Lately, I've been seeing a fair amount of fellow bloggers speculate about having plastic surgery... specifically a tummy tuck. So, since procedures haven't changed, I thought I'd share my experience with you. If you have a weak stomach... you might want to skip this post.
Any major surgery you have performed is a risk, which you realize the second they put that medical disclaimer in front of you to sign. You know, the one that essentially says if they screw up, they can't be held responsible. It's an especially large risk if you go under a general anesthesia, so there are some important factors to be considered when looking into such complex cosmetic surgery. I had a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) after my second 10 pound child and after my tubes were ligated, tied off, burned & sealed, just after her birth. I knew I couldn't go through another pregnancy.
I wanted the tummy tuck because I was tired of people asking me when the baby was due. When I wasn't pregnant. When I hadn't been pregnant for months. I was 30 when I had #1 child and 32 when I had # 2 child. Apparently, my skin had elasticity back in my 20's, but by the time I finally had children, my skin elasticity had hopped a train for parts unknown.
Because I'm only 5'4", carrying the weight of two consecutive 10 pound babies had taken its toll. The result was what we lovingly referred to around here as *elephant skin*. Lovely phrase, isn't it? Whatever, if the description fits.... taint no gettin' out of it. Short of surgery.
So, two years after my baby girl was born, I prepared to once again go under the knife. Both babies had arrived by the knife, so what the hey? How bad could it possibly be? Right? Have you ever seen anyone skin a deer? Uh-Huh. I'm just saying.
First off... I Thought Wrong! I dieted for 2 months before the tuck so that I'd be at an ideal weight. I was the picture of health. The hubby & I were both thinking my tummy would look like it did back when we were first married (okay, he thought that more than I did) and when I wore bikinis. HAHAHAHA! A fool's dream.
In the end, the 3 hour operation to perform my tummy tuck wound up taking 6 hours total. My doctor was wonderful and he really worked hard to repair the damage done by the two big babies. After removing a total of 7 inches of stretch-marked skin and double-layering my stomach muscles in order to return them to somewhere close to their original condition. This removed the over sized grapefruit from my belly button area and the large love handles that had come to roost somewhere in the vicinity of my lower backside waistline. The doctor told me that, had I been in a car accident & thrown against the steering wheel, I would have died. I'd barely had enough stomach muscle left to hold my organs in. The letter the doctor wrote to the insurance company got me a free tummy tuck because it was all repair work. That was a bonus. It did not, however, make me look like I did prior to pregnancy. I think perhaps the information *out there* is somewhat misleading. Very few patients get the flat belly of youth without multiple surgeries. No thanks.
If you've already had a C-section, you'll probably survive with flying colors. It's a painful operation and depending on your healing type, it can be a long or short recovery. My plastic surgeon does it at his clinic and you stay overnight. A nurse was always present, but when you come out of a general anesthesia, you say a lot of really weird things, so there's no telling what deep, dark secrets I revealed to the nurse. I don't even remember. I do remember talking to dead people then realizing they weren't there. I was in an almost unbearable amount of pain & was starting to *lose it*. I started to get really panicky and was having trouble breathing. I needed a brown paper bag, maybe. Later, I learned that what I was experiencing was claustrophobia and I realized that I've had it all my life, every time I feel enclosed or trapped.
Like some kind of angel, my doctor suddenly appeared from nowhere, picked me up & walked me around the bed for a while (with tubes attached), because he knew I was starting to freak out. This actually did help. A little. I was just feeling so trapped with all the tubes. On the tiny hospital bed. In my tiny hospital gown. In a tiny room. Okay, so maybe it's just me. Then, he gave me another shot of Demerol and I wistfully drifted off into another drug-induced slumber.
When it was almost time for me to go home in the morning, he came in to remove the tubes. OMG! Those horrible tubes! As soon as the excruciating removal of said tubes was complete, I realized that my worst pain had been those demon drainage tubes. Also, I wish I'd never looked where those tubes emptied out. Too frightening to describe. Too frightening because it came from my body. It was truly revolting.
After having been skinned like a deer & sewn back together, they sent me home with a prescription for Demerol, for the pain. I really only needed those for a couple of days but stayed on them until they were gone, which made it a real bitch to get off the pills. They made me whiney and depressed and I was still really swollen. As I recall, my housekeeper back then had to wrestle the pills away from me. I was so ticked off, but soon I was thankful for her bold gesture. The swelling began to go down once I was off the pills and I started feeling better. The
torturous fun part was that you had to wear this girdle-like wrap for your mid-section, I suppose to keep everything firmly together until the skin adhered was healed. It looked (and felt) like something straight out of a Victorian Catalogue for Ladies. It seemed totally archaic, but who was I to question why? I just wanted to look halfway normal again, no matter the pain. So, I did as the doctor told me.
Within 12 weeks I was back to normal and was even able to water ski when we went to the lake. However, I had to do it without the flat belly of my youth. I finally laid that dream to rest. Buried it with full honors along with many of my other memories. Still, I look one heck of a lot better than I did before the tummy tuck. So, would I recommend it for someone else? Sure, as long as you're not the world's biggest baby. I don't think it is something for the squeamish or someone who has a low threshold for pain. I am absolutely happy & satisfied that I had it done, even with all the pain. I cannot say that would be the case for just anyone.
This is what I looked like at 12 weeks post-surgery. But then, it was a very long time ago. Like 21 years. Time marches on and takes no prisoners.