A plastic surgery gone not like expected
Contributor
Written by
Madge Woods
June 2010
Contributor
Written by
Madge Woods
June 2010
My passage through plastic surgery didn't work like I had planned. After I had my kids at age 22 and 24 I spent time working on all those stomach muscles to make the area flat. I remember going to Weight Watchers after my youngest son was 8 years old and told people that I was losing the baby fat from my son. They laughed when I said he was 8. But the truth was my stomach bothered me a lot. I tried exercising and sit ups and still had the fat layer and the stretched skin. Of course I didn't give up sweets of which chocolate is my downfall. I thought I looked good in clothes but naked it bothered me as the skin flapped over. I had wanted this fixed for 35 years and at the age of 59 I decided I was going to have a tummy tuck. Most of my friends and even my boyfriend had tried to dissuade me but I was determined. I knew a couple people who had it and looked fabulous. I had the money and the time to recover so I thought I would treat myself for once rather than doing for other I would take care of me. I was not nervous at all and predicted a successful outcome. I had the surgery and after the 24 hours in the hospital I paid a small fortune to go to one of these aftercare places that movie stars go to. I felt really great and was ready to leave and did when things started to go downhill fast. I noticed that part of my skin started to die around where the old belly button had been. They make a new one for you because the spot were it was before the surgery was taken off and the skin pulled down and stitched across. The stitching held fine and started to heal. However the skin above the stitches in a round circle started to become discolored and was forming a hole the size of a golf ball. I didn't panic but was wondering what to do as the skin pulled farther and father apart. My plastic surgeon had not seen this happen in 35 years of practice. I was in her office thinking of alternatives when I mentioned the hyperbaric chamber. I was an alternative type of person. I believed in acupuncture and had used eastern and western medicine for other things. I had heard that hyperbarics had helped with wounds (which mine was now classified as). I went to the UCLA Gonda Hyperbaric Center to have an evaluation. After looking at me the doctors concurred that 10 treatments would do the trick. I found out they tell everyone that when in fact no ones knows how many treatments are needed. I needed to go back to my surgeon so she could take off all the dead skin and go back down to the muscle. It was weird to watch this as my stomach was totally numb so no anesthetic was needed. My golf ball sized hole quickly became a tennis ball size. The hyperbaric chamber holds up to 16 people. It looks like a submarine inside and out. The principle theory was that you simulated diving and when you get to the level you need to be at you sit for 90 minutes with an oxygen helmet on your head which latches at your shoulders. You breathe pure oxygen for 30 minutes with a 5 minute rest where you can take off your helmet and scratch your face and head then back on for another 30 , 5 minutes off and then another 30 minutes. There are no bathrooms inside period but in an emergency you can use one of those bedpans they give you in the hospital. And if you have to shit you can go between the two chambers and still use a bedpan.I vowed that it would never happen to me. I would stop eating and drinking the night before the treatments at 5pm. You can't wear any makeup or jewelry or perfume. You wear scrubs and tennis shoes. There is one person who controls the inside of the chamber and two people on the outside. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get to the level of depth that you need to be at for the oxygen to work at it's maximum level for wounds. They pipe in music you can even bring your own cd's and you can even read thru the helmet or write. But the real interesting part for me was hearing the stories from the other people in the chamber for 90 minutes. You form your own community in there because 1. you are trapped, 2 You want to stay busy so you don't have to go to the bathroom (I never wanted to fall asleep for fear I would have to go upon waking and 3. The time goes faster while chatting. You can;t bring in any electronics. They only have two treatment times so you are with the same people each day Monday -Friday. There are divers, people recovering from amputations, people who had carbon monoxide poisoning and people so sick on gurneys (they wheel them right in) and various other wounds that were complications from diabetes or accidents . As it turned out 10 times barely scratched the surface as my wound continued to expand. After the first 10 more were added to my schedule. They never told you ahead of time as I think people would be so depressed and just walk away. I was ready to be finished but the wound was not finished closing and so more treatments were added and a wound vac was add as well.. This is a small vacumn machine that sucks the wound closed. It whirls and makes swooshing noises so going to the movies or anywhere quiet was out and sex is an issues as well so that was curtailed for the two months of wound vac. I had to wear that for two months strapped to my body. 15, 20, 25 treatments were added. People were getting well and leaving me week after week. Finally after 27 weeks I was finished. I continued to go to the center for months afterwards until the wound closed for good. It was quite the ordeal but in the end I have a scar the size of a tennis ball and it looks like I was shot in my stomach. I wish I could tell people that it was something truly exciting and dangerous that sent me there but I just said plastic surgery gone wrong. I must say the actual experience was amazing and I learned that plastic surgery should be done when one is young if at all and maybe the outcome would have been different. Today I have a flat stomach with two bulges on the ends where the wound has formed scar tissue and won't allow the whole stomach area to lie flat. Am I better for it, I know yes because the whole time I knew I was going to be okay. I would not die from this, I wouldn't get sick from this and I would recover. I was the wellest person in the chamber. I was the hit of the unit as I kept everyone laughing and told stories as did the others. I knew none of these people would be lifelong friends except for the staff which have all connected on Facebook but for my 9 weeks we were family. One side note. I was so anxious I went in the chamber with a sinus issue which made my ear canal clog and I had to have tubes put in my ears by the ENT which is another whole story. Suffice it to say my hearing became so acute for 9 weeks I was ready to have the tubes removed the day I was finished and assured I would not need them anymore. It has been two years and I am doing well. Some of the people in ym chamber treatment didn't make it, Their wounds were too severe and their diabetes and various other ailments were too overwhelming for their bodies to survive. I can now laugh about all the adventures but at the time I just tried to stay positive and live my life as normally as I could during this experience. My friends were pissed at me for doing it at all so not much sympathy came my way. I learned to respect my body in a totally different way and now when the surgeon wants to do a scar revision I look at her and say happily NO.

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