41 year old Susan had grown more concerned with her weight as time went on. After a string of uncomfortable events, Susan decided to have gastric bypass surgery. This was the major turning point for her life transformation. After losing 229 pounds, Susan had a drape of excess skin. She realized that the only way to really enjoy this weight loss would be undergoing plastic surgery. After meeting with several plastic surgeons, she finally found the perfect one, Dr. Herman who performed a Full Abdominoplasty w/ Muscle Repair in August 2009. Susan used the Make Me Heal Message Boards to connect with others after the procedure for support and advice. She said this was an invaluable tool during her recovery and she was “totally hooked. There is no question or concern you cannot expect to find an answer to.”
Susan’s advice for anyone having plastic surgery: “REST, REST, REST… I cannot stress enough the importance of this. Our bodies went through a major operation and need time to recovery. Even if you think you feel better, do not do anything to fast or strenuous; you will jeopardize your healing and your results.”
Make Me Heal: When did you first have the idea to have your procedure(s)?
Armsofurangel:I made the decision to have Gastric Bypass in 2004 when my weight reached a dangerous high of 439 lbs. I felt it was my only option, after spending my entire life dieting, with no success.
After losing 229 lbs I was left with a lot of excess skin, which after losing so much weight, kept me in a size 22/24. I began researching procedures to remove the skin and knew I had to have it done. I worked so hard to lose the weight.
Make Me Heal: What were your motivations (physical, emotional, social, etc.) behind your decision to have the procedure(s)?
Armsofurangel: Pre Gastric Bypass I was extremely depressed. I could not fit into any clothing; I couldn’t go to the movies or to a diner and fit into a booth. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. The turning point for me was when I went to an amusement park, stood in line for 50 minutes to ride a roller coaster and when I got into the ride they could not close the safety bar because of my size. I was humiliated and had to leave the ride and walk past hundreds of on looking people as I was crying hysterically. I alienated myself from all family and friends and stayed in an abusive relationship for years because I felt I didn’t deserve any better. .
Pre Abdominoplasty – The physical motivation was not being able to take my fitness and exercise to the next level and not being able to look “normal” in a pair of jeans. After losing all that weight I still had to buy clothing that covered all of my skin and my big belly. Socially, this made me feel ugly and very self conscious. It affected my personal and business relationships because I had no self confidence.
Make Me Heal: How long did it take you to make a decision and was it an easy or difficult one to make? Please explain why it was easy or difficult.
Armsofurangel: Both decisions were very easy for me to make.
With the Gastric Bypass I felt it was a matter of life or death. Lose the weight, become healthy and a productive member of society or die young and unhealthy; that simple.
With the abdominoplasty, I wanted to feel normal and beautiful. I wanted my body image to match all the weight I had lost. I knew it was something I had to do for me. Something I worked very hard for.
Make Me Heal: Did your family, friends, and any other people in your close circle give you support, opposition, or did you make this decision without considering them?
Armsofurangel: Most of my family and friends were very supportive, with the exception of one close girlfriend, who felt it was dangerous and immoral to have Gastric Bypass surgery. Our friendship ended as a result. Other than that my family supported my decision as they wanted to see me lose the weight and get healthy. I have to say that my biggest supporter and motivation came from a very special man in my life. It was because of his trust, understanding and constant positive reinforcement that I was able to get this far. He has supported every decision I have made and has stood by me through the entire process of weight loss and plastics.
Make Me Heal: How did you research the procedure(s) and come to decide on this particular procedure(s). Please discuss your research process and all research sources you used (online, books, recommendations, word of mouth).
Armsofurangel: When I had my Gastric Bypass Surgery it was becoming very popular. I heard that Al Roaker had it done and I saw how he was losing weight. I began researching it through a web site called ObesityHelp.com and I knew I had to have it done.When I decided to have the Abdominoplasty I began researching it online and speaking to others who have had it done. I looked at lots of before and after photos and read about a lot of other people’s experiences and results with it. I saw how safe it was and the wonderful results attained.
Make Me Heal: Please discuss if you used any of Make Me Heal’s resources such as the message boards, pictures library, and doctor directory and do ctor reviews, and any recovery and preparation products that you used.
Armsofurangel: I did not know about Make Me Heal until after my surgery. My doctor’s office had information in their office. Once I discovered the site I was hooked. Throughout my recovery I have been living on the Tummy Tuck message boards. The ladies are wonderful and everyone shares their experiences and helps one another. I wish I knew about it before hand, it would have helped me prepare for my upcoming surgery. I am constantly looking at others pictures and reading their experiences which are so inspiring and helpful. There is no question or concern you can not expect to find an answer to. The only product I have come across and purchased is a Veronique compression garment, which was referred to me through the site. It had been the best tool in helping me with all the swelling from the surgery.
Make Me Heal: How did you come to choose your doctor? Please mention how many consultations you had with different doctors before making your decision.
Armsofurangel: I had quite a few consults before making a decision. I had a hard time finding the right mix of good bedside manor and skill. I was referred to Dr Herman by the American Boards of Plastic Surgeons. I was not too thrilled at first because his practice was in NYC and I lived in PA. But after spending 5 minutes with him I knew he would be the doctor performing my surgery. While waiting to see him I had the opportunity to speak with a patient of his, who had nothing but wonderful things to say, and her results were astonishing. His staff was wonderful and the office was spotless. My first impression of Dr Herman was that he was very personable, genuinely interested in his patients and had a certain pride about him, and no ego, which was important to me. I was amazed with that since he was such an educated and accomplished surgeon. He spent over an hour with me and did not rush me through the consult at all. I felt completely comfortable with him.
Make Me Heal: Please discuss if you have any role in deciding the type of technique used for your surgery by the doctor, incision placements, implant brand, anesthesia type, etc.
Armsofurangel: Dr Herman discussed everything with me, and I had complete trust in his abilities and decisions. After all, he is the surgeon. The end result I could not be more pleased with. The incision placement is outstanding and healing unbelievably well. His choice in anesthesiologist was outstanding and the administration was painless and seamless.
Make Me Heal: How did you prepare for the surgery? You can discuss everything from products you purchased, home preparations, and preparations involving your family and work. If you purchased any products featured on the Makemeheal.com site, please specify them.
Armsofurangel: The only preparation I made was purchasing some extra pillows, lots of liquids to drink pre op and setting up my living room as my healing spot. I scheduled my vacation time of 2 weeks at work and post op I purchased a Veronique Compression Garment. My surgeon supplied me with the initial binder used immediately post op.
Make Me Heal: How were you feeling the night before the surgery and on the moments before the surgery itself? Please discuss thoughts, fears, emotions, and prayers.
Armsofurangel: I was terrified. I have been lucky not to have had many instances where I was hospitalized or needing surgery. I am afraid of needles and anesthesia. I didn’t know what to expect and how I would feel afterwards. I was afraid of not waking up, did I make the right decision, and am I going to have good results is the needle going to hurt, will there be complications? I prayed up until the moment I went to sleep from the anesthesia.
Make Me Heal: How was the recovery process? Please discuss what side effects you experienced? What were the worse parts of the recovery? Did anyone help you during the recovery?
Armsofurangel: The recovery process was not as bad as I anticipated. The hardest part was the ride home afterwards. But because of the anesthesia, I was pretty much knocked out for the entire ride home. Due to the muscle repair I was soar in my abdominal area, but little to no pain from the incision. I had no side effects from surgery. I was prescribed pain medication and antibiotics. I took the pain medication as prescribed for the first wee or so and then only once in the evening to help me sleep. By the third week I was only using Tylenol for discomfort. The worse part of the recovery was having to sleep in my recliner. The special man in my life has been a big part of my recovery; he has been helping me with every part of my recovery. I would not have been able to get through it without him.
Make Me Heal: Please discuss the pain or discomfort you experienced during the recovery?
Armsofurangel: I was fortunate and lucky to have an excellent surgeon, so I didn’t have a lot of pain. The discomfort I did have was mainly the muscles in my abdomen healing. I couldn’t bend or lift anything over 5 lbs. It was difficult to do anything that involved using my stomach muscles so I used my arms a lot to push myself up out of a chair and raise and lower myself.
Make Me Heal: How well prepared were you for the recovery from physical, emotional, and mental respects? Did you do any research (i.e. online, books, message boards, etc.) to make your recovery smoother?
Armsofurangel: I did not do any research on the recovery process and did not know what to expect. I guess a part of me wanted to have my own process, since every one recovers differently and experiences pain differently.
Make Me Heal: What are your top recovery tips to other patients?
Armsofurangel: REST, REST, REST.. I can not stress enough the importance of this. Our bodies went through a major operation and need time to recovery. Even if you think you feel better, do not do anything to fast or strenuous; you will jeopardize your healing and your results.
Make Me Heal: How long did you take off from work? What did you tell your co-workers about taking this time off? Did anyone notice your cosmetic procedures at work and what did you tell them if they asked about it?
Armsofurangel: Initially I took 4 days vacation and the weekend, thinking I was Super Woman. In the end I was out of work for two and a half weeks, but should have taken a full 3 weeks off. My boss and some of my coworkers were aware of the type of surgery I was having. I was never ashamed and they were all very supportive and happy for me, especially knowing how far I came with my weight loss. They would call me frequently when I was home, anticipating my return to work to see my results.
Make Me Heal: How happy are you with the results?
Armsofurangel: On a scale of 1 – 10, I would say a 20!!!
Make Me Heal: How has your makeover impacted your life from personal, social, career, and other respects?
Armsofurangel: Being morbidly obese most of my life I was used to being treated a certain way and always feeling bad about me. I was tired, depressed and mostly a victim of prejudice. The sad, honest truth is that obese people are not treated or looked at the same as others. Today, I notice that people look me in the eye, they hold doors for me, and pay more (positive) attention to me. I carry more confidence and awareness about myself. I hold my head up and feel good about my appearance. I cut my hair short, because I don’t try to hide anymore. I am reconnecting with my family and feeling like I belong. Most importantly I have found myself and know that I deserve to be happy and I am no longer living as a victim.
Make Me Heal: Would you have done anything differently if you had the chance?
Armsofurangel: I would have made these changes when I was 20 years old, instead of waiting until I was 40. But, perhaps I was not ready back then.
Make Me Heal: What is your final word of advice to other people considering the procedure(s) you had?
Armsofurangel: Surgery is not the fix, and it is not the final answer. It is a very special and personal tool; if used wisely and like intended, it can help you in changing your life. Use your personal journey to help others and never forget where it all began.
Make Me Heal: Was Make Me Heal beneficial to you along your journey?
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