Abdominoplasty Recovery: Q & A (5 Weeks Post Op)

abdominoplastyrecovery

Today marks 5 weeks since my Abdominoplasty surgery! Time has seriously been flying. I honestly imagined my recovery time to crawl by. I think being on the pain meds the first week made that week go by even faster. I slept a lot that week too. The last update I posted was at 10 days post op. This was just after getting my drains and belly button stitches out. Really, that was a major turning point in my recovery! Showers are a beautiful thing and I was happy to have them back in my life!

From 2 weeks post op to 4 weeks post op things got exponentially better. I started feeling less pain and completely stopped having to take anything for pain right around 2 weeks. Some of the swelling started to go down and moving around was much easier.

At my 3 week post op appointment Dr Mills was impressed with how well I was moving. Again, I will tell you that being fit going into surgery helped me more than anything else. My body recovered faster and moving around was so much easier. At the appointment I was told I had an open wound on my belly button. This wasn’t a huge deal, it was just that where my belly button was ended up right on one of my stretch marks, so it took a little while longer to heal. This was during the healing process. All I had to do was keep antibiotic ointment on it. 
bellybutton

I also got told to stop wearing my bulky hospital binder and go to using a spanx type compression garment. I have just been wearing high waisted spanx underwear type compression. I still have swelling, especially if I do something particularly active like clean the house. I started to feel more normal and even got into some jeans! I’m wearing the same size I was before, they just fit way better!

At 4 weeks post op I felt 99% normal. I still had some tightness, but a lot of my mobility was back to normal. I can twist and turn and have no pain. Again, the swelling is still here… and It’s actually worse in this picture because I spent most of the day before on my feet.

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At 4 weeks I started wearing my compression garment half time. I’ve worn it just through the night and I’ve also worn it just during the day. I think I prefer to wear it to bed because I love waking up with the flatter tummy after being in compression gear all night. I was also allowed to lift more weight, around 25lbs and up. Before I was limited to 10-15lbs. The first few days of wearing my compression gear half time I felt my core getting tired towards the end of the afternoon.

Today is the 5 week mark and I can see a huge difference between last week and this week. The swelling has gone down noticeably, at least to me.

4-5weeksPO

The swelling usually happens in the lower part of my stomach, but today it felt really flat. As far as the scar goes, it is suuuuper low and pretty light. You can see in the 4 weeks post op picture the faint line of the scar. I’m really happy with the placement of the scar and how well it has recovered. I also love my belly button shape and coloring, especially after it finished healing.  I feel totally normal. I’m SO ready to get back to working out. I can start easing back into it next week. I know once I get back to working out things will change even more (for the better!)

Here is a little progression of my results week by week. Some weeks you can see a difference and some you can’t. Tummy Tuck recovery is a roller coaster of ups and downs.

postopprogression

I asked on my Facebook and Instagram if anyone had specific questions regarding the procedure or recovery so I’ll answer them here. If you see any I didn’t get to, leave them in the comments!

Where is the best place to rest immediately post-op? Recliner, bed, sofa?

First of all, remember that everyone has a different recovery. I slept in my bed at night from day 1. I was propped up on pillows so I was almost sitting up, but I felt like I needed some separation between my “awake time” and “night time.” I Spent most of the day the first week in a recliner, which was the most comfortable. By week 3 I started removing pillows and laying down more flat. I still kept a pillow under my knees until week 3 as well.

What do you like best and least about your procedure/experience/body now?

I love my belly button! I’ve always had a spare tire around my belly button as long as I remember. So to have a cute belly button is so fun! The part I like the least about the whole procedure is the numbness I feel from my belly button to the top of the scar. It doesn’t hurt, it just feels weird and was really hard to get used to.

Was it painful?

Again, every one is going to be different. The pain pills helped the first week and once the drains was out it was less pain and more discomfort. Everything felt super tight and that was the hardest part. It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

How long before you can walk upright/lay flat? 

I was standing mostly upright by the 8 day mark. I didn’t start sleeping completely flat until around week 3.

Did your insurance pay on the procedures?

No, this was all out of pocket. Some insurance would have covered it, but since we are self employed and have to purchase our own insurance this wasn’t included despite the fact I was referred to the Plastic Surgeon by my Primary Care Doctor due to irritating rashes and other issues. Check with your provider.

How much weight did you lose?

I cannot stress this enough…  This is not a weight loss surgery. I did not have this surgery to lose weight. I spent the last 4 years totally overhauling my lifestyle and lost 70lbs before having this procedure. They removed 8lbs of skin and tissue during the surgery. Since surgery day I’m down just about 5lbs. Swelling is crazy during the first few months so it goes up and down depending on activity level and my diet.

How do your clothes fit?

Most of my clothes were too small coming out of surgery because of the swelling. I’m just now getting to where I can fit in most of my pre-surgery clothes. They fit different, but they fit. I’m still in the same size jeans but there is a lot more room in the front!

So far I’m very happy with my decision to have this surgery and loving my results. Again, it is not for everyone. It was what was right for me. I would do it again in a heart beat. It is overwhelming to see the results I’ve worked so hard for. I’m not saying you have to go through plastic surgery to see results, but with the amount of time and the degree to which I was obese it was the option that made the best sense for me.

Thank you so much for following my journey!

Do you have any questions about the procedure/recovery I haven’t answered?

Tummy Tuck Recovery Update 10 Days Post Op

TummyTuckRecovery

I know I keep saying it, but time has been flying by! I wrote about the actual surgery day and the first few days of recovery already. Last time I talked about tummy tuck recovery I was waiting to have my drains out… That was a long 8 days!!

I went to my appointment on Tuesday with less than 20mL draining over a 24 hour period so Dr Mills took my drains out! I was SO SO SO nervous that it was going to hurt. Honestly, the most painful/annoying thing about the first week of recovery for me was the drains. So I took one last pain pill before going and lets just say I was feeling really relaxed once we got to the appointment. He snipped the stitches told me to take a deep breath and him and the nurse pulled both out at the same time. It felt weird, but it didn’t hurt.

Sidenote: Nothing good ever happens after a doctor/medical professional/anyone tells you to take a deep breath. #justsayin

Since I was already there and because I’ve been recovering so well he went ahead and took out the stitches in my belly button. That wasn’t painful at all either. He told me that I could wear spanx if I wanted to but had to keep some kind of garment on full time until my next appointment. He also said I could walk as much as I want, just no “power walking” or anything more intense. He warned me that I would get tired quickly and that I just needed to listen to my body.

When I got home I TOOK A SHOWER! Seriously the best shower ever. I felt human again. I also got my first peek at my tummy without the binder and drains.

tummytuckbeforeafter

Unreal. I don’t even recognize that as MY stomach. It was a very emotional moment for me to be able to see just a glimpse of the stomach I have dreamt about. I know it is still swollen at just 8 days out but there is even a tad bit of ab definition! SERIOUSLY, IS THAT ME?!

When I first started on my health journey I had this as the after in my head. I would work out and eat right and in ___ Days/Months/Years this is what I would look like, no surgery needed. The truth about weight loss isn’t always pretty. I worked out twice as hard as people I watched get amazing results in half the time. I was meticulous about what I would eat. No, I wasn’t perfect. But I worked hard and left it all out there. There are a few things that come into play here… Genetics are huge. So is the amount of time you have spent being obese. I remember having that big hanging pouch of fat back in middle school. Of course it got bigger as I got bigger. and it deflated as I lost weight. But that skin was done, it wasn’t going back no matter how many wraps/creams/pills/heavy weights/”Just toning” or whatever amazing miracle remedy you have for me. I tried it all. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again… I did NOT have this surgery for weight loss purposes. This is a functional, elective, plastic surgery that I decided to do to make my life better. I worked hard and lost 70lbs on the scale and gained a crazy amount of muscle. I didn’t do this to be skinny. I will always be a thick, curvy girl. and I’m ok with that.

End Rant.

Back to talking about recovery…. I posted on instagram one day last week how not every day was a good day (PS- If you follow me on Instagram, @courtnorm, I update there a lot more often!) and that is true. I felt tired and worn out last Monday but it was because of a combination of the surgery and (TMI ALERT) that time of the month. Seriously, I couldn’t tell what was worse. It was just bad timing for that, for sure. But once that went away and the drains were out I started to feel better and better.

I even tried to put some “real” clothes on and felt good in them! I haven’t been brave enough to try on my jeans because I am still so swollen plus the part of my stomach from my belly button to my incision is still really numb and it feels really weird. Since I’m talking about swelling I noticed that, yes, my stomach is swollen but so are my upper legs… hips and thighs. I know they did lipo around the flanks and there is probably swelling/healing going on from that. I just didn’t expect my legs to feel this swollen. I also tried on some spanx, the high waisted shorts kind. HOLY SMOKES. How do people wear this every day? It was like alligator wrestling trying to get it on. and then it wasn’t even comfortable. The pair I had didn’t have a pee hole or anything so I’m convinced people who wear spanx like that have to be chronically dehydrated because going to the bathroom was a major life event. I wore them for maybe an hour and a half while washing my binder and went to the bathroom twice. All this spanx talk reminds me of the buzzfeed video of men trying on spanx for the first time. You’re welcome.

Day 8, the day I got my drains out, was my last day taking the pain pills (which means I can drive again, yay!) Now I only take tylenol maybe once a day if needed. I’ve been able to stand up straight since around day 5 or 6 so that helped me not be as sore because most of the pain was in my back from hunching over.

Overall, recovery has been uneventful for me. Which is great. and I will tell you that I believe 100% that the reason I have recovered so well is because I was in such good shape going into this. I’m not telling you that this surgery was a cakewalk, because it wasn’t. But I believe that CrossFit made me strong and fit which helped my recovery go so well. I’m used to a certain level of pain/soreness so this isn’t out of the ordinary. My body knows how to recover well.

I’m already missing my workouts, so instead of workout out I just dress like I’m going to work out. A little jedi mind trick.

 

Overall, I’m feeling really good. I love my results and would do it over in a heartbeat. Dr Mills is truly an artist. My scar is low and thin (you can see part of it in the before and after above). I know I’ve made it through the toughest part and recovery should be all downhill from now. It will only get better!

Thanks so much for all your kind words. You guys are the best. Be sure to follow me on Instagram or Facebook for more regular updates. If you have any specific questions leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them all or do another Q&A post if I get a lot of the same.

Any recovery tips?
Have you ever worn spanx?! ((WHY?!))

Recovery Update: Days 2-5

Is it already Day 5 Post Op?! It seems like time is flying by most of the time. Day 1, or the actual surgery day, was a bit of a blur. I was in and out of it all day with the anesthesia wearing off. I attempted to sleep in my bed on the first day and it was a little tough getting in and out of bed so I ended up back in my recliner around 3am. I really wanted to be able to sleep in bed but couldn’t feel comfortable laying completely flat. The next day the hubs came home with this beauty

fuzzybedrest

I called it the abominable snowman. It is a bed rest type wedge pillow and it has been perfect for sleeping in bed! I still needed some help getting in and out of bed for the first 3 days or so. Now on day 5 I can get in and out of bed and my recliner relatively easily with no assistance. I can also stand up almost straight and walk around easily as well.

I have also been decreasing my pain medication and still feeling pretty good. There are, of course, some moments where I am more uncomfortable than others. Over the past 5 days I haven’t felt like the pain was unmanageable at all. I feel really good in the mornings and can tell my core gets more tired as the day goes on. I’ve been sleeping in bed from 9pm until about 5:30am with 1 or 2 bathroom trips a night. I spend most of the day in my recliner and have been taking a few short naps throughout the day. I make sure I get up and walk around at least 5-10 minutes every hour. It has become a game of finding balance between the right amount of rest and the right amount of moving around.

drains

I still have my lovely drains in. I will have them until Tuesday as long as they are putting out less than 25mL on each drain in a 24 hour period. Which they are right on the edge of doing at this point. When it comes to eating I have just been eating what is easy. We have been so blessed to have people bringing us food for dinners and such. And believe it or not when we first got married Chris did most of the cooking because I was such a horrible cook… so he CAN cook I just usually don’t let him.

Speaking of Chris… He has been an absolute saint. His stress level has been through the roof but he has been doing so well taking care of me, Payton, and the CrossFit. Since I was feeling so much better than expected we actually snuck out and had a quick dinner in the real world!

 

My scars are healing surprisingly well. All I need now is a shower and I’ll be good to go! haha.

Seriously, I can’t thank you enough for all your support and well wishes. I’m more than pleased with the results so far and can’t wait to share them with you. Do you all have any questions about the procedure/recovery that I can answer for you? Feel free to email me or leave them in the comments!

Have you ever had to recover from surgery? Any tips or tricks?