I am 7.5 months post-op for my Extended Abdominoplasty aka Plus-size Tummy Tuck, with repair of my diastasis recti and liposuction to the flanks. My BMI was 41 on the day of surgery. Now it vacillates between 37-38. I’m short AF. Just 5’almost4”. Women’s sizes are weird, as you know. I wore anywhere from a 12-24 or XL-3x, pre-op, depending on the fabric and manufacturer, style and how much I wanted to squish in. Now I wear anywhere from a 12-16 or M-2X. Things just fit better, even if I’m still plus size.*
I have broad shoulders and these narrow hips are the reason I had two c-sections. I am an apple shape, at least. With swimmer shoulders. I was a breast stroker, lol. And I liked the IM cuz I liked butterfly but I only wanted to do two laps of it and everyone else was slow in breaststroke so I could pull ahead, then.
My surgeon did the best he could do, safely. He removed 17 lbs of skin and subcutaneous fat and 2L of fat via liposuction. My tummy tuck incision is near circumferential. It starts in the small of my back and wraps completely around. My scar is darker in the places where I had spitting stitches and delayed wound healing. I put silicone scar cream on it everyday in hope that it will fade, with time. Like all scars. Some you will always see, no matter how much care you take to make them fade. Parallel. With life’s scars.
I am recovering well, at this point. But if there is a range, I seem to be on the longer track. They say 6 to 12 months before you see the final result. I’m more than half-way. When they do liposuction, it messes up all the lymphatic vessels in your abdomen. So, at the end of the day when you have tried to hydrate and eat a smallish dinner, your lymphatic system just can’t keep up with moving all that fluid where it’s supposed to go…and it ends up getting caught up. Stuck. Like our emotions. All blown up in the mid section. My belly is taut as a drum and uncomfortable and rounded by bedtime. It’s slightly better with compression, but I’m trying to wean off of it, so sometimes I wear it and sometimes I don’t. There are pros and cons to the faja. Also, with the diastasis repair, he cinched me up tight. I had like a 4 inch gap between the muscles, and he said he did some cinching on the transverse muscles, as well. This is cool and all, but that also limited the space for things like my stomach and intestines and lungs. So I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to, because it gets uncomfortable. But my binge-brain isn’t caught up with my abdomen yet. I’m hoping once my lymphatic system repairs itself that I will see a little more waistline. I’m trying not to get caught up on the number on the scale and just accept myself in a way I never have before. Trying to love myself, at this weight. As I am today.
What I have learned, finally, after all these years, is that loving yourself also means taking care of yourself. And isn’t that a loaded statement? How do you define taking care of yourself? It’s different for everyone. For me, it means trying to get 100g of protein in each day, even if I have to drink it. It means eating more fruits and vegetables on a consistent basis. It means drinking at least two hydros of water and moving my body everyday. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I swim, and today I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, lol. It means setting stronger boundaries and maintaining them. It means trying to see the beauty and/or at least the normal. It means trying to avoid triggers and people that disturb my peace.
My abdominal muscles are still tight and weak. They scream at me when I try and exercise, but in an I Feel You way, not an I Can’t Do This way. Also like my emotions. I compensated for my large pannus, or apron belly, by widening my stance when bending over and I tilted my hips while arching my lower back to try and give the illusion that my belly was smaller than it was. It didn’t work, but because of my body mechanics for what, the last 15 years at least, I feel like I need PT to train me to move the right way. To hold my skeleton correctly. I mean, I can feel the difference when it’s right and when it’s wrong, but I have to constantly remind myself to adjust. To stand up straight and tall with my shoulders back and my hips tucked under. Chest out.
Chest out?! I would never! Cuz flaunting my giant boobs would have made me a slut. Right? Well, now I can hold my head up high and stick my 42C tits out without offending anyone. Without looking like I had something to prove. Looking normal. Finally.
You see, I felt grotesque. Misshapen. And yes, I know it was the weight gain that did it. I got issues, what can I say? My escape was my plastic surgery after years of failed diet and exercise and PCOS. It cost me $17800, BTW. So I did earn it. I worked for it. Hard. It was worth every extra pandemic shift and I would do it again. For incentive pay, that is. And to be real, even had I lost the weight, I would still need a tummy tuck. That size pannus does not just go back to normal on its own. I feel strongly that whatever it takes to help you find a way to love yourself, you should do that. Even if the world thinks you did it wrong.
You do you, Boo.
I could have kept all of this to myself. I really could. And I do mean all of it. But I know that on this wild ride of a journey, I have been helped by others who chose to share their experiences. The ones that were braver than me and went first. The ones that have learned to love themselves and all their curves. The ones that put on the bikinis despite their rolls and the ones that dance like no one is watching. And especially the ones that dance like the whole damn world is watching and they fuckkng rock that shit and look amazing while doing it.
You can still be hot AF and be over 200 lbs. Barbie can eat a cheeseburger now. They really need an apple shape Mid-size Barbie with swimmer shoulders, though.
I had some really cool Barbie stuff when I was a kid. I never had the Barbie swimming pool, and I really wanted that. But I had the Barbie Dream House, the one with the elevator. I’m pretty sure I got that when we lived with Tony #1. I got everything when we lived with Tony #1. I had the Barbie carrier for your ballet stuff, too. I took ballet and tap. I loved tap shoes. Falap 1-2, falap 1-2. I inherited some of my mom’s Barbie stuff. The one with the short brown curly hair. Like Rizzo. I had wicker furniture for them. So many clothes and shoes, I even had Barbie size hangers for the Barbie clothes. My grandma Annie had so much Barbie stuff. I think she had the Winnebago and camping gear. All the old ones. High end collectibles, but we didn’t know it then. I wish I still had that stuff. I wish I had more tangible things to tell this story of my life. When you move a lot, you get rid of things along the way, like you get rid of the people that hurt you. One by one, cut, drop, close the door, goodbye. Until goodbye becomes hey how you doing I know we were all fucked up back then, but let’s give it another go, shall we? I know I used to be violent and abuse you while your daughter watched, but I love you and you love me so I will move in with you, ok?
I was in 9th or 10th grade when Tony #1 came back into our lives. That was weird. Like, I understand why it’s good that the first two marriages ended. Remember, Tony #1 was Husband #2 and Step-Dad #1. I would never stay with a cheater cuz I am not mature enough to forgive that (that’s Husband #1) And I would never stay with someone that A) was a big time drug dealer and B) someone that beat the shit out of me while my child watched. Those marriages needed to end.
But why the fuck would you ever get back together with a man that beat the shit out of you?? I don’t give a fuck how much love there was/is/will always be. Thankfully, that episode was short lived. I think he ended up cheating on her. Such an asshole.
All of us.
So Barbie had the perfect life. Except for the swimming pool. I took Barbie and her friends to the lake, to my friend’s houses, and they swam in the bath tub with me. Only children can play by themselves for hours at a time by living that Barbie life. From getting it all out of the toy box and decorating their “home” to going on “vacation” wherever I went. They can live a whole silent life in your head. A perfect life. And then they get locked away and eventually lost to garage sales and moving trucks.
I still have Mrs. Beasley, though. And my stuffed Smokey the Bear. He even still has his badge. I think that’s it, though. Just those two. I have no idea if that’s normal cuz I live with a half-hoarder that has so many toys from his stable childhood. And we have saved too many of our children’s toys. Our childhoods do not compare. Thank the Goddess for that.
*7/18/23: At 1.5 years post-op I weigh 179 lbs, wear a L/XL in tops, 8-10 in pants, and 36-38 D in bras.