Be warned, this is a lengthy post so get yourself some wine and a tub of popcorn. 😅
Earlier this year I shared my abdominoplasty / tummy tuck story, and while it’s been one of my more vulnerable / revealing posts, I wanted to come back on as promised and share a recovery update as well as tips for any. I can’t even believe it’s been 6 months since my surgery and it has truly been a experience that has changed my life.
My journey into tummy tuck surgery was originally to fix my diastasis recti that resulted from stretched out stomach muscles post pregnancy as well as the associated back pain I was experiencing on a daily basis. Because my ab muscle separation spanned the entire abdominal area, I had a full abdominoplasty. I wanted to share my recovery, answer a few questions, and hopefully help anyone else who might be curious about this procedure. (SPOILER ALERT: IT’S ONE OF THE BEST DECISIONS I’VE MADE!)
pre-surgery: ab muscles were split about 3 fingers apart, lots of skin laxity and even a few stretch marks around belly button
Day of Surgery: I had my procedure first thing in the morning on Friday, December 29. I had talked to both the plastic surgeon (Dr. Bogdan) and his anesthesiologist (Dr. Veve) on the phone the night before to go over any last-minute questions. I had been fasting for over 12 hours and had all my prescriptions filled in preparation for post-op. I arrived at the surgery location at 6:30am, was quickly prepped by the nurses, and just tried to calm my nerves under their heated blanket before the action got underway. Before I knew it, Dr. Bogdan came in to mark me up — I had brought a pair of underwear with me as Dr. Bogdan does try to make incisions such that the scar can be covered by underwear. I vaguely remember chatting with the anesthesiologist but am pretty sure I drifted off into dream land before even finishing my sentence! Next thing I know, I’m waking up in the recovery room, feeling pretty groggy but otherwise in good spirits.
I have a tendency to have low blood pressure so I ended up staying an extra hour in recovery, snacking on some saltines and ginger ale to get my body perked back up. Somehow I actually remember the ginger ale being really refreshing, maybe because I just hadn’t had any in years? 😊
Our house isn’t too far from the surgery location and even though some do make plans to stay either at the hospital or a nearby hotel overnight, I planned on resting at home instead. My parents thankfully had taken the kids for a couple days so it was especially nice that I could just sleep and not have to worry about them for a bit.
I remember Dr. Bogdan actually called later that night to check up on me and to go over any final reminders with Adrian when it came to staying on top of my prescriptions. At this point, I actually hadn’t felt any sort of pain at all but just a bit of stiffness all over. I slept on a recliner that night as it’s recommended to keep a slight forward bend for the first few weeks as the skin in the stomach area slowly stretches out (I actually had this wedge pillow in my Amazon cart ready for overnight delivery in case the recliner didn’t work out but thankfully it did!). The rest of the night was pretty much a blur and I actually don’t remember anything more than Adrian just waking me up a couple times so that I’d stay on top of my pain pills and muscle relaxants (thank you hubby!).
Day 2: beautiful bouquet delivered to the house thanks to Dr. Bogdan and staff
Week 1: I had my first post-op appointment the day after surgery where Dr. Bogdan made sure everything was looking ok, assessed my pain, and taught me how to dress the incision areas. I mentioned that I still did not feel a single bit of pain and he explained that this was a result of the way he managed my pain with a combination of anesthesia and pain medication — my body didn’t have a chance to register the pain sensation.
That week, the hardest adjustment was largely emotional. Being someone who’s always been very independent and good at taking care of myself, it was a big change for me to now be completely dependent on someone else. Even more so, I’m also someone who’s generally very active so it was an adjustment to stay resting for so long. By the second day, I had transitioned over to my bed and just wedged up a few pillows so that I would be at an incline and had an extra couple pillows at my knees. I was able to walk around slowly but needed to stay in a slightly bent over posture to give the skin and muscles around my stomach area to slowly stretch out. To avoid back pain, Dr. Bogdan actually suggested that I try lowering into a 1/4-squat position and keep my back upright as I walked. Adrian put together a make-shift “walker” for me out of PVC pipe and let me just say, it was a huge lifesaver as it let me zip around the house instead of feeling stuck in bed!
Adrian put together a make-shift “walker” for me using leftover PVC pipe,
helped tremendously in allowing me to get around more easily during the initial 2-week recovery
On Day 4, I started decreasing the dosage of my pain medication as I didn’t feel like I needed it at this point. My energy slowly started coming back and I was able to run usually 1 errand a day before I felt like I needed a nap (no surprise, I made a Target run first thing! 😂).
On Day 5, I went back for another post-op appointment and was happy to hear that I would be able to have the drains removed. While the drains didn’t seem like a big deal in the beginning, gradually they did become a pain and it was such a relief to have them finally taken out! I was still wearing the original “binder” that I had been issued post-surgery for the abdominoplasty but otherwise I was actually starting to feel more like myself at this point!
Week 2: Once week 2 came around, I noticed I have much more energy and even felt well enough to do a little work on my computer and there. I found myself able to walk around for longer periods of time and was even able to help with the family (mostly just by preparing a quick snack or something for the kids). My incisions were still scabbing at this point so I was applying Neosporin every 3-4 hours and massaging the Basq resilient body oil to the rest of my belly skin wherever it felt a bit tight. Since I was also giving my stomach muscles a chance to repair, I kept it light when it came to diet and discovered Evolution Fresh Sweet Greens juice — I was going through about 2 bottles a day and they were perfect for providing nutrients without being too heavy or loaded with sugar.
Exercise is still off-limits at this point as anything that would raise my blood pressure would contribute to swelling / bleeding. The heaviest that I could carry was about the weight of a gallon of milk, so it was a bit difficult given that I couldn’t pick up my kids.
Week 3: At the end of the 2 week period, I had another post-op appointment and was cleared to go back to my sedentary desk job! I didn’t need to wear the “binder” around my waist anymore and could switch to regular compression wear (Dr. Bogdan recommended the Spanx Higher Power shorts). I actually found that I was most comfortable wearing a combination of the Spanx Higher Power shorts underneath with the high-waisted Lululemon Align Pants on top. At night, I switched into the “binder” again as it served as a way to reset everything after a long day. Even 8 hours at the office at this point was a push for me and I could definitely tell that my body was still in recovery mode. There were definitely a few nights when I would just fall asleep minutes after coming home from the office. Honestly, it reminded me of when I was pregnant and super tired from cooking a baby!
selfie at the beginning of Week 3: still swollen but feeling good and actually dropped some lbs. 😊
Another post-tummy tuck perk I experienced was that I was actually able to lose a few pounds! I wasn’t able to eat as much and actually felt satiated much earlier whenever I did eat. (I was secretly hoping this side effect would be permanent but unfortunately after a few weeks my stomach slowly started adjusting to its new space and my appetite came back. 😆)
The start of week 3 was also a big one for me as it meant I was able to start up again with light exercise! Anything low-impact was approved so I started off slowly by walking on the treadmill. While I normally run at a 7 mph pace, I distinctly remember feeling that even walking 2 mph was pushing it for me now. I avoided all core-specific exercises and would modify all other moves so that they were low-impact. Gradually I started adding in inclines to my treadmill walks and loved seeing how much more stronger I felt in various exercises where my core was used to stabilize myself!
Week 6: At 6 weeks post-op, I was cleared for all exercises again including those that were high-intensity! I was able to slowly start jogging again on the treadmill and had to modify less and less of the weighted portion of my workout. I still did find yoga practices a little too stretchy on my midsection at this time so I continued to swap it out with boxing classes at Vital Fitness.
At my 6-week post-op appointment, Dr. Bogdan and I actually discuss scar therapy. I had originally purchased a few boxes of Embrace when there was a sale earlier that year but after looking at how my skin scarred, it actually didn’t seem like Embrace would be the best approach for me. My scars are rarely raised and the Embrace strip can actually shirt around without me noticing and result in a larger scar to form. I ended up just using silicone sheets to keep my scar area moist to facilitate heeling. Dr. Bogdan recommended the Gelzone Band for my midsection and the NewGel+ Silicone Gel for my belly button area. I cut the Gelzone band in half lengthwise to get more mileage out of it and wash it every 2-3 days to reuse. I’ve since repurchased the Gelzone band 2 more times and it’s definitely made a huge difference in how my scars are heeling!
6 Months: I’ve since stopped wearing the Spanx and am feeling stronger than ever! At my last 6 month post-op appointment, I’ve also transitioned to a lower profile silicone scar sheet using the Mepitac Soft Silicone Tape. I actually find it much easier to cut and apply, and I love that there are no bumps underneath my clothes from the silicone tape!
selfie at 6 months post-op
Tummy Tuck Story FAQs:
I’ve had lots of DMs with questions regarding my abdominoplasty / tummy tuck story so I’m answering them here!
Q1: How big is the scar?
A1: The scar runs from hip-to-hip and is needed to remove excess skin. It’s about twice the size of a c-section scar but you can work with your doctor to customize the location of the scar so that it can be covered by underwear.
Q2: Does it give you a smaller waist?
A2: A tummy tuck really just targets the front side of the stomach and will give you a flatter midsection (no more “mommy pooch”!). The waist may not necessarily actually get smaller with a tummy tuck alone but liposuction of the back and flanks can be added to help contour and provide a more hourglass shape. Personally, my opinion is that since you’re going under general anesthesia anyways, you might as well get this done so that you can really be happy with your results!
Q3: Can you still get a tummy tuck if you’re petite?
A3: Absolutely! A tummy tuck procedure is an option for anyone with excess skin in the midsection and/or stretched out ab muscles. If your issues aren’t as severe, you do have options for a mini tummy tuck if you only have excess skin in the lower abdomen. In contrast, there is also an extended tummy tuck option if you have excess skin that extends to the sides of your midsection. For most women who have carried babies to full term, a standard tummy tuck is generally what’s needed to repair the muscles.
Q4: How much does it cost?
A4: Prices vary greatly depending on the experience of your doctor and even the geographic location of where you live. I’ve found that cost can vary anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. You’ll want to keep in mind that there is cost for the doctor’s work, the anesthesia, as well as a facility fee for where the surgery is performed. And while it is quite a large amount of money, finding the cheapest doctor in this case is not what I would recommend. Ultimately, I had money saved up (with the original intention of buying a new car actually!) but put it to this surgery instead. Here’s hoping my car will be able to keep going for another few years until I save up enough money again! 😂
Q5: Was any of it covered by insurance?
A5: Unfortunately a tummy tuck is considered an elective procedure and not covered by insurance at all. Even though I was having back pain as a result of stretched out abdominal muscles, insurance still didn’t deem the surgery necessary and it just seems to be the unjust reality that women have to face as we put our bodies through all the changes that come with having kids.
Q6: Would I do it again?
A6: In a heartbeat. I don’t have any back pain issues anymore and I love that fact that I actually have a stomach that I can show off! I cannot recommend Dr. Bogdan and his staff enough for everything that they have done for me (not sponsored at all, in case you’re wondering). I can honestly say that my surgery given me my confidence back and there’s no better feeling than just being comfortable in your own skin!
Feel free to comment below with any questions that I may have missed and I hope this story helps others out there who are going through the same issues. Much love!
SHOP TUMMY TUCK STORY RECOVERY ESSENTIALS