Patient Perspective: How Preparation Can Make Surgery More Comfortable

Brenda Dickson is a 34 year-old mother from Dallas, Texas.  After having twins she didn't look the same as she used to.  She had loose skin around her abdomen, lost some of the shape in breasts, and just didn't feel as attractive as she once was.  So like many women in her situation, she considered cosmetic surgery her only opportunity to regain her youthful appearance.  Well, to make a long story short, mission accomplished; her surgery was a success and she has been recovering nicely.  It wasn't the type of case highlighted so often on television shows, where she received such a complete makeover that friends and family could barely recognize her, nor did she suffer any kind of Frankenstein-esque disfigurement that left her embarrassed and distraught. 

What sets Brenda's somewhat average experience apart from that of her peers was her preparation.  She didn't just run into the closest doctor's office after hearing about a friend's surgery or see the results others were getting on T.V. and decide that was good enough for her.  She spent months doing research; learning what to consider when choosing a doctor; learning what to expect after surgery.  She had consultations with a dozen doctors in different states, and even ended up choosing a doctor in Little Rock, Arkansas, hours away from her native Dallas.  Of course, all the preparation in the world can't guarantee surgical success, but when patients know enough to make the right decisions and are aware of typical results, they are, statistically speaking, more pleased with the way they look afterwards. 

Facing Surgery with Confidence

Brenda's search began in September of 2004, when she started emailing doctors and arranging consultations.  When she met with Dr. Roger Anderson in Little Rock she realized that she was discussing her surgical options with the man that was going to perform it.  Unlike some of the others, Dr. Anderson pulled at the skin of her abdomen, gauging what kind of results he would be able to get, and discussed with Brenda her concerns.  She was afraid that some of the excess fat and skin in her upper thighs might look disproportionate after the tummy tuck.  Dr. Anderson reassured her that if he couldn't get the correction she desired after the tummy tuck, that he could use minor liposuction while she was still anesthetized if necessary.  The consultation was over, and Brenda returned to Dallas confident.

Just more than a month later, on November 10th at 7:30 a.m., she was at Dr. Anderson's surgical facility, ready for surgery.  During the four hours that Brenda was on the operating table she underwent a full tummy tuck, saline breast implants that increased her cup size from a C to a D, and a small amount of liposuction around the abdomen and upper thighs.  After surgery she spent one night in near by hotel, still recovering from the anesthesia, and the next day she had the bandages removed and was on a flight back to Dallas.

Once back home, Brenda took it easy.  She was in pain for the first few days, but by day four she says the pain changed to more of a soreness; a discomfort that she described as being "like I had overdone my sit-ups."  She avoided heavy lifting for the first three months and learned to stand up without using her arms so that she wouldn't put pressure on her breasts.  But, for the most part, she was back to normal activities, even blowing leaves from her lawn, within a week's time. 

Prior Preperation: Preventing Poor Post-Operative Pleasure

Brenda now has one small scar underneath each breast and another across her abdomen, which she says are barely visible.  Dr. Anderson says that most people who are displeased with their results feel that way because they don't expect to have any scar tissue or don't realize that surgery cannot combat the effects of gravity.  "The most you can hope for is that they know the average results," he says.  Not only did Brenda meet this criteria, but, according to Dr. Anderson, was more educated than most of his patients.  Whether or not Brenda would have been as pleased with her results had she not spent the time she did researching is only theoretic conjecture, but it certainly helped her pre-op comfort level.  She says "I am bit of chicken about these things, and I thought I would have flipped," but because she asked the questions that she did her consultation and surgery was as smooth as her stomach is now.