Tummy Tuck & Breast Lift

“Plastic Surgery” has so many negative connotations I just about feel like I’m saying dirty words when I utter the phrase; however, as someone who’s had several plastic surgeries now I can tell you that, in my experience, it’s been nothing but positive.

I don’t write this “review” of my procedures to draw attention to myself in any way (I’m actually a fiercely private person…).  I merely feel a certain responsibility to share my honest representation of these surgeries: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Also, I wish I’d have had access to patients’ actual reviews like this before I went under the knife… So, hopefully, someone considering these procedures might stumble upon this and find it beneficial.

Please keep in mind that my perspective of Plastic Surgery is SOLELY from the Point of View of Weight Loss.

I’m including very graphic before and after pictures in this post. If you’re squeamish or just don’t care to see a random stranger *practically* naked, now would be a good time to leave 🙂

The Operation/Hospital stay:

On June 22, 2010 I had a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty), Breast Lift (Mastoplexy), and Breast Augmentation.

All smiles as I’m about to be wheeled to the O.R.

I wanted to have all the procedures done at the same time and just get it over with. The tuck was 4 hours and the Lift & Augmentation (2 separate procedures) was about 3.5. I was under for nearly 8 hours when it was all said and done and I spent the night in the hospital.

When I woke up from surgery I could. not. MOVE.

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Getting a sip of Sprite with a straw purposefully pointed at my mouth (by someone else!) was a chore. I’m shocked at how many muscles are required to sit up even just an inch or two. Our bodies are truly amazing…

(Here’s a 3 minute video overview of a Tummy Tuck if you’re curious:  watch online video).

My parents left me after a few hours and I basically just slept the whole time.  That is, in between being given medicine and being checked every 2 hours by the nurses. Later that evening, a nurse made me get up and walk a lap around the recovery wing. She was very nice… and I know she was required to make me do that to prevent blood clots and pneumonia and blah blah blah. I know all of that. But, dangit, that little walk nearly killed me! I had to take several breaks. Plus, I couldn’t stand upright because the pressure on my torso was so intense; I was hunched over the entire time.  I was doped up on Morphine so I wasn’t necessarily in pain, I was just incredibly sore and weak. Imagine the hardest Ab workout you’ve ever done times infinity! At one point, I had to swallow down vomit. I NEVER vomit (unless I have a virus that specifically makes me do so).

As an added bonus, I felt severe cramps in my lower abdomen the next morning. When I was taken to the bathroom my suspicions were confirmed: Flow had arrived. I don’t say that to be crude or to overshare. Anesthesia/surgery can induce a woman’s period (or so that’s what I’ve heard…). Whether that actually happened to me or if it’s completely incidental, who knows? But that just added to the enjoyment of a difficult recovery. Not only that, I had to wear a compression garment for swelling. It started under my bust and went to my knees. I had to wear this for 8 weeks. Conveniently, it had an open crotch so I could relieve myself. Keeping in mind that Flow had arrived, though… you can imagine the “Eww” factor. I ended up wearing underwear on the outside of my garment, which was awkward but better than the alternative (even more awkward, the nurse had to put my underwear on me and, uh, “assist” me with my feminine product).  Would you believe the morphine had NO affect on my cramps? I was in no pain from my surgery but I still felt my menstrual cramps. Such is the cruel irony of life.

After this particular visit to the restroom (the flow visit), I couldn’t hold it in any more. I vomited big time when I got back to my bed. Don’t ask me why. I couldn’t tell you since I didn’t eat more than 2 crackers and lay on my back (what else could I do?) for hours. Was it the anesthesia, the constant morphine drip, or the agony of my internal organs screaming out in rebellion of my actions? I dunno. But it was a “THAR she blows!” moment. My poor nurse… Nurses truly are angels on earth. Thank your nurses. Be nice to them.

After Dr. Bergman examined me later that morning, I was discharged. My mom had to dress me because I simply could not. I don’t think I can accurately describe the soreness/sensations of these procedures. It was like there was an elephant laying on my stomach & chest. Now, it wasn’t this bad for the entire 8 weeks of recovery. It was only this intense for the first 4ish days.

Going Home:

I wasn’t married to Tim at this point yet. In fact, we had just started dating earlier in June. I did NOT tell him I was having all of this done. I merely told him I was okay but that I was having a “little procedure” done and that I’d be unavailable for a while. I honestly didn’t think he’d bother to wait around for me… (he did 🙂 ). I needed help in my recovery, though, so I stayed at my parents’ house. They set up a bedroom for me in my dad’s office (on the main floor because climbing stairs wouldn’t be a good idea) and my mom took care of me. This surgery takes a major tole on your body. There is no way you can recover from this without help.

For the first couple of days, I mostly slept and ate crackers and broth as I was pretty nauseous. I could only lay on my back and I placed bags of frozen veggies all over my incisions. I was prescribed Vicodin and I set my CLOCK to the next dose (every 3 hours). The pain was really intense those first few days out of the hospital. Morphine is the best invention ever. Wish I could’ve brought that home. Everybody handles pain differently… I have a very high tolerance. I’d rate this on my personal pain scale as an 8 out of 10.

3 days after I was released from the hospital, I was permitted to take a shower. This was quite the production… My mom put a lawn chair in her walk-in shower (I’m fortunate it was a walk-in because stepping into a tub would’ve been impossible a.) for me to lift my knee up enough to step into it and b.) for me to be able to give myself a shower alone in a confined tub).   Even though my compression garment had a zipper so I could take it off, I still had to keep my incisions dry (Initially. After a week or so I was able to delicately wash my incisions, pat them dry, and use a hair dryer on COOL to dry them before re-wrapping them). So she wrapped my torso in a garbage bag and bathed me while I sat in the lawn chair. She washed my hair because the range of motion required to raise my arms up was too painful because of my bosoms. (I HATE the word “breast”… so if “boobs” or “bosoms” or any other euphemism of the anatomical word for those offends you… too bad).  Also, my abdomen was still crazy sore! I could not do the necessary bending required to clean my legs and arms. I was completely helpless… but this only lasted a few days. Thankfully, I was able to shower alone a week later. The pain and soreness let up enough for me to do that (albeit VERY gingerly). I still had the lawn chair in the shower with me, just in case…

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I censored the nips, obviously, but you can see the vastness of the incisions. Instead of using stitches, my surgeon used glue to seal the wounds and then taped them (she used dissolvable stitches when able on the, uh, “inside” of me). The tape gradually just fell off on its own. You can see the drain on the right side of my pubic area. I had to empty that drain twice a day and record the amount of liquid in it each time I did so. On my first check-up (8 or 9 days later), the drain was removed. The nurse braced me, “This is going to burn…” She counted down from three and pulled it out in one swift movement.  I could feel it traveling through my body, starting in my chest and exiting out through my private area; very, very unpleasant. Despite the fact that sucker was, like, 6 feet long it only took a few seconds to come out.

Day 7: I’m about to get all sorts of real, so if you can’t handle poop talk you need to leave right now… One full week after surgery, I had still not had a bowel movement.  Constipation is a side effect of the medication and I was prescribed stool softeners to take with every dosage of my Vicodin… I’m going to tell you it didn’t do ONE bit of good! I was hurting SO bad I was going crazy. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t lay down. I couldn’t get in any kind of position to get comfortable. On day 5 I went back to eating just broth and yogurt in an attempt to not clog me up even more and abate the pain. It didn’t work… Day 7 I drank a WHOLE 2 liter bottle of prune juice and container of milk of magnesia in one sitting. Nothing! I tried everything natural and medicinal to get relief and finally my dad mentioned the unthinkable; an enema. The thought alone made me want to vomit so I dismissed it… until I just couldn’t dismiss it any more. 10 o’clock that night, my dad barely made it to the store before closing and brought me home an enema. I tried to “administer” it myself but I just couldn’t do it. On the verge of frustrated tears I scream to my mom, “Mom, get in here!”

She shyly pokes her head into the bathroom, “…Did you figure it out?” she smiles, like we’re talking about using a fun new appliance or something.

“No, you have to do it,” I pant. She comes in and I lean against the wall, shoving my butt out, “Do it, please. Just do it!”

She’s, uh, “examining” the terrain and says matter-of-factly, “Whoa… Laura. You’re backed up good, aren’t cha? I can’t even get the tube in.”

“Just do it, mom!” I scream.

Modesty. Inhibition. Humility. It all goes out the window in an emergency like this. I sat there with my butt in the air, while my mom shoved a gynormous tube up my A$$ crack and drained saline solution in it.

I simultaneously thanked her profusely and kicked her out, while waiting for the “effects” to come to fruition. It took a minute or two (felt like eternity!) but it happened. I finally got relief… in the most violent way possible. The saline solution in the enema causes your intestines to cramp and expel the waste. It’s like Ipecac for your bowels and once it hits, there’s NO stopping it! Well, my stomach had just been cut in half, basically… and that experience hurt worse than anything else in my recovery. I thought my skin was going to rip open at the incisions and it lasted a long time. Imagine that scene in Dumb & Dumber going on for an hour. I was dripping with sweat, tears were streaming from my eyes, and I was dry heaving from the pain of my stomach (seemingly ripping in half). THAT was a 12 out of 10 on my pain scale… I wasn’t right for hours after that. Sure, I had a week’s work of my crap finally out of my body…but I was suddenly back to Day 1 of my recovery: the soreness, the nausea, not wanting to move, not wanting to ever eat anything ever again… it was like all the progress of 6 days of healing went down the drain (no pun intended). I will never, ever, ever again take for granted the miracle that is pooping.

Of course, everything in hindsight has a much better spin on it. I’m able to laugh about it now… My mom was able to laugh DURING the ordeal (but I digress).

More about the procedures:

When I met with Dr. Debra Bergman for my initial consultation, it was only for the Tummy Tuck and Lift. I had NO desire whatsoever to have an augmentation! I don’t mean that disrespectfully… It was from a place a fear. I didn’t want foreign objects in my body. How many horror stories have we all heard about Saline or Silicone leaking into a woman’s body through her ruptured implants? …too many to make me want to even think about doing that to my body. After years of abusing my body with yo-yo diets and obesity, I was finally healthy and I wanted to keep it that way.

Dr. Bergman explained to me that in 2006, silicone implants had been revised to be in gel form (instead of liquid). In the unfortunate event of a rupture, no silicone would leak into my body. Had I just had a lift, well, my nipples would’ve been high and fabulous…but the bosom itself would be completely flat as mine were (just about) all skin (pic below). After looking at before and after pics of women who’d had only a lift VS women who’d had a lift with augmentation, I decided I liked the look better with augmentation. My implants are Silicone gel “moderate plus” profile (meaning, the implant isn’t super high or low on my chest wall but somewhere in the happy medium as I didn’t want fake looking bubble boobs in my neck or flat non-perky-at-all pancake boobs…). My implants were placed behind my pectoral muscles for a more natural look.  I decided to go with the smallest size possible (300cc)… As a side note, when the implants are placed behind the muscle it takes them a while to “settle” into their natural spot behind the breast tissue (there, I said it!). When I woke up from surgery my implants were, quite literally, IN my neck.  It was a bit jarring until Dr. B explained this to me. I had to wear a binder across my chest to help push the implants down. I wore that for 8 weeks as well.

I really don’t care about the negative feedback I might get from this next statement, but I’m going to be honest and tell you that I love my boobs! I am SO happy I decided to get the implants! It was a decision I really struggled with and I nearly chose not to do. I’m so glad I did. They may not be real, but they ARE spectacular 😉

Pictures/Life, 5 years later…

November 2008, 230lbs.
May 2010, 140lbs. Nipples pointing to your knees is not a good look…neither are 2 stomachs…

What KILLS me is that I have the exact same body in the 2 pictures above. The shapes and contours and features are all the same… the bottom pics are just smaller. This is where “Fat Girl Syndrome” comes in to play. FGS should be listed in the book of diseases (whatever it’s called) because it’s truly legit: You feel fantastic as the number on your scale goes down…but, at the same time, you still have the same body… it definitely messes with your perception.

Much better :) (November 2010. 5 months post-op 140lbs)
November 2010. 5 months post-op 140lbs

As I stated earlier, Muffin (my husband Tim) and I began dating a week before I had these surgeries. That relationship, obviously, turned in to something pretty awesome 🙂 As a result, a horrible thing happened… I got happy. For me that translated to a bit of a weight gain. I plateaued at 145lbs and I stayed at that weight for years. It wasn’t until May of 2015 when I finally reached my goal weight of 130lbs. I say “goal weight” but I’d still like to get down to 120 (I’m 5’2 so that’s not unreasonable)… I’m sure everybody can relate: you’re always wanting to go just a little bit farther. We’re never happy with ourselves is what it truly (and sadly) boils down to.

My scars have all but faded.

My “M” shaped war wound today. (November 2015, 130lbs)

The scar goes pretty far down on my pubic area… I’m trying to be as descent as possible in these photos. With underwear (or in a bikini) they’re not visible at all. The scars on my nipples are the same; no pics of that… you’ll just have to take my word for it 🙂

The area around my scars is still numb. This is another side effect most people experience with this surgery. If I have an itch, for example, I can feel the itch but nothing happens when I try to scratch it. I can feel my fingers on my stomach as they scratch, but I feel nothing on my stomach. The itch eventually goes away on its own… if it really drives me crazy, I’ll pat the area in an effort to get relief but that doesn’t usually help either… It’s one of those side effects you have to just deal with.

It’s even more faded on the hip.

Do I have a “perfect” body? Oh, HECK to the no… I still have loose skin… I have stretch marks. I have cellulite. This body is mine, though. And, even today, I’m learning to love it in spite of these flaws. This is my vehicle through life and I appreciate it. I respect it. And I’m determined to love it.

I haven’t used ANY filters on these photos… this is all me. This is what a body that’s lost 100lbs looks like.

Right hip. Looks like a big stretch mark.

In spite of the genuinely horrific moments I experienced in my recovery, I would have these surgeries again 10 times over. I would absolutely still do it (no second thoughts whatsoever). These surgeries changed my life. I went as far as I could go on my own by losing weight the steady, healthy way. Surgery was the next step.  I earned it and I’m not ashamed to say I deserved it.

I deserve to be happy in my own skin.

There are haters out there who would disagree and, well, there’s nothing I can do about that. I can’t (and won’t) live my life for their approval.  All I can tell you is that plastic surgery is worth it! If you’re considering these procedures I hope this post has been helpful to you.

❤ Laura

Total cost of procedures including Surgeon’s Fee, anesthesia, use of Ambulatory Surgery Center Facility, and all follow-up appointments was $13,500.

*I get ZERO affiliate/sponsor kickbacks, commissions, or discounts from my doctors by recommending their services and linking to their websites. ALL expenses for these surgeries are considered elective and are 100% out-of-pocket.

*All opinions expressed are my own.

17 thoughts on “Tummy Tuck & Breast Lift

  1. Thank you for bravely sharing these difficult procedures and your awesome results. I can’t wait to hear about the arm reduction; that’s a fantasy of mine 🙂

    How are you keeping the weight off these days? I am always hungry, and could use some suggestions and some wisdom…

    1. I really, really appreciate that. Thank you 🙂

      I keep my weight off with the help of a free app on my phone. “LoseIt” is the name. I keep track of my calories with this app. I also workout 3 to 6 days a week (schedule permitting). It’s truly a lifestyle, not a diet.

      I’m always, always hungry too! Always. Different things work for different people but counting calories gives me a visual on my food allotment for the day; something about that visual helps me budget my food. I’ll load up on cuties or grapes for snacking. I drink tons of water. Sometimes, though, the heart wants what the heart wants (ice cream, cookies, french fries, burgers). I eat it, count it, go easy on my calories for the rest of the day, and try not to feel bad about it.

      Thanks for asking 🙂 Good luck.

    1. Thank you, Melissa. Not to be melodramatic, but I’ve had some issues with bullying this year (not over these procedures, but my nose and arms, which I’ve yet to review). I’m a little gun-shy to talk about it. A lot of my blogging buddies who’ve also lost weight have asked me about these surgeries and I thought a post would be the most helpful way to detail the experience.

      You’re pretty amazing too! 😉

  2. Thank you for posting your story of weight loss and surgery. It makes me feel I know you better now and like you even more too. The curves of your body are so lovely now the scars hardly show. I enjoy your blog and will keep following you.

  3. I agree with Melissa, you are amazing. I find it hard to believe that anyone could take offence to anything you’ve said, or any of the choices you’ve made – how can they, when it’s YOUR body? As you said, you’ve worked hard for it (in more than one sense) – you deserve the incredible figure you have. 🙂 I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with my figure – but in a way it’s comforting to hear you say that you never feel like you’ve ‘arrived’, from a dieting point of view… does that make sense? Well done Laura, for being brutally honest, for talking from the heart, and for sharing such a personal battle with us. x Sending love! x

    1. It makes perfect sense, Gema: I’m still not quite there. It’s a constant work in progress… I don’t think there’s a woman on the planet who’s 100% “happy” with her figure, sadly (except for Samantha Jones from SATC… she’s fictitious for a reason!). Thanks for all the compliments, encouragement, and love 🙂

  4. Wow, and I mean wow! Takes a lot of courage to stand out and share something like this. Can you forgive me when I say I really loled at your poop explanation? It was hilarious, and I’m probably going to hell about laughing but I know how painful can it be because I’ve struggled with constipation my whole life, and the issue still stands. I know what it is to drive out a week’s worth of poop, and I can only imagine what it was for you to have that fresh out of abdomenal surgery.

    On the issue of always wanting to go further, that doesn’t apply only for the ‘fatties’, as you called yourself and your fellow overweight and ex-overweight people. It’s a problem every woman, and even some men have, and I’m no exception from the rule. The thing is I’ve always had a lean figure (genes, duh, and I’m also taller than 6 ft so there you have it) but the weight I gain goes ONLY to my butt, hips and lower abdomen; my legs, arms and boobs stay the same, doesn’t matter if I’m 140 or 190 lbs, and it looks stunnigly weird – a tall, leggy woman with next to nothing boobs, a lardy flappy waistline and gynormous butt, and I mean gynormous; disproportion at its finest! I’m 150 now, and the butt still steals the show but it’s tolerable; I want to go down to 140 but I’m afraid my arm and face would look very bony, and my boobs would go missing forever…

    Truth is, I hated my body FIERCELY during my teen years, and from my point of view from the now, boy was I stupid. Nevertheless, I love my body now, with all the cellulite and stretchmarks and the funny combination of abs with a muffin top (it just never goes away!). It takes some adjustment and the right state of mind, as well as the state of mind in which you tell all the haters to screw themselves when they hatin’ on you about having some cellulite and wearing booty shorts. I just couldn’t care less what everybody else thinks, and I’m just hoping that you feel confident enough in your body now after all the horrors you’ve survived, to effectively diss those nasty slimeballs. You’re amazing, don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty about loving yourself.

    1. It’s okay, Sylvia. I LOL every time I think about it (Re: poop “incident”). At the time, I was praying for death! Now, I can totally laugh about it 🙂

      Now that you mention it, I think I’ll change my wording on that (“fatties”) because you’re right. Women in general (and men) have that issue… and as someone who used to be obese, I can see how that word might offend someone and I definitely don’t want to do that.

      It’s funny in an interesting way to hear you talk about your body issues… When I first saw your picture in Beth’s introduction of all the Refashion Runway participants, my reactionary/inkblot impression was that you’re SO slender! Perception is quite fickle, isn’t it? You see yourself one way and someone else sees something totally different. Forgive ME now, because I Lol-ed at your “muffin top” and “next to nothing boobs” comments 🙂

      But, thank you for all the encouraging words! I’m glad we’re both able to love ourselves in spite of it all 😉

      1. Oh, but I do believe everyone has issues! I’m slim and slender, that ain’t no lie but body image issues have plagued me for years, and thank God, they’re over now. I’m embracing everything, and joking about my (actually tiny and almost invisible) muffin top and hiccups of boobs is just a healthy part of it.
        I was using the word ‘fatties’ cautiously because I’ve never been obese and I don’t want to call out those people. I didn’t get that vibe from you, though, because you’ve been through that and I don’t think someone with the same problems would be offended to a fellow, or would they? I’ve been called names regularly because of my height, and some of them like giraffe are even sweet compared to a girl at my highschool that called me gangly c*nt. I felt very insulted of these coming from people shorter than me – BECAUSE BEING THAT TALL IS A HUGE FIGHT – but now I call my brother a gangly sh*t (he’s 6’10”) and we’re always having a good laugh about it. Also I don’t feel offended when someone as tall as me calls me some name, and I know it’s not on purpose and just a randomly used word.

      2. “‘Hiccups’ of boobs”! Seriously, you KILL me!! 🙂 …not cool someone called you “gangly c*nt” …Yikes! I have a theory that people who bully are being bullied too. I’m sure some of them are just genuinely mean… but they’re mostly just super insecure, I think. That’s my deep thought for the day and I’m stickin’ to it 😉

      3. I have to agree, and especially because this was during highschool, and as we all maybe know, there’s nothing meaner and more insecure than a teenager…

        Actually I’m still being called names because of my utter denial to comply and fit the “society”‘s standards but that’s all their problem and not mine. 😀

  5. That must have taken so much courage … thank you for sharing the reality of the surgery and aftereffects. There is nothing like a first-person account, in my opinion. Congratulations on your weight loss, by the way – that’s hard, hard work. (I’m still at the beginning of that journey.) And how awesome that your fella is now your husband 🙂

  6. A person would have to be brave to undergo surgery that long by choice. I can’t imagine having the courage – bravo. And thank you for sharing your story, all of it. There is nothing like a first-person account, in my opinion. You always look lovely, and I love your refashions.

    1. Thanks, Jenny! I was actually really nervous about being under for 8 hours… I told my anesthesiologist I was scared I’d be “awake” or something crazy. It’s happened before! What are the odds, right? She said, “That’s not going to happen… you need to stop watching TLC.” 🙂 Glad you like my refashions!

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