I decided to seriously pursue plastic surgery when I realized the extent the extra weight was affecting my life. I'm a bubbly, outgoing person, but my sagging "apron" of a stomach made me extremely self-conscious. I planned my life around hiding my body. Reaching for my baggiest clothing, always looking for a desk or chair to hide behind and finding ways to avoid standing in front of people were second nature to me. I knew it was time to change when I had to ask for an extension belt on a flight -- one of my most mortifying experiences to date.
I lost 40 pounds just by counting calories and getting more active. I walked three miles a day and tried to swim as often as possible, because my back wasn't up for any extreme physical activity. But then I plateaued. I decided (after much research) that I wanted to change my life with an abdominoplasty procedure -- or, as they're commonly known, a tummy tuck.
Choosing a Surgeon
When I met with the plastic surgeon, I was so impressed with his knowledge, calmness and vision for my results, I didn't even schedule consultations with the other two surgeons I researched. We decided on a drainless extended tummy tuck with muscle tightening/correction of the upper abdomen and liposuction of the upper abdomen, flanks and outer thighs. In a drainless tummy tuck, the surgeon takes extra time to suture the abdomen, closing up the space where fluid would normally collect, which eliminates the need for pesky drains after the procedure. Because I was also getting lipo, I would have a couple of very small drains to eliminate the extra fluid from my sides and back, but not as many as would be required without the extra sutures.
I called to schedule the surgery for the last week in August. After I hung up the phone, I cried. I felt the most amazing relief and excitement. I was so happy (finally!) to be doing something about the body that kept me from living the way I wanted to.
-Arnica gel (to help with bruising and muscle pain)
-Vitamin C and Zinc supplements (to promote healing)
-Turmeric (to reduce bloating and swelling)
-Bromelain (to reduce inflammation and speed healing)
-Milk of Magnesia (to help with that first bowel movement!)
-Cold packs (for swelling)
-Maxi pads and liners (for drain leaks and as a cushion between my body and the compression garment)
-A walker (to help me get to and from the bathroom)
The Big Day
What I do remember: there was a lot of tightness and swelling -- thank goodness for Percocet and muscle relaxers!
Although I was in a lot of pain, I could already tell how much smaller I was. The surgeon said he took off about 22 pounds between the lipo and skin removal. I kept my "before" pictures close by to keep my spirits up -- it was a good reminder that I had already come pretty far!
I started feeling a lot better about three days after the operation. I was really impressed with the results. So was my sweet husband, who took a week off of work to be with me. I used the arnica regularly, and my bruising was minimal. By day four, I was able to get in and out of bed by myself without the walker.
The worst part about the recovery: those drains. I had four of them. They got in the way, pulled and occasionally burned. The drains were removed about a week after the surgery, and I was ecstatic to see them go.
The first week after the operation really was difficult, but I kept my mind focused on my results. Each day was a little bit better. Even when I was in a lot of pain, I didn't have any regrets about going through with the surgery.