Jess’s Surgical Journey
On Thursday, August 25, 2022, I had a surgery that changed my life. My weight fluctuated drastically up and down in childhood, high school, college, and adulthood. One day, shortly after my 30th birthday in 2017, my husband said, “let’s go on a diet.” I weighed myself that day and was 208 pounds. I downloaded a calorie tracking app and started my journey. At first, I focused on creating a calorie deficit which truly is the best thing for weight loss. I then incorporated indoor cycling and eventually bought a Peloton. It wasn’t just a diet, I had to completely change my lifestyle. It took me almost a year to lose 50 pounds. I then dropped another 20 pounds continuing with eating at a calorie deficit and indoor cycling classes. My weight has been stable since late 2018.
My body was happy at that weight, but the excess skin on my abdomen was awful. Clothes did not fit right, and my lower stomach got in the way when I worked out. It made me feel like I had done all that hard work of losing weight for nothing. During my consultation, Dr. Prince said that I needed a vertical abdominoplasty to remove the skin both vertically and horizontally. I knew I would have a scar that went vertically down my stomach, but I did not mind because that meant the skin would be gone. We also discussed that I would have two drains and six weeks of activity restrictions.
I had never had any surgeries before, so I was extremely nervous, to say the least. My husband dropped me off the morning of my surgery and they took me back to the pre-op area. I got my IV placed and spoke with the anesthesiologist. Dr. Prince came in the room, had me stand, and made her markings on my belly. I was then given some meds to help with anxiety and wheeled back to the operating room. The next thing I remember was waking up in recovery. I had a patch placed behind my ear before surgery to help prevent nausea, so the only thing I felt when I woke up was grogginess. The nurse went over postoperative instructions and showed my husband how to empty my drains. It was then time to get wheeled out to go home. I was very sleepy for the rest of the evening. I drank several bottles of water, ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner, and took my pain medication.
Recovery was hard. My dad flew in from North Carolina to spend the first week to assist my husband and I with recovery. The morning after surgery, I took my abdominal binder off and was terrified by how my incisions looked. I realized it was just the purple marker that Dr. Prince used in preop that made it look so scary that first time. I had my Lovenox injection and was able to take a shower that day too. I was worried about being in excruciating pain after the surgery, but it really wasn’t bad. Dr. Prince uses a long acting anesthetic called Exparel in all of her abdominoplasty procedures that lasts about three days. I was sore more than anything, and the drains were the worst part. Drains typically stay in one to six weeks postoperative depending on how much activity you do. I was following all of my restrictions, and I cried when I couldn’t get the second one removed until two weeks postoperative. Looking back, that was probably a little dramatic. I made sure to get more than 2 liters of water and 125 grams of protein daily which helped me feel better during recovery. Before surgery, I stocked up on high protein snacks: shakes, bars, jerky, cheese sticks, and protein Gatorade. I took two full weeks off work, and when I returned, I only did work at my desk that was within my activity restrictions. The six weeks of activity restrictions passed by quickly, even though I didn’t think I would make it through at the time.
Dr. Prince removed 3.4 pounds of skin from my abdomen. It is wild to think I had that much excess skin. I am now almost 5 months postop, and my scar is fading nicely. I am back to working out 5 days a week and feel stronger than ever. I had to buy all new pants because all the old ones were too big. I was at Target one day and noticed that bathing suits were out. I got the smallest bikini bottom I’ve ever owned in my life, and I cannot wait to wear it this summer.
The first time I looked in the mirror after surgery, I did not recognize my body. It’s now set in that this is me, and I absolutely love it!