Saturday, November 28, 2015

What is an Abdominoplasty?

I'm 19 days away from my Abdominoplasty! (Also known as an Extended Tummy Tuck)

As I discussed before, my procedure will fix three major abdominal concerns: my diastasis recti, umbilical hernia, and excess skin caused by my two 10 pound pregnancies.

This image gives 5 different graphics for a typical Abdominoplasty with a diastasis recti repair:

Typical Abdominoplasty or Extended Tummy Tuck
  1. The "before" photo with markings of where incisions will be made.
  2. The two flaps on the bottom right and left of the belly button are cut and lifted in order to reveal the abdominal muscles.
  3. The umbilical hernia and diastasis recti are repaired. The surgeon will literally sew my abdominal muscles back together. 
  4. The two flaps will be pulled down to the lateral incision, then removed completely (hooray!) 
  5. My new belly button will arrive safely in my new midsection. 
The surgeon will be able to use the same incision as my previous C-sections. I may also have an additional vertical incision to remove additional excess skin if necessary. The recovery will be very similar to my C-sections except I won't be nursing an infant or dealing with a roller coaster of post pardom hormones. 

19 days!!!

Pre-Op With My Regular Doctor

The first of my pre-op appointments is complete!

Before embarking on major surgery, my plastic surgeon needs to be sure I'm healthy enough for the procedure, anesthesia, and recovery. I've had two major surgeries before (both Cesarians) and I recovered well from both of them. I have great blood pressure, my BMI is a little high but still in a good range, and my family history didn't give any cause for concern. After the general questions and vitals, they took a urine sample and blood work up.

Feed me, Seymour.
I also got my flu shot. Because flu shots are awesome and important.

My next pre-op will be with my plastic surgeon on Tuesday! That's when we'll take all of the before photos and get my prescriptions for my pain meds.

It's getting real, y'all.

Friday, November 20, 2015

How do you fix Diastasis Recti?

When someone asks, "What is diastasis recti?" I usually respond with a very simplified version of, "it's when your abdominal muscles separate to make room for a baby but don't fully come back together again."

(If you'd like to learn from a more legitimate source, the Mayo Clinic has a concise description of diastasis recti that doesn't advertise a product. (Please be aware that when you type any medical condition into a search engine, the top results will usually show inaccurate or sales-based information. SEO (search engine optimization) often favors the sites that are advertising a product that will magically correct your condition.)

This is a simple visual representation of diastasis recti: 
Diastasis Recti

After delivering my first child via Caesarian, I began to exercise as soon as I could. Even though the rest of my body was becoming toned and "bouncing back", my stomach seemed to look more pregnant. I finally heard about diastasis recti and realized I was doing exercises that made me look even more pregnant because my core wasn't able to engage properly. My stomach muscles were becoming stronger but the connective tissue that brings them together was still separated. The smaller the rest of my body was, the larger my pooch looked. Not cool.

38 weeks pregnant | 1 year post pardom

"Did you try binding?" 
Yes. I used several Belly Bandits after my final pregnancy.  I started with an extra large and got down to a medium within 2 months. It helped me recover from my C-section quicker and helped me avoid the awful back pain I had after my first C-section. Although it was helpful, it didn't "cure" my diastasis recti. 

"Did you try wraps?"  
Yes. They made my skin feel silky smooth, but it did nothing for my muscles or excess skin. To be fair, they aren't meant to help with muscles or excess skin in the first place. 

"Did you try yoga?"
Yes. It helped me build my back and leg muscles, but I wasn't able to fully use my core because my abdominal muscles remained separated. There are some exercises and poses to engage traverse abs that I think helped.

"I heard about this thing called the tupler method. Did you try it?" "I heard about someone that just walked everyday for a year and she looks great now. She had twins and you can't even tell! Have you tried just walking?" "Could you just stop eating dairy?" "Are you sure you're not pregnant again?" 

I tried every non-surgical approach I could find on the internet. Most women with a smaller separation can see some correction with one or more of these alternatives. Unfortunately, my extreme separation can only be repaired with surgery. My abdominal separation was 4 fingers wide at its worst. I got it down to 3 fingers wide with some of these non-surgical approaches. Its frustrating that surgery is my only option, but I'm grateful I can have other needed procedures completed at the same time.

"Wait, what other procedures are you having done?" 
My large pregnancies not only led to my diastasis recti, they also led to my umbilical hernia and excess skin. Thankfully, all three of these conditions can be repaired in one procedure: an abdominoplasty.  

This is a "before and after" of a patient with diastasis recti and umbilical hernia.

This is a "before and after" of a patient with diastasis recti and umbilical hernia.
"Is diastasis recti repair covered by insurance?" 
Sometimes. My particular procedure is not. 

"But a hernia sounds serious. Are you sure insurance won't cover it?"
It's a bit more complicated than that. Because all three procedures are included in my abdominoplasty, I'm paying one big price instead of divvying it out among the different procedures. If I had the hernia repair covered by insurance, it would be a separate procedure by a different doctor within my general practice. A separate procedure also means I'd have to take additional time off of work. In the end, it saves us time and money to include the hernia repair within this procedure. 

"How much is this all going to cost?"
Here's a breakdown of all of the costs I'll be facing. We're essentially paying 3 groups of people: the plastic surgeon's practice, the hospital, and the anesthesiologist's practice. I'm also purchasing special bras and stomach bindings for my recovery, medications, new clothes, supportive back pillows, etc.

I'm less than a month away from my abdominoplasty.  Words can't express how excited I am to finally have this "shell" corrected and removed. 

Let's do this.

With this elective surgery comes a surge of emotions: relief, guilt, anxiety, and joy to name a few. I will literally have a huge weight lifted. 

It's overwhelming.

My body does not adequetly represent who I am. I feel trapped inside of a backwards tortiose shell. I know I'm beautiful. My beauty isn't measured in pounds or compression garnments. My beauty is measured in my heart and mind. My beauty is in Christ. I  know I'm beautiful. Now my body will have the chance to better reflect my heart and mind.

The weight I carry will be lifted so I walk taller. 

The weight I carry will be lifted so I can live longer. 
The weight I carry will be lifted so I can dance without pain. 
The weight I carry will be lifted so I can run alongside my children. 
The wait to remove the shell is over. 

It's overwhelming. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful.
Let's do this.