Posts Tagged ‘tummy tuck’

Can a tummy tuck help my back pain?

20 Feb

Photos from before and after at end of post.

There are a few studies that show an Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck has helped improve back pack in some patients but most evidence is subjective.  If you ask a plastic surgeon, they will tell you it might happen but not to count on it.  I felt strongly that a tummy tuck, specifically the muscle repair was going to provide me relief.  The reason was based on my specific back pain issues.

As I began searching for the causes of my back pain, I kept coming back to a couple of things.  My pain was a lot of musculoskeletal pain from being out of alignment. I would joke that I was a car that just needed a front end alignment, you know what, I was right and didn’t even realized it for a long time.  My legs were off so I walked with a wobble, this set everything else off and my hips were off, my knees hurt, my legs hurt, and most of all my back hurt.  Doctors would tell me that I had to use my core more to hold up my back.  One PT had me tighten my core, to be honest, I couldn’t find my core.  There was nothing to tighten because the muscles were so separated that they didn’t work.  I don’t know why any of these doctors or specialists couldn’t see the big picture and say, hey, your abdominal muscle separation is causing you a huge problem or at least, if your muscles were repaired, your core would be able to support your back so much better. I really had almost no core support and on top of that I was forward heavy.  You know how women with very large breasts get breast reductions to help with back pain, well, all my insides were essentially herniating between my separated abdominal muscles and pushing out giving me this giant belly that caused all this forward weight on me and ruined my posture, hurting my back.  I may have looked like I had a fat stomach but my weight told a different story.  I wasn’t that overweight.  And after I had the surgery, if it had been fat, my stomach would have remained rounded and it didn’t. It just needed everything pulled back behind the abdominal wall.

After looking at my situation:

  • Posture is terrible, leads to pain
  • Posture can be fixed with less weight pushing forward from belly
  • Weight is reasonable so bulge is most likely from ab muscles not holding organs back
  • Cant get any contraction of core muscles now
  • Doctors stress tight core will really help my pain

It seemed to me that I could medically benefit from a tummy tuck / admomhinoplasty with muscle repair.  Could I get insurance to cover it?  Maybe but doubtful.  It would take so much work and effort and even if they found it medically necessary for me they don’t want to,set a precedent so they would probably deny for that reason alone.  I cared more about my health than fighting an insurance company so we just paid out of pocket.

Results?  It has only been two months so the jury is still out.  I have noticed a significant difference in my posture. I have core strength that I did not have before.   My body is adjusting to the new posture and I feel changes.  My right knee used to hurt, now my left knee hurts, but hopefully that means I am putting more even pressure on my joints.  My hip pain and back pain is currently down 40%.  That might change as I am dealing with complications from the surgery and have open wounds and scar pain right that hurt more than the back, so I haven’t been able to fully cut back on meds to see if I can go lower because I need them for the wound pain right now.  In another 6 months (or a year at most) I hope to have this wound and scar stuff fixed and can better evaluate the original pain.  However, so far I am very encouraged.  I also look much nicer now that my abs hold back my other organs.

stomach protrudes

stomach protrudes


abs now hold in all organs, only a little fat, lost 10 pounds after surgery

abs now hold in all organs, only a little fat, lost 10 pounds after surgery


Abdominoplasty / Tummy tuck for core strength to help back pain patients

30 Dec

Living with severe chronic back pain is very difficult but there are many of us out there. The problems I have found comes from a small checklist of known items that can be seen on a scan the hat cause pain and if you see a doctor and your scan does not show one of those known items such as a slipped disc or stenosis, then you are out of luck. No one has the ability to go beyond that list, after that you get shots and physical therapy, and in many people those are also ineffective.

Personally, I find it frustrating as I have begun to piece together my problems but there is no doctor who treats my issues…. I am structurally out of alignment and each out of alignment piece causes wear and tear and then pain on other pieces. A chiropractic is the closest person who figured me out, only they can only pop me into place for a day and then I pop back out… I need a permanent fix. I tried physical therapists but they are so by the manual, no one can look at my pain and issues individually rather than look at a “back pain” means this treatment. That doesn’t work when my back pain is stemming from overall skeletal misalignment.

So, I continue to be my own best doctor and research to try and put the puzzle pieces together for myself. I have a misaligned pelvis and this gives me one leg shorter than another. I have problems with my hip stability and si joints and my psoas muscle. I have no core stability and overwork my surrounding muscles to try and offset my weak core. Yet efforts to improve core strength have not gone well and are hindered by my overall misalignment and pain.

If only I could rebuild myself somehow, I thought. Well, then I started reading about the diasastis recti, the abdominal muscles that get pulled apart, often by childbirth. My internal organs poke through terribly and clearly set my back off balance just from my posture alone with my large chest and my big tummy. I tightened my muscles (the best I could) and sucked it in and realized it didn’t take much for a big change.

So, I took my hypothesis to the internet. Do people with back pain get relief after muscle retightening in a tummy tuck procedure? The answer was, anecdotally,”yes.” No doctor would make that promise because in part it depends on what is causing your back pain but in my case, it seemed logical that starting that alignment process with something we can fix, align, and rebuild, it would bring me things that my back were lacking and could provide some relief. I was not expecting to be cured but a reduction of 10-40% would be a success in my opinion.

I also knew that worst case and I don’t get relief, at least, I will get a better looking body so there was no downside. If I felt I had a chance to fight the insurance for payment for the medical necessity because of my back, I would have but after losing another fight that was clear cut that we should have won, I learned it isn’t about showing you can prove this or that, they will just say no and don’t have to have a good reason. So I just paid for my procedure with money we had saved for medical expenses.

The typical tummy tuck patient (news to me) is a thin woman who has an area on her tummy that is no longer perfectly flat after having children. In my eyes, these ladies all still had great bodies, especially compared to what I saw when I looked in the mirror but everyone has the right to have their bodies exactly as they want them and so they want to get back that perfect flat tummy and a tummy tuck will do that for them. Most plastic surgeons want you at your ideal weight before surgery and want to know you can hold that weight. I didn’t know much about the procedure but I did learn it is not a weight loss procedure. The doctor may cut off 1-5 pounds of skin but 5 is actually on the high side. You can request extra lipo if you want, some doctors don’t think it is safe to do much lipo during a tummy tuck.

So, I met with a PS and told him I wanted a TT with muscle repair, in hopes of helping my back. He scheduled me for a drainless tummy tuck with a shot of Experal. The Experal was supposed to make the first few days easier. They still hurt like hell so I don’t know, I guess it would have been worse. I needed a walker to walk for the first week. I had to wear a compression garment for two weeks. I didn’t have much swelling the first week but by week two, the swelling doubled and lasted for 10 weeks.

I normally take oxycontin for back pain and I was taking a higher dose for the first week but after that I was able to drop to my old dose with ibuprofen in the middle.

My back pain is currently down about 40% but I am still numb, dealing with other pain, not on my regular movement and exercise schedule so I am waiting to see how things change as time goes on.

Physically, I was very shocked to see how much my body was impacted by that 3 cm gap in my muscles. It is a shame that insurance doesn’t care that this muscle repair is a huge medical issue for some women, not just cosmetic. Even my bowel habits seem better. You also feel full sooner and now my weight matches how I look.

There are going to be many more benefits that I am going to discover from this adventure that I didn’t even realize. I have a whole new respect for this surgery and women who want to do it for whatever the reason.

Update:  I added two new posts to this series, another where I talk about back pain.  Another one is about the wound issues that I had after the surgery.  Not everyone has complications but I did (as did a few others who were having surgery the same time as I did).  It took over 2 months to get through most of the wound issues and I am still not “done” with it but hopefully, I am on the road to being better.  I would still do it, however, as the impact on my back pain was worth it.

My weight now falls in the normal BMI range, I lost 14 pounds since before I went into surgery (5 was skin) and I like how I look (minus the scars) and once the wound pain ends, I am anxious to fully assess my back pain but right now, my guess is about 40% better.

Here are some photos:

stomach protrudes

stomach protrudes

abs now hold in all organs, only a little fat, lost 10 pounds after surgery

abs now hold in all organs, only a little fat, lost 10 pounds after surgery


Posted in Medical


How to lose weight without exercise and still eating your favorite foods

09 Aug

Do you want to lose weight but hate exercise?  Do love sugar or carbs and have low will power?  Maybe you have tried all sorts of diets before and failed.  Well, I am going to share with you what I think works best.  There are some reasons why I feel this works – first, it doesn’t require cold turkey dieting and your progress reinforces good behavior.

Things you need:

1.  A digital scale

2.  A note pad / pen

3.  A water infusion bottle or pitcher (not required but helpful)

4.  People around you who are supportive


First, step on the scale.  Your starting weight may indicate that you are overweight by a little or a lot, although most people that struggle with sugar and carb issues are overweight by more than a little.  Write down the time and your weight.  I suggest you weigh yourself without clothes, first thing in the morning every day so your weight is consistent.  If that is not possible, try to find a time of day that is consistent and it at least be in your undergarments.  You may weigh yourself more than once a day if you like but you need only write down the time that matches the time you choose for consistency.

Second, spend you first few days eating normally, continue to weigh yourself and write it down each day but be mindful of what you eat, every time you eat.  If you are really dedicated, write it down but that might be too hard for busy people so at least be mindful.  For me, I had realized I was having desserts like 4 times a day in the beginning because of my sweet tooth on top of my regular food, some days even more if it was a really bad day!

After you have made note of some of your bad habits, think about ONE habit you can reduce and change for the better, just one thing.  Can you eat a smaller portion at a meal, can you cut down to just 4 desserts a day and NEVER go over that mark if you find you do 4 but sometimes go over that?  Can you cut down to 3 desserts a day on weekends and have your 4 desserts on weekdays – replace the extra dessert with a yummy healthy snack you like instead – like fruit or if the dessert has a lot of calories find a dessert to replace it with that has much less calories like a sugar free chocolate pudding.  But, make ONE change.  Do this for a week.  Keep writing down your weight, it may or may not change.  You may have been eating so that you were in a weight gaining pattern, so we may first be having to stop that before we can move to weight loss.

So, now you have survived a week with your ONE change, make another change – again, do what you can handle, some people can make bigger changes, others can only handle small changes at a time.  However, if you do too much too soon, you will get too hungry, cravings will get too strong and you will give up, so go as slow as you need to so that you don’t break your new rules.

Here are some changes you make:

  • Instead regular soda, have diet
  • Eat less bread
  • Gradually decrease meal size, your stomach will adjust and you will feel full
  • Suck on lollipops or chew gum when you need sugar – Double “sweet tart” type Lollipops are great for those who really like a sugar fix, they last a long time, are very sweet and you can buy 200 for $12 on Amazon
  • Have dinner on the early side
  • Drink lots of water, use the infusion bottle to make water more appealing and tasty, you will drink more of it
  • Drink water before a meal, it will help fill you up
  • Find replacement treats with less calories and eat those in place of the treats with more calories
  • Always worry about calories, not fat grams

You should continue to gradually adjust your eating habits until you reach a point with the following goals:

Breakfast:  You can eat whatever you like – it can tasty and good but it has to be only 200 calories!  You can have a bowl of kiddie cereal for that, a tasty chocolate chip cookie dough protein bar, a couple waffles (no syrup), etc.  There are lots of great foods that you can eat but keep it 200 calories for women, men get to have a little more, maybe 280.

Between breakfast and lunch – if you need to snack, have something like berries, they are great for you, you can even put some whip cream on top.  You can have some peanuts or if you really need a dessert, have a sugar free pudding, that is only 60 more calories.  You can also eat some cheese or a couple slices of bacon.

Lunch – Your lunch should be about 400 calories for women, again men can have a little more, maybe 500.  You should think about things you like that are protein based and add calories around the protein, a deli sandwhich where most of the calories come from the bread, a salad of course always works, a philly cheesesteak is even fine, just don’t eat too much and no chips or sugar drinks with it.

Afternoon snack – rather than eat anything sweet after lunch, if you are a sweet tooth, save it for your mid afternoon snack.  Have your sweet  snack here but only 160 calories.  Something like an ice cream sandwich, another pudding is fine, a bag of chips is fine (individual size), one small brownie, even a donut is okay.  A giant slice of cake is not.

Dinner – Now look back on what you ate today, was your intake on the lighter side or heavier side today?  If it was lighter, you get to have more for dinner, if heavier, you might want to plan your dinner with less calories.  Dinner should be focused on lots of protein and vegetables in general.  Eating pasta and bread should only be on the menu if you planned for it by being good earlier in the day.  Avoid the starches, it is meat and potatoes, it is meat and vegetables!  If bread and potatoes are served and you want some, you have two choices, take a small taste if you think you can do that without going in for more or if tasting them will just fuel your cravings, then leave it all alone!

After dinner- This is the most difficult time for many, this is where I dive into my lollipops!!!  They are 30 calories and keep my sweet tooth satisfied and my mouth busy!!  I might even have 2!!!  However, they keep me from eating so many other things.  Your goal as a woman if you are losing weight is to eat close to 1200 calories if you are getting close to your goal weight, if you are still very far from your goal weight, you should use one of those calculators to see how many calories you can still eat and lose weight.  For men, I believe the number is 1500.  Remember, we were eating 600 calories by lunch and leaving 600 calories for the second half of the day but most our dinner was supposed to be meat and veggies which doesn’t have too many calories.  You also don’t need to “count” all your calories but look at the packages of the food you eat so you are aware of how many calories are in the food you are eating, you might be surprised.  I was shocked to see a side of mac and cheese at outback had 835 calories!   I chose not to eat my left overs!  Also remember to include drinks too.

If you continue to write down your weight every day (don’t listen to these people who say only check once a week!), you will see the numbers go up and down.  Don’t let an up day discourage you.  The reason people tell you to only check once a week is because they think people cannot handle the fluctuations – and there is probably some validity to that, however, that is something you have to be aware of.  Even on a GOOD eating day, you may see your weight go UP, that does not mean you get discouraged, it just means that you may need to poop! 🙂  Or your weight is redistributing and it went down too much the day before and is readjusting to an average.  It will move up and down but the overall pattern with this plan is that you will see an overall down pattern.  Here is an example:

Day 1:  176.6

Day 2:  176.4

Day 3:  175.8

Day 4:  176.0

Day 5:  175.6

Day 6:  175.2

Day 7:  175.6

Day 8:   174.8

Day 9: 175.4

Day 10: 175.0

You can see here, I started at 176. 6 as my high, my low hit 174.8, I have not yet gone back into the 174’s, I expect that tomorrow (I hope) but the overall trend shows that I have lost about 1.5 pounds in 10 days.  Generally, they say that you should lose about 1 pound per week if you are relatively close to your normal weight and more if you are very over weight.  I am only 15-20 pounds overweight.  I was 55 pounds overweight before but I lost 40 pounds and then put a little bit back on so I want to get back down 10 pounds so 1 pound per week is a good pace for me but when I was much more overweight, my weight loss was much faster and I used a similar approach to this although I was pretty dedicated so I set high expectations to my rule changes as I went but I didn’t deprive myself at any point.  Tomorrow, will be a bad eating day since it is a special occasion, and that will happen and you see yourself lose a lot of ground on any days you make bad choices or decide that the special day overrides the diet, however, new weight put on comes back off very quickly, so just get back on track.  I lost my 40 pounds before in just 6 months and then my weight adjusted to the new me.  Granted I made some changes to my eating but it was easy and I still indulged and managed to retain 30 pounds of weight loss for the last 3 years.

One more thing that women should know that I was not aware of – if you have a poochy stomach, especially if you have had children, it is possible that a lot of your “fat” look isn’t even from fat but from muscles that are disconnected from carrying a baby / giving birth.  It is called diastasis recti.  All this time I thought my fat abdomen was all fat but it turns out a part of it are from loose muscles.  You can do exercises to help but the best way to fix it is with surgery.  Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t consider the surgery medically necessary so it is cosmetic and is usually done with a tummy tuck.  For me, it worth considering since the lack of muscles has lead to back pain issues as well.

I hope this approach is helpful, good luck!!