See Cheryl’s Before & After Plastic Surgery Pictures Album.
51 year old Cheryl (username: Dixie3) considered plastic surgery for a few years before going through with it on February 27, 2008. After losing 30 lbs, Cheryl was still unhappy with her disproportionately larger abdomen, hips, and thighs. Through her research on the internet visiting government agencies and Make Me Heal’s message boards, Cheryl was able to thoroughly research the procedures by looking at before/after photos and knew she wanted to get liposuction and a full tummy tuck. Cheryl decided to go with Dr. Michael P. Bentley from Montgomery, Alabama, whom she had seen before to remove a lesion from her nose. Cheryl had tumescent liposuction to the thighs, ultrasonic assisted liposuction to the flanks, and a full tummy tuck. With the help of her family and friends, Cheryl had minimal pain and discomfort through her recovery. Cheryl is completely thrilled with her results and “more comfortable in [her] own skin now.”
Cheryl’s advice to anyone contemplating plastic surgery is:
“The surgery is for you to feel better about yourself. That’s OK. To whatever degree you need, research the procedures, surgeons, and surgical facilities. Make sure you’re as healthy as you can be, and give yourself time to heal.”
Please join us below with an interview with Cheryl:
Make Me Heal: When did you first have the idea to have your procedure(s)?
Cheryl: I’d been thinking of doing this for years and seriously considered it in 2007, but I chickened out at that time.
Make Me Heal: What were your motivations (physical, emotional, social, etc.) behind your decision to have the procedure(s)?
Cheryl: I needed to do this due to my frustration with how clothes didn’t fit, and how I felt about my body in general. I’ve always battled weight, and though I’d lost 30 lbs in the last couple of years, the abdominal and thigh areas remained disproportionate. I’d worked on my abs for a year and a half to help the situation, but nothing worked. My abs were a result of a hereditary condition – they’d been that way since I was a child, and nothing but surgery would correct the situation. Once I reconciled myself to that fact, I was ready to move forward with the surgery.
Make Me Heal: How long did it take you to make a decision and was it an easy or difficult one to make?
Cheryl: I’d thought about having liposuction for years, since my thighs and hips were disproportionate. I hadn’t begun to consider a tummy tuck until the last couple of years, though. Once I’d lost some weight and still didn’t have complete satisfaction with the result, the decision to move forward with surgery wasn’t really hard. It was the only thing I could do other than accept the situation. Since I no longer wanted to accept the situation, the decision was easy. I did withhold the decision until I had my consultation though. I wanted to make sure I was a good candidate – I was ready to accept what the doctor told me and when he said I should have a good result, that was my answer.
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?
Cheryl: I made this decision without discussing it with my family or friends. Since I’m single and have no children, I had more flexibility in making the decision. I also didn’t want push back from anyone since it is a very personal issue. After I committed to the procedures, I began making arrangements for my aftercare and the family was very supportive. I have a couple of adult nieces who asked why I was doing this; they thought I looked just fine – it just goes to show how well I hid the situation.
Make Me Heal: How did you research the procedure and come to decide on this particular procedure?
Cheryl: I used the internet exclusively. I tend to rely on two main sources – official sites either from the government or certifying agencies, and message boards. I like looking at message boards because you get firsthand experiences – the personal touch. Of course, you have to look at the boards in a comprehensive way so you get the broadest view possible. I had a friend who’d had liposuction a year earlier and I talked to her about her experience; that helped a lot. I don’t know anyone who had a tummy tuck, so I relied on the internet sources and my surgeon for that information. Once at the consultation appointment, I let the surgeon tell me my best choices – I would never have asked for a particular type of liposuction. I think that’s up to the surgeon to advise properly on what will work best for my body and circumstances. It turns out that what I thought I’d need generally was recommended.
Make Me Heal: Please discuss if you used any of Make Me Heal’s resources such as the message boards, pictures library, doctor directory and doctor reviews, and any recovery and preparation products that you used.
Cheryl: I’ve really enjoyed the community of people in the message boards. I initially found the site in looking for before/after photos; once in the site, I took advantage of “lurking” in the boards. I got hooked and joined once I decided to have the surgery. I’ve researched some of the products as well just to learn more about them.
Make Me Heal: How did you come to choose your doctor?
Cheryl: The message board members would be appalled, but I only had one consultation. It isn’t as bad as it sounds – I’d seen this surgeon about 15 years ago to remove a lesion from my nose. The result was perfect – you can’t tell anything was done. I’d actually forgotten about the procedure until I began seriously thinking about this surgery. I liked this doctor before and it was easy to go back to him again. He is board certified – most other plastic surgeons in my area are not. Certification was a must, and I really wasn’t particularly concerned about cost comparisons. I would have had to go 100 miles away to the next board certified doctors and I already knew I did not want to go that far – not with the pre-op and post-op visits. I wanted a local doctor convenient to my home, and I got all that, plus the professionalism of the surgeon and his staff.
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.
Cheryl: I played no role whatsoever in the techniques used or the incision placements. My surgeon advised what he normally did and that was good for me. I guess I’m easy to please? I was concerned about intubation, or rather the size of the tube. My sister had a problem once with the intubation she received and I asked them to address that. They were very good about my concerns. I also use a particular eye ointment at night and they let me use that during surgery as well. Another issue was the antibiotic to be used – I’m allergic to penicillin and mold-based antibiotics, and they were very conscientious about prescribing a drug which wouldn’t make me sick. They were very willing to work with me on all aspects of my comfort and addressed every concern I had.
Make Me Heal: How did you prepare for the surgery?
Cheryl: Oh dear, I’m a planner and I tried to think of everything under the sun to do before the surgery. I’m my elderly mother’s caregiver so I had to make sure she was taken care of while I was recuperating. I asked my sister and sister-in-law to help me out the first week or two after surgery, so we were looked after very well. I prepared about three weeks of frozen meals ahead of time for when no one would be around to help us. That was a tremendous help to me to have those meals available. I pre-purchased the prescriptions that I could, I purchased comfy clothes for after surgery which I felt would work with the compression garments and drains. I cleaned house ahead of time and arranged for a lady to help me with personal and household tasks after my family left. I didn’t have to depend on her for too long fortunately, since I was healing pretty well. I arranged for transportation to post op visits and I had other friends who volunteered to grocery shop and help in any way they could. Advice from the message board was good too, and I purchased things like rubber gloves (no one used them though), baby wipes, extra lotions and oils, etc. I was thrown a bit though because the night before surgery my computer decided to die. I’d wanted to check a message thread I’d started and couldn’t do it. The good part was that I was so distracted the night before surgery with trying to fix the computer that I didn’t get too nervous! The end of that story was the computer had to be shipped out and I paid someone to put it back together for me since I couldn’t even lift it two weeks later!
Make Me Heal: How were you feeling the night before the surgery and on the moments before the surgery itself?
Cheryl: It was really odd for me. For the weeks prior to surgery I was mostly excited. By three days before surgery, precisely at noon each day, I’d have an attack of nerves! I would never have cancelled, but I sure did get anxious about it. I’d never had major surgery before and there were a lot of unknowns. By the night before I was just glad to be so close to the surgery so I could get past it. Then, I had the computer issue which distracted me wonderfully. The morning of surgery I was feeling OK emotionally but I got this horrendous headache. Hours later when the doctor came in to mark me, I was in such pain, all I could tell him when he asked if I was ready was, “put me down, now!” I’d been afraid I might cry before surgery due to anxiety – I didn’t want to cry about something I WANTED to do. The headache solved that problem. The first thing I thought of when I woke up after surgery was, “the headache is gone” and “I’m alive!” in that order.
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?
Cheryl: At age 51, I suppose my recovery is slightly slower than that of some of the younger people on the message boards. I was really lucky not to have nausea. I was surprised at the degree of pain and discomfort from the liposuction, and that I had NO pain whatsoever from the tummy tuck. I’d obsessed before surgery about how painful the tummy tuck would be, but hadn’t given any thought to the liposuction. My recovery was a series of surprises. I didn’t swell the first week, but my ankles and feet (and hands) were swollen tremendously the second and third week post op. I had two of the three drains for three weeks post op. They were quite uncomfortable that last week. I’d hoped I’d be able to go back to work after two weeks, but even at three and a half weeks I had to modify my workweek to half versus full days. Then at the fourth to fifth week my abs started to get sore and some tummy swelling began after a day of work or with exercise. The abs were just very tender (still are) and I figure that’s just the healing process. Then there’s the numbness which I knew I’d have, but it’s still odd to me to have it. I had plenty of help from friends and family for which I’m very grateful!
Make Me Heal: Please discuss the pain or discomfort you experienced during the recovery?
Cheryl: All in all, the pain and discomfort was minimal considering what was done. But then, my sister says I don’t remember much about the first week. I do know I had some pain mainly from the liposuction, and that I was very hunched over from the tummy tuck particularly the first few days. The drains, while necessary, were NOT fun.
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?
Cheryl: I’d done a lot of thinking about how to help my physical recovery. I hadn’t thought about the emotional part. When my sister had to leave after 13 days post op, we were both emotional about it. I was losing my “lifeline” so to speak, though it was time for her to go home. I had a nice 10 minute pity party and then decided to take care of some financial business and paperwork that had been waiting for me. By the time I was done, I was over the pity party and ready to go it alone. I was aware from the message boards that emotions and hormones could get messed up. Being aware of this made it easier to deal with.
Make Me Heal: What are your top recovery tips to other patients?
Cheryl: Be prepared, be patient, pay attention to your body. If you prepare for your physical needs and those of other people you’re responsible for before surgery, then you can go into surgery knowing you’ve done everything possible for everyday living needs. After surgery, realize that your body has its own timeframe for healing. Listen to your body and to your surgeon’s advice. Keep in touch with your surgeon’s office if you have questions, because they are your best resource during recovery.
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?
Cheryl: I’d planned three and a half weeks off, and I scheduled the surgery during a downtime at work. In reality, I would have done better with a full four to five weeks off. I worked half days the week I’d planned to be back full time. I just couldn’t handle a full day after 3.5 weeks post op. I only told work acquaintances who needed to know or a couple of them I thought would be supportive of me. Those who didn’t know about the surgery haven’t seemed to notice that I had anything done – but I’m just beginning to wear newer clothes. I’ve had some of the old ones altered so I figure there’s less to notice. My work environment doesn’t facilitate personal “reaction” to appearance anyway, so I didn’t and don’t expect others to recognize the changes.
Make Me Heal: How happy are you with the results?
Cheryl: As I indicate in my profile, I’m thrilled with my results.
Make Me Heal: How has your makeover impacted your life from personal, social, career, and other respects?
Cheryl: It’s really too soon to see any social or career impacts. From a personal basis I’m just very happy to no longer have the burden of that belly, nor to have to “suck in” or hide it with clever dressing strategies. I’m more comfortable in my own skin now.
Make Me Heal: Would you have done anything differently if you had the chance?
Cheryl: I wish I’d done this much sooner. I hadn’t realized what I difference I’d feel about myself, even so early in my recovery.
Make Me Heal: What is your final word of advice to other people considering the procedure(s) you had?
Cheryl: The surgery is for you to feel better about yourself. That’s OK. To whatever degree you need, research the procedures, surgeons, and surgical facilities. Make sure you’re as healthy as you can be, and give yourself time to heal.
Make Me Heal: Was Make Me Heal beneficial to you along your journey?
Cheryl: Undoubtedly yes.
See Cheryl’s Before & After Plastic Surgery Pictures Album.