As I was preparing for this big moment I researched every possible blog, vlog, and article on the topic, as I do for most things. I found myself wanting more and more information to be as prepared as possible for the unknown so I thought I would include my own list of tips and observations now that I have one week behind me in the recovery process.
The idea of being disrupted from my daily routine for weeks and weeks after the surgery had me incredibly anxious. I had worked so hard to get to this point and I didn’t want to get out of my healthy habits and my love for the gym. Since going to CrossFit at least 5 days a week was about much more than getting in a workout I wanted to prepare as well as possible to ensure I don’t delay my return.
- The more in shape you are before the surgery the easier it will be – I added an additional ab workout after every CF class to be sure I was as strong as possible going into surgery. Don’t forget to work those back muscles either (think Supermans)! I wish I had done more of that. Now my lower back is very sore from overcompensating.
- Keep your diet as clean as possible a few weeks prior to surgery – Taking aspirin or NSAIDs (like ibuprofen) are prohibited for 3 weeks before surgery. Eating clean will ensure you aren’t adding any unnecessary inflammation or digestive issues when going in for surgery. You will be swollen enough from the trauma, no need to add dairy bloat to the discomfort!
- No drinking alcohol a few weeks before– Same principles for this one. The healthier you are, the better!
- Set up the area where you will spend your recovery – This is more for the courtesy of your caretaker post op, so you aren’t asking for a million things right off the bat. Have plenty of pillows and blankets on hand as you will need to find the sweet spot of being reclined with your legs elevated. Stock up on books/magazines, the remote, your post-op meds, and any other necessities you may need while laying in a recliner or bed for the next few days.
Most of the recovery is focused on the tummy tuck since this is a bigger procedure. The breast lift is just along for the ride as the recovery is less severe. My only comment on it would that it feels very reminiscent to the breastfeeding days. They are swollen and sensitive and there is no baby to feed and make them feel better.
- Anesthesia makes you cry – I didn’t know this was a thing. I was so loopy and crying over everything – or nothing. It would just come in waves. By day 2 I was back to normal.
- DO NOT be fooled by the pain level immediately after surgery – I was definitely in pain when I got home that afternoon. I though I might die when my brother made me laugh. Using those muscles was already tough. But with my high threshold for pain I felt it was manageable. The following day was way worse! Once the anesthesia wore off I experienced the actual pain level. I am not going to sugar coat this….Day 2 post-op was worse than child birth. Even with the maximum amount of pain medication allowed, I never could relax enough to fully rest.
- Random sharp pains are normal – I have an extended scar that goes almost completely around my back as well. The last few inches on each side are fastened with staples. If I were to move around at all I thought I was snagging the staples open. Turns out it was just random sharp pains. My entire torso and my upper thighs are completely numb. As they regain feeling little by little these surges are firing off. Super fun.
- Get a walker – My 5 year old daughter actually thought of this idea when I was preparing her for what to expect during my recovery. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand up on my own and would need help walking. The walker was super helpful once I was standing to get myself at least to the bathroom and gave me a little more independence.
- Understand that you are not seeing the final result – I had a significant amount of skin removed so I can see an improvement immediately. However the swelling is massive and will be for weeks. Bruising is expected.
1 DAY POST OP
3 DAYS POST OP
3 DAYS POST OP
1 WEEK POST OP
- Drains…ugh – This might be the most annoying part for me. I have two drains located just below my incision line. It took some getting used to and get them working properly as they were blocked or leaking. Pictured below I finally found a way to keep them out of the way so they no longer get caught on things and tugged. Ouch!
What to eat the first few days
The skin on my abdomen is so tight and so are the muscles. I feel full pretty quickly and don’t have much of an appetite. Here are a few essentials that got me through the first week:
- Grain Free Granola – This was a perfect breakfast with almond milk for taking my morning medications. A little went a long way and no prep needed.
- Pineapple Everything – While searching for the right surgeon one of them advised that I should stock up on pineapple as it is a natural inflammatory. I relied on smoothies a lot the first few days. Pineapple juice and frozen pineapple were incorporated every time. I also put a splash of pineapple juice in my water to encourage drinking more.
- Protein powder – The Paleo Pro protein powder is awesome! Certified Paleo and contains a ton of protein. This is a staple item for smoothies even prior to surgery.
- Simple Mills Crackers / Cookies – The pain medication and antibiotics are better if taken with food to avoid nausea. These Paleo friendly crackers were essential when I wasn’t really hungry but needed to take a pain pill. The cookies came in handy later when I was starting to feel better and needed a Netflix binge session snack.
Beyond this list I eat a lot of fruit and keep it to plenty of small meals. Low sodium options are best to keep down the swelling. And water….lots of water.
All in all, the first week was rough and I am glad it is behind me. By the end of it I am able to be much more independent, walking around without assistance. I still have pain but am down to about two pills a day. I am not completely upright yet but each day is a little more. Although it was hard, there wasn’t a second where I thought this isn’t worth it.