Everyone has heard of the term abdominoplasty, aka tummy tuck, at least once. When we think of a tummy tuck, visions of a skinny and sleek stomach pops into our minds. Those that choose to go under the knife for a tummy tuck are just wanting to look better in a bikini, possibly even reach that pre-baby body. Well I am here to tell you that there is much more to the story of a tummy tuck and what is to be expected.
I never would have considered getting a tummy tuck until this past summer. After having three babies all via c-section, I was content with my post baby body. I was confident in who I was because every mark on my body represented the three blessings I have acquired over the past six years. While I was doing my usual daily stretch one morning, I felt something in my abdomen. It felt like something had been unzipped. Yea, not a good feeling to have.
I knew I had rectus diastasis: separation of the abdominal muscles after my second pregnancy. Basically I had a 2 inch by 2 inch gap in my abdominal muscles due to the pressure placed against them due to my pregnancy. Rectus diastasis is a very common condition that can occur after pregnancy and usually is not a health risk. At most, it will give most women that ‘pregnancy pooch’ post pregnancy that seems to never want to budge.
In my case, it became more than an aesthetic issue. I was at risk of a full-blown hernia after stretching that one particular day. After calling my OB/GYN following my ‘unzipped’ sensation in my abdomen, I was referred to a plastic surgeon. What?! Plastic surgery was never in my mind. I had been content with my body, I would I need a plastic surgeon?
Time To Call a Surgeon
I put off calling a plastic surgeon for a few weeks because I did not want plastic surgery. During these few weeks, I began to notice a change in my posture. This included pain in my lower back as well as a soreness in my abdomen. The 2 inch by 2 inch gap in my abdominal muscles became even larger; an entire fist could fit into it. It stretched from 2 inches below my sternum to about 3 inches below my belly button. Upon looking into the mirror, I could see an indention in my belly. It was scary to see.
I wasn’t able to lift heavy things without feeling pain, and a small area above my belly button began to protrude. It was time to call that plastic surgeon. I met with a recommended plastic surgeon and found that I was on the verge of having a complete hernia. Anything could cause it to occur at any time. A full blown hernia was something you want to avoid if you are capable of doing so! A mesh transplant would be needed in that case, which has not so good risks. One risk included an allergic reaction to the mesh itself.
A Tummy Tuck
I had no choice but to have the surgery, a tummy tuck. The reasons were different from most other people. I wasn’t getting liposuction or a lot of extra belly skin removed. I was having my stomach muscles sewn back together to prevent me from having a hernia. You want to know what else? It was not considered a ‘medical condition’ since I did not have a full blown hernia yet. How crazy is that?! How was it not seen as a preventative measure similar to the flu vaccine every year (minus the fact that one is a major surgery and the other is a shot). Medical insurance was out of the question.
I was having the surgery because I had to before I had a hernia. I NEVER wanted a tummy tuck, but it was either go under the knife to correct the damage already done to my abdominal muscles or wait to have more damage done with a hernia. With all things medical related, you continue to do what you have to do. The surgery was scheduled for the next month. All lifting was kept to a minimal to not risk developing a hernia before then.
The first few weeks after surgery were very difficult. The pain was unbearable some days, and I was unable to do anything that I was used to doing. This includes not even bathing myself or using the bathroom without the help of my husband. I had to sleep in a reclined position and at 6 weeks, still unable to just raise up from a laying position. I have to roll onto my side before getting up. The pain has gotten a thousand times better and my activity level has increased since about 4 weeks out, but I have a ways to go to be back to ‘normal.’
If you are contemplating a tummy tuck, no matter if your reason is aesthetic or health-related, know that you are doing what ever is best for you. The post surgery recovery is not easy; actually it was more difficult than all 3 of my c-sections. It does get better at every week passing, and I know it will be worth it at the end of it all!