Not In Jersey: My Abdominal Surgery Part 1–Or How Running a 1/2 Marathon Led to a Tummy Tuck My Abdominal Surgery Part 1–Or How Running a 1/2 Marathon Led to a Tummy Tuck - Not In Jersey

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Abdominal Surgery Part 1–Or How Running a 1/2 Marathon Led to a Tummy Tuck

You know how when you have a baby, your stomach deflates itself and your abs get flat after a bit of working out? No? Me neither. In fact, for me, the opposite was true! Instead of deflating and getting flat, my abs seemed to inflate and form a hill. I’ve been a member of no less than half a dozen gyms both before and after having kids, and I’ve done my share of ab workouts. When Zachary was not yet two years old and I was working out 4-5 times per week, I realized that as I lost weight and inches, my stomach seemed to be growing rather than shrinking. Soon after I noticed this, I was told by both an ob/gyn and a general practitioner that I had something called a diastasis recti.

diastasis-recti-300x264

Separation of the muscles in the abdominal wall is common in pregnancies, especially after multiple pregnancies, because your muscles have been stretched multiple times. In most cases, it seems the muscles return to the center and the gap closes. Apparently, for me, this was not the case! I was also told at this time that I had a small hernia in my belly button. Neither the hernia nor the separated muscles warranted repair at that time, because I still planned to have more children and pregnancies obviously caused the problem in the first place. When I inquired at my gym about types of exercise that could help, my instructor did not know what to tell me.

At that time, the problem wasn’t that obvious to others, though when I moved to Kansas I did experience for the first time a question from a well-meaning person in regards to whether I was pregnant. I explained that my muscles were separated and just made it look that way – sounds like a made up story, doesn’t it? Well, soon after that I did get pregnant, and when another person thought I looked pregnant (even though it was probably too early for me to be showing), I was able to be happy to look pregnant – because I WAS pregnant!

DSCN2907
Not pregnant in this picture.

After Simon was over a year old, the more difficult situations started to occur. I would have hoped that at 18+ months post partum I would not appear to be 4-5 months pregnant, but the mom at a moms’ group event, the stranger in a parking lot, an employee at Costco, and the volunteer at the 1/2 marathon all thought my “pregnancy” was obvious enough to mention. I was working out 5-6 days per week again and to me, the more I worked out, the worse my stomach appeared. Maybe if the rest of my body was very overweight I would not have appeared to be pregnant, but being short and having average sized leg and arm muscles really enhanced the way my stomach stood out. I became discouraged from working out at all, when I just felt I was making things worse.

DSCN2909Not pregnant here either.

It was after the comment at the 1/2 marathon (asking me how far along I was when I was not pregnant – people need to not ask that question ever!) that I finally decided to find out about fixing the muscles in my abdomen. I had an MRI and was told that my muscles were very far apart with only a thin fascia holding them together, plus there was a place where it looked like part of my colon was coming through – basically a type of hernia in the middle of my abdomen, as well as the hernia in my belly button, which I already knew about. The surgery required was a ventral hernia repair, as well as abdominoplasty to bring the muscles back together and tighten them, remove the excess skin from my abdomen, and reconstruct my belly button. You may know an abdominoplasty better as a tummy tuck.

DSCN2911Also not pregnant here.

I did some reading about the procedure and referenced blog posts from Katie and Rachel, although neither had the exact type of problem that I did. It helped to read personal accounts from other bloggers though, which is why I decided to write about my experience as well. What both Katie and Rachel experienced that was the same as my situation is that diet and exercise did not help with the separated muscles in my abdomen and would not have helped no matter what I did. I was tired of standing with my arms crossed in front of my body and having to announce at social events that I was not pregnant so that people would not start to speculate. I was tired of hating myself. Within 3 months of my MRI, I had a surgery date set and was trying not to dwell too much on what I was about to put myself through!

DSCN2913
How pregnant does that belly look to you?

To be continued…with details about the surgery itself, as well as the recovery and results! [Read Part 2 here]

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17 comments:

Raising Reagan said...

Wow ... I didn't realize it was that serious. I can't wait to hear about the surgery and how it went ... and mostly to see the after pics!!

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Sara said...

I knew you were going for surgery but had no idea why. Can't wait to see the after pics. Oh, and I sooooo agree that ppl should just not ask if your pregnant.

Hannah @Supermommy!...Or Not. said...

I've had a tummy ever since giving birth to my 2nd child. I had my 3rd seven months ago and I still look like I'm about 4 months pregnant. I'm actually scared to do a lot of ab workouts since I've heard that they can make diastisis recti worse and I'm worried that I might have it. How would I find out for sure?

Leslie @ Violet Imperfection said...

People need to not ask people if they are pregnant, it is just not nice.

Thanks for explaining your surgery, I had no idea this could happen. I'm so glad you chose to have the surgery for yourself. :)

laura bell said...

Hope you have a speedy recovery and lots of support to help as you heal!
Laura @ luckypennylove.com

Mel@Mellywood's Mansion said...

yikes, oh but how rude of some people. Even if a woman's water breaks and the head is crowning, my rule is never mention it until they tell you!

Breenah said...

That's crazy that your body can do that!

Holly Higgins said...

Holy cow Dara! People are so rude. I can't wait to see the after pics!

KC Coake said...

Thanks for writing about this. I think it is great for others (like myself) to become educated. I'm looking forward to seeing the next post. Hope your recovery is going really well.
KC

Janine Huldie said...

People are so rude Dara and seriously agree know one should ever ask a women if she is indeed pregnant. I never did hear of this condition though and cannot wait to hear more about the surgery and how it all turned out for you!! :)

Tamar SB said...

Oy vey! What an ordeal - hope you're feeling better and recovering easily!

SEL said...

I remember when I was working out hardcore and pregnant with M, the instructor told me the muscles in your abdomen pretty much split apart, but eventually regrow back together. So I knew a little about this stuff. And I remember you telling me you had this issue. I'm glad you're getting it all taken care of!!

Christa Cox said...

love this! so glad i got my tummy tuck done!

Ronni @ Anywhere Is said...

I am really interested to hear the rest of this story.

During teacher training, I had to take a class about modifying a yoga practice for pregnant women. The instructor had that same thing, but I don't think she needed surgery for hers. She let us come up and feel how the muscles were separated!

Myrna said...

This is really great that you can educate everyone about this condition. I bet it will help women who had no idea they might need medical care.

Nicole | Pharr Away said...

This is one of those things that I think OB/GYN's should make women aware of when they get pregnant. I didn't hear about this until after I gave birth and had already started a workout routine (which I was told can make it worse if you're not doing things to help bring the muscles back together). It was a bit frustrating!

I hope the surgery was a success and look forward to seeing follow-up pictures!

Libby said...

I'm trying to play catch up on my blog readings so I'm late getting to this post. I do hope your surgery went well and that you're healing nicely. I'll scoot over to the other post so I can read more. Thanks for sharing your personal life story so that others can learn about this. I had no idea.