Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss – Surgery Day

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I made it! I can’t believe I made it! It seems like this day would never come. I have worked so hard for the last 4 years and then I scheduled this surgery back in February. Time seemed to fly by after planning, but it also seemed like it crawled. It seemed so surreal going into the weekend before. I knew I would want to do all the little things around the house…cleaning the floors, laundry, dishes… My major concern was packing up Payton and her things to spend most of the week at Grandma’s house. When Sunday rolled around and we finally dropped Payton off with Grandma it began to feel a little more real.

I actually slept really well the night before surgery. I woke up a few times with that anxious “Oh no, I’m going to miss it” feeling. I still remained pretty calm. We got to the surgery center around 6am and did some paperwork and finished paying… handing over that wad of money I’d worked so hard for stung a little. It was just a few minutes and I was whisked away to the back where a wonderful nurse helped me change into a gown and hair net and hooked me up to some leg massagers to help prevent clots.

Dr Mills came in to do all the markings and that’s when things got real exciting… One of my friends who previously had some plastic surgery procedures told me she got light headed during the markings. I kinda laughed it off. But I shouldn’t have. I guess me not trying to think about it and not making a big deal about it caught up to me. He started a few of the markings and all of a sudden the room got hot and stuffy. I began to feel lightheaded and had to sit down. I ended up getting sick and thought after that I’d be fine. So I stood up again to finish the markings. and again I got woosy and had to lay down. This time I actually blacked out for a second. I got sick again. I guess the nerves caught up to me after all!

Finally we finished the markings and I got to lay down in the bed. They let Chris come back in before I got taken to the OR. It was nice to have him there after my little fainting spells. A few minutes later and I was off to the OR. They wheeled me in, put me on to the operating table, and the anesthesiologist told me to take a few deep breaths…

Next thing I know I woke up in the recovery room.

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I felt pretty good when I woke up, a little groggy of course, but mostly coherent. According to the hubs I kept asking the same questions over and over again. My biggest question was “How Much did they take off?!” lol. It turns out they took off just over 5lbs from the front of my stomach and then just around 3lbs from the sides. That is 8 freaking pounds of skin/fat they removed!

I spent a little time in recovery before heading home. It was technically an outpatient procedure. Some people stay in aftercare facilities and some places have you stay overnight in a hospital. I was able to move around enough to get in and out of the car and spent the majority of the day sleeping in my beloved recliner.

 

I wasn’t able to really eat much, I munched on graham crackers and a protein bar. I kept up with my meds thanks to my amazing husband. I could still feel the effects of being under so I was really groggy for a lot of the day. We moved up to the bedroom and I slept there for a few hours but I realized I needed a bigger wedge type pillow because I can’t get up very easily from laying that far back. I moved back to the recliner around 3:30am and also took more pain meds. Lesson learned, don’t wait for them to wear off! It’s hard at night but I may set an alarm or something tonight to help me stay on top of it.

Overall I feel really blessed. The experience has been mostly positive and I’ve received so much support. I was able to catch a glimpse of the work at my follow up appointment this morning with a small hand mirror and I am just in complete awe. I’ll try to get some pictures in the next few days. The difference is amazing. I’m going to have to keep my drains until Friday or Tuesday depending on how much they are draining, but once those are gone and I can shower I know I’ll feel a lot better. I was able to move around quite a bit better this morning and it felt good!

I don’t want to paint it as all roses over here, because I still am in quite a bit of pain and discomfort, but I know I chose this so I don’t feel like I have a right to complain. I know it is painful, but I know it will be worth it. This is just another chapter in my journey. The journey to my best self hasn’t always been easy. Weight loss isn’t easy. And neither is excess skin removal. But it will pay off in the end!

Follow me on instagram, @courtnorm , to keep up with my updates and progress! I’ll post here as much as I can. Any questions you have leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer! I want you to have the best information possible if you are thinking about doing this for yourself!

Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss: 2 Weeks Out

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Holy Cow. Today marks just 2 weeks out from my Skin Removal Abdominoplasty. It seems like I just made the decision to have the procedure done, and now we are just 14 days out. I had my Pre-Op appointment last week. I sat in a room and went through a huge book with the nurse and had to initial and sign every page. Basically going through pre-op instructions, what the surgery will consist of, before pictures, after care, follow up, and of course all the possible risks. It is a major surgery so they make sure to cover their ground when it comes to every detail. I also had to pay the remainder of my surgeons fee… ouch. I will still have to pay the surgery center and anesthesiologist separately on surgery day.

I want to make it very clear that this is NOT a weight loss surgery. When it comes to weight loss I did it all the old fashioned way – hard work. I once weighed upwards of 250lbs. I carried the vast majority of that weight in my midsection. Add in pregnancy and my skin just lost it’s elasticity. I’m also left with what is called a Pannus… the hanging apron of skin on my lower abdomen. I also have separation of the abdominal muscles due to being overweight for a long time and from pregnancy. This surgery is to remove the hanging pannus and repair the abdominal muscles. I don’t think you should consider this surgery until you’ve been your happy weight or size for awhile. For me this past year has been a struggle as I have been working so hard and not seeing the kind of results I should because of this skin. I’m happy with the size I am, I just want to see that flat tummy I’ve worked so hard for.

Not everyone who loses a significant amount of weight has to have this type of surgery. It is a major surgery with a long recovery time and real risks. I know lots of people who have lost far more weight than I have that choose not to have this surgery. Just like everyone’s journey of how they lost the weight is different, how people deal with excess skin is going to be different. It may not bother some people like it bothered me. Some people may see it as a badge of honor or reminder of how far they’ve come. For me it was a difficult mental struggle to look in the mirror and know that I would never look like what I imagined I would when I started losing weight. It was a reminder of how far gone I was. I want to leave that old girl behind me. Yes, I love how far I’ve come. And no, I don’t want to forget what it was like to be that big… but I don’t need this flap as a reminder of that every time I look in the mirror… or jump… or run.

I know I was trying to push for more weight loss before this surgery but I started to become a bit of a headcase. I’m still eating healthy but not wallowing in guilt when I eat off the meal plan for a night. I don’t want to obsess over food or the scale. I want to live a balanced life. I didn’t want to feel like I was on yet another crash diet leading up to this surgery. I’m still working out a lot, mostly because I realized that I have just 7 more workout days left before surgery (we will be out of town for a few days this week). I am going to miss that the most. I’ll probably be out for 6-8 weeks as long as everything goes well with recovery.

Overall, my mind is in a good place. I’m at peace and excited, a little nervous too. Mostly nervous for the unexpected. I trust my doctor and I trust my body. I’m really excited for what this next chapter brings. I plan on sharing all about the experience and I’m open to answering any questions you might have about it all. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me in the contact section.

 

 

Taking the Plunge: Skin Surgery Post-Weight Loss

Well, aren’t we just talking about one major life change after another around here! Be warned this may get a little lengthy…

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I’ve been on this healthy living journey for over 4 years now. It hasn’t always been easy and there have been many detours along the way. I’m getting to a place where I feel like I’m close to the body type I think will work best for me and my goals, this is totally personal opinion. Many people on their health journey are out to get to a goal weight. When I started on this journey I thought I wanted to weigh 135. Now my lean muscle mass is hovering around 150, so that number is out of the question unless I want to lose 15lbs of muscle. Which I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be super lean, I want to be strong. For the most part I’m happy where my body is. There is one main issue that I just haven’t been able to fix with diet or exercise… extra skin.

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When you spend the majority of your life extremely overweight and carry most of that extra weight in your mid section that is going to leave you with a lot of extra skin, even if you lose weight in a slow and healthy way. There is no muscle left in my lower abdomen, so there is no hope of it retracting on its own. There is also an area of lose skin around my belly button. Most times this extra skin isn’t noticeable under my clothes, I work hard to make it that way. As I’ve continued to lose weight it has become more of an issue in many areas.

Performance

The first thing that comes to mind is my CrossFit performance. I can’t work out unless I am wearing some type of compression pants. Even then doing any kind of jumping movements can be painful and makes it a million times harder. Even wearing compression pants they move and shift and I’m often spending a good portion of the workout adjusting them.

Aesthetics

I can’t remember a time when I had a flat stomach. I’m at the point in my journey where I have to work super extra hard to see changes and it’s hard when I know even with the work I put in without surgery I will never see a flat stomach. I want to look good naked and in clothes. I don’t want to have to worry about stuffing my apron of skin into a pair of jeans. Not to mention if that skin wasn’t there I could probably fit into a smaller size. Or maybe not, since my squatting thighs are pretty large still. I have also had issues with rashes both around my belly button and on the fold where the skin lays.

First Impressions

This one is hard for me to admit, as it can be misconstrued as vain or shallow. The truth is I love my body for what it can do despite how it may look. I am strong and healthy. I am also fit. The reality is it may not appear that way to some people, particularly when I am in a fitness related position. I’ve had to fight my own demons to get to where I realize my level of fitness isn’t related to the number of stomach rolls I may or may not have. Not everyone is at that place. As a fitness professional I feel like I should look the part. Yes, I may be relatable and inspirational to some people, but there are others who may look at me and think I shouldn’t be in the position I’m in. I’m not saying that people with extra skin or fat shouldn’t be fitness professionals at all. I’m just saying this extra skin isn’t doing me any favors for my business.

Lingering Reminder

Some people say that things like extra skin and stretch marks are reminders of how far they have come. Yes, i’ve made some amazing changes to my life and my body has followed along with those changes. For me it is more of a thorn in my flesh reminding me of where I was before… Of how far out of control I was. While I am proud of my progress, I want to live more in the moment of where I am now. I don’t want to have such a large reminder of how far gone I was at one point.

So, all those things added up to decision to pursue this surgery. The final straw came when I talked to my general practitioner about that and she referred me to a plastic surgeon. I guess I still see myself as larger and thought If I could lose 30 more lbs maybe it would go away. She confirmed that it wasn’t just excess fat, it was actually a large amount of skin and that it wouldn’t go back on its own. It was like solid validation. I was scared to pursue this though. Mostly, I didn’t want people to think I was “cheating” or trying to take the easy way out. I was scared that people may look down on me for doing it. Then I realized I never have let what people think about me stop me before. So, on her referral I set up a consultation with Dr Peter Mills at Renaissance Plastic Surgery. I’ll write a whole separate post on that whole experience. After the consultation I talked with Chris about it. Yes, it is a lot of money. Yes, the recovery will suck. Yes, it is a major surgery with risks. But it is something that makes sense for me and where I am in my journey. Not everyone may agree with my decision. That’s ok, this journey is my own. I also talked to my friend Courtney from Treadmill Runway who recently had this procedure done herself. We have been so alike in other areas of this health journey it is so helpful to have her insight on this as well.

Taking into consideration the cost and recovery time we decided to go with an August Surgery date. So, Monday August 11th is the day. There is still plenty of time for me to make more progress before then to have optimal results. Right now I’m in the upper 180’s as far as weight goes. Ideally I’d love to be comfortably in the 170’s when I go in for this procedure. So another 15lbs give or take. I will be clear on this: This is not a weight loss surgery. I don’t agree in having a tummy tuck for the reason of losing weight. If you don’t address the issues of healthy eating and exercise you will likely waste your money and end up gaining weight back after the surgery. I am in a healthy place with my eating and workouts and will be using this as a functional surgery, not a weight loss surgery. If I lose weight because of it, great. If I don’t, no big deal. It’s not about that number on the scale for me.

I plan on sharing all about this along the way so you all can see the good, bad, and ugly about the procedure and make your own informed decisions on if this is right for you. I’m an open book so any questions you might have I’d be more than happy to answer, you can leave them in a comment below or email them to me at courtney (at) courtneynorman (dot) org