Arm Lift: 1 Year Later

If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that I’m a plastic surgery enthusiast. This is, however, out of necessity and not necessarily vanity. In the wake of losing 100-lbs I was left with so much loose skin I sometimes feel as though I’ll never be rid of it all and that my transformation will never be complete.

After a wonderful experience with my Tummy Tuck and Boob Job, (and incidentally, even though it wasn’t planned, my nose surgery) I was SO excited to have the skin from my upper arms cut off. I was completely fearless about it and honestly, was so anxious for the surgery that I kind of obsessed over it. Financially, the tummy tuck took a lot out of me. Other “life’s a B!tch” finances happened too and, well, it had to be put on the back-burner. It would be 5 years in between surgeries before we could finally afford to take the plunge and schedule the surgery I’d been dreaming about for years. On September 17, 2015 I checked in for my 3rd (but not my last…) cosmetic procedure.

The Surgery

20150917_065639
hai

I was seriously so excited I couldn’t stand it! Here I am all prepped and ready to go with my leg compression thigh highs (they were actually crotch highs…), my footies, cap, and gown. All that’s left is my IV for anesthesia and for Dr. Bergman to come in and mark my arms. I was waiting oh so impatiently.

20150917_070924
Finally ready to be wheeled in!

We checked in at 6:30 am and my surgery was at 8:00. By noon, I was out of the recovery room.

20150917_114747

I’ve had enough surgeries now to know how my body copes/recovers. I’m always very nauseous afterward. I usually will go a day or 2 without eating much more than a handful of crackers and some Sprite. Is this normal? I don’t know. All I know is it’s normal for me.

After a couple of hours laying in my own private room here, Dr. Bergman discharged me and I was sent home. This was a SUPER easy process in comparison to my Tummy Tuck and even my Nose surgery that happened just 4 months prior to this.

20150917_175226_hdr

I was given a strong dose of Percocet upon discharge and when I got home I slept for a few hours. The first few days after a surgery, I sleep quite a bit. What was different about this surgery is that I didn’t have to set my clock to the pain medication. In fact, I only took 2 or 3 pills a day. This was just to take the edge off. By day 3 post-op, I was done completely. On my personal pain scale this was a 2 or 3. It was an absolute cake walk in comparison to my previous surgeries!

The Recovery

I couldn’t lift anything over 5-lbs for 8 weeks (A difficult task since, at the time, I worked part-time at a candle shop in which heavy lifting was a daily requirement). I also had to wrap my arms tightly with these ace bandages to prevent swelling (also for 8 weeks). I missed 1 week of work which was no problem at all for my full time gig. My part-time job; however, proved to be more difficult… I did NOT tell my coworkers at my part-time job about my surgery. I scheduled the time off in the guise of a vacation. After the fiasco with my nose, I experienced a little bit of bullying… I hate to say “bullying” because it has such a strong connotation. For clarification I did not experience any physical violence to my person out of this (which bullying seems to correlate with) nor did I contemplate suicide… It was nothing that significant so when I say “bully” I don’t want it to be misunderstood. At the same time, I really don’t know what else to call it… I was berated (to my face and behind my back) for my decision to have surgery on my nose (nobody thought it was actually broken but that I was just faking it). There was a lot of gossiping going around, which led to awkwardness and dissension… It just wasn’t a fun experience so I decided not to tell anyone about my arms. I took the week off as a “vacation” and to this day (even though I’m no longer working that job) have still kept my secret.

When I did go back to work, I had to wear blouse-y shirts to hide the bulk of my bandages. Also, when I was unpacking shipment I was careful to only lift 1 candle at a time and not the whole box like I typically did. That job was a lot more physically demanding than you might expect and extending my arms (to restock above displays), reach out, etc., was painful so I did all of that very slowly. When I say “painful” it was more of a soreness. This recovery really was super easy, but I did have to modify my movements for a couple of months. I had no intention of telling my coworkers why I was moving so slowly, but I did have a Dr.’s note with me just in case someone would give me a hard time… Luckily, I didn’t have to show it and, like I said, my secret is still kept to this day (Well… unless they happen to read this post!) 🙂

Pictures

I’m kind of sick of talking about how awful my arms were… I’m more of a visual person anyway 🙂

img_3621
2014

It actually took me a while to find pics that showcase my arms because, well, I always covered them up.

img_6122
This was for Refashion Runway last summer and my arms looked so awful in these pics I changed into a long-sleeved shirt. Go ahead… look at my post.
img_6127
I all but cried when I saw these

Sometimes though, I could hide it with a clever pose:

armcollage
See the difference? I published the right photo and not the left.

img_5789

img_5791
This is the one that really gets me…

I guess it doesn’t really matter if anyone else sees what I see… My arms bothered me; so much so that they were hindering my quality of life. So, I had the surgery. End of story.

Recovery photos

Absolutely no filters (or make-up!). #KeepingItReal 🙂

img_6532

img_6533img_6534img_6535img_6544img_6545

img_6546
Sorry about the hairy armpits… I wasn’t about to take a razor to that area any time soon! 🙂

Expectations vs Reality

These next set of pictures are pretty raw… I was crying while I took them. I’m crying as I write this… I had crazy high expectations for this surgery. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s because they’re my arms and it’s such a noticeable body part (unlike my tummy and my boobs that are, obviously, hidden pretty much all the time). Maybe it’s because I had 5 years to fantasize about the procedure and life with “perfect” arms after the fact. But reality, as we all know, falls short of the dream.  I really, really thought that this surgery would fix my arms. And I’m going to be completely honest and real and tell you that I’m disappointed in the outcome.

img_7220
Still puffy… and there’s still skin hanging over my elbow.
img_7221
Not as puffy, maybe because it’s my dominant arm; still skin over elbow.
img_7223
Scars are healing nicely.

img_7224

I took this pic because from this angle my upper arm looks so skinny (adding insult to injury in my mind). Also, notice the extra puffiness I’m pointing to? This is where my scar/incision starts. This area was extra swollen and required a bit more after treatment than the rest of my arm scars. I had to wear silicone gel band-aid things on these up until, well, just recently. I thought that when the swelling went down, maybe the overall puffiness of my arms would go down too.

They didn’t. My arms look the same today, a year after my surgery, as they do in these pics.

img_7226

img_7227
Same situation on left arm.

Are my arms better than they were? YES! Do I feel better about my arms? YES! Am I comfortable with my arms? No. Would I have this surgery over again and pay $5400 for it? Yes.

All I can say is it’s complicated: I like my new arms, but I’m disappointed in them. Does that make me a walking contradiction? Yeah, I guess it does. More importantly, this just proves that surgery can only do SO much. You can’t be dependent on a surgery for your happiness. You have to dig deep inside of you and just accept the fact that you’re not perfect, you have your flaws, and that life goes on.

These are my arms and scars today. No, seriously. I took these pictures at work, like, 10 minutes ago:

img_8437
No filters
img_8438
Still a little pink but that’s alright.

The irony is that I don’t mind the scars. I don’t mind them at all. In fact, I’m pretty proud of them! They’re part of my story; my journey. They’re a constant reminder of my success. How could that possibly bother me? 🙂

People who’ve seen them have been taken off-guard by them. They think maybe I’ve had an accident and seem genuinely concerned, “Oh my gosh! What happened to your arms? Are you ok?” I don’t take any offense to it at all, believe it or not. I tell them, “Nope. I lost 100lbs and had my loose skin cut off.” This inevitably starts a whole ‘nother series of questions. Sometimes, though, if I’m really upset (that my arms are still fat), I’ll just respond with a simple, “No, I’m fine; just had surgery a little while ago” without any further explanation.

img_8440
September 24, 2016

I’m still very self-conscious of my arms but dang it, I’m going to wear short-sleeves any way! I’ve been covering these puppies up since I was a kid and I’m just not gonna do it any more. They may not be perfect, but they’re mine so screw it.


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.

16 thoughts on “Arm Lift: 1 Year Later

  1. Go you both for doing what makes you feel good and for being so open about everything. That shows real strength in my opinion, and that is so much more important than how you look anyway. That said, I’ve always thought you’re so pretty, not to mention talented!

  2. I think your arms look just fine, but I do see why you were disappointed. You were imagining perfectly slim tight fitting skin, that wasn’t quite what you got, but it is loads better than it was before and you can wear short sleeves without worry. In your shoes I would have had the nose job, and all the other surgeries too. After you have to breathe through that nose and it works better when it isn’t broken.

  3. You rock those arms!! They look great. I’m sure they look better to the rest of us than they do to you because we had no preconceived ideas of the outcome. Just remember like everything else, different isn’t wrong or bad, it’s just means different than you pictured. I would trade you in a minute!! I am a batwinger myself and it is so frustrating to have to buy larger tops just to get them to fit my arms plus the added frustration of always feeling like I have to have them covered. You look great and you’ve worked hard for all of it! (Well…except the nose, that was just a crazy thing) I love your stories!!

    1. Oh, Tami… you always make me smile! It was the “batwinger” comment that did it this time. I’m glad you like my stories! I’d trade them all in in a heart beat for normalcy… but I think that ship has sailed 😉

  4. I think you are brave and fearless to have actually looked forward to a surgery at all. The outcome is fine, wear your short sleeves and sleeveless clothes with confidence, you look great.

    1. Thank you, Barbara! I disagree about them looking fine lol but I sincerely appreciate your positive comments 🙂 We’re in the “-ber” months now so I don’t have to worry about it too much at the mo, but you have my word I’ll show these suckers off whenever I have the opportunity. Thank you so much!

  5. You are beautiful!!!!!
    Life is too short to worry about how the arms look!
    Do the stuff you like, See the places you love, feel the emotions that happen….
    May be you could try forgetting about yourself for one day and think and do something for some one else..
    Extend it to one week, what all can do for others in that week…
    and go on…

    1. Thanks, Sana. You’re right. Life is definitely too short to live in a constant state of self-deprecation. I’m a very blessed and fortunate individual… that doesn’t mean I’m not human and never experience moments of disappointment, especially when that disappointment is from my own body; the very vehicle I’m bound to for this short life we speak of.

      I write about my experiences with plastic surgery, not for the attention (dare I say that because “attention” is exactly what it generates), but for the rawness and honesty of what life is like post dramatic weight-loss: It’s wonderful yet bitter… I know I’m not the only one who’s ever lost weight; I’m not the only one battling issues with self-esteem; I’m not the only one who’s ever been disappointed in the outcome of something I had high expectations for… I know full well in the grand scheme of life it doesn’t matter at all that Laura Hargrove hates her arms, does it? No. But, that’s life. Specifically, that’s my life; my “stuff” I’m dealing with. What I hoped to accomplish by sharing is that those dealing with the same “stuff” might find it helpful. So I guess I thought I was trying to think of others… I’m sure you meant no offense by your last comments but I feel compelled to defend myself against them nonetheless. The only thing readers of this blog see of me (of my life’s work) are in these posts… They don’t get to see me in real life or know of the greater good I do “behind closed doors”… At the same time, you did strike a nerve. I hope to God I leave more of a legacy on this earth than that girl who lost some weight and complained about her arms… For that reason, I’ll humbly take your advice.

  6. Laura, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I find your whole story of weight loss, weight maintenance, and surgeries so very inspirational. I’m struggling to lose weight for health as well as aesthetic reasons, and it’s darn hard. You say in your sidebar, it’s a fight every day to keep the weight off. That is something that many people need to hear, because we all want to think if we lose the weight somehow magically we can go back to living the way we did that led to being overweight. Kudos to you for maintaining, for knowing yourself and what you want, and for making the sacrifices that are required to achieve it. Your story helps me keep striving in my weight loss goals. Thank you for writing about all of it.

    P. S. You look fabulous – you are a very attractive gal! And I also adore your refashions 🙂

    1. You’re so sweet, Jenny. I always appreciate your kind comments (about me AND my refashions 😉 ). Also, I know you’re not just being nice for the sake of being nice but that you actually mean it; no fake sincerity from you and you’re awesome for it. I really do appreciate it. I was 26 before I finally got it in my mind to change… it truly is more mental than physical. I may have also said it before to you, but once you make that mind/body connection, it’ll happen. Don’t give up. If you have the will to change it’ll happen. Best of luck! I know you can do it!

    1. ack – catsandotherwildlife is me, too, Laura 🙂 WordPress keeps signing me in under the wrong account! – jenny_o

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s