self-confidence · surgery · Tummy tuck

Tummy Tuck 102: Surgery and the First 24 Hours

I’m not going to get too much into the surgery itself, because quite honestly I don’t really know what it consists of.  I didn’t want to know.  I knew it would be super invasive and gross, and that was enough for me.  I’ve had four babies and never actually seen a birth.  I’ve obviously been a participant but I have no desire to see what it actually happening.  When I was asked if I wanted a mirror at the foot of my bed to watch my youngest two children being born, I vehemently said, “No!”  So if you want to actually see the surgery and know what happens step by step, you may want to google it.

I decided that since I was having the tummy tuck I would also have my boobs done (I LOVE how well I use scientific terminology).  This double surgery is traditionally referred to in the plastic surgery world as “Mommy Makeovers”, which for some reason feels icky to my feminist leanings, but that’s what they’re called.  I did not have augmentation but simply a lift.

I had my surgery done in Las Vegas, and stayed with my sister for one week.  This, I feel, is crucial.  It got me away from my house, away from distractions that might have caused me to get up too soon or do too much too early.  I was able to rest and sleep and recover with very little disturbance.

The day of my surgery, I checked into the surgery center early.  My husband was flying in later that day to take care of me for the first 24 hours.  This is also very crucial–you really need to have full support of your family and/or friends in order to help you with your recovery.  I was a little nervous, but mostly very excited.  I was brought back to the surgery room, where I had to take a pregnancy test (Negative! Yes!) and change into one of those gowns.  I waited in the bed while they went through all the pre-op stuff.  I had been marked by my surgeon the day before.

Here’s the weird/embarrassing part.  I am a pretty modest woman.  I had to have iodine put on me while I stood there totally naked.  Young (male) surgery techs coming in and out of the room, assistants, multiple doctors, and me standing there naked as the day I was born.  I realize this is a daily thing for those doctors, nurses, and surgery techs, and they probably didn’t give me a second look, but still.  Embarrassing.

I got on the table, and they strapped my arms and legs down.  Now this is an anxiety trigger for me (I hate being restrained), but immediately after that the anesthesiologist put in my IV.  Plus, I can’t remember, but I think they gave me something to keep me calm.  All I remember is saying to the anesthesiologist as he started my medicine is, “It burns!” and he answered, “Yes, it does that.”

Next thing I remember I was waking up shaking horribly.  It took me a minute to realize where I was and what had even happened.  The nurse told me to cough, and I looked at her like she was crazy–my abs absolutely did not work.  After the shaking subsided and the doctor was satisfied I was doing well, I was sent home with my husband.  I don’t remember it being super horrible on the way home, but he says I looked green the whole way to my sister’s house.

You will have tubes coming out of your hips, with bulbs to collect any fluid.  You have to clean the bulbs out every couple of hours, and mark how much fluid comes out and if it’s bloody or clear.  It’s disgusting.  I had an automatic recliner which would lift me into a standing position, and I can’t tell you how wonderful that was.  It was remote-control so I could lean it back or come forward with a touch of a button.

Things you will need that you won’t even think of: the previously mentioned automatic recliner, a walker, and an elevated toilet.  TRUST ME.  You have to walk every couple of hours, and your abs DO NOT WORK.  It is so hard to walk. With the walker, it makes it easier.  And lowering yourself down to use the toilet is so hard because, again, YOUR ABS DO NOT WORK.

Take your anti-nausea medicine.  I was fine until once in the middle of the night when I got up to try to use the bathroom (I couldn’t pee.  It was the weirdest thing. And so incredibly frustrating.) and all of a sudden I was going to throw up.  But it scared me to death, because again, YOUR ABS DO NOT WORK.  So can you imagine throwing up with non-working and painful abs? (Side note: One of my friends contracted the stomach flu right after her surgery and I cannot even imagine how painful that was.  She was one who wished she’d never had the surgery.) I didn’t throw up, but that was a horrible few minutes (and I still didn’t pee that time).

Stay on top of your pain pills.  It is better to take them even if you don’t have pain than to try to play catch-up once the pain hits.  I had a pain pump that would give me medicine every so often plus the pain pills every six hours.  You will also have “huggers” that go around your legs and automatically squeeze in differently intervals to pump blood back to your heart.  This is to make sure you don’t get blood clots (same reason you have to walk around every couple of hours).

The first 24 hours are the worst, and if you can make it through that, you should continue to do well.  I’m focusing mostly on the tummy tuck and not the boob job because quite honestly, I hardly even noticed that I’d had them done.  Next post: the remaining recovery.

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