I’ll admit that I’ve written some rather glamorous blog posts. From fancy table settings to dreamy kid’s rooms to amazing trips. I certainly do not qualify as “the most glamorous” blogger in the world but as of today, I just might qualify as the least. I can’t imagine writing about anything much more unattractive than having your husband lower you onto the toilet. More about that later. If you follow me often, you know that I am not afraid to be honest and raw and real. Although I have never been “afraid” to share details of my mommy makeover, I can’t say that I ever thought I actually would. Detailing half of my stomach getting cut off and my belly button re-cored didn’t seem like the most awesome thing ever to share. But that’s how much I love you guys.
Several months ago I shared “My Weight Loss Story” and you guys kind of loved it. So thank you! You also blew me up with e-mails asking about the tummy tuck procedure I mentioned in the post. There isn’t exactly a one sentence re-cap nor does everyone have a friend that will get down and dirty with you if you’re thinking about having one so I decided that today, I will be that friend! Oh and if happen to be a guy reading my blog, please click HERE to read about more manly projects. There is absolutely NOTHING sexy about this post!
Let’s start with some disclaimers… First, as usual this post is not for haters of any kind. Second, this post will be very detailed and verbally graphic. If you aren’t interested in learning more about this procedure, I would not read this post. Next, I am not any type of professional in any type of field related to anything medical. Whatsoever. I am just a girl who got a tummy tuck and will tell you all the things the doctor and maybe some friends will not. And lastly, I am not in any way, shape or form promoting my surgeon. I will tell you who I used just because you asked but it is YOUR responsibility to do your research and learn more.
I would like to start by saying that I absolutely wish more than anything that I was one of those girls who popped out a few little ones and bounced right back to a six pack. And to be completely honest, I’ve probably waisted some time in my life wishing that I were. What I have realized in my journey over the last couple of years is that I am me and my story and my life and my journey are all unique to me. I have done and accomplished and been through an array of wonderful and horrible life situations that have all led to today. And for that I am grateful. I could not be happier with where I am today. I am grateful to the body that lived through some crazy stress in building our kitchen/bath company. I am grateful to the body that birthed two healthy baby girls and even grateful in some crazy way for the experience of losing twins. And I am grateful to the imperfect body that is healthy and is mine. I have learned that it’s okay to be imperfect but that it’s also okay to want to do something about it. I absolutely did not have this procedure for anyone but myself. I decided one day three years ago that I was going to start caring more about me. That I was going to start going for my dreams even if it meant doing something completely unnecessary. I had busted my butt to lose 100 lbs and I wanted the outside of me to reflect how I felt on the inside. So that is exactly what I did.
So now that all of that fun stuff is over, let’s get real. In August 2013, I received a full abdominoplasty. Otherwise known as a tummy tuck. What I did not mention in my previous post is that I also got a breast lift and augmentation during that same procedure. As you know, I gained and then lost 100 lbs over the course of several years. With that type of weight gain and weight loss, it can do a number on your skin! And once I got down to 120 lbs, I had a LOT of extra skin. And it was awful. My doctor informed me that the measure of determining if you “need” a tummy tuck is if you lean forward and the skin at and above your belly button hangs down, you would need a full abdominoplasty. Next, let’s chat boobs. So I was blessed with a large chest. My friends in college used to make fun of me because I was tall and thin wearing a DD bra. My gift from God. However that gift was apparently not too fond of my weight loss and then breast feeding adventures because by the time I finished nursing baby #2, they were deflated DD balloons. And that was also incredibly unattractive. My doctor also informed me that the measure of determining if you “need” a breast lift is if you place your finger underneath the fold of your breast and your nipple falls below your finger, you would need a lift and not just an augmentation.
So you’ve done those “tests” and determined you could use one or both procedures and now you’re wondering exactly how God awful it actually was. So before I get graphic, let me start by saying that I am 1,000% happy with everything I had done and I would absolutely do it all again tomorrow. If I ABSOLUTELY had to. I am so glad that I had it all done and I am also even glad that I chose to do it all at once. But to be honest, it was not easy, not a breeze, not glamorous and absolutely not a walk in the park.
I remember most of it like it was yesterday. What I probably remember more than anything was the weeks and days leading up to the procedure. I was a freaking nervous wreck. I had my consultation and asked every question under the sun but still wanted to know the nitty gritty. The “real life” details. Not just the “this is what we will do and this is what you will look like 12 weeks later…” I wanted to know the truth. Thank heavens I knew someone who had an abdominoplasty done several years prior so I blew up her phone for weeks asking questions. I am confident that I had myself talked out of doing it a hundred times and made her talk me back into doing it every single time. I also had myself convinced about one week before the operation that I would be okay with a “mini tummy tuck”. Because I stupidly looked up “full abdominoplasty” on Google and that is basically the worst mistake ever. Google will convince you that you are dying or are already dead. Every single time.
The day came and I had it all done. All three procedures. The entire operation took approximately 4.5 hours. Although I mentioned splitting up the procedures, my plastic surgeon convinced me that the tummy tuck would be “so painful” that I would not even “notice” the breast work. And he was correct. A full abdominoplasty is no joke. Let’s just say that a c-section is a runny nose and a tummy tuck is pneumonia. And I would know because I had two of them. HOWEVER, the pain is manageable and it is completely doable even with young kids if you do exactly what I say 😉 Okay do not necessarily do exactly what I say but I will tell you what made it manageable for me.
At the time of my surgery, I had a 6 year old and a one year old at home. I worked at our kitchen/bath company then so we had a “nanny” that came most days to watch Winter during the day, pick Addie up from school, etc. I also had Mark or one of our moms there for me every single day for ten days. So first things first, find someone to help you and someone to watch the kids. Yes, you will need both especially with little ones. I would suggest having both people secured for at least the first 10 days. I will not get all technical on you detailing the differences in a tummy tuck and c-section but I will share my own personal cross referencing. With both of my c-sections, I was taking care of kids, walking up and down the stairs, making dinner… all within the first 1-2 days of being home. With my tummy tuck, Mark was lifting me out of bed lowering me onto the toilet seat for at least 6-8 days. Yes, they are THAT different. ANYTHING you do that uses your stomach muscles WHATSOEVER is literally impossible. Sitting up, squatting down, laughing… and the list goes on. It doesn’t just hurt like a c-section. It is impossible. Remember we are talking runny nose vs. pneumonia here.
So that leads me into suggestion number two… have a low bed or mattress set-up where you can roll yourself out and onto the floor in a standing position. With assistance. We set up a daybed in our master bedroom and I slept there for WEEKS.
Next, the pain. I would say that now, three years later, I do not so much remember the pain. I know it was incredibly painful but I also remember it being manageable. If you remember from My Weight Loss Story, I do not take medication. Like ever. I avoid it at all costs. However, a tummy tuck is not the time and place for that. It is a serious procedure with serious pain. My suggestion is to take round-the-clock medication for at least the first week. Yes, we set alarms during the night for Mark to give me meds every 4-6 hours. Even if I was asleep and “not hurting”, we did not miss a dose. Because the pain will catch up with you. Believe me!
The reality… Okay so you know what help you’ll need, how to sleep, how to medicate… Now let’s talk details. Here’s where it gets really icky. These procedures are not pretty. Let’s just say that they cut across my entire stomach, deeper than a c-section, pulled the skin down and cut off enough skin that my belly button was cut off as well. They then reattached all of then muscles and did some other crazy stuff, re-cored my belly button and then sewed it all back together. It is mega. This procedure places you at a high risk for blood clotting so Mark gave me shots in the thigh every day for ten days to prevent this from happening. I also had drains placed under the skin that had to be emptied for the first ten days as well. You will need someone who loves you A LOT to do all of this for you. It is disgusting.
And lastly, let’s talk scarring. I have a lot of scars. I have a scar from hip to hip from my tummy tuck as well as one around my belly button. I also have one around my nipple, down the center and then around the bottom of my breast. However, they have faded drastically in the last three years! From a distance you honestly can barely even tell. Instead of the typical high hip scar, I asked my surgeon to do it straight across. In doing so, he had to “fold over” and then sew across the folded skin. I am so medically accurate it’s insane ;-). SO, I have a straight across scar allowing me to still wear bikini bottoms but the downside to that is that I have a tiny ripple of skin on the far sides of my hips. It has flattened and corrected itself a lot over the last three years though. I would suggest wearing the “belt” as much as possible. I honestly liked wearing it because it felt good to have it all tight and protected. I remember wearing it for MONTHS! You really couldn’t even tell it was under my clothing. That is one reason I think doing this during the Fall or Winter months is best. Also, my surgeon suggested taping a marble over my belly button which is quiet possibly the weirdest thing I’ve ever done but I swear it works! The constant pressure is supposed to lighten the color of the scarring more rapidly.
As far as the breast work, I haven’t mentioned it much because I honestly don’t even remember feeling much pain from it all! I have always heard a breast lift is very painful so that must speak volumes to the severity of a tummy tuck procedure! I liberally applied scar cream for months and months and the scarring is super light now. To be honest though, I think it took at least 18 months for it to all really fade and not be red or pink.
SO, I hope I have not majorly freaked you out and that you actually made it to the end of my “novel”. As scary as it all may sound, it was all worth it in the end. With ample help and a good plan, it is very manageable. I do not regret one single decision and I am also VERY happy with the work completed by Dr. Whiteman with Southern Plastic Surgery. If you decide to get a consultation with this office, please tell them I sent you! Like I said at the beginning, this post is NOT sponsored in any way. I am sharing my raw and real journey and all of the details that you guys have asked for. Thank you for reading!
On a side note, I scoured my phone for pictures and I really only have two decent ones where you can really see my stomach. Seeing as though I did not have all of this done to become a bikini model, this is about all I can share! The first was around 9 months after the surgery and you can see that my belly button scar is still rather red/pink. The second was one year after surgery and my scarring was already MUCH better by that point!
Nine Months Post-Op…
One Year Post-Op…
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