Getting an abdominoplasty was a “far-off dream”, said the 58-year-old nurse practitioner and mother of three, Sharon. “Ever since I was an 11-year-old, I suffered from an annoying little fat roll around my tummy area”. Sometimes the mere thought of its existence would take over her life.
As an adult, she focused on this part of her anatomy on a daily basis and especially when wrestling her way into Spanx on special occasions. Jealousy permeated her vacations and summer parties where she saw other women showing off flat abs while she could never wear a two-piece bathing suit. Sharon avoided changing in front of anyone at all costs. “It even affected the intimate parts of my life”, referring to nights with her husband.
No matter how much she worked to reduce the excess around her stomach, it never went away. Even after the births of each of her three children, she managed to return to her pre-pregnancy weight and even down to her wedding weight… feeling fit everywhere except in her abdomen.
As the years passed, Sharon began dreaming of the possibility this could be remedied through surgery or liposuction. She watched many of her friends have abdominoplasty procedures to flatten their abdomens and began saving money until she was ready for the day she could finally have one too.
An Epiphany Caused by Literal Blindness
Then there was the “last straw” that sped up Sharon’s decision-making process.
Early in the summer of 2022, she and her family traveled out of town for a family wedding. While it was a time of great celebration, the edges of her experience were tainted with worry about how she would look. She wondered, “Will the outfit I carefully chose flatter my body? Will others be looking at my muffin top? How will the photos turn out?”.
Eventually, it was time to focus on what she could control: hair and makeup. In the hotel room, she began the routine of primping, readying her contact lenses for placement, opening the case and setting it on the counter directly in front of her. That’s when she noticed something on her face in the mirror’s reflection. While leaning in closer for a better view, Sharon’s tummy… got in the way.
She recalls, “My belly roll hit the open contacts case, flipping both lenses into the sink and down the drain. That was it.” Her stomach fat caused her an evening and vacation of limited sight. It was literally her belly that blinded her. Now was the time to stop wishing and finally get an abdominoplasty.
Reflecting on her friend’s surgeries, Sharon was nervous about the pain and recovery she saw them experience. As a nurse practitioner (NP), she has a high understanding of the medical industry and knows that “the first rule of having surgery starts with consultations”.
Sharon saw the doctors that her friends recommended, armed with questions about pain and the expectations for the expected length of recovery. While the answers they provided seemed right, she was still unsure about choosing one of these options. Some whom she knew had procedures with these surgeons and faced after-effects that kept them out of work for a long time and in a lot more pain. She remembers, “One of my coworkers was doubled over for many weeks after her procedure. It scared me.”
Then Sharon thought back to a time when one of her daughters needed stitches from a sports injury and she took her to a highly recommended local plastic surgeon, Dr. Patel. His skill level with even this minor situation was evident. “My daughter had no lasting scars and zero pain”. So that’s where Sharon went for her next, and final, consult.
Dr. Patel made Sharon’s choice easy. He explained how he prevents pain starting days before the surgery, uses an expert anesthesiologist for the procedure and provides pain-free recovery with an after-surgery protocol of non-narcotic medications.
Sharon found the level of care offered by Dr. Patel exactly what she would have prescribed as an NP and to top it off, the costs were very reasonable compared with other doctors in her area.
She booked her appointment for June, allowing several months between her abdominoplasty and the upcoming wedding of her daughter six months later. Much to her delight, it turns out that much healing time wasn’t needed.
The big finally day arrived for Sharon to have her belly roll removed. Despite her excitement and potential to finally have her perfect body, she held some fears based on the excruciating experience of her back surgery in 2006. The nightmare of pain and recovery stuck with her for these 18 years.
As it turns out, her fears were unwarranted in this case, just as Dr. Patel promised.
About 30 minutes into recovery, Sharon finally awoke. “My first impression was that there was absolutely no pain or nausea due to the pain blocks given by Dr. Patel and his team”. This sleeping beauty went home soon after, expecting an army of family and friends to help her with daily tasks for the next few weeks.
But all she felt was a little soreness, never any pain. The post-surgery protocol included medications to take several times per day, wearing a waist binder and resting from work. Sharon found herself following each of her directions to the ‘T’, although she admitted, “I began to forget to even take the pain medication since I had zero pain”.
She also attributes part of her smooth sailing to the pre-op muscle relaxers and gabapentin nerve medication that set her body up for pain-free healing well before the procedure itself. The entire experience was even less invasive than a routine dental cleaning. She said, “I would rather have an abdominoplasty with Dr. Patel every week than my dental appointments every six months”.
So effortless was the entire ordeal, that no help was needed after the initial settling at home from the hospital. The next day, Sharon showered successfully on her own and despite the normal post-surgical swelling, she could already see how flat her stomach was.
Sharon returned to her normal routine sooner than planned. She was driving only five days after surgery and at work seven days later. Her drain tubes stayed in for 10 days, which she also gives credit for such a healthy mending process. Immediately, everyone she knew commented on how they could see a difference. What they didn’t know was that underneath that binder was contoured abs that Sharon says “I never had before, even for a single day of her adult life”.
At the end of the year, as planned, Sharon will walk down the aisle at Clarks Landing in Point Pleasant, New Jersey to sit on the bride’s side of her daughter’s wedding. Sporting black, her signature color, for the first time, Sharon won’t wonder about whether she looks fat in pictures or if she’ll faint from spandex full-body hosiery.
She remarked that she was proud to have finally done something just to make herself happy. “Do your research and find a doctor that is as caring with pain post-op. That’s the hardest part. Any doubts, be sure to address the pain.”
This has been the best gift Sharon has ever given herself, with her only regret being that she didn’t do it sooner. And she can’t wait to keep showing off her slimmer figure, she might even start wearing a t-shirt that says “Body By Dr. Patel”.
In the future, Sharon said she would consider getting her arms sculpted or a breast reduction to balance her body even more. But only if Dr. Patel is her surgeon.
What About Your Experience?
At New Reflections, we always endeavor to create positive, pain-free experiences for our patients and we’re thrilled that Sharon choose to share how Dr. Patel changed her life.
If you can relate to Sharon’s story and the frustration of living too long without the confidence you deserve, be sure to contact us to book your consultation with Dr. Patel to discuss your options. You don’t have to wait for your own “last straw moment”. Get started now!