've been feeling better most of the day. I have had a couple light headed episodes again but no fainting. I'm eating and drinking. I wonder if it's post-op anemia. Or I've noticed I have had a little gas,so I wonder if the faint feeling cones with the gas pains. My compression garment is off for the moment. My Mom took it to be washed when I was going to attempt to shower. That's when I felt light headed, so I haven't made it into the shower yet. I feel gross so hopefully I can shower soon. If nothing else my Mom is going to at least was my hair in the sink. Despite the pain I'm getting sick of the dressings and compression. I have to have them though so I will deal with it. I keep telling myself that it will be worth it in the end...
I did manage to get into the shower later in the evening. It felt soooo nice!!! Still feeling a bit light headed at times, but I think it's because I get tired when I have to stand for the dressing changes.
Day Four: Today was a little better. My Dad got me out of the house for the first time since I came home. I was definitely exhausted by the time I got home (and really hadn't done that much when we were out). We went to my little cousin's horse show, so most of the day was sitting, but it was enough I guess. Just getting out and getting some fresh (mixed with horse poop) air was nice. I came home and napped and spent the rest of the day relaxing. I've noticed some itching starting which is slightly annoying. I'm sure it's partly due to healing but I itch in places where there are no incisions. Maybe the tape? Maybe the garment? Whatever it is, it is not so much fun. I've been using ice to help with the itching. I had some nice ice packs that they sent home with me, to help with the swelling, but I'm finding that they're very helpful with the itching too. I had another shower tonight. That was nice!! It still tires me out and my body kind of grosses me out! It just feels different when I touch my belly or a thigh. I haven't even looked at my abdominal incision. I don't want to take any chances with fainting again. It's hard to move too far, and my tummy feels tight (I know, like it should!). At any rate, it felt good to shower. My drain seems to be holding less...gunk...than it had been so that's good. I am so ready to get this thing out!!
Day Five: It seems like I'm getting a little better every day. I went out for lunch with my Dad (Mom worked this weekend), then we went to pick up a couple things at the store. I forgot a few things so I went back, solo (also this was my first day driving!). I did alright but was definitely tired when I got home. I rested for a while and then made dinner for my Mom for Mother's Day. It was good to get out, but also tiring. I got back out later in the evening, after dinner, with my Mom. We had to go pick up milk, and we may have gotten a little ice cream treat...Maybe. The itching was much, much worse tonight. I wonder if part of it is because I didn't shower tonight so the garment wasn't off at all. The itching was so bad, that I decided to take a combo of Benadryl and Motrin.
Day Six: The Benadryl and Motrin combo? AWESOME! It helped with the itching. I also slept the best I have since last Monday night! Sleeping on my back has been super annoying, and was even worse with all the pain. Now that I've had less pain it seems to be getting easier to tolerate. I'm usually a mover in my sleep, so staying in one spot hasn't been much fun. I got out again today... Had to get some things from the store, including some stuff for all this crazy itching. I imagine it will only get worse as I heal so I wanted to be prepared. I got some Aveeno body wash and lotion, as well as a cortisone cream and some witch hazel. I can at least use it on itchy areas that are not incision areas. I'll ask the doc at my appointment tomorrow what else I can use on the actual incision areas. I'm hoping my drain comes out. At the minimum I'll probably get rid of these dressings. They've been clean for two days now, so far. I'm draining a lot less too...I should be under 30 CCs for at least two days in a row. If I stay low when my Mom empties it tonight, I'll be at day three under 30. YAY!!! Without the drain and the dressings I think life will be a little bit easier. I was out for maybe an hour and a half today; maybe not quite that long. I'm tired again, that's for sure. I was kinda "busy" this morning though. I washed my hair in the sink (easy to bend forward...Probably easier to watch it that way than in the shower, having to bend back!). I also managed to go downstairs and do a little laundry. The laundry was already down there so I wasn't carrying anything, and my Mom had it pre-sorted into piles so really it wasn't all that difficult. I also did some dishes and put them away. Pretty easy household tasks, but I'm looking at them as therapeutic... Kinda like my own OT (occupational therapy). My PT (physical therapy) can be walking...And the pushing up I've had to do with my arms when getting out of chairs and such. It's a good thing my arms are pretty strong. I have to say it's thanks to all those pre-surgery BR workouts!!!
Now I'm going to go rest for a while. I think I'll take a little nap, then maybe do some reading in my personal training book. My Mom's working again today, so I'll probably make dinner again tonight... Guess I should see what we have and have my Dad bring home anything I need. Or I could go back into town but I am really not feeling like it, so much. Maybe I'll feel better after a nap!!
I would love to have sat out in the sun today to read, or nap. It's pretty warm, and nice out. The problem? My parents don't have their comfy patio furniture out yet. I'm not crazy so I'm definitely NOT attempting that. I'm probably pushing a little bit as it is. BUT, I feel pretty good and will not push too hard. I can handle little things like dishes and laundry. Moving furniture? Not so much. I also plan to shower this evening so I don't want to exhaust myself tooooo much!!
Day Seven through NOW (day 13) -
OOPS...Someone hasn't been very good about updating the last week. Why? I've been BUSY!!!
Last Tuesday was my first follow-up with the doctor. It's about an hour and a half each way, so my Mom and I left early in the morning and went to the mall for an hour or so and lunch after. It exhausted me. We only went into a few stores, but walked around the whole mall. I'm glad I got some walking in, but I was ready to nap when we got home. I'd say that was my first huge outing. We also met my Grandparents for coffee when we got back into town. Later we met some of our friends for dinner. Luckily I was able to get a nap in there, but even with that I was exhausted that night. I did not get my drain out like I hoped.
The color was still too red, indicating that there was still a bit of blood in there. So, the drain stayed and I continued to wear the surgical compression garment. I was bummed but definitely didn't want it to come out before it was time.
Wednesday was pretty relaxing again. I spent time with my cousin and her little girl spent the night. I watched her most of Thursday too. It was tiring and I was most definitely exhausted by the end of the day, but I had a good time with her....She's an adorable little girl and lots of fun. We were busy... Breakfast with my Mom and grandparents, a trip to the store, then home to play before a nap. After the nap I took her to the beach to play in the sand for a little while. I slept very well on Thursday night!!
Friday I went back to the doctor for my second follow-up. The drain came out!! I also get to wear a lighter weight, more user-friendly compression garment. It kind of reminds me of Spanx. I will have to wear it for about another month. It's best to do that to make sure that the swelling continues down, which I definitely want! I was thrilled that the drain came out. Life is definitely easier with out both the surgical garment and the drain. My incision looks good. The steri-strips will start falling off and I'm at the point that I can put a scar cream on it if I want to. The only thing I can't put on it is UV light. No tanning, and if I'm out in the sun I have to make sure it's covered. I have another follow-up appointment in about six weeks to see how I'm healing and make sure everything is on track.
My Dad and I also stopped at the mall (I forgot my coupons for Express on Tuesday and wanted to go back) and for lunch on the way home. After we got into town I went home and relaxed for a while, because I was tired. It was better than Tuesday had been but I was still not quite back to feeling normal. Then I picked up my cousin and her daughter and we hung out for a while and met up with my parents and friends for dinner.
Saturday was more relaxing. I took my garment off for a little while so that I could enjoy the hot weather and get a little sun. Since surgery I've been pale, so I thought I should get a little color, which I did. Not a lot, but enough to not look quite as much like a corpse! Spent some time with friends and my cousin again that day; we had a little slumber party...And spent most of Sunday relaxing.
Today....Monday, has already come and gone (almost)! I can't believe how fast the time went. I have to go back to work on Wednesday, and honestly, do not want to!! I'm starting to feel a lot better. I'm almost back to my usual self. I'm still tired when the end of the day rolls around, but I'm feeling a lot better. My legs are still bruised and hurt when I sit for too long....Or I'm on them for too long. I've been trying to do a good mix of both getting up and moving around, and resting. My tummy area is feeling okay. I am being careful with bending and lifting, making sure to not over-do it. I can tell if I start to do too much because I feel it along my incision.
Today my cousin and I went out for lunch and did a little grocery shopping. I also spent a good part of the day cleaning my parents' house and doing laundry. I made them dinner this evening. With as much as my cousin and I have been invading the house, I thought it'd be nice to clean up a little while they were at work. I also packed up most of my stuff. It's hard to believe I've been here for two weeks. It went by really fast. I'm kind of sad to go home tomorrow. Life will be a little too quiet again. At least I can start doing some light running soon. I'm still trying to figure out how to accomplish that with this compression garment. I'll end up having to wash it every day that I work out which could be a bit of an annoyance. It'll be nice to get back into that. I'm waiting a while longer to do too many ab exercises. My muscles weren't touched but I don't want to move too much...Maybe I'm too cautious but that's okay. I'd rather do that than get hurt!
So that's where I'm at... Healing well, feeling well, and getting back to my usual self.
Two Months Post-Op - Doing well!! I summarized my recent doctor visit in a post. I may need a revision of the tummy tuck, because of the amount of skin that had to be removed. My scars look good and are healing well. I still have some swelling but not much in the tummy area. I still have swelling that hasn't resolved in my thighs (where the lipo was done) but it's getting there. My next appointment (six month visit!) is in November and by then the thigh swelling should be resolved quite a bit more. Full results of both will be noted a year post-op. At my next visit we'll discuss the revision and my future plan, although I don't think I'm having surgery until the fall of 2013. No more compression garments in the heat!! OH!! And I'm rid of compression gear 24/7. I only need to wear the garment if I'm highly active. My doc said that my compression workout gear is just fine to wear, which is good because I feel like that holds me tighter than the garment (probably because it is now too big). All in all, my progress is going well!
Six Months Post-Op: My six month follow-up was on 11/16/12. Everything looks good. Overall I'm happy with my results... I still have some extra skin on my upper abdomen. My doc actually asked if I'd lost more weight. I could probably have a revision, but that's not my plan right now. This is common when such a large amount of skin must be removed. I'm okay with the little bit of extra skin that I have. I wasn't expecting to be totally flat after surgery anyway. We'll see how I feel after the other procedures are done and maybe at some point I'll have a revision. Who knows. I go back for a one year follow up in May.
Also at that time I'll be doing my consult for my next surgery - my brachioplasty (arms) and lower body lift (hips, thighs, and butt). I can't wait!! If I could do those procedures now I would, but I have other things going on... Like training for a half marathon. That's probably the biggest reason I'm waiting. In addition to this appointment, I have also scheduled surgery. It is planned for Wednesday, June 5th, 2013. I'm guessing that's tentative at the moment, just because it's so early. Surgery is a little later than I had wanted (was hoping for early May again) but with the need for the follow-up as well as the consult, it will be happening in June. Looks like I have another hot, compression garment filled summer to look forward to!
One Year Post-Op: My follow-up was more of a consult for my next surgery. I'm, unfortunately, not having the lift as we had hoped. I need another round of lipo; this time it'll be on my thighs as well as my butt. My doc said that the contours were good (after last year's lipo) but that I still have quite a bit of "volume" on my thighs. We'll see what happens after this round of lipo. I will be having brachioplasty as planned. Surgery is set for June 5th!! Can't wait!
Brachioplasty Follow-Up: This really wasn't a bad surgery! I had some more liposuction done at the same time. Surgery was a lot less scary the second time. Since then I have gained some weight back, but the good news is that both of surgical sites still look good and as I'm losing the weight I gained back, things are looking good. I don't think any major damage was caused to the work that my surgeon did (phew!!!). I thought for sure that at least the liposuction was ruined, but I still have the same weird indents where the fat cells were removed. There are obviously more in other areas, but the general shape that was sculpted, is still there. Lesson learned.... For many reasons not just because that was a lot of time and money!! This time, I'm done. I guess I don't actually enjoy working to lose large amounts of weight. Apparently, I must have thought it was so much fun the first time that I wanted to do it (well, part of it) again. Ha! Not so much.