City Guinea– she’s the angel that will try anything in the name of retaining her youth and figure. Is there no end she will go to defy the ageing/heading south process that eventually catches up with us all. So why we sit thinking about what we could do to eliminate our body bug bears or reading about others brave enough to actually do something about it, she is actually out there trying the latest treatments and baring her every experience for WATC readers.
When I was pregnant with my first child I gained 33 kilo’s in weight (6 stone), was it because of some freakish problem with my sugar levels? Was I just carrying excessive water? – No, none of the above – I just went on the mother of all scoff jolly’s throughout my pregnancy. I figured that I was giving the baby calorific love and for once in my life it was OK to be fat, so what that my skirt didn’t do up anymore, so what if every if pair of jeans had a lycra belly panel, my baby was growing in there and I was going to feed it like it was 1999. It was like I had a list of all the things I ever wanted to eat and crammed them in to a 48 week period, in some cases 48 hours, I think I was still munching even through my labour. Being someone who loves a challenge, post birth I joined weight watchers and lost every pound I had gained over a period of 9 months, I took up running and what with being a new mum I did everything to get back to my post baby weight, in fact I went one better, I ended up slimmer. I never crash dieted I just ate the right things, cut down on sugar and fats and exercised. The shock my body experienced when it finally stopped gorging meant the weight just fell off. Come the 2nd baby, I took it a little easier and only ate for 23 hours a day, this time I gained a whopping 44 kilo’s (8 stone).
I had every test known to man, diabetes, thyroid etc, they even insisted that I had a C section with my second child as they said the baby was so big and was an estimated 11lb at 35 weeks. “It has to come out” they cried, “you can’t possibly pass a baby that size”, something I found hard to believe looking at my new moon sized physique. My 2nd baby ended up being just 8lb (3kg), a size I could have easily pushed out between meetings. Too posh to push is rubbish, the after-effects of a C-section are far worse in terms of mobility than any labour you could possibly endure. The surgeon declined my offer of £2,000 to give me a little nip tuck, I figured he was in there sewing up anyway so it wouldn’t have been that much of an arduous task to cut a little off, but as said he declined, so it was going to be the weight loss journey all over again, for the 2nd time around. Despite dropping 2 stone immediately after she was born, I still had 6 stone to lose. Never one to be disheartened I returned to Weight Watchers and lost every pound I had gained – yes again, good old Weight Watchers a proven safe method of weight loss that I would recommend. The after effect of two extensively rotund pregnancies left it’s tell-tale signs all over my body. Luckily my chest had maintained most of its buoyancy; however my stomach looked like a cross between a pair of drapes and a roadmap. No matter how much weight I lost, how many times I went to the gym, my stomach was never going to recover from its cake based abuse, there was only one option left and that was a tummy tuck.
For me, it had gone beyond vanity and had really started to get me down, so much so that I wouldn’t undress in front of anyone and I became obsessed with how ugly I felt from the waist down.
I thought about the operation for just over a year, I spent many nights worrying about the obvious, was I taking a risk with my life? What would happen to my kids if I had this operation and died out of vanity? – How would they take that particular story to show and tell? It wasn’t an easy decision to make, however when you think about something for a year it almost ingrains itself on your life’s to-do list, it always seems to be there nagging away at the back of your head, in my case every time I got undressed, I used to pull my stomach upwards and imagine how great it would look if I could just lose that excess skin. For me, it had gone beyond vanity and had really started to get me down, so much so that I wouldn’t undress in front of anyone and I became obsessed with how ugly I felt from the waist down. It wasn’t like I wanted to wear a belly top or strut my stuff down a beach in a tiny bikini, it was about simple things like my shape in a dress or top, this wasn’t just a muffin top, this was a deflated balloon that I had to tuck in to my knickers and I just wanted it gone.
I finally decided to take the plunge and have the operation. I had read about all these magic surgery groups in the Sunday magazines but I wanted a name I could trust so I went to BUPA. I went on to the BUPA website and looked up recommended surgeons, this is where I found Mr Elliott. He sounded like a nice chap, he was a member of all the right recognised organisations and for some reason the fact he played the bagpipes in his spare time somewhat appealed to me! No matter who I asked I couldn’t find anyone in my circle who had undergone abdominoplasty (its official name) or knew anyone who even knew someone who had had it done before, all I wanted was someone to talk to about it before I committed to the operation (the reason I am writing this article). I met my surgeon for the first time and as with all surgeons he was particularly aloof and told me straight, its never going to be perfect but he could make it better, he ran me through all the potential risks and complications and did a very good job of making me think really seriously about what I was about to do. Any surgeon who dresses it up and doesn’t tell you the bad bits is doing you a dis-service. I booked to have the op 3 months later, not knowing if I would ever have the guts to actually go through with it, but I did and I don’t regret it one bit. The hardest part was plucking up the courage to arrive on the day.
After a couple of consultations, the first one which you pay for (around £120) you are given your booking-in date. You have to go for a pre-screen where they match your blood but apart from that you just pitch up on the day about 7.00am and sit in an attractive gown with all your bottom hanging out until its your turn. I remember going down to surgery on the trolley and saying to the anaesthetist, “just make sure you wake me up as I have two beautiful girls I need to care for, oh and don’t forget the flat tummy”. After that I just remember waking up back in my room and it was all done.
Your surgeon will explain to you how they remove the excess skin, but I’ll give you a layman’s guide to give you some idea. They basically cut a triangle in your skin and take the two top sides of the triangle and pull them down towards just above your bikini line and sew. In my case they just cut along where my previous c-section scar was and sewed into the existing scar. The triangle they cut they then throw away, mine weighed 2 kilo’s, so that was 5lb gone (which was a bonus). Obviously if you can imagine pulling down the skin where your ribs are to where your hips are, your belly button would move to just below your pelvic area, which is why the make you a new belly button, so basically you end up with two scars. The one in your bikini line that runs hip to hip (which fades considerably after a year) and one around your new belly button where they have made you a new one. I was quite sad at the loss of my old belly button as I had become quite attached to it – literally. When you wake up, as excited as you are you are to see your new flat tummy, there are obvious more tell tale signs of what you have just endured. For me, my legs were in inflatable cuffs (to prevent clotting); I had an oxygen tube balancing on the end of my nose and a drip. You can’t get up at first because that requires you to use your stomach muscles and you have little or no control over those at all, at least for a few days, in fact the area around the scar and your belly button remains numb for around a year. You are also bound by the biggest rubber belt that goes from your midriff to just over your scar; you have to wear this for 2 weeks. I stayed in the hospital for 2 days and by day 2 I could get up and out of bed enough to go to the toilet on my own, you are doubled up at first but bit by bit you straighten out.
I went home on the second day, however with drains attached. Did I mention the drains!!! , like with any major incision, your body needs to drain away the fluid, as your body loses this fluid the swelling goes down. I had my drains in for 3 days, carrying around 2 plastic bottles around (albeit in a designer bag) isn’t the most attractive sight in the world as the fluid is red in colour. My 3 year old wouldn’t come near me for fear of the bottles. You do forget you have them, that is until your wire gets caught on a door handle and you spring back like a bungee.
In my particular case, once the drains had come out I still had a little fluid hanging around my tummy which my surgeon drained out with a needle (sounds painful, but remember you have no feeling in that area whatsoever). So when the drains come out, and the band comes off once the swelling goes down (approx 4-6 weeks) you are basically left with your new flat tummy.
So nearly a year on, my scar has faded, my tummy is most certainly flatter, in fact the operation took 6 inches off my overall circumference. I still have a few stretch marks but the jelly carry bag is most definitely gone and that was the overall goal of the operation.
Tummy Tuck – Summary
Would I recommend it?
Yes, if your case was as severe as mine, the results are amazing compared to what my tummy used to look like.
Is it uncomfortable?
Yes for the first few days after the operation, but it’s not unbearable pain.
Is it value for money?
It is expensive, but from my own personal perspective, worth every penny. I paid £3700 for my operation which included my overnight stay at a private hospital and anaesthetist cost.
How long before you can return to work?
The surgeon recommended 3-4 weeks however I felt well enough to return to my sedentary job after just 2 weeks.