My first major surgery

Deffenatly mundane, pointless, but I wanted to share anyway. The hard part is done. The staples and drain tubes were removed today. The actual surgery was 2 weeks ago. I had abdominoplasty (aka tmmy tuck) surgery performed.

To toot my own horn just a little. I had some serious weight loss a few years ago. I lost 214lbs of 425lbs when at my lowest weight. I put on 35lbs from that over the last 18 months, mostly muscle from working out more and more. My skin didn’t retract all the way back, and I had a large flap of skin that hung from my belly button down to the hair line of my pubic reigon.

I didn’t really care much about the flap. Being large my entire life I have an aversion of going around partially dressed so nobody would see it anyway. My wife didn’t mind as she also had a similar problem from her weight loss.

So if I didn’t care about it why did I have surgery? I am in the military, and when I joined I was at my lowest weight, and just skimmed under their max weight limit. Now they I put on 35lbs I have to have a body fat measurment done, and one of the measurments they use is the waist line, right over the flap of skin. I ended up with a 30% body fat with an allowed limit of 22%

I talked to the doctors here on post, and they agreed that not only does the excess skin cause problems with the body fat measurments it is a minor health problem. They put me on the waiting list for the surgery which as I stated above was performed about 2 weeks ago. Total waiting time was about 6 months from when I first saw the doctor about having it done.

As to the surgery itself it was interesting. I had never had any kind of surgery before, never even a broken bone. My wife had already had the surgery to remove her skin as she is also in the military and had the same problem with her body fat measurments. I kind of knew what was going to happen from when she had hers, but being the patient is alot different.

They did all the boring pre-op stuff on a Friday. Had to give blood samples, have x-rays. Talked to the anesthesiologist. I had to show up at 0730 on Monday for surgery. Once signed in, and in the staging room (I know it has another name for the room, but don’t remember it) I changed into the hospital gown and got put on a wheeled bed. They started an IV, and shaved the area that would be worked on. The surgeon came in, and had me stand up, and drew lines on me where the major organs were, the center line of my body for relocating the belly button, and where she was planing on cutting the skin away. Then I got rolled into the OR, and moved to the surgical table. I remember talking to one of the OR nurses, and then waking up in ICU trying to throw up.

After that they moved me to the normal recovery wing (MCU) where I spent the night. 3 hours after getting moved into the MCU I was out of bed, and walking. I walked laps around the halls where the rooms for MCU were, and the nurses station. Having spent alot of time there when my wife was in the hospital I already knew the nurses, and everyone that worked there. I was so bored I offered to help, but they turned me down. I tried to get a race going between me, and the guy that just had knee surgery, but the nurses killed that idea. I was shown how to drain the tubes that were used to keep fluid from building up, and how to change the dressings. Then I was given my pain medications, anti-biotics, and was able to leave.

Spent two weeks sitting around watching movies. I couldn’t get online because my computer was down. I used my roommates computer sometimes, but it just isn’t the same. I would visit my wife when I could (she is stationed at a different post than I am). The train rides were not fun as if anyone bumped my middle it hurt.

Today I saw the doctor again, and the 50 staples that held the incission closed were removed. Also they pulled both drain tubes. I haven’t been on pain killers for several days, but I was warned by my wife that it hurt to have the tubes pulled out. I took some about an hour before my appoitment, and I am glad I did it. Now I have an appoitment with the doctor in a month to make sure everything is doing OK.

For some strange reason I had to share.

-Otanx

All I’ve got to say is that’s some impressive weight loss there, and I’m glad your recovery is going smoothly.

Congrats, Otanx. That weight loss is definitely something to be proud of. Nicely done.

Sorry you and your wife are at different posts, tho’ - that’s gotta be hard. Here’s hoping they reunite you soon.

I had the same surgery for the same reason. I also had my empty-skin-sack breasts reconstructed (it was actually considered reconstructive surgery, not cosmetic surgery. If you saw my boobs before you would understand why.) I had those operations done at the same time. I also had my deviated septum repaired and while they were in there they reshaped my nose a little, and did some modifications to the dogbite scar on my face. I had those done at the same time because I was already in Brazil and surgery is ridiculously cheap there, so if I was ever going to have it done, that was the time. It didn’t add that much to the total bill (and the total bill for everything, including travel, was still less than just one operation would have been here in the US). So I went under the anesthesia in the morning and came out of it some hours later having had all of those operations! That was a trip. I’d had surgery before to remove my appendix, but this was quite different. Also, I took a lot of flak for it, largely from people right here on the SDMB, who thought the whole thing was ridiculous and vain. Eh, they didn’t have to live with what I did and who cares what they think. Most people who lose a ton of weight like we did end up having surgery to fix the skin issues.

You will probably feel a lot more confident now, if you’re anything like me. One thing you should be aware of, if you aren’t already, is that you may have some numbness in that area for quite a long time–possibly forever. I have areas of skin just below my scar that I can’t feel at all even after almost 2 years. And during the healing stage when your nerves are regrowing you can get some really weird shooting pains like someone is poking needles through you. Well worth it, though. Congratulations on the weight loss!

How long are you and your wife going to be stationed at different locations? That has to be hell. :frowning:

I was more confident after the weight loss, and I feel more confident now after the surgery. My abs are real tight now. I can’t flex those muscles much, but can tell if I work a little at it I might be able to build a 6 pack. Today was the first time I could wear jeans, and I like the look. No more bulge around the middle where the skin was. I am hoping to get a tape measure, and see if I can pass my body fat measurement now. I have another 60 days till the official one can be done. That will give me time to work out some if I can’t pass.

Both my wife and I have numb areas. The doctor said if it hasn’t improved after 180 days then it is probably permenant. I have got some feeling back, but not everywhere. I think the numbness really helped me out as I couldn’t feel the pain while it was healing. Even before I left the hospital I wasn’t taking much pain medication, and besides the ones prior to the tubes, and staples being removed I haven’t had any for over a week now.

We have been trying to get stationed at the same post for a year now, and it dosen’t look like it will happen. My chain of command says we are short people with my skill. They can’t send my wife to my post because we can’t work in the same shop, and that is the only place either of us can work at my post. I have just over 2 more years here in Korea, and unless I re-enlist I will be leaving the military when I come back to the US.

If anyone has any questions please ask away. I am spending some time with my wife so can steal her computer to reply. Should have my own running in the next couple days also.

-Otanx

Damn dude…nice work. Glad you got the surgery, I think you deserve to feel good.

Did you lose weight just to join the military? Because that’s pretty cool too. Talk about commitment!

Also, since the skin was a health threat, did your insurance foot the bill? That would be a really great reward for your hard work :slight_smile:

Nope, the idea of joining the military came after I had lost most of the weight. I started the diet for a lady who then dumped me. I then found my current wife. The strange thing is that after talking we both found out we had started diets on the same day, and both had lost almost half our body weights.

Being in the military all medical is paid for as long as it is approved. Because it was a health threat, and because I could not pass the body fat test they performed it. The body fat/weight measurment has to be passed by everyone in the military, and if you don’t pass you can not re-enlist, get awards, or get promoted. Because of that my condition was considered “duty-limiting” which got me pushed ahead of some of the other people who are trying to get surgery done for other reasons. I am glad it got done as I am coming up on my next promotion, and I was going to get denied if this didn’t get done. Now I just have to get measured, and get the paperwork submitted to remove the no promotion flag.

-Otanx