I had abdominoplasty on May 22, 2013. This is “Phase 1” of the belt lipectomy procedure that I’ve written about. Commonly called a “tummy tuck,” the goal is to remove excess skin from the front of the body and tighten the abdominal muscles. This post is one in a series following my recovery from the procedure.
Still attached to the pain pump and taking pain pills, I was unable to drive myself to the doctor’s office Friday afternoon for my first follow-up appointment. My “responsible adult” graciously set aside time that afternoon to taxi me there and back. The actual time with the doctor was between 15 and 30 minutes. In that time, he cleaned up my incision from the “waterfall of blood,” taught me how to “strip my drains,” gave me an abdominal binder that fit better, and removed the pain pump.
Laid back in something resembling a dentist’s chair, the doctor and his assistant unstrapped my binder, revealing my stomach. With the tension of the binder released, it was evident that my abs had been laced tightly. “You’re never going to have to do another sit-up again. Man, we got those abs tight!” the doctor mused as he palpated me. I kept my head back and breathed as little as possible. The whole sensation was very awkward, being out of the binder.
The surgeon peeled off the bloody coverings from my incision, cleaned it up, and inspected it. All of his remarks were positive. I couldn’t see from my angle, so they showed me the reflection of my stomach in the mirror. Flat. Smooth. Mine? They replaced the coverings with fresh dressings and tape, switched me to a smaller binder, and cinched me back up.
Pain pump removal was the part that I was most concerned about. I knew I had this tube leading somewhere into my entrails, and I imagined that pulling it out would cause a somewhat awkward sensation. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t feel it at all, since the device carried juice whose sole purpose was to deaden sensation. I’m not sure at which point they actually removed the pain pump. I just know that I came in with it installed and left without it.
After sitting me up, we discussed drains. “It looks like these will be in you for a while.” As long as the drains are effectively removing fluid, they’re left in. This prevents something called a seroma from forming. Imagine a blister inside your stomach that has to be drained with a needle. I’ll keep the drain, thank-you-very-much! If the removal of the drain is going to be as transparent as the removal of the pain pump, then I’m on board! They did show me how to clear the lines of build-up by squeezing them and running my fingers toward the bulbs. Kinda icky. Kinda neat.
With fresh dressings, one less tube emanating from my gut, a better fitting binder, and a fresh drain record form, I returned to the waiting room to meet my “responsible adult,” who had left me to run errands. Within the hour, I was back in my “home away from home,” left to my own devices. I had a snack and settled in for a little bit more “ME TV.”