See Marlene’s Before & After Plastic Surgery Pictures Album.
After giving birth to 4 children and gaining weight, 65 year old Marlene (username: momofgr84) was afraid her tummy would perpetually “remain large and saggy.” She started seriously considering a tummy tuck procedure 7 years ago and remained uncertain until the surgery date for fear of pain and feeling guilty about spending so much money. By researching online and lurking on the Make Me Heal message boards, Marlene found before/after pictures and recovery stories from actual patients to prepare herself for the surgery. As a registered nurse, Marlene knew of the plastic surgeons in her area and chose Dr. Robert Cooper in Spokane Valley, WA to do her Extended Tummy Tuck with Extensive Muscle Repair because he was known as the expert on TRAM flap surgery. Through the help of her friend who stayed with her right after surgery, Marlene recovered beautifully and has already gone down a dress size. Her self confidence has soared and Marlene is ecstatic that she doesn’t have to wear girdles or granny panties anymore.
Marlene’s advice for anyone contemplating plastic surgery is:
“Consult with more than one plastic surgeon and go to the appointments with a written list of questions you have, make sure s/he is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery and has had a few years of plastic surgery experience, make sure you have 24 hour help for at least 3 days for an ETT with muscle repair, and don’t put it off!!!!!”
Please join us below for an interview with Marlene:
Make Me Heal: When did you first have the idea to have your procedure(s)?
Marlene: A few years after my 4th baby was born (27 years ago) I worried my tummy was going to remain large and saggy. I’d had 4 pregnancies with 3 c-sections, all babies weighing 8# or more (2nd baby was 10# 1 oz.) and after gaining some weight over those past 27 years it just got worse. Over approximately the past 15 years I began thinking about a Tummy Tuck and got real serious about it about 7 years ago.
Make Me Heal: What were your motivations (physical, emotional, social, etc.) behind your decision to have the procedure(s)?
Marlene: Physically I couldn’t hold in my tummy although I wore clothes and control top panties/girdles/or waist cinchers to disguise it as much as I could. Emotionally I felt fat and frumpy and my ex- husband always made it clear he didn’t like overweight/non-svelte women; then after 30 years of marriage I found out he was having an affair with a much younger, very physically fit woman and that totally destroyed my self-esteem. I’m not sure how it affected me socially other than due to the lack of self-esteem I was never comfortable dating after my divorce.
Make Me Heal: How long did it take you to make a decision and was it an easy or difficult one to make?
Marlene: As described above it took me many years to make the decision to get a Tummy Tuck and it was very difficult to make the final commitment. I scheduled it on November 19 and during the 3 months before the actual surgery I figured I’d back out. The main reason it was difficult was fear of the pain. I also felt guilty spending so much money on myself. I also was concerned about what others would think, especially my family. Another thing that made the decision difficult was timing – trying to fit it in with my work obligations (I own my business, have 106 employees and work also involves a lot of travel) and family activities.
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?
Marlene: I made my decision independent of anyone else. I told my 4 grown children about a week or 2 before the surgery. Although two of them said I didn’t need it they were supportive but each expressed concern about my going through such a major surgery and anesthesia that was an elective procedure. The only other people I told were my personal trainer, my massage therapist, and the friend that was willing to come and take care of me post-operatively. I didn’t tell my 93 y.o. Mom or two sisters until the night of my surgery when I was home and knew all had gone well. My Mom is an obsessive ‘worry wart’ and I felt it was kinder to tell her after it was all over. She took it better than I expected.
Make Me Heal: How did you research the procedure and come to decide on this particular procedure?
Marlene: I googled ‘tummy tuck’and ‘abdominoplasty’ then did some research on various sites. I found your Make Me Heal site and ‘lurked for a few weeks before I registered on Feb. 5. As a Registered Nurse (my former career) I was aware of the plastic surgeons in my area and knew there were two I wanted to consult with. I also talked to a couple gals who had gone through this surgery.
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.
Marlene: I read posts on the MMH’s site on a regular basis before surgery. Especially helpful: the ‘sticky’ on what supplies to purchase pre-operatively; the many, many pre- and post-op pictures; the posts encouraging Bromelain and lemon water; the many comments on being patient regarding healing and expected outcome. I also checked the doctor directory but my surgeon was not listed.
Make Me Heal: How did you come to choose your doctor?
Marlene: The first surgeon I consulted with planned to do a FTT with lipo of the flanks. The second surgeon planned to do an ETT-no lipo. I chose him because I felt the extended procedure would lead to a better result plus he is very well know in my area as the expert on TRAM flap surgery.
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.
Marlene: I just trusted his expertise and let him perform the surgery.
Make Me Heal: How did you prepare for the surgery?
Marlene: After I set my surgery date (set it on 11/19 to be done on 2/19) I called my friend to see if she’d be willing and available to help me for a couple days and nights. The week before surgery I purchased 4 X 4′s, lemons, Bromelain and prescriptions. I also put the items I’d need (medications, phone, Suduko puzzle books, TV controller, etc.) all together in a basket (a great suggestion I’d read on MMH) and set up my ‘nest’ at my recliner.
Make Me Heal: How were you feeling the night before the surgery and on the moments before the surgery itself?
Marlene: I prayed prior to surgery, especially the night before. I did have faith that everything was going to be okay but still I was fearful of the pain and the thought of dying under anesthesia went through my mind. The morning of surgery I was less nervous than I had expected to be, mostly just anxious to get there and have it over with. The best way I can describe my feelings the morning of surgery was like an ‘out of body experience’ – it didn’t feel real that I was actually going to do this and I was kind of numb realizing that it was really going to happen.
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?
Marlene: My recovery has been as expected so far, however, I didn’t realize prior to surgery that it would take up to 6 months (in some cases up to a year) to see the final results. I spent the first 6 days in my recliner but by the 4th night I had difficulty sleeping on my back. Four of the 5 drains were removed on the 6th day so I started sleeping in my bed my sides on the 6th night which was wonderful. I took my pain meds regularly the first 5 days and was pretty comfortable sitting still in my recliner but moving was extremely painful – I absolutely dreaded having to get up to go to the bathroom – I guess I’d have to say that was the worst part of recovery. I had no side effects unless you would call the ‘Ken doll’ thing a side effect which I’m still dealing with at 10 ½ weeks post op. I do sometimes have minimal swelling across my abdominal area also. I am thankful to say I did not experience any post op depression, seroma, problems with incision area or necrosis. I still tire pretty easily. My friend stayed with me the first 3 days and nights and that was such a blessing! I took 3 weeks off work.
Make Me Heal: Please discuss the pain or discomfort you experienced during the recovery?
Marlene: Please refer to response on question #11.
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?
Marlene: The research I did to assist in my recovery is covered in question #6. I had been working with a personal trainer for 8 months prior to surgery so I was in pretty good physical shape other than somewhat overweight.
Make Me Heal: What are your top recovery tips to other patients?
Marlene: Patience and a positive mental attitude are the keys to a smooth recovery. It’s also important to realize that the greatest percentage of the posts on MMH are from those who are having side effects and problems post-operatively and they are seeking input from the ‘veterans’ – so read with an open mind and positive attitude that these occurrences are relatively rare.
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?
Marlene: I took 3 weeks off and worked ½ days my first week back. I only told my General Manager (who is my son), Office Manager and Controller I was taking time off for surgery (only my son knew what the surgery was). When I returned many of my employees asked ‘how was your vacation?’ so those I told I’d been off for surgery – but didn’t tell any of them what kind of surgery. Only 2 people asked what type of surgery and I told them ‘muscle repair’ and let it go at that. Only one person mentioned that I looked like I’d lost weight.
Make Me Heal: How happy are you with the results?
Marlene: On a scale of 1 to 10 I’m at an 8 because I’m still waiting for the swelling to completely subside.
Make Me Heal: How has your makeover impacted your life from personal, social, career, and other respects?
Marlene: Personal: I believe I have more self-confidence now. I’ve always been pretty out-going but now feel much more comfortable about my appearance. I’ve always been told that I don’t look my age, but now I feel my body measures up to that much more than it did before. Social: It hasn’t impacted me socially yet, but next time I meet a guy I’d like to date I’m sure I’ll have a lot more confidence in myself. Career: No impact to my career. Other respects: It’s so rewarding and fun to get dressed now. I don’t have to dress to cover my protruding tummy anymore and it’s wonderful! I can now wear form-fitting dresses and tops without a waist cincher and I love it! I can wear pants that fit below the waist and I love it! I got rid of my granny panties and I love it!
Make Me Heal: Would you have done anything differently if you had the chance?
Marlene: Absolutely!! I wish I would have done this years ago!!
Make Me Heal: What is your final word of advice to other people considering the procedure(s) you had?
Marlene: Consult with more than one plastic surgeon and go to the appointments with a written list of questions you have, make sure s/he is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery and has had a few years of plastic surgery experience, make sure you have 24 hour help for at least 3 days for an ETT with muscle repair, and don’t put it off!!!!!
Make Me Heal: Was Make Me Heal beneficial to you along your journey?
Marlene: Yes, it is extremely helpful and interesting to read about the experiences of others who have had tummy tucks and to look at before and after photos. Also, it is so important to read with an open mind realizing that many who post on MMH are seeking help and advice when they’re experiencing problems/side effects – and these problems/side effects are actually pretty rare.
See Marlene’s Before & After Plastic Surgery Pictures Album.