Belly Up

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Alright gals, I did it. After two years of agonizing over the appearance of my belly, I finally got the gumption to go to the plastic surgeon. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually have anything done. But I took the first step with a consultation. And let me tell you, it was fifty bucks well spent.

First off, if you have the ambition of making a crap-load of money during your time here on earth, become a plastic surgeon. I stepped into this guys’ office, and I felt like I was at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Super deluxe…and I live in Austin, Texas, where you can go to a five star restaurant in jeans and a tank top (and don’t forget your cowboy hat!). When I got a look at his fees; let’s just say he makes somewhere in the range of $1,500 an hour. Not bad!

I was oddly comfortable waiting for Dr. 78735 in the plush terry robe and g-string scrubs, although it would have been nicer if they had offered me a glass of wine and a pedi while I waited. He entered the room and after brief introductions, asked me what I was interested in. Huh – isn’t that what you’re supposed to tell me? I admitted that I was a total neophyte and meekly stated a tummy tuck and a boob job. He asked if I wanted both a breast augmentation and lift. I answered with a blank look. After some discussion over the technicalities of each procedure (more blank looks), it was time to disrobe (eegads!).

The unveiling wasn’t that bad. I was diagnosed with a large umbilical hernia (which my insurance would cover – whoopee!), major diastasis (above and below and all around the tap that my Be Bo has become), stretched-out skin and, of course, stretch marks. He pronounced that I would need a full tummy tuck to correct everything. He’d try and use my existing c-section scar and then cut a smiley face to each hip bone, a general surgeon would come in and fix the hernia, he would pull my ab muscles back into place, and then stretch my skin downwards to get rid of all the unsightliness. All of the skin and stretch marks from my belly button down would be gone (as in cut out forever), and the stretch marks above my BB would be much less visible because they would be, um, really stretched. Lovely.

As for the boobs, he said I wouldn’t need a lift. After 13 months of breastfeeding two babies, imagine that! At least there was some good news to this visit. But he said an augmentation would “restore the look and fullness” to my deflated mom boobs. He said silicone was the only way to go, because it feels the most like breast tissue. I nodded and tried to mask another blank look.

We sat back down and talked more technicalities of the actual surgery. It’d last about 4 hours, I would need at least one overnight in the hospital (he recommended two), and a pain pump was the way to go (kind of like an epidural for the stomach). The kicker was when I heard about the recovery time. The boob job was hardly anything. The tummy tuck? Six weeks. Yes, you heard me. Six weeks of lifting no more than 10 pounds. With twin two year olds, one of whom attaches himself to me as if he wants to be back in utero, good luck on that one!

After the consultation, I had the pleasure of posing in my g-string scrubs for some pictures. With mirrors and umbrella lights in each corner and a pretty, skinny young thing taking the pictures – let’s just say it was a humbling experience. She took about ten photos, and to add insult to injury, made me step on the scale. They program this whole experience just right, because then I was ushered into a room to view before and after pics. All I can say is AMAZING! I couldn’t believe my eyes. And I loved seeing bellies that looked far worse then mine looking gorgeous after a tummy tuck.

A lovely lady in her 50s entered the room with lots of paperwork and walked me through the process and the expenses. Pretty amusing that she went into all of the details of surgery and recovery, as if I had already signed on, before going over the itemized estimate. Nice to know I have the option of spending my second night of recovery not in the hospital, but at the beautiful Barton Creek Resort where I would have nurses waiting on me and lymphatic massage therapists at my disposal. And then I saw the only piece of paper that mattered. All in all, even with insurance covering the hernia portion, a tummy tuck and boob job would cost…

$14,000. Yes, you saw that right.

She pulled out the doctor’s schedule and asked me what time frame I was looking at. I answered her with an unabashed blank look. I managed to ask if there was any “wiggle” room in the estimate (the negotiator that I am). She said if I removed the second night at the hospital and got rid of the pain pump, that could bring it down $750. Oh, and the $50 consultation charge would be deducted from the cost. Wow. Great.

Now that it’s been a few weeks, I’ve decided against the boob job. After some quick research, I learned that boob jobs have at most a ten year life span. So once you get one, you can plan on getting another every ten years until you have no more money left. Not my cup of tea. Plus, the silicone that was recommended has a lot more maintenance. Like MRIs every few years to check for leaks. With saline, if it pops, you know it. All of the above I wish to never experience in my lifetime (nothing against boob jobs, though!). So I plan on calling them back and getting a new estimate for just the tummy tuck. Not because I’m going to get one anytime soon, but just so I know how much I need to save over the next five years. Amidst a downward spiraling economy.

Belly be damned, I do plan on getting you fixed eventually. But for now, it’s you and me, belly. No matter how ugly you are, we’re in it for the long haul.

You can read my other post on post-partum ugliness here. And to be totally jealous of one HDYDI mama who has a killer and unscathed post-partum belly, read here.

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13 thoughts on “Belly Up”

  1. This is one of the most fascinating posts I have ever read. (And I seriously feel like a jackhole for posting my belly pics). $14K! I knew it was expensive but HOLY MOLY!

    Also before making the decision on getting silicon breasts, try to check out some in person. My sister has implants and I’ve felt them. They are certainly similar to regular breasts but I would never say they feel the “same”. That might help make the decision on whether or not to get them.

  2. I am so thankful you shared this! I think about surgery on a weekly basis but have zero money for it so it’s not a real consideration right now. I appreciate you having gone through this process and passing along your experience. It’s nice to know (approximately) what the process is so I can file the info away for future reference.

  3. I think about having plastic surgery almost every day. My twin skin gets in the way much too often, and I think there is a greater than 50% chance I will have it fixed at some point.

    Thanks for this post Tracey! So, so interesting!

  4. Thanks for sharing! I’m on the fence on having plastic surgery (scared of something going wrong I guess), but I do think about it often! I have some MAJOR twin skin that is very uncomfortable, keeps clothes from fitting, and just looks gross!

  5. I have 8 1/2 month old twins, and at 4 months old, I got my twin skin/umbilical hernia/diastasis recti fixed by having a tummy tuck. I also went with the breast lift/implants (didn’t breastfeed), and a little lipo on my sides to smooth things out in addition to the tummy tuck. I have to say that it was QUITE a recovery– and I deal with pain well. It took me a good 8-9 days before I even started feeling more like myself, and almost 3 weeks before I could really stand up straight. My parents came to help out with the babies, so for that, I’m very grateful! The pain was pretty intense, but I’d do it all again if I had to– the result is amazing!! I’ve never had a stomach this flat and toned in my life. People comment on how I don’t look like I had any babies at all (I have a 6-yr old as well), and I say “that’s what I was going for!”. The grand total was close to $20k (I live in California, and paid CA prices). It was the best money I’ve ever spent. The self confidence I’ve gained back is worth so much more than any amount of money in the world. Just putting in my 2 cents…

  6. Awesome post. One of my “dreams” is to have a tummy tuck. I shudder to think what my belly will look like after having baby number 3. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight with the twins inside of a month but things are not in the same place. My belly is horrible – the twin skin is the bain of my existence. But considering hubby is now unemployed I think anything is totally out of consideration for at least five years. but it has always been on my “to do” list. It’s nice to read that I am not the only twin mama that longs for a pre-baby belly! I think it’s fantastic that you went for a consult and thank you so much for sharing the details. I live between NYC and Philly so I’m assuming that prices would be higher than in TX….but at least I know. Please post what just the tummy tuck would cost when you find out! Thanks for sharing!!!

  7. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share! $14,000
    WOW
    Guess I’ll have to wait about 20 years! On the twin skin note Are any of you twin moms brave enough to share your post-baby belly pics?
    Twin Skin Photo Gallery

    I’d love to create a reality gallery as I get readers daily wanting to know about twin skin and is their belly normal – or what will they look like after their babies are born – if you’re willing to share – please do!
    Kim

  8. Jenn – I’m actually curious how your scar is from your tummy tuck. I have a really bad diastasis after two C Sections. I’ve met with a few plastic surgeons in my town, who won’t touch me. Ugh. I met with a general surgeon who specializes in hernia surgery but he is freaked out by how big it is and has never performed an operation like this. Curious if you had a plastics doc do all of it, or a combo of two different surgeons? I go in this week for my second C-SCAN in year to see if a hernia has also developed. I’ve been told that there are several plastic surg. in CA that will do both – just wondering who your doc was and if you would recommend him/her? It sounds like the recovery time was longer than I expected, since I would have to fly to LA and then back home (with two small children at home) just wondering if your doc had you staying in hospital that whole time or if you were able to go home fairly soon?

  9. Krysty– My scar is from hipbone to hipbone, so fairly large, but pretty standard, I think. It’s healed nicely and is starting to fade now since it’s been almost 6 months since the surgery. My plastic surgeon did the hernia repair, the diastasis repair, and the tummy tuck all together. I think he did a great job! I only stayed overnight for one night, then went home, but had to go back for checkups at 3 days and 7 days (drains taken out at 7 days). If you were flying to LA, you’d definitely have to stay at least a week or more. Email me at texasags96@aol.com for my Dr.’s info– I’d rather send it personally than post it online.

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