What I didn’t know about skin removal surgery

I don’t know what I expected post-surgery. I had no clue what I’d feel like, and really could not imagine what I’d go through. There are some things though that I’ve realized but never knew before surgery.

It doesn’t hurt. I’m surprised at how much I am not in pain. I thought I was going to scream like a burn victim every time someone touched me. It isn’t like that. There is pressure. There is tightness. There is throbbing and uncomfortableness as my skin gets use to it’s new form but it isn’t unbearable. My right arm is more painful than my left. Women, if you’ve ever had your bra under-wire poke you in the arm pit, that’s sometimes what it feels like but you can’t move it. My stomach incision sting every once in awhile but I’m sure that will lessen over the next week or so.

*Related: Cost of Skin Removal Surgery

I checked out from the outside world. I thought I would be on my computer non-stop (Ebaying, Cyber Mondaying, Blog reading, etc) but the truth is, the computer is the last thing I wanted to look at. I blogged and scanned comments/emails but the reality is, I did nothing else. Being on the computer made me tired and is difficult. I tweeted a lot the first couple days but within 2 days (and probably by the time the surgery anesthesia wore off), I was done – I cut back on mu tweets a lot that first 10 days. I barely responded to texts, tweeted only a few times a day and only turned my computer on 1x a day, to blog to ya’ll.

No moving for 2-3 weeks. I underestimated this. But they really mean it. Stick with me as I try to explain this. When the incisions are stitched together, they are done so from the inside. So my body is literally healing from the inside. Think about it like a pair of pants – if you look on the inside, at the seam, you can see the stitches but if you look at the outside, you just see the crease. In my non-doctor description, my body is sending fluids to the incision sites to begin healing – because I wasn’t sealed up right away and only stitched up, the drains catch the leakage.

As my incisions completely seal, the drains can be removed. As I sit, I’m healing – but because healing takes longer than an hour, if I get up and move the “healing” that may have just happened could be ripped. That’s why it is so important to just sit and not move because every time I move, I’m ripping my the new “healing.” I was aware of this but it really didn’t sink in until now.

4-6 weeks recover means 4-6 weeks recover. No joke, I really didn’t realize the intensity of being down for 4-6 weeks. The swelling in my arms and stomach will take 4-6 weeks to go down and even then, it could take 6-8 months for my arms and stomach to be at their “new” normal size. The doctor told me this but I really didn’t understand it until now. I’ll wear the arm compression garment for about 6 weeks and will wear my stomach garment for 3 weeks. Even though I may be able to go to work within 3-4 weeks, I’ll be moving slower and won’t be able to do some things like carry a 8lb purse or pull open a stuck drawer or things of the sort. It also means while I may at some point be able to start walking on the treadmill or do light elliptical, no weights or anything serious.

Two weeks might not be long enough: I really thought I’d be able to go back to work at least part time after two weeks but I’m not so sure. I’m not as independent as I feel like I should be in order to go back to work. Things like lifting my laptop or opening a pill bottle prove to be difficult, if not impossible. While I could certainly manage being at work, I’d probably end up asking for a lot of help with things and would be moving pretty slow. I am the type of person who typically pushes myself so I’m trying to figure out what balance is. I’m going to wait through the weekend and just play it by ear on Monday. My boss is very very flexible and supportive so I’m lucky.

*Related: Skin Removal Surgery Questions Answered

Relying on others: I do not think I could have managed this far without so much help from Carlos and my sisters. For the first four days, I couldn’t feed myself or pull up my own pants. I had to ask for something to drink for the first week and still can’t cook my own food. My sisters have come over to wash my hair, help clean me up, stop by to sit with me so Carlos can leave for a bit because I can’t get up too many times. It is a very humbling experience having to rely on others so much. I am beyond appreciative that my support system around me is so strong.

I’m sure there is more but this post is getting long enough so I’ll leave it at that. I have another post-op appointment today and am hoping to have the final drain removed. Have a great weekend everyone, see you on Monday!