I first need to give a shout out to the absolute BEST friend anyone could ask for. Mini Vagabond, you’ve rocked life with me for the past 16 years. You’ve seen me through some of the toughest life circumstances, led me to Jesus and walked through the desert with me…literally. When I first talked about this procedure you were non-judgmental and supportive, that is, until I informed you of the severity of support I was going to need post-operatively. But you quickly moved right past that even going so far as printing up a Post Skin Removal Manifesto and put it on the fridge at my eye level. Y’all she literally is 5’1’’ compared to my 5’10”. I mean, let’s be real, who is going to help you clean your fresh wounds, get you in/out/up/down from chairs/beds/toilets without being married to me? There was nothing in it for you, yet you did it all gracefully and willingly. You exemplified Jesus, and I loved seeing your “grace” tattoo on your wrist every time I needed help. It reminded me to be as kind and loving as I could be because without you, my healing would not be as successful. Thank you for being my ass-wiper, food preparing, mental health advisor, cheerleading sister from another mister!
Week 1 Post-Op Summary: OUCH!
Warning: some post-op images below may be a little graphic. #sorrynotsorry I’m sharing them because I want you to see my experience.
Okay, okay, I’ll try not to be dramatic about it. All the preparation in the world just can’t prepare you for how well you may or may not recover from any surgical procedure, let alone skin removal. Also a factor in recovery and the pain level is the the number of procedures you are having and how you will be cared for following surgery. All one can do is read about others’ experiences with similar procedures, talk to those you know who have had similar procedures, ask open and honest questions with your surgical team, and be a good patient.
I had three procedures done: a brachioplasty, panniculectomy, and abdominoplasty. I originally was not going to have my arms done during this procedure, but I decided to go ahead with it once my surgeon told me he would be okay with doing it in conjunction with the work on my tummy. The goal was to be one-and-done with skin removal, pain, and recovery.
After arriving home less than 24 hours post op to my very own “recovery house”, all I could think about was, “How did he do it? How did Hot Dr. pull this off? Where did my fupah go? I have a bicep already?!?!” The pain was fairly controlled but the sensation of “tightness” was something I wasn’t prepared for. I probably shouldn’t have done so, but I stepped on the scale. I was down about 12 lbs. Mini Vagabond was told by Hot Dr. that he removed 10 lbs. of tissue. I thought it would be important to loosely monitor my weight in case I was retaining too much fluid in the event the drains were not working properly.
Eating was a challenge at the hospital, and I was feeling the post-op gastric bypass fullness again (a feeling I have not had in about a year). So, that was a happy and a bit frustrating surprise as I knew a good diet would be crucial to a healthy recovery. Mini Vagabond and I had researched food preparation in advance, and we made freezer meals that I knew would be easy to tolerate and promote healing.
At my last pre-op appointment, I was provided with my post-op recovery book (yes, a printed and bound book specific to my procedures) and a small bag with a few days’ worth of supplies. While we had purchased a few items already, we knew we would need plenty more. I HAD NO IDEA just how much more BFF would have to purchase this week alone!! Just make sure you wait a few days until you get your process down before you go purchase the entire first aid department at your local store (which we did). BFF ran back and forth trying to find the right items/sizes, returning and purchasing many different types of bandages and tape. My routine (per doctor’s instructions) has been to clean the incisions twice a day as well as empty and track the drain output, stay ahead of my pain with pain meds and muscle relaxers, eat a balanced array of foods, and rest. In fact, Mini Vagabond and I are going to provide you with a downloadable eBook soon to assist you and your caregivers on this journey.
Oh Lord, the tape situation. That’s a legit issue for me. I have an allergy to cloth adhesive which makes these dressing changes extra challenging. My sensitive skin on my arms is full of tacky adhesive residue from multiple types of tape holding my bandages on. Having to replace the bandages multiple times a day is wreaking havoc on my skin and contributing to a higher level of discomfort. Oh well, we’ll figure it out soon.
We had also decided that the best option for recovery period and until I was more capable of movement, Mini Vagabond would also sleep in my room so I could easily summon her if I needed assistance out of the bed in the middle of the night or for any other needed reason. Lucky for me my bedroom has enough space to have an additional camping cot at the foot of my bed. While my arm movements are pretty limited due to the bandages, I had set up two bedside caddies: one with healthy snacks and the other with common items I would want or need. These provided me with a little independence/control and allowed BFF to leave me alone for a few hours. Having done the prep work truly made this first week post-op a successful one.
(Side note: Did I tell you that I sell Thirty-One? There are some amazing products that I figured would work and man, was I right. For those interested I have made a download list with pictures so you can see if you’d like to replicate the setup, and I’ve added the link to my Thirty-One website at the end of this post.)
The one week follow up appointment is a crucial one. You’ll likely know if wounds are healing and the incisions are holding, if the recovery is going to be successful, or if there is anything to be more vigilant about. Luckily, Mini Vagabond took instruction well from the nursing staff and was doing a phenomenal job of cleaning the wounds and helping me with emptying my two drains. Hot Dr. couldn’t believe how well the incisions were healing or how good I was getting around. I explained that what helped me the most was my BFF (she should have been a wound care specialist, I swear), the muscle relaxers, and drinking plenty of water. Hot Dr. told me to set my appointment for my 2 week follow up. Looking forward to that appointment in hopes of having at least one drain removed and the possibility of being cleared for a shower.
Here are some goodies I created as resources to keep on your phone for your own skin removal surgery journey:
I mentioned above that I sell Thirty-One Gifts and I found many of their products to be very useful to me during my recovery period. Below are links to the items on my Thirty-One Gifts website so you can learn more about them.
Full disclosure: If you happen to place an order with me for any items on my Thirty-One Gifts website, I will receive a commission and will be grateful for your order!
Items mentioned in the image above:
Lil’ Go Backpack (I used this for my overnight hospital stay)
Hanging Traveler Case (this held my toiletries during my hospital stay)
Double Duty Caddy (this held some of my wound care supplies, extra Ace bandages, etc.)
Littles Carry-All Caddy (this held snacks and small items which I kept within easy reach on my bed or nightstand)
Your Way Bin (used to organize the clutter on my side tables so nothing fell off that I couldn’t reach from the bed like remotes, cell phone, etc.)