Becoming Me Again-A Plastic Surgery Story : Part 1

Prior to my pregnancy I loved going to the beach!

Prior to my pregnancy I loved going to the beach!

I have been writing about and posing with reality stars for nearly a year and many of you have followed me as I got dressed and got out, often after long exhausting days of work and motherhood. I’ve struggled to pull myself together into evening wear on evenings when I’d much have preferred to have worn pajamas. Most of you have been kind, and those who constructively criticized (about needing more makeup) I have listened. However I have been hiding something from all of you under my growing collection of cocktail dresses. No, I’m not really a man, but beneath the layers of sequins and tulle is my dirty little secret wrangled and stuffed into circulation cutting compression garments. I, my friends, have the belly of a 90-year-old woman.

Now forget what you’ve seen from JLo and Mariah. I don’t even believe Alexis Bellino, who tweeted me that her post twin pregnancy bikini bod came from “diet and exercise.” The fact is, I have dieted and exercised over half my life. Prior to my pregnancy I never even owned control top pantyhose and Yummie Tummie was a phrase I’d use to describe an ice cream craving. The truth is the human body was not made to carry multiples.

Having twins and beyond does damage that I never imagined. Damage that, according to most regular MoMs (mothers of multiples) I know, can only be corrected with surgery. My theory is that all of the wealthy, famous women who pop out litters and then end up bare midriff advertising Weight Watchers had plastic surgeons on duty during their c-sections. They may never tell the truth about what really happened to their bodies, leaving the rest of us feeling like damaged goods. It’s for this reason that I have decided to be open and honest about what has happened to me and what I really must do to get back into a bikini.

At birth my sons weighed a combined weight of 12.4 lbs. My once flat stomach was stretched so far that the few people I allowed to see me bed ridden at the end of my pregnancy were horrified and frightened that I’d burst open if I stretched even one more inch. During the 8 months I gestated I gained a whopping 80 lbs and it all went right to my front. My legs, arms, and ass stayed relatively normal, so much that people remarked they didn’t realize I was pregnant until I turned around. I was very excited that even on the morning of delivery I had not one single stretch mark. I thought this was the one indicator that I’d be back to normal by summer. I could not have been more mistaken.

Two months postpartum I began to wear some of my pre pregnancy clothes again. I was down 60 lbs already and much of the remaining weight was in my chest as I was nursing my twins exclusively. I felt pretty good, except for the bulge in my tummy. I told myself “9 months on 9 months off” but by the time the boys turned one I was back to pre-pregnancy weight, and still looked 5 months along by the end of the day.

I learned that my phantom baby bump wasn’t fat, but the result of separated abdominal muscles, a condition called diastasis recti…the affliction of mothers to multiples and colossal babies everywhere. Hanging below this bump, and the unidentifiable area that used to be my bellybutton is a flap of skin that I can describe as those drapey valances so many people had in their living rooms during the 1980s. I went to my doctor to find out if there was any hope. “You have a pretty bad hernia,” he said. “You really should consider surgery.”

That was over a year ago. Now after three visits to a hernial specialist, CAT scans and sonograms to measure my diastasis, and talking to Tamra Barney about what happened when her hernias became entrapped, which I was told I am at risk for, I finally decided it was time to take the plunge and see a plastic surgeon. Unlike the majority of umbilical hernias that can be repaired laparoscopically with a small incision, one resulting from diastasis requires a hip to hip incision so that the skin can be lifted and the muscles can be brought back together with stitches. This is far more involved and requires a longer recovery, the same recovery involved in having a tummy tuck. Since those living room curtains would only get worse once my pronounced belly lay flat again I adopted a “When in Rome…” attitude. If they’re going to cut me it’s all or nothing.

****GOT STRETCHMARKS? WE HAVE A SOLUTION!****

Plastic surgeon Dr.Michael Fiorillo, and his collection of implants, bartend on WWHL. Photo cred: Bravotv.com

Plastic surgeon Dr.Michael Fiorillo, and his collection of implants, bartend on WWHL. Photo cred: Bravotv.com

My quest for a Spanx burning party lead me to Dr. Michael Fiorillo’s Pearl River, NY Plastic Surgery Center and Medi Spa. Fiorillo is a double board certified plastic surgeon. I chose him for three reasons; 1. My hernial repair surgeon recommended him. 2. An acquaintance at my gym had the same team repair her last summer and she looks fantastic. 3. Renee Graziano credited him with saving her life when I interviewed her in January.

Fiorillo’s work can be seen on everyday women and celebrities alike. Real Housewives of New Jersey fans would recognize him as the doctor visited by Danielle Staub when she wanted her breast implants redone. MTV True Life fans would recognize him as the doctor who removed a transgendered man’s implants on a recent episode. He’s been sought by countless news programs and magazines for his expertise and commentary. In the end none of this mattered to me after my consult, what mattered was that he and his staff were friendly and open about the experience (pain, drains, and all) that I would endure should I have an abdominoplasty.

Fiorillo examined my abdomen, which I should point out has become more painful and uncomfortable as my workouts and everyday life (toddler kicks to the belly) continue. He noted the protrusion, muscle separation, and pathetically old looking sagging skin. He also noted some puff on my sides which he plans to correct with “a little lipo”. Say what? Not something I ever contemplated, but he insists it’s par for the course. “Will I ever wear a bikini again?”, I wanted to know. “Absolutely,” he promises, as early as four weeks post op!

So what’s the down side? Well insurance companies will pay for the 15 minute hernial repair,but not the 2 hours associated with the cosmetic part. This truly sucks for me, but I have had the money for this put away for quite some time. Again,this was not an overnight decision, I have been thinking about it for over two years. Another is the first few weeks of recovery, specifically the first 6 days when I will have drains that need to be emptied and measured. This is where my husband’s “for better or worse” vows will be put to the test as he will be expected to observe my fluids which will turn from “cranberry juice to apple juice” according to Fiorillo.

I look at it this way, life is too short to not be happy. If something upsets you that much and you can fix it, why not? I’ve had a rhinoplasty, IVF, and a c-section so I’ve had surgeries before, I know the pain is only temporary. Money balances out. The results however, those will be forever. I made my appointment for July 3d. I’ll be burning those Spanx in August, while wearing my bikini.

UPDATE: Due to the two surgeons’ conflicting schedules my procedure had to be delayed until July 24th.

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32 thoughts on “Becoming Me Again-A Plastic Surgery Story : Part 1

  1. I support you 200%. You need to feel comfortable in your skin. I hope you invite me to your spanx burning party, I’ll bring the skinny girl margaritas!

    Xoxo
    Patricia Favata

  2. My grandfather recently put into perspective the idea of investing money into one’s self. If your car breaks down tomorrow, you would obviously go to the mechanic and fix it, right? So why is it that when we ourselves need work, whether it be a survey or a college education, we hesitate to put out the money? We mustn’t keep ourselves from being the best we can possibly be, even if it means spending some cash. You can’t take money to the grave with you anyway!

    Best of luck, T! Team TBB and I are behind you 100%!

    • You are all the best! You’ll hold down the site the first few days…unless you want me posting on painkillers which might be entertaining.

      • Yeah, we (the readers) may want you to write a few posts on painkillers. Surely there will be a Real Housewives marathon on while you are recovering. Then we’ll know how you *really* feel.

        Best wishes to you!

      • Lol! I may have to take a few days off bc of the painkillers. I don’t want to start posting some cray cray stuff. 😉

  3. Congratulations!! I just scheduled my “mommy makeover” surgery at the beginning of May. I have 2 kids and just recently lost about 95lbs. So yes, I’m definitely getting a tummy tuck and breast lift. I cannot wait to burn my spanx too :). Good luck!

  4. I support you 100% and look forward to you sharing your journey with us! When you described your “tummy issue” and resulting look and feel, it really made me think. Since I gave birth to my first child, who was a whopping 24 inches long, I have had “my spot”. It is a spot around the bottom of my left side rib cage that burns and feels “lumpy” to the touch. It was so bad when I was pregnant with my second child, it felt like my insides were ripping away from the abdominal wall. I have told doctor after doctor about this and they dismissively tell me it is probably a result of my abdominal muscles being weak and my weight. I have fluctuated from a size 12 to a size 20 and it has never gotten worse or better at the various weights, but it flares up sometimes when I am very physical, despite my being plus size, I am very active and play a lot of tennis. Now that I have a term to use, I am going to insist my doctor send me to a specialist. One of the reasons I struggle with weight is because no matter how hard I work or how small I get, my tummy always protrudes a bit like I am pregnant. See, you being open about your decision is already helping me! Of course it could just be because your twitter and blog are side-splittingly funny but….. ;o)

  5. Good for you Tara!! I have several friends who had C sections and their bellies were ever the same after no matter what diet and exercise they did. I popped all three out myself, but if I’d had to have a C I’d be doing the exact same thing. There is nothing wrong with feeling good about how you look. Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently!! xoxo

  6. Tara, Hope you know by now that I’m your #1 fan I have much Love & Respect for you! I support you all the way! You are a young intelligent & beautiful woman I wish you all the best. You deserve to be pain free & feel great in your own skin. When Mom is Happy the whole house is Happy! Lol Tell Mr. B to take excellent care of you or he will be in big trouble with this #1 Fan LOL. Please know my thoughts & prayers will be with you.

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  8. Good luck to you! I absolutely think you have to do what makes you feel best in your body! Much love!!

  9. I’m one of your biggest fans and support your decision. It looks like you’ve done a lot of research and found the best doctors. Best of luck Tara and we know that you will have a great story to share with us when this is all said and done! Cheers to a new body!
    Xxoo
    @ttracyh

  10. Good luck, Tara. As a MoM myself, I know the damage twins can do, especially since I had singleton first. After first pregnancy, all skin and muscles bounced right back. After twins, well, 7 yrs later, it is not ever going to be the same. I am at the point of seriously considering cosmetic intervention. I am now in great shape, have a flat stomach, but the skin and the boobs need some help.

    Please keep us posted on your journey. We look forward to hearing about the new great you!

    P.S. You were always great – but now you will feel so on the inside and the outside.

  11. Wow! I had no idea. You looked great before the surgery. But, it’s your body and you know what is best for you. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  12. Hi Tara,
    I can’t imagine the pain and suffering your dealing with. I’ll pray for a swift recovery for you. I myself am a mother of twins. They are almost 15 years old. I was 20 when I had them. I was so thin and felt perfect before the body shock of my life. I gained just over 80 pounds. I thought because I was so young I would just go back to normal fairly quickly. I never lost all the weight. It killed my self esteem. I didn’t want to be intimate with my husband. He finally asked what my problem was. I told him I didn’t feel sexy. His reply was ill love you no matter what you look like. I feel in love with your heart, not your body. That was pretty impressive coming from a 20 year old man. Needless to say being intimate after he professed his unconditional love to me was no longer an issue. Fast forward 12 years later, never got my body back and now we found ourselves pregnant yet again. A singleton baby. I gained 60 pounds and he is now 20 months old. I’ve only lost 15 of the 60. For the first time in my life I’m now on a diet. 2 months now. I was tired of making excuses and now thanks to my little surprise baby, I have the incentive to live a longer healthier life. I’ve lost 28 pounds and still going strong. My stomach seems like it will never be normal. I’ve thought about having some extra help. Honestly it’s just so scary. It’s truly inspiring to read about your struggles. It gives me hope and let’s me know I’m not alone. Thank you ever so much for having the courage to go public and share your story. It’s truly inspiring.
    Wishing all the best,
    Laura

    • Hello Laura,

      Thank you for bravely sharing your story. I will say it again that our bodies were not created to carry more than one child at a time. There’s a lot of “false advertising” in Hollywood over this. Most often a woman with FT twins or more must have surgery to repair the damage done to her abdomen. Congratulations on your weight loss. It is a lifestyle change and one well worth it. Should you ever decide to have Tummy Tuck surgery I will answer any questions you have. Yes it’s painful and one of the toughest things I’ve done, but I already feel it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I will be documenting the entire process in a follow up article when I am through with the healing.

      Regards and hugs,
      TBB

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  15. Thank for you posting this. I like, LauraRHONC, lost a lot of weight, quickly, and at age 13!!! I am now 34 and for years have struggled with body image as my stomach protrudes and I have stretch marks that 1. no matter how much exercise I do (and I work out hard) will not go away. 2. And has NOTHING to do with my diet, which is not perfect, but is still better than a majority of the US population. All this has done is lead to years of self hatred. I don’t even have children (and do not plan on having any) but I have the stomach of someone who has.
    Friday I go to see Dr. F in Pearl River for a tummy tuck consult and I am PETRIFIED. The pain you describe and the drainage is what I am scared of mostly. But, as you said, a few days of physical pain compared to a lifetime of psychological pain is worth it. I am also concerned about the cost but, again, as someone else posted, we spend thousands on our cars, homes, clothes; all for aesthetics. Why not on our bodies? My friends say I am crazy, that I don’t need it. I have an AMAZING boyfriend who loves me for me (and is supporting me in my decision, along with the cost). But this is for ME. MY happiness. I know that being able to walk around in a bikini, confident, means more than anything.
    I look forward to hearing more from you about your journey.

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