Trigger warning: weight loss and surgery. This post includes images of before and after weight reduction surgery.
Ok, so if you read my previous post, you already know I had liposuction. Forgive my title. It did give me a totally flat stomach in three hours, though. Spoiler alert.
In today’s post I want to give you the nitty-gritty of what the surgery was like, what the recovery was like, and what the results were.
I went through Cosmos Clinics, which have clinics in Sydney, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra, and Adelaide. I’ll start out by saying I was 100% satisfied with my experience and I would happily recommend them to anyone considering this sort of body-altering procedure.
The first appointment
On my first appointment, my doctor asked what I wanted. He was pleased that I was realistic – basically, I just wanted my old body back, which was perhaps two sizes smaller. I explained my reasons, which you can read about here. He explained that that was totally achievable, and talked me through how the procedure would work. We did discuss Cool Sculpting, which is a permanent fat-reduction technique, but I wanted more dramatic results than Cool Sculpting (ideal for smaller, stubborn pockets of fat) could realistically achieve.
It’s never a fun experience stripping down to your undies (or less) and standing in front of a mirror so a total stranger can scrutinise your wobbly bits, but my lovely surgeon made it as pleasant an experience as possible. He was funny, but the cracks weren’t about my insecurities, and he was always professional. What made me realise I wanted this man to operate on me was his enthusiasm for what he could do. He didn’t see my body as ugly or nasty; he saw it as an exciting renovation project. He was already mentally sketching out what he could do, and how he could sculpt something amazing out of what he saw. It was really infectious, and it filled me with confidence, because he had confidence in himself.
We decided to concentrate on my thighs, my stomach and flanks, and the little ridge you get under your bra’s underwire. He talked me through every step of the surgery, what tools he’d use, the benefits, the risks, the time, recovery, and what I’d need to do to help myself afterwards.
The total cost for the surgery was about $12,500. That didn’t include the post-surgery compression suit ($300-ish) or lymphatic drainage massage (not necessary, but very helpful). It’s not cheap, and it’s not covered by insurance. If you want the same areas done as I did, that’s going to be a ballpark for you. Smaller surgeries will cost less. Larger ones will cost more.
On the day of the surgery, I got to strip off again and have photos taken of my thighs and torso. That’s also not fun, but again, my surgeon was great about it. Then, I popped some pills (valium was one of them, and I think painkillers were another), and wait for them to take effect.
From then, I remember being lead through to the operating room, taking my gown off, and lying down on the table. That’s all I remember for the next two hours at least, because the drug combination makes you forget everything, even though you are completely conscious (technically speaking) for the entire procedure.
My memory starts to come in again towards the end of the procedure. I was on the table a little longer than predicted, because my belly fat was incredibly stubborn and took twice the time it should have done to remove. Unfortunately, along with the memory came a lot of unpleasant sensations – pain, mostly from the work being done on my ribs; embarrassment due to being exposed and naked on an operating table in front of three people (even though none of them were remotely bothered, of course); and cold. I get really cold during surgeries. Thankfully the lovely surgical nurse kept giving me something heated to have on my chest.
What was happening, during both the parts I don’t remember and the parts I do, was that my fat cells were being blasted with ultrasound, shaking them loose. Then, a little tube was being inserted under my numbed skin, and sucking the fat cells right out. My surgeon sent me a picture of all the fat that was removed afterwards – nearly three litres. Fat, sitting by itself in a jar, looks really, really gross.
What did it feel like? Well, the part I remember, I could feel a tube moving under my skin around the underboob area. Medical peeps, feel free the tell me in the comments what the real name for that is. It felt like it was scraping against my ribs, and it really did ache.
Afterwards, you are seriously bruised. I was purple for a few days, and then the greens and yellows came popping in. I looked a right mess. On top of that, the incisions are left open to drain, and it takes a few days for the leaking to stop. I think I had about 14 incisions – my inner and outer thighs, my hips, two on the underboob ‘lump’, and the rest on various spots around my front and sides. I was extremely tired, and very stiff and sore.
One thing my surgeon warned me about, and that absolutely happened, was serious body dysphoria. I felt like my body was a gross, scary alien. I cannot explain how dramatic the changes where – all my previous roundness had become the skinny flatness of the supermodel. My stomach was practically concave. My waist was lower – closer to my hips. There was a gap between my thighs. I thought I looked weird as heck. To be fair, my new and exciting colours (honestly, I was sooooo bruised) and leaky cuts probably didn’t help.
Recovery from lipo is rough, emotionally and physically. Apart from the dysphoria, and the guilt that brought on (how dare I hate this body that I paid so much for?), there was serious physical pain. I was bruised all over, and I felt it. My muscles were super sore, and it felt like my bones had been scraped bare by the tubes. Moving hurt – but you have to move, or you swell up. But not too much, or you’ll swell up.
You also have to do a lot of work. I was in a full body (underboob down) compression suit, plus a binder, plus a board that kept my stomach flat and prevented my suit from wrinkling up and marking my skin. Yes, it did have a crotch-hole, so I could pee without having to take the whole kit and caboodle off, but other toilet functions were a nightmare. Sleeping was sweaty hell. I couldn’t sit down because the board would either stab me in the tender, delicate thighs, or straight in the boobs.
You also have to massage yourself, firmly, multiple times a day, which also requires getting out of the suit. The massages hurt (but after a few minutes they actually feel really nice, because they feel like they are relieving pressure. You feel like a sausage in the suit, and the massages help address that).
After three weeks, though, I didn’t have to wear the suit at night. You feel weird without it, at first, like you are really exposed and delicate. My skin still hurt a bit, and it took several months to regain feeling in the skin on my sides.
I realise I’m probably making the whole thing sound like hell. I won’t lie. It was hard. But it was also worth it.
So, let’s get on to what I know you want to know: what were my results? Well, here you go.
The top row is before. The bottom row is after. These were professional pictures taken by Cosmos Clinics. Please do not re-post these pictures.
As you can see, my waist is far more defined. My ‘hip dips’ are gone. My thighs don’t have a large a curve on the outside, and have more of a gap on the inside. My stomach is naturally rounded in both pictures, but afterwards the bump is smaller. There is a pouch of fat above my stomach that is gone in the after pictures. My waist position has also moved – it is noticeably lower on my torso in my after pictures, sitting in line with my belly button rather than above it. That was probably the the weirdest and least expected change for me.
I have no idea if the surgery had any effect on my weight in kilograms. I don’t make a habit of weighing myself. However, my waist size went from about a large 12 to a small 10. I can squeeze into a size 8 in some brands around the waist if I am willing to risk asphyxiation. My hips remain a firm 14, despite the reduction, because I have a generous bottom, and the doctor didn’t touch that.
Six months on
It’s now been 6 months since my surgery. My livid bruising is gone, my scars are neatly healed (similar to my endo scars, visually), and my body has retained the shape you see above. Despite the way it may look in the side photos, I no longer have cellulite on my thighs.
Because of my age and the fact that I didn’t have a lot removed, I’ve not experienced any loose or saggy skin, as you can see in the photos. However, I do find that my torso is more prone to dryness, so I’m more vigilant about moisturising there than I used to be (probably a good thing). I don’t have any more lipo-related pain.
I feel much happier now. I’m used to this new body – it’s not exactly the same as my old one, but it’s close, and it doesn’t look like I’ve been through the brutal hormonal changes I’ve experienced. I feel like I’m now officially out of recovery. I definitely do not regret the process, although I don’t think I appreciated how tough it would be before undergoing it. I’m incredibly grateful to feel this way again.
Whilst I am not open to commentary on my decision to have surgery, as I feel I covered in my previous post, I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments, so please feel free to ask whatever you like!