Patient Story: 3 key parts to my body lift surgery being successful
December 2, 2014
Two months ago I had an incredibly successful body lift surgery with Dr. Teitelbaum, after losing about 70lbs through diet and exercise. I am completely thrilled with the result, and every day I look in the mirror I am shocked and overjoyed at the beautiful body he has sculpted for me. I’ll let the pictures tell the full story.
I’ve yo-yod in my weight my whole life, but about 5 years ago I gained weight rapidly after a really difficult year. This surgery was the final chapter of my journey back to health: the part of the weight loss journey that I couldn’t do on my own. But I think there were a three key parts to my surgery being successful: Dr. Teitelbaum’s part, my part, and my friends and family’s part.
I’ll start with Dr. Teitelbaum’s, because if you’re reading this you’re probably considering surgery with him. When I started looking for a doctor, it was completely overwhelming. So many ads online, so many websites and referrals to navigate. Doctors who almost seemed “too slick” or others with very few photos of my procedure. Then I found this website and saw Dr. Teitelbaum’s before / after photos and I knew I needed to have this incredible plastic surgeon as my doctor. Nothing looked fake, no one looked pulled too tight or like a mannequin; women still had feminine bodies. That was the aesthetic I wanted.
Waiting for a consultation felt like forever. Once I’d made the decision to have the surgery, I felt a real sense of urgency to get it done. I had a consult with another doctor in the interim: one who primarily focused on facial surgery but wanted to do my surgery and wanted to schedule it almost immediately. I am SO glad I didn’t book with him. There was a reason he was available to schedule surgery immediately, and in hindsight I can’t believe he was willing to perform a surgery he wasn’t completely familiar with. Doing a body lift is an incredibly complicated and risky surgery; I didn’t want to be anyone’s experiment.
But I waited, thankfully. When the consultation came it felt fast. I came in armed with questions and Dr. Teitelbaum made sure to answer them all, but when I came home I still felt like I had more. Karen and Vicky were an awesome source of support through all my questions about nutrition, supplements, and how to prepare for surgery. Vicky told me that the biggest mistake she sees patients make is not giving themselves enough recovery time, so I made sure to give myself a full three weeks off work to heal.
Deciding to book with Dr. Teitelbaum was a hard decision. The surgery was a lot of money and nearly wiped out my savings: about 20k. But what I decided was that I’d rather get the absolute best surgeon I could find so that I don’t end up spending thousands more in the end as a result of complications or revisions. I only have one body, I wanted the best surgeon I could possibly have.
Dr T convinced me he was that man during my second consult. After doing too much online research I’d become worried that perhaps I wouldn’t end up with “enough” of a result. Did I need more libo or to have my thighs reduced at the same time? Dr. T didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, he told me what I needed to hear: that he would do as much as he could but wouldn’t compromise my health and safety. Because 90% of the complications come from trying to get that last 10%. With those words I knew this man was my doctor.
My part of this process can be summed up as this: I needed to make sure I was as healthy as possible going into surgery, and make sure I followed absolutely all of their advice to the letter. I’d lost weight but getting to know my body and how to take care of myself. I needed to keep doing this.
The surgical packet they sent me included so much information that I really needed to know: what to cut out in the weeks leading up to surgery, what I will need at home during the recovery process, what to expect immediately after surgery.
I’m glad I read it and knew it well, because when I woke up from surgery I was definitely freaked out. The pain was manageable, but it was so weird to see my body all swollen with tubes coming out of it. It was hard to understand what my final result was going to look like since I was so hunched over and swollen. I reread that packet many times, reminding myself of all the normal consequences of a surgery like this.
My part also included doing some things I really didn’t want to do: like getting up and walking every few hours to avoid blood clots. It was so uncomfortable to get in and out of bed, I really just wanted to stay still. But I did it, with a lot of help from the nursing staff at Serenity Aftercare.
I think the hardest part of “my part” was asking for help from family and friends. I’m pretty type-a, and I’m usually the “fixed” or the one helping others. This was a real practice for me in asking for help and letting my friends and family love on me when I really needed it. There is NO WAY I could have done this on my own. I went home after 3 days, and I needed wonderful people to help bring me food, truck in case after case of Gatorade, and help with simple errands.
But what I needed more than any of that was emotional support. This was stressful and emotional and brought up so many things for me: the pain of gaining the weight in the first place, the shame of having “destroyed” my body, the disbelief at what my body looked like now and the new chapter of life that was about to start for me.
There were so many friends who came and sat with me while I talked through this pain and fear, cried with me when I watched stupid television that wasn’t even sad, and just loved on me. You’ve got to let people love on you, it’s a key part of the healing process.
Two months later I am still almost brought to tears when I think about everything that Dr. T has done for me. I feel like I have my life back: I feel more confidant and sure of myself than I’ve been in years. I feel proud of my body and excited about working out and taking on new challenges. I never thought I’d feel like that again.
All of the pain and harm I’ve done to my body over the years, all of the yo-yo dieting and crap I’ve put my body through: it’s amazing to me that you can come back from that. That with an incredible surgeon like Dr. D can reconstruct my body into the body I thought I didn’t deserve.
If you are deciding to go down this road, my advice to you is this: believe that you’re worth spending the money on an incredible doctor. Be patient with the process and yourself as you’re healing. And trust that you deserve to do whatever you need to do to be as healthy and happy as possible.