A patient’s Tummy Tuck diary
Aurora is now part of The Private Clinic, a nationwide group of clinics with over 35 years of experience specialising in Cosmetic Surgery and Skin and a Trust Pilot 5 star rating. For comprehensive information, before and after photos and costs on Tummy Tuck procedures click here
Our expert Plastic Surgeon Adrian Richards is the Medical Director for The Private Clinic. Clinics are located in Birmingham, Bristol, Buckinghamshire, Glasgow, London Harley Street, Leeds, Manchester and Northampton.
We’re always delighted when patients get back in touch to tell us how they’re getting on. This week, Marie, one of our recent abdominoplasty patients, has been kind enough to share the diary she kept during her surgical journey. Read Marie’s honest, informative, heartwarming, and often very funny account of her Tummy Tuck surgery at Aurora Clinics in Buckinghamshire below….
Unlike a lot of women who undergo tummy tuck surgery, I’m one of the few who haven’t had children. What I have had is a struggle with my weight. In the past, I had worn size 20+ clothing, but over a decade I’d finally stabilised at a size 12.
I did it the old-fashioned way, through a healthy diet (with the odd pizza or chocolate bar) and an active lifestyle. But I realised about a year ago that my stomach would never be how I wanted it to be. There was little elasticity left and it looked sad.
While I was thinking about tummy tuck surgery I struggled for a little while with guilty feelings. I felt I didn’t really deserve my procedure as I hadn’t had children and my damage was self-induced. Gradually, I came to the realisation that I did deserve it and this was a time in my life when I had the money and the time off work to make myself and my stomach happier.
So first things first, I looked on the internet and found Aurora.
My consultation with Aurora
Aurora Clinics in Princes Risborough was calm, quiet and very secure. I arrived and was directed to the clinic waiting room. After a while I was called through and Aggie, Aurora’s Clinical Lead, welcomed me and had a chat with me about my expectations. She then took a full medical history and asked me to show her the area I was unhappy with. This took quite a lot for me as I hated this area of my body, but in a way it was also a relief – someone was saying to me ‘it’s ok, we can help’.
Mr Richards, the surgeon, came through and had a chat with me. He made sure I was aware of what they could do for me and talked me through what procedure would be best for me to get the best results. It felt very personalised, but at the same time I felt no pressure to have the surgery. There was no ‘hard sell’.
I was given my personalised quote in an envelope by Mr Richards and was then introduced to a lady called Alison who dealt with scheduling the procedures. I had dates in mind which they accommodated very efficiently and then I went home to think about it overnight. There were lots of things to consider:
- Time off work.
- Support post op who would drive me to and from hospital?
- Pain management (dont watch tummy tuck surgery videos online – they’ll make you go crazy).
- Preparing for the boredom during recovery (good boxsets, reading material, trusted friend to pop in!)
- Effect on your other half dog walking, shopping etc will all have to be done by them for at least 2-3 weeks.
Decision made – now the lead up…
After a lot of thought and talking it through, I decided I had to go for it, and Aurora was the place for me. Having made the decision, it suddenly became very real. In the days leading up to my surgery, I was excited and couldn’t wait one moment, then the next I felt overwhelmed by fear of the unknown and worried a lot about the pain (HOW I CURSED THOSE TUMMY TUCK SURGERY VIDEOS!).
The day before my surgery I went for a long walk to make the most of the fresh air, as for two days after surgery you’re pretty much bed-bound apart from pottering around your room to visit the en-suite.
On the morning of the surgery, I had a phone call from the clinic with a message from Mr Richards that I should be fluids only – meaning I could only have water or black coffee or tea. I’d already received this information in my pre-op instructions, but the call made me feel good about the fact I was being well looked after and kept informed.
On arriving at Aurora Clinics in High Wycombe I was anxious for a second or two, suddenly unsure about having this large procedure. Thankfully, I didn’t have time to dwell on it as I was efficiently booked in at the front desk (which resembled a hotel lobby), and then accompanied to my room.
I was informed which clinical personnel would be visiting me and provided with some paperwork, including menus for food and some more medical questions. The unit is very secure but I appreciated I had somewhere lockable for valuables in my bedside table.
First came the admissions nurse who took another medical history and double checked things like allergies, blood pressure, all the usual stuff. She also asked about my own medication which I had brought with me as they have to lock it up.
Then came the exciting part. Dr Richards came in and drew on me. This was surreal, but really exciting and for a while my nerves disappeared. I realised I’d soon be able to go shopping and choose what I wanted to wear and not have to think about my bulgy stomach. No more buying clothes to hide my bulge or wearing support pants sooo tight I could hardly breathe and felt self-conscious wearing them.
Once marked up, I had a list of questions to ask and was so nervous I blurted them out without pausing for breath. “When can I drive again?” “When can I run again?” – and plenty more. What I appreciated was as soon as I said I had questions, Mr Richards pulled a chair up and took his time to answer them fully even though I’m sure I sounded a bit manic.
I took a few pictures with my phone as this was the last time I was going to see my sad stomach and I wanted a record to remind myself why I deserved my procedure.
The surgery – at least, the bits I remember…
The anaesthetist came in, and she was lovely and discussed all the pain management options with me and what to expect. She was so professional as she took the time to explain what she would normally do for someone having this procedure, and also listened to my fears and personalised my pain relief plan.
I was now sat in my gown waiting for the surgical team to come and see me. They arrived, and it was at this point that I felt most overwhelmed. Partly due to the fact I was starting to get a headache due to dehydration – but also because I was about to have a procedure which was purely cosmetic and not medically necessary so why was I putting my body through this!?
Inevitably, I started to cry a little. But the team soon made me laugh and reassured me it was normal. They took my mind off everything and calmed me down.
The next thing I knew, I was awake and lying on my back, feeling sleepy but pain free. I was aware my stomach felt tight but apart from that was comfortable and relieved that it was done.
Night after the op
Still thankfully pain-free but was feeling nauseous. The oxygen really helped me to feel better and the fluids I’d been put on helped to get rid of the headache I had pre-op.
I managed to eat what I’d ordered for dinner (some soup with a sandwich) which was fed to me by my husband as I was lying down and not sitting up initially.
Managed to take in the fact that now I have a lovely flat stomach!
I found it quite hard to sleep as I kept being woken up by these wraps around my leg which inflate rapidly then deflate slowly to prevent blood clots. Obviously a must as a precaution but they did make me jolt at 3am when I was snoozing. I put Classic FM on my TV as it was so quiet in my room and I found the music quite relaxing.
The nurses came in on a regular basis to check me over and make sure I was comfortable. With tummy tuck surgery, depending on your pain relief you may have a catheter. I opted not to have an epidural so had to use a bed pan. You cannot get out of bed for the first 24 hours after the op. The bed pan made me feel very vulnerable as suddenly I was aware there was very little I could do for myself.
Day 1 – Tears over soup
Felt a lot better with no nausea. The anaesthetist popped in to see me and made sure I was pain free. My day nurse came in to see me and introduced herself, and let me know of the plan to get me mobile.
I was desperate to sit up straightaway but my nurse advised me we had to do it in stages as I would be dizzy. She was right – I did feel dizzy when I was sat up a little. Gradually my bed was brought up into the sitting position and I felt better.
My stomach had swollen up and I’d started to bruise. My nurse cleaned my wound, dressed it and put my support garment on. With all this I was able to walk to my en-suite and regain some independence.
Strangely, I felt a bit emotional and when asking a random question about having some pepper with my soup, I began to cry. The nurse said it was normal and that it was just the general anaesthetic. I did feel a little crazy as I had no idea why I was crying.
Day 2 – Old lady walk – but home!
During the night I felt some pain when I tried to lay on my side. It was enough to remind me why I was lying on my back. Slept solidly though and the next thing I knew it was 6am and my lovely night nurse came in to give me my medication and offer me a cup of tea. I felt a little breathless and my body felt tight and strange. Pain little to none and I only really felt anything if I tried to sit up too fast, or twist.
No waiting around for discharge. My day nurse came in to make sure I had medication, and that I had my follow up appointments, then it was time to head home.
(Forgot to mention that when I arrived in my room I was handed an envelope from Aurora which talks you through what to expect and how you may feel after surgery.)
The drive home was fine and walking up the stairs no problem at all – though I did walk like an old lady hunched over slightly.
Day 3 – Glad of my high fibre diet…
I still felt swollen and was now starting to feel tender and bruised (all perfectly normal). I know it sounds crazy but bottled water was a big help – the ones with the sports top as I could still drink comfortably in whatever position I was in and didn’t have to worry about spilling it.
Really pleased I invested in some box sets, although laughing hurt. My advice if you’re planning tummy tuck surgery is to stick to drama.
Felt a little breathless still after walking to the bathroom and back (again all normal).
My husband had to go to work so he left me with some fruit and sandwiches for my dinner on a tray so I had everything I needed when he went to work. Pillows and more pillows kept me comfortable, especially during the night – keep one under your knees and one to the side of you.
Am pleased I kept my mobile with me as I had a good catch up with my mum and knew I could call someone if I needed something.
Went to the toilet today and again that was fine – stick to a high fibre diet!
Day 4 – Flannel washing sucks
Felt like I was going to be driven crazy by the fact I couldn’t walk or go outside as even walking to the toilet left me feeling tired. Already standing a little straighter but could only stand for so long as my back ached and everything was a little tight.
I panicked a little as I sneezed and it hurt a lot. I had a look at my dressings under my support bandage and could see that my belly button dressing had blood underneath it. I panicked a little but decide to keep still and see what happened. It is normal to have a little bleeding as everything settles down.
Oh for a shower. Flannel washing just not the same. Today I felt a little low about my lack of mobility and dependence.
Day 5 – No laundry for me
Stupidly forgot to take my painkillers and felt like rubbish! When I took them I felt much better. I also realised I hadn’t drunk enough – if you have tummy tuck surgery, make sure you keep water near you at all times.
I decided to try and hang some washing out. Felt exhausted after hanging maybe a third of it and had to sit down. Got told off by my husband and realised maybe it was a bit too much too soon.
Day 6 – Sneezing myself sore
Feel a lot better today and could stand up straighter than yesterday. Checked my belly button dressing and it seemed there’d been no more bleeding, but sneezed again and felt a line of pain inside the right hand side of my stomach. The pain only lasted for a second after I sneezed. Had a little potter in the garden and then went to bed and watched some TV. Felt more tired today than yesterday.
Day 7 – The big reveal…
Check-up day at the clinic!! I had done exactly as instructed and kept my support garment shut, only lifting it up now and again to check the dressing. I’d kept it completely dry and not over exerted myself. When I went into the clinic and the garment was removed after my belly button was cleaned I could not believe it.
I may have been slightly swollen and not quite able to walk straight but it was worth it!! I could see my belly button, my stomach was flat. I was so happy and it was all worth it. Had a little walk round a garden centre on the way home, felt fine and was quite confident pottering about.
Day 8 – Getting straighter all the time
Woke up with a headache and felt a little groggy. I sneezed again and felt like someone had jabbed me in the stomach but it soon passed. First shower today at last.
Last night I’d managed to sleep on my side instead of my back. I was still supported by pillows but as its how I usually sleep I slept a lot better. Straightaway today I noticed I was already straightening up when I walked. Soon be able to exercise.
Day 9 – Spanx? No thanx
No pain relief taken at all today and felt great physically, but a little low as I was impatient to get back to normal! My stomach was healing well but still quite swollen – almost had an apple shape in the middle of my body which looked quite strange. I tried wearing Spanx instead of my support garment but found as the day went on I swelled a little and they were a little uncomfortable so I switched back to the support garment.
Day 10 – Housework at last!
Decided today to surprise my other half and change the bed. I was told I could not hoover so I decided to clean the floors by hand. I couldn’t stand doing nothing and daytime TV was rubbish! I experienced no pain. What did happen though is as the day progressed I swelled like a balloon. I had to get back into bed and decided to take an anti-inflammatory. I felt really fed up and a little grumpy that my body had reacted so badly to a little work.
Day 11 – Bit of a setback
Today I paid a little for yesterday. When walking I felt the muscles in my back pull (had to be inflammation as I was now more bent over when walking). Felt like I’d taken two steps backwards. Took my anti-inflammatory and headed back to bed as it was the only place I felt comfortable. I sneezed again and still had that pain down one side but not so intense.
Day 12 – Swollen
Took over the counter anti-inflammatory tablets since swelling up after over-exerting myself. Only once a day with my evening meal as it was at the end of the day when I started to feel a little swollen.
Day 13 – Dogs + birthdays = tired
Today I went to my friend’s afternoon tea birthday celebration and took my dog along with me. Quite glad it was an informal affair as it meant I could dress down. I found as the day went on things got a little tight. I was wiped out afterwards and spent the rest of the evening on the couch. Quite a strange feeling as a couple of weeks ago I could run 4 miles in the morning and then do a full day.
Day 14 – Second check up
Went to my 2 week check-up and everything was fine. It’s perfectly normal to swell through the day and by the end of the day for your back to be sore. Continued to take ibuprofen. Instead of wearing the support garment I wore lycra cycling shorts which were much more comfortable. I was worried about disturbing my belly button area but was told it was now ok to wash the area with a flannel as it is slightly exfoliating. The nurse commented on how my mobility had improved. Another little tip for you – remember to sit up in a straight position, dont twist or go from the side as it hurts.
Day 15 – Driving into the sunset
Today I drove for the first time and felt comfortable. The only tip I’d give is make sure the seat is as high as it can go so you don’t drop too much as you get into the car. Asked Mr Richards about the line of pain I felt on Day 6 which still bothered me now and again. He assured me it was normal as that was the area on the inside where he had placed some stitches. My skin on the left hand side where the liposuction happened was shedding – almost peeling like after a sun burn. This again was nothing to worry about and I was advised to be gentle until it heals itself.
My journey’s not yet over, but already I know I made the right decision by going ahead with tummy tuck surgery. I’m so looking forward to getting back to full fitness, being able to exercise again – and enjoying my new flat-tummied life.
Thinking about tummy tuck surgery? Aurora Clinics, part of The Private Clinic Group are a nationwide plastic surgery group offering abdominoplasty at clinics throughout the UK. For more information about tummy tuck surgery, or to book a consultation with one of our team of BAAPS registered surgeons, please call us on 01324 578290 or email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.