Wednesday, March 28, 2012

6 weeks to a bikini body or why I had a tummy tuck instead



I'm normally an open book, but wasn't quite sure how I was going to approach this topic on my 
blog, so I guess I will just dive right into it.
Almost two years ago (this May) I had a full tummy tuck.
The technical term is an abdominoplasty.

At 5'2" and 105 pounds, most people are surprised that I would need  a tummy tuck.
In fact, when I went in to interview plastic surgeons, they both assumed I was there for a breast augmentation...
until I took my clothes off!
Well, let's be honest, even then they probably thought I could use a boob job...but number one priority for me was getting rid of all of the extra skin from pregnancy and tightening up my abdominal muscles.

My body bounced right back after baby number 1.
I literally walked out of the hospital after having my son in my size 1 jeans.
I was young, and in pretty good shape.

Baby number 2 did more of a number on my body.
My stomach shrank back quickly but there was definitely more stretching this time around.
Think of a sock that has lost it's elastic.
My stomach had definitely lost it's elastic.
It was after baby number 2 that I realized that I had to tuck my skin into my pants.
I couldn't wear what I wanted anymore.

As what would seem was becoming a common occurrence, baby number 3 entered our lives.
If I thought the skin in my stomach had lost it's elastic after baby number 2, it was really stretched with baby number 3.


This was me with two weeks left to go!
It literally looked like I ate a watermelon the wrong way.
You can even see that my shirt didn't fit and my stomach was hanging out of the bottom.
Holy cow I was huge!
Turns out my "little guy" was nearly 9 pounds!
That's a big baby for a little mama!

One thing I wish got more attention in fashion/health magazines is that not everyone comes out of pregnancy looking like the stars on the red carpet. 

Here's Beyonce just two months after having her first baby Blue Ivy.

gty beyonce dm 120320 vblog Beyonce Shows Off Sexy Post Baby Body 

The picture and article titled "Beyonce Shows off Sexy Post-baby Body" isn't from a trashy magazine, but instead is being reported by ABC news.

Here is a picture of Jessica Alba 4 months after having her second baby

Jessica Alba Flaunts Amazing Post-Baby Bod in Pink Bikini! 


She credits her weight loss to a 1200 calorie diet that is delivered to her door and exercise.  
She told Lucky magazine that she was "basically starving" herself.

Here's another new mom flaunting her body after having twins 


































See the subtitle?
"Easy day by day plan that you can do"
Makes you think that you too can have a flat belly just 3 months after having twins.

 



I saw this quote with Gwyneth Paltrow on Pinterest.
It really  frustrated me.
You want to know why?

Because I was working my butt off at the gym 5-6 days a week for one and a half to two hours at a time doing hard core workouts with a trainer, and yet, no amount of exercise was going to fix my sagging skin and belly pooch.

I was going to a 5:30 am strength training class lifting weights for an hour, then following that with forty five minutes of cardio on the stair climber or elliptical.

On the days I wasn't doing strength training, I was going to boot camp for an hour, then running a 5k.
Once a week I would work out with a trainer that was notorious for his very difficult military style workouts, think P90X meets Biggest Loser workouts.

 There is article after article about flat tummy diets, but no amount of diet would have helped my problem. I ended up with abdominal muscles that had a five inch gap between them (thus giving me the poochie tummy look). The surgery to fix my diastasis recti (the medical term) is not considered a medical necessity, thus, it falls in the category for plastic surgery. It's one of my biggest pet peeves to think that just a few more sit ups or an extra mile on the treadmill will fix whatever tummy pooch you have when in reality no amount of exercise will help.




 No amount of work at the gym was making a difference. I hated tucking my tummy into my pants and at 105 pounds and someone who was working out hard like I was, I felt like I should be able to wear what I wanted (like a bikini) without being embarrassed or even having to think about wearing a tummy slimming line of clothing! 

Just a little visual for you.  
This is how my stomach looked when I would bend over.  
The extra skin would just hang.  If you look at the picture on the right, you can see there is a hole that would form in my stomach when I would bend over.


I talked to several friends, did a lot of internet research and settled on two local plastic surgeons that I went and interviewed.  I had never had surgery before.  And while I have a very high pain tolerance, I also have a weakness for needles, so going under and having knives slice me open wasn't exactly enticing to me.  I may have come close to passing out several times upon the description of the surgery.

One surgeon told me I didn't have enough skin to stretch and that I wouldn't be happy with the results.
The other told me he felt like he could get me the results I was looking for but that I would probably still be left with stretch marks from my pregnancies.

Honestly, it would have been nice to wipe the slate clean so to speak, but I earned those stretch marks.
I suffered with morning sickness that lasted all day for a combined total of 17 months.  I was pregnant for 121 weeks of my life.  I nursed three babies for a total of 60 months.  I am a mom.  Stretch marks came with the title.

One of my biggest hesitations with this procedure is the hip bone to hip bone scar that is left.
These are the drawings the surgeon made the morning of the surgery.  Anything inside the black was going to be removed.  Below the line and and above the line were pulled together and stitched back up.  
While I was open, my abdominal muscles were brought back together fixing the five inch gap that had been made through multiple pregnancies.






The recovery is one of the worst plastic surgeries to recover from I am told.  It was about a 2 1/2 hour procedure that cost us $7000 out of pocket.  It was an out patient procedure that required my husband to be on duty for round the clock care for the first week. 

I opted to get a pain pump to pump medicine directly into the affected muscles (you leave with two cocktail straw sized tubes attached to a constant drip of medicine, attached with a fanny pack...and really, you can't go wrong with a fanny pack!), and I had two drain tubes that totally sucked...literally and figuratively. The drain tubes suck out the fluid that collects in your abdominal cavity and need to be "milked" twice a day. It's disguisting. Not only that, they are uncomfortable because they are held in by a stitch in your pubic area.  They came out 8 days post op. 

Before the procedure I went into the pharmacy with a list of about 7 pain medications that I filled.  Some were for controlling muscle spasms, others were for the pain.

The meds I took had me in a daze (mostly sleeping) for that first week. I had to have my husband at home. After the pain pump ran out, and the anti nasea patch came off, the daze sort of lifted.  I don't actually remember much for about a two week period.  While I was recovering my husband and I watched the whole Arrested Development series from start to finish.  I could watch it today and it would be like the first time I was seeing it!  Don't do drugs kids.

The pain was never unbearable because I was able to stay on top of it with the pain medication.
 I had stitches from hip bone to hip bone and on my new belly button for about 3 weeks.  My skin was so tightly stretched that I wasn't able to stand straight up for about four weeks.  If you look closely at the picture below you can see two little dots on the sides of my belly button.  That is where the pain pump tubes were.







You think you will see instant results, but there is a lot of swelling, so I looked pretty bloated for several months. I had to wear a girdle type garment to snug me in and protect my belly for about 8 weeks. I went off all the pain meds after the tubes came out 8 days after the surgery.  My husband headed back to work after the first week and I was at home taking care of my youngest son, who was four at the time.  It took me about five weeks to feel like I was back to normal again.

Here's a side view of me at 8 weeks post op.  Such a difference from the before.







I started training for my first half marathon when I was five weeks post op.  I didn't mean to, I was dying to get back to working out.  I started out by slowing jogging and ended up going 5 miles.  Less than four months post op I was running my first half marathon.  I really feel like being in shape helped me recover more quickly.

Now nearly two years later, I am still glad I had my tummy tuck.  My saggy stomach was something I was so frustrated with because there was nothing I could do to change it no matter how hard I tried.  

I still hate those women who can pop out babies and look amazing without having to have work done.
I'm not one of the lucky ones, no amount of exercise was helping and I was getting so upset at the magazines that were telling me how easy it was to get a bikini body.  My abdominal muscles had separated nearly five inches, there was no amount of exercising that was going to make them go back together again. 

pictures of me nearly 2 years post op

                                                                                           

As you can see, I still have stretch marks.  The stretch marks you can see just above my bikini bottoms are the stretch marks that were above my belly button.  

I can wear a bikini to the beach now, but the reality is, as a mom of three in my 30's I wear a bathing suit just several days out of the year.  On a daily basis, I can wear normal clothes.  I am not limited by the extra skin in my midsection.  When I workout my core, I can see results.  I'm not self conscious if my shirt raises up a half inch when I lift my hands above my head.  

The downside is, I do have to work around my scar.  Because I didn't have a ton of skin to stretch (even though I felt like it was a lot), my scar ended up being higher than I would have liked.  The scar continues to fade but it does make it an issue when I am searching for bathing suit bottoms. I didn't lose weight, I didn't change sizes, I just lost the extra skin that I was carrying around after gaining and losing a collective 97 pounds.  The biggest benefit by far was fixing the diastasis.  

So yep, I had a tummy tuck.  I went under the knife and got plastic surgery.  What's it to ya?


52 comments:

aggieam01 said...

Girl, I did too! After having my kids, my stomach just hung. I lost 35 pounds and although the rest of my body was shrinking, my stomach was hanging even more and I had a4 inch gap in my muscles. I never thought I would have a tummy tuck. And like you, I didn't change weight or dress sizes, but I gained an unbelievable amount of confidence. I just felt better and had a normal looking belly button again!

You look amazing! Congratulations on doing something that makes you feel good. Kudos!!!!

Anna at www.mylifeandkids.com said...

Rock on Rachel - good for you!

Nap Mom said...

Oh my gosh. I have 3 kids and the last one weighed a full 10 pounds. My belly was huge. I am now working on losing the baby weight. I thought that would make the flab go away. I could cry now. This is depressing. I guess I am saving for surgery. At least I know this now and I can prepare myself for the results I am not going to get by losing weight. Thanks for your honesty. Congratulations - you do look great!!!!!

Michelle@ourwonderfilledlife.com said...

Rachel, I have got to catch up with you my friend, love this post! I think the last time I was your height and weight I was in 3rd grade ;) but at 5'7" I am having a tough time with all the working out and all the skin from the boys. I hope in a couple years I can get rid of it all and give my poor back a break (every morning lots of pain). I try to keep working out and not get discouraged but I know that this too will be the only way to fix it. More power to you, you are beautiful all around ;)

Brooke Gomhp said...

Yay! that is awesome! I had my Breast reduction :) Next I plan to get rid of this skin I wish it was cheaper then $7000 :*( .
<3 Brooke
getouttamyheadplease.com

the hoppe pad said...

Loved this post, thanks for sharing! I plan on getting a tummy tuck in the next couple of years! My little one was over 10.5 pounds and my doctor told me that my skin would never be the same...and it isn't! :)

suzieQ said...

Hi honey, I haven't read your whole post but I want to say this to you...some people get stretched out from having children and their skin isn't like a rubber band. Before I had kids, a wife of a fellow my husband worked with happened to show me her 2 babies later stomach. Her belly looked like a fish net, it was full of stretch marks and she was a thin, trim lady. The poor thing had been stretched to smitherines.
Those stars, all they have to do is exercise because their body and face are their meal ticket. They have the money, time and drive to work on their bodies. Plus, the stars who weren't successful, who might have the same issues as you or my friend, don't make the covers of magazines.
Relax. Carrying a watermelon internally will do that to a woman and you are still a good person, even if your stomach skin is evil.

Randee said...

You are so cute!!!! I dont know bout your other fans but we're NOT sposed to be here to judge! Girl, what you do for you is your business!!! I am glad to see others bare thier souls as I do, (I am an open book), BUT!!, you posting that to get it off your chest is sweet, humble, honest. Keep it up sugar, we love ya just like you are!!! Belly surg or not. What ever make YOU comfy & happy makes US happy!! Chelle
kweenbee_612@yahoo.com

beansmonkeybusiness.com said...

Having had five kids, I would do it in a heartbeat... but there is no way I will be able to afford it anytime soon. I have no problem with moms doing a tummy tuck if its what they want. I'm happy for you, and I think you look fantastic.

The Bold Abode said...

You can't exercise your muscles back together! That should be not be an "elective" plastic surgery procedure. That's a real problem!

Stand up proud, girl. Nothing wrong with having excess skin removed. What if you had lost 250lbs...extra skin is extra skin...

Snooty Primadona said...

I had a tummy tuck after having two 10 lb. children & have never looked back. No amount of exercise could have ever taken care of the 6" of skin the doctor removed. He also repaired my stretched out muscles & somehow got the insurance company to pay for it.

Now that I'm almost 60, I'm still happy that I had it done. You will be too!

Kimberly @ The Brown Eyes Have It said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I REALLY want a tummy tuck and after having 6 kids (last three are triplets), yah, I'm a little stretched out. I have never really heard what the recovery is like, so thanks to your honesty, I can know what to really expect. I've still got some weight to lose, but this gives me something to think about. You look fabulous and I'm so happy YOU are so happy about it!

Shiloh said...

Thank you so much for your honesty! It's so refreshing to hear from someone the good and the bad.:)

(un)Deniably Domestic said...

What an amazing journey you have had. You go girl! ~Kelly

unDeniably Domestic

Bethany said...

I can stick 3 fingers in-between my abs. I have the exact same problem. I'd LOVE to have a tuck! Thanks for this post!

Lori C said...

Good for you! It really does look better, and I'm sure you feel better!

wyomingstorygirl said...

I swear if male politicians understood that tummy tuck could make their mistresses (I mean, "WIVES") hot again, they'd sign off on it in a heartbeat to be covered under health insurance. I'm not sure what my muscles look like under my fat roll. When I do the core suck in my body looks pretty good (thank God)which I'd be happy with, so I might have to get my weighted hoola hoop out again from your inspiration for getting fit as my main goal.

cajungal01 said...

Like so many others I want to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU for posting this, for being honest, and so informative. I have a a nice size gap from diastasis recti and only had two kiddos. I'm only 4'10" and WAS 90 lbs when I got pregnant with #1.... he was 2 weeks early and over 8 lbs and I was HUGE! I bounced back from him somehow but the second baby did me in! My stomach is just like yours WAS! My Sis is super thin and little but has had 6 babies and her gap is worse. THANK YOU for sharing this! I am keeping this info forever! (we'll see if one day I can afford the surgery...)
~robin

Shantalle@lifestylesofthestayathomemom.com said...

First I would like to say, I think you looked great before the surgery anyway but that doesn't matter because it's the way YOU felt. Second, you look great now and I applaud you for sharing your very personal story.

Kate @ craftwhatever said...

WOW! I really enjoyed reading this- you were so honest about the pain and the post-op. I was wondering about all that. I have had 3 kids (And I agree- it was my 3rd who did me in! ), am a small gal like you, fit, love to run and work out, eat healthy...and yes, I have a gap between my stomach muscles that will never go away. Unless i have a tuck. I thought about it, but the price is too much now. But I swear moms at school were asking if I was pregnant last spring because a pooch on a small frame looks like 5 months pregnant : ) That is great you went for it. I am still chicken about all the cutting. But I guess when it's done, it's done and it looks GREAT : )

Rebecca @ My Girlish Whims said...

Enjoyed reading all of this! Good for you for bringing attention to all that celebrity-media crap!!

Thanks for linking up :)

SusieQTpies said...

Thanks for linking up at Mommy Solutions & Resources last week! Your post was the #1 most clicked post! You rock! Thank for sharing with us.

Here is your feature and the new linky! Stop on over!

http://www.crystalandcomp.com/2012/04/the-mommy-club-share-your-resources-and-solutions-38/

Crystal

Suzie Thomas said...

Make certain health is in a claim that it is safe for you to function on your abs. Also, healthily together with exercise will be the greatest method for somebody to color their very own abdominal exercises and achieve their optimal how you appear.

MamaBug said...

So glad to read this..I've been working hard to get rid of my droop and didn't realize my gap isn't fixable. Ive lost 35 pounds and im so frustrated by what's left. I had 3 babes, 2 at 10 pounds plus a hysterectomy later...looks like I'm saving for surgery. In the mean time, I'll trim up what I can.

Farmer's Wyfe said...

I feel like I just read about my pregnancies: no problems after #1, but worse after #2 and disgusting after #3...and I just can't seem to get rid of it!! I hate it. I know babies are worth everything and image shouldn't be so self-consuming; but sometimes, it's really hard not to focus on it when you feel like you can't wear normal clothes without worrying somebody will think I'm pregnant again. I don't know that we could afford that kind of $, but if I could, I'd do it in a heartbeat just to feel like I'm not carrying around this pouch anymore.
Thank you for sharing. You've helped me realize that the problem isn't just that I'm not working as hard as everybody else!! What a relief.

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust said...

Wow, this was really fascinating. I've always had some questions about this. You look great!

Warmly, Michelle

Becca said...

You look incredible- even before the surgery you can tell how in shape you were. I have a lot of friends who have the same problem. I think if it bothers you, and you can afford it, then good on ya for fixing it! {not that you asked! ;-) }
xoxo Becca

Rach H @ FamilyEverAfter said...

Hey Rach... I'm Rachel too, and I'm also the same height and weight as you. And I have 3 kids. And yup, my stomach looks just like yours did pre-op. So we have a lot in common. Oh, and I have a craft blog too. Your story was so interesting, thanks so much for sharing! This is definitely on my mind... I'm not done having kids yet, but thinking about this surgery someday. I can't believe how brutal the recovery is though. Yikes!! You've got a supportive husband! You look great!

Cinthya said...

I had about a 1000 word essay that I was going to put on here as my comment but I deleted it. I just want to say thank you. This is really encouraging. You look fantastic. I want a tummy tuck too but right now it's not anywhere close to a posibility because of the cost. :(

Jelli said...

While I'm still on the fence in general about plastic surgery, I am grateful that you shared this information, especially the quote from Gweneth Paltrow. I think it's really important for women not to compare their post-partum recuperation with the unrealistic standards set by Hollywood moms. Thanks for sharing your story.

Kara at Petals to Picots said...

Thank you for sharing your experience! I always think about doing this.

Julie said...

Wow! Good for you-you look GREAT!!! I am so tempted, but at 43 I am scared! I weigh 135-138, and am 5 ft. 4 so I'm okay with that, but the tummy is always there after 2 C-sections-hangin. Thanks for sharing!

Sweet Scarlet said...

Thanks so much for your honest account of your surgery. My tummy is the saggy & wrinkled too after two pregnancies, one natural delivery & one c-section. As you said it's the hip-to-hip scar that really puts me off, and the prolonged recovery... that & I I really need to lose about 40lbs before the surgery to get the best results! I hate my stomach, but at 41, I really need to get a move on. Thanks so much for sharing!

Sweet Scarlet said...

Thanks so much for your honest account of your surgery. My tummy is the saggy & wrinkled too after two pregnancies, one natural delivery & one c-section. As you said it's the hip-to-hip scar that really puts me off, and the prolonged recovery... that & I I really need to lose about 40lbs before the surgery to get the best results! I hate my stomach, but at 41, I really need to get a move on. Thanks so much for sharing!

Geoffrey said...

All the exercise you did was good, in any case. They help set up the stage for you and your tummy tuck to shine! All that excess skin can be a bit of a drag and getting it fixed is a nice way to reward your efforts.
-Geoffrey Lelia

Tiffany said...

Thanks for posting. This is unfortunately what I look like just after one baby and I'm only 24! I also looked like I swallowed watermelon, didn't look pregnant from behind at all.

Hollywood makes society believe all you have to do is diet and eat right. Well I've lost all the weight plus some. Nice knowing I'm not alone!

tory said...

wow, looks painful! you look fantastic though! i have similar issues, but am too afraid of the surgery. brave, you are!!

Sabrina said...

this is me this is me this is me. OMG. Dozens and dozens of people keep telling me to "just keep working out! It'll come off!" NO IT WON'T. I'm 5'5 and 110 pounds, all my working and working and working is doing is making me a smaller toothpick with an olive in the middle. I had 4 complete pregnancies, 5 babies, in 6 years. The skin is RUINED. I've got the most fantastic 6 pack abs but you can't see them at all unless I pull all this ugly disgusting useless skin taut. BRAVO for doing this. I'll never be able to afford the same, I'll still be tucking my belly into my pants when I'm an old lady, but I LOVE that you took pics and put this all out there. People who don't have that kind of ruined skin just will never understand.

Jen said...

I have the same extra skin problem. I feel like I look pregnant even when I'm not, it really sucks! I think eventually when I'm done having kids (maybe one more) and when we can afford it I will have a tuck too. I hate this flap! I call it my leftovers. Thanks for sharing!

Laderma said...

The post is giving information about 6 weeks to bikini body. Know all about it
Plastic Surgery Abroad
Breast Augmentations

Cutis Medical said...

The author is sharing here experience about the 6 weeks to bikini body. Read the post for details
skin rejuvenation
Body Shaping

Ginnie Wade said...

Thank you for posting your story, it helps to hear others have this problem. I liked hearing your open and honest account. It will help me and others make the best decision for us! Thank you!

Dara said...

although I do have the flab at the bottom over my waist line, my biggest problem is the diastasis, which is higher up, it seems. I look to be about 6 months pregnant all the time. it's embarrassing. people ask me all the time when I'm due. :( I don't think my husband will be able to take off a week of work though, plus he'd rather not pay so much out of pocket. I wish it would be covered. the more I work out the worse it looks compared to the rest of my body! thanks for the post.

Unknown said...

only 6-weeks? Are you serious? I want to know more detailed version of this
Salon Singapore

Cutis Medical said...

It is good to have most of these articles around to maintain the regular flow of information. Help people that no one could do it later, good work!
Body Shaping

RandomNea said...

Remarkable and inspirational story. I am in my 30s and a mom of 3. I am also active duty Air Force so I need to squeeze in my uniform daily. I just had a tummy tuck with lipo a week ago and recovering nicely. I also signed up for my first half marathon for September. I cannot wait to run again and I see that you started training shortly after surgery...motivation!

Renea

Gabele said...

Hi! I'm 4 weeks out of my tummy tuck and let me tell you: feel amazing! My recuperation wasn't as traumatic as yours, but according to my doctor, everyone has a different rate of cicatrization and tolerance. I've 4 children and the 2nd pregnancy also did me in. I happen to be Brazilian and have all my family, except my boys, living there, so it was a no-brainer to have my procedure in Brazil. Not only are the doctors highly skilled, but my with my mother around to help through recuperation I felt a lot more comfortable. I traveled back to Canada on day 17 after surgery and had to have injections of blood thinner before and after the long flight to avoid blood clots. I also had to wear compression socks besides the tummy garment to prevent the clots since my surgery was 9 days after my long flight down. So far I am beyond pleased with the results and only have questions about the use of the compression garment as it tends to make me feel suffocated at night, so I've been "bad" and take it off to sleep.

Alisha Wolf said...

Amazing results!!! I am 9 days post op and loving my results as well :-) I got mine done for the exact same reason! You explained it perfectly!

Allison said...

Thanks for this post! I am going under the knife in a couple months to have my four finger width diastasis repaired. I am pretty fit and actually underweight, so there is no reason for the surgery aside from having to fix my muscle gap. I am terrified of anesthesia, I am hoping I can get past the anxiety and have good post op results. Thanks again, Rachel!

Erica said...

Oh my goodness. I just Googled "bikini bottoms after abdominoplasty" and found this post. I could have written this myself; thought I don't know that I'd be brave enough. There's so much misinformation about a "tummy tuck" and everyone seems to have a taboo opinion on it, it's very frustrating. Our stories are so similar, though I am 13 days post op right now. Glad I made this decision. (I'm also a former blogger who loves to write but doesn't fit it in anymore, posts like this make me miss it and the community that came along!) Thanks for posting!

Sarah said...

It doesn't matter if you're 5'2" or not. I'm 5'9" and have the same problem. My babies always carried way, way out in front, and I have about a 3" diastasis recti after having two kids. I can do crunches out the yin-yang and they do nothing. I would love to get an abdominoplasty! It's good to hear stories. Maybe maybe maybe… one day...

Tracy J/yeaiknowimshort said...

Thank you so much for this post, I really do appreacite it. After 2 kids my doctor thought I had a hernia from a protruding bulge in my belly area. Come to find out it is "just" Diastasis Recti....and its the intestines pushing against the weak muscles....I hate it, it constantly looks like I am 4 months pregnant. I have an appointment with a plastic surgeon next month to see if I can get anything covered under insurance. I hope I can see some closure to his whole issue. Thanks for sharing!