Size 10 dress by Banana Republic. Tummy tuck by Joseph Capella, M.D.
When I met with my surgeon I explained some new pains that I was having in my lower abdomen and continued pain in my upper abdomen. I had emailed him 10-days earlier stating that I had been feeling light-headed. I've come close to fainting a few times. I have grabbed the wall on occasion to steady myself but it takes a lot actually cause me to faint. My surgeon had his patient coordinator phone me and tell me that I should go to the emergency room if I was feeling light-headed.
I felt that there had been enough drama with my tummy tuck; as such I opted not to go to the ER. Instead, I made an appointment to see my PCP the following week when I was in Jersey. She is sending me for an MRI and an ultrasound and asked me to meet with my cardiologist.
Meanwhile I posted my symptoms on RealSelf.com to see what some of the plastic surgeons had to say about them. I had two surgeons reply with comments about possible nerve entrapment and treatment with steroid injections. But when I spoke with my surgeon about this, he seemed unconcerned and did not even examine my abdomen. When my PCP had examined my abdomen, she told me that it took her a year after her abdominoplasty to feel normal again. As she is younger and exercises more than me, I guess that I am progressing naturally.
I also described to my surgeon a vertical pulling through my thighs and abdomen to the extent that I am not able to extend my legs without discomfort - such as when swimming or stretching out in bed. Again he was not concerned. Then I told him about scar tissue that had formed under the incision in my mons and external scarring there. This is both painful and unattractive, but he said it is normal and will resolve over time. A patient on ObesityHelp.com plastic surgery forum told me that I should be doing deep tissue massage 3x a day to help resolve the adhesions. But the PA at my plastic surgeon's practice said that there is no clinical evidence to support this.
Then I asked him why stretch marks had formed on my abdomen when I swelled. If you read an earlier chapter of this article, there was an incident that resulted in me calling my surgeon in the middle of the night and going to the ER. What he told me next was enlightening: The stretch marks were not new. Rather they were my stretch marks from my pregnancy back in 1986 that became apparent when I began to swell from the tummy tuck. While I do not completely buy into that explanation, I am satisfied with it as an answer. I'd much rather believe the striae are the marks of something as honorable and natural as motherhood. I bear them with fondness: Each and every one reminds me of my love for my beautiful daughter.
Finally, I discussed some revision work with him. More on that in the next chapter.
"Let's See Your Stomach"
Ah, the big reveal. After we were all talked out" well, I talked and my surgeon listened" he threw his hands in the air and said, "Let's see your stomach!" I find the dichotomy that exists in the patient-physician perspectives interesting: While I am looking at what may have gone wrong, he is looking at what went so well. Indeed, my tummy tuck went very well.
I opened my robe and lifted my tank top to reveal the remarkable transformation: 8 inches lost from my waist and 18 inches lost overall from my abdomen and hips. My surgeon and his physician's assistant were pleased with my results. My surgeon told me, "Well thank you for keeping up your end of the bargain." I thought that was a reference to paying the bill, but what he meant was losing weight (I lost 12-lbs on my own after the surgery). My P.A. told me, "You look great." I liked that.
As for me, I feel that my body now matches my personality. And this time around, I completely enjoyed having my "after" photos taken. Seeing my "before" photo on my surgeon's computer reminded me how ashamed I had been of my body just 3-months ago and how difficult it had been to have nude photos taken. I am amazed at the remarkable difference a tummy tuck can make, both physically and emotionally, when done by the hands of a highly-skilled surgeon.
Read part 23 to learn what's planned for my revision surgery.