Time for a little break from the creative world for a more personal story I feel is important to share. Heads up though, I am not going to sugar coat my Laser Lipo/Mini Tummy Tuck Journey. Consider this a warning ⚠️ , these photos are a tad graphic, and are not suitable for children (no nudity here, but underwear is out 🤭). In this blog post I am sharing my real life difficult experience, and getting into very specific details of what I went through during my Laser Lipo/Mini Tummy Tuck. I can not speak for anyone else, this is my truth as a 50 year old redhead (which does come into play) who went through a really rough time to achieve rather fantastic results. Is Laser Lipo/Mini Tummy Tuck something I would recommend to other women? I can not answer that for you in this article, but I will give you a ton of legit information that will help you decide for yourself after talking with your doctor. Hold on tight, here we go…see that white arrow on my black dress below?
Why Did I Have Laser Lipo/Mini Tummy Tuck Surgery?
Plastic surgery of any sort, including Laser Lipo/ Mini Tummy Tuck surgery is a very, personal decision to make along with your significant other, and your physician, and that shouldn’t have to be explained to anyone. However, I don’t mind explaining 😆. Did I feel a bit guilty, or self absorbed doing this for myself? On some days, yes I did feel like I was acting like a spoiled housewife from Bravo (I have a whole new level of respect for them now BTW). On other days, I put my big girl pants on and said, “Julie, you are 50 years old, you deserve this.”
To be completely transparent, I do think that before surgery I looked pretty good. I am a fairly “fit” woman, and I exercise regularly, and try to eat right (except during this darn pandemic 😖).
You may recall last year when I finally reached my “happy weight” for our 25th Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal (photo above) using these 5 weight loss tips. I was a very happy girl to finally reach that happy number, and I even looked fantastic in certain bathing suits. Still though, I was hiding something, and had a problem that wouldn’t go away no matter how many times I went to the gym, or how many bathing suits I found to cover it up. It was my “cesarean belly flap” that was underneath.
You see, I had 2 c-sections 20 years ago, and never fully recovered those abdominal muscles. The older I got, the weaker my abdomen became, and my belly started to look like a booty in the front, even at my happy number. I’m actually still training myself to pull those muscles in because I had become so use to just letting them fall.
When I would talk to my husband about how uncomfortable I felt naked showing that “belly flap” he would always say it didn’t bother him, and it was from our greatest gifts (our children). Well, he’s correct there, but my belly flap still made me feel insecure in clothes, and especially out of clothes. Oh, and let me tell you, I became a professional belly flap hider. If you follow along, or see me on Facebook, you probably thought I didn’t even need this. Now you know my secret.
⚠️ WARNING GRAPHIC PHOTO AHEAD ⚠️
IMPORTANT NOTE: It was difficult to post some of these very personal photos, however I feel the topic of the “belly flap” needs to lose it’s stigma. Talking about our flaws (interior/exterior) unites us and makes us stronger.
Where Did I Have Laser Lipo/Mini Tummy Tuck Surgery and How Does It Work?
First, I want to make it clear that the procedures I had done were not for weight loss. I had previously worked really hard to get to my happy number (weight), and had realized that if I truly wanted to get rid of my belly flap, I was going to have to get too thin, and move into the basement of the gym 💪🏻. I love my curves, I’ve earned these real boobs. It was the belly flap that needed to go.
One night while watching The Housewives 😂, I saw an advertisement for “Sonobello”. By the way, I am NOT being paid in any way for this post. In fact, they have no idea I’m writing it. I can’t give you information on where to go in your area if you are interested in laser lipo, etc., it’s just not my place, in my opinion. My best advice is to talk to your primary doctor or your OBGYN.
That night, I wrote down the name “Sonobello” on my notes and I called the 1-800 number to schedule my free consultation. My husband went with me to the consultation, and it went really well, except I will tell you I was very torn, and scared.
I quickly learned that laser lipo is way more invasive than I imagined (although different than traditional liposuction which is invasive as well), and way more expensive than I ever thought possible 🤑. These realizations made me feel vein, selfish, and even scared that I may not survive the surgery because there is risk (my kids would lose their mom over this?!).
However, to remain completely transparent, I knew I wanted this, not only for me, but for my husband, who by the way still left the decision up to me, and tells me I’m beautiful every day. I honestly don’t think it made a HUGE difference to him.
In the consultation room they had a large wall mirror where the consultant showed me (and my husband 😖) what work I actually needed to have done in order for my belly flap to go bye-bye.
You see, if you take away the lower abdomen fat, then the waste and upper abdomen fat will cause a different type a flap. They had to do the entire abdominal area, or it wouldn’t work. In addition, they also had to remove the skin from the lower belly flap after the fat was removed. That’s where the term “mini tummy tuck” comes from.
A traditional tummy tuck is done under anesthesia where the patient is completely asleep and involves the abdominal muscles. This mini tummy tuck was done while I was awake. See below for more on that 😖.
So, not only did I have those 3 areas done with laser lipo (upper abdomen, waste-that reached around into my back, lower abdomen), I also had my “back bra” area thrown in for “free” 🙄 (which was another problem area I couldn’t get rid of), and then the mini tummy tuck was performed last.
Laser Lipo/Mini Tummy Tuck Surgery Procedure
During the consult I was told that everyone reacted and healed differently to the procedures depending on age, ethnicity, Body Mass Index, overall health, and even hair color 👩🦰. You read that correctly. Having red hair can make the local anesthesia and other drugs during surgery not work as strongly, which in turn can cause pain during the procedure, and other hypersensitivity issues. I knew this going in, but took the risk anyway and figured because of my good health, would handle everything fine. I also did a ton of research and watched a ton of videos on it all. Looking back, I still had no clue how much pain and recovery time I was in for.
Make no mistake, these procedures are serious surgeries, and they should be treated as such. I did everything I was supposed to do pre surgery (no wine for a week prior), I had read all of the pre-op materials, and thought I would probably feel the procedures a little. HA!
By no means did I think I would feel like I was being mutilated on the surgery table. I don’t like using that word, mutilated, but that’s exactly how I felt for almost 2 hours. I’m not trying to scare anyone, I’m just telling you my experience.
All the wonderful nurses and my Board Certified plastic surgeon were absolutely amazing. They were professional, kind, funny, and very helpful.
Before the procedures they gave me a paper towel bikini, and a “cocktail” of pain pills including Xanax, and a few others (I was also on a round of antibiotics). They had me wait 30 minutes for the meds to kick in, but honestly, I really didn’t feel that different. I remember walking into the surgery room and the doctor was there waiting to clean my abdomen with this very warm red solution while I stood on a big towel. He talked to me about everything that he was doing, and I felt like I was in good hands, which I was. I do not blame the doctor for my resistance to the local anesthetic, or my “hypersensitivity” issues after.
I was on the table for approximately 2 hours covered everywhere with warm towels (the room was freezing cold) and they put goggles on me because it was bright in there. By this time I was feeling the meds a little more, but I was still very much awake because as I watched the liquid fat pour into the containers I could see PNC Bank on I-75 where I pass every Monday to take to my daughter to college. I actually used that tall bank building as a focal point during the entire procedure. There I was on a beautiful sunny day, in a fancy high-rise building laying in a pool of my red stained liquid fat.
The kind doctor talked me through everything he was doing including first numbing the areas with local anesthetic, and then making the 7 tiny incisions (which felt like sharp hot pinches see photo below) to inject more local anesthetic solution inside.
After more local anesthetic soaked in, he used a very long “cannula” to enter the tiny incisions and suck out my fat. This is where it began to hurt and felt like someone was stabbing me, and kicking me at the same time. I could see him moving the cannula in and out almost like playing the fiddle 😳 (and yes he had music on).
At one point he administered more local anesthetic because I was in so much visible pain, but he is only allowed by law to use so much. I really had no choice but to find internal strength I never knew I had and suffer through it. He took out almost 3 “2-liter” pop bottles worth of fat. (The nurse told me she had the exact procedure done and she slept the entire time! 🤭)
Why was this so painful for me? Was it because I was a redhead?
When the laser lipo was complete (he was very thorough and even asked the nurses how it looked and did a quick touch up), he then did the mini tummy tuck which was the long 16 inch incision made to remove the excess skin from my belly flap. Fortunately by this time, the meds had finally kicked in 🙌🏻. Can you see my abs in that 3rd photo up there?
The Dr. was finished, and the nurses stuffed my bloody, leaky body into a very uncomfortable, tight, compression suit with huge maxi pads stuck in it to soak up the solution still coming out of the incisions. I kind of blacked out at this point.
Laser Lipo/Mini Tummy Tuck Recovery & Results
I vaguely remember telling the nurses and the Dr. about redheadcandecorate.com at the end of the surgery (I bragged about all of you), and after that I don’t remember a thing, until I was at home eating a tomato panini sandwich from Panera on my husbands chair in the kitchen. I felt so good. Talk about relief, however I was also very high on meds. I slept the rest of that first day. I wasn’t allowed to shower for 3 days due to the tummy tuck incision, so I had to wash up in the sink and change the pads in the compression suit. Below you’ll see the bag of maxi pads we went through.
For the first few days I was in pain, but it was under control because of the pain meds he had prescribed. The bloating slowly subsided and I could see results relatively quickly. I watched a ton of TV, let everything go, and my husband and kiddos took over for almost a full week (in addition they helped me through the entire long ordeal, I couldn’t have done this without them). It was about then, that I began to worry about not having enough pain meds because every time they wore off, I couldn’t move. Even showering took 2 hours, and I just wanted to go right back to bed after.
After about 10 days I began taking over the counter pain meds around the clock, and they barely touched the level of burning nerve pain I was experiencing. Remember, I went through 2 cesareans so I know pain. This was different! At one point I thought there was something wrong because I was getting worse, not better. I could tell my husband was very concerned, and so were the kids, my family/friends. After a few weeks of not being able to wear the compression outfits I was supposed to wear because of the pain and swelling, I began to worry about an infection. Fortunately, at my follow-up appointments the doctor, and nurses reassured me that everything was fine. They said that I was healing slowly, and some folks take longer because of the hypersensitive nerve endings 👩🦰 .
This continued for what seemed to be eternity, and I remember at one of the follow up appointments there was a nurse that had the exact reaction I was having when she had just the laser lipo surgery done, and she said it took her 2 months to start to feel better. I knew I had a long way to go and if I worked at a job outside of the home, I would have missed 2 months of work AT LEAST.
Here’s a note I wrote to myself at 6 weeks post operation: Tired, very achey, still swollen by incisions, flanks painful still and nerves on fire w clothes and movement. Very frustrating, depressed mood because of it.
For 1-2 months on top of the sensitive burning nerve endings I experienced: uncontrollable itching, severe flu like body aches (no fever), could not stand completely upright, stiff neck, couldn’t move arms and the flank pain was horrid, lack of appetite, extreme hot flashes (never had those before and they have now subsided), menstrual cycle disturbances, depression, anxiety, regret, and extreme fatigue. I couldn’t do any of the things I love for months. This was clearly way harder than I anticipated.
In summary, before I get to the helpful product information for those that are contemplating have these procedures done, I want you to know that I am very happy with the results, and I am feeling much better at 14 1/2 weeks post operation. That’s 3.5 months folks. They say it can take 12 months for full recovery and full results 🤭, but honestly I feel so much more agile, my chronic back pain is gone, and I am now confident about showing my belly—->THE BELLY FLAP IS GONE.
I should also mention that I feel fortunate that I did not have real complications that needed attention, because the pandemic began 4 weeks after surgery. I remember the day well because it was the Michigan primary on March 11, and that was exactly 4 weeks post op. It was the first day I drove my car, and it was extremely painful. Thank God for good timing.
Helpful Products/DIY Ideas I Used After Laser Lipo/Mini Tummy Tuck Surgery
Sleeping is a definite issue when you are still very swollen, and in pain/discomfort. Ironically, we do require more sleep to heal after surgery trauma, so I did what I had to, to get comfortable. Remember, my abdomen was “on fire” 🔥 with extraordinarily high nerve pain, and the slightest move was excruciating, even in bed. Below you’ll find a few of the ideas and products I used to help me get through this.
At first, I was wearing full length tight high rise leggins to bed, but then the hot flashes brought on by the surgery made me way too hot. I also could not handle the pain and lack of lung capacity wearing the compression garments they suggested.
These DIY “Cut-off” Lipo Lifesavers literally saved my life and my husband was the genius who suggested I try it. I wore the same pair every night-washing it every morning. Trust me, I spent a lot of time in the laundry room every day tending to these Lipo Lifesavers.
To make your own, simply cut a pair you already own that are tight and comfortable with sharp scissors where you think you will feel best having them rest on your thigh.
*** Some of the links in this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. Read full disclosure policy here.
I mentioned earlier that the nurses put me in a compression suit after the surgery that was custom sized before surgery to help reduce swelling. I was supposed to wear it non stop for 2 weeks (washing it when I shower 😖), and then switch to different ones once I was less bloated. Unfortunately, I was unable to wear my compression outfits because it was too painful.
I ended up compromising and doing things my way by wearing seamless high-rise briefs, compression high rise leggings, a compression tank top, and another lifesaver, the velcro girdle all found below.
Airism Women’s Seamless High-rise Briefs (this is not a link please research on Google). I bought 10 pairs in medium! I wear them still almost 4 months later. (Photo via Airism)
Note: I change my tape on my long incision and my 6 small incisions every 3 days for the first 3 months. Now, after 3 months I wear it on my long incision only for comfort.Posted by