My SmartLipo Diary

I’m having SmartLipo.

Because after almost 28 years on this planet, and after going through some truly horrendous things, I deserve to feel good about myself. Feeling confident and happy with life aren’t things you get from a surgical procedure – I get that. And I’ve put in almost half a decade worth of therapy and working on myself, inside and out, to get to this point: to figure myself out. I’ve come a long way toward figuring out what I wanted and needed from life – what I needed forgiven and what I needed to accept. I’ve made amends, demanded apologies where it was appropriate, and changed a lot of things about myself, from how I respond to stressful situations to how I interact with other people.

And, in the midst of all that, I’ve dieted and exercised. A lot.

I started Weight Watchers in 2008, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s an excellent tool for staying accountable for what you put into your body, and it comes with a host of resources to help you make better food decisions. The online version is very reasonably priced, at around $20 a month. Give up one grande latte a week and it’s basically paid for.

I also started exercising like a fiend. My typical week consisted of some combination of an hour of spinning, an hour of yoga or pilates, kickboxing, gravity, ballet, abs, and cardio. Sometimes I spent up to four hours a day at the gym. Four hours. Think about that. It’s half a workday.

I lost around 30 pounds in six months, but my regimen wasn’t sustainable. I was deprived, and cranky, and sleep-deprived, and miserable. I stayed at the gym until 9 at night, and got up at 5 to go there again. When I went out to eat with my boyfriend, I stuck to salads, no dressing, and didn’t allow myself any treats. And, even though I was smaller than I had been in years, my stomach was still pudgy and distended-looking. In fact, it still looked like I was pregnant. I’m not just making that up – I get asked routinely when I’m due. And after a while I figured if I was still going to look just as pregnant as I did before all that working out and misery…I might as well just eat what I like and watch TV instead of killing myself at the gym.

And there were some other factors. I was exhausted. I’m getting a PhD, and in the last year I’ve taken both my language exam and preliminary exams, both of which are enormous commitments and huge emotional drains. I couldn’t spend four hours a day at the gym. I didn’t have that kind of time. I didn’t even have time to shower half the time, let alone cook a healthy dinner from scratch every night after spending two hours doing yoga and kickboxing. And while I was studying, and eating, and not working out I realized I needed to find a better balance if I was going to sustain my weight loss. I gained back about ten pounds, but managed to keep things in check after that. And really, ten pounds isn’t bad, considering that prelims are approximately the equivalent to the zombie apocalypse.

A real turning point for me in confronting my body issues came last summer, when I was in physical therapy for my back. I’ve been having severe shoulder and back pain since 2007, when I was hospitalized for it. One conversation with my physical therapist really hit home – she was examining my back, and considering the best plan of action to treat problems stemming from scoliosis, which I’ve known I have for a long time, but never had physical therapy for. She noted that the extra weight on my stomach was exacerbating my back issues. We discussed my diet and exercise regimen, and I expressed my frustration with not being able to get rid of the extra weight around my stomach. She told me it wasn’t my fault – and that I probably wasn’t going to be able to lose that much weight in my stomach area, because genetically, that’s where my body wants to store my extra weight.

I went home in tears and googled “liposuction.”

After a lot of reading and research, I found a plastic surgeon in my area who offered free consultations. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose aside from the gas it cost me to drive up to his office, so I booked an appointment, convinced a friend to go with me, and headed north.

The plastic surgeon made me feel very comfortable. He and his staff took a lot of time to answer my questions, and make sure I had all the information I needed to make a decision. After a thorough examination, the surgeon told me that even if I reached my goal weight (which I’m within 20 pounds of, it’s not an enormous distance away) it wouldn’t change the amount of fat he took off my abdomen. I went home with a folder full of information and a lot to think about.

That was in July of 2011. In December, I finally made the step from considering to doing and booked a procedure date. It’s set for February 1st, and on that day my life will change. I won’t walk out of the plastic surgeon’s office with a six-pack, but I will walk out confident that I don’t look like I’m six months pregnant anymore. I still have to eat healthy, and go to the gym, and take care of my body. But now, I’ll get to see the results. In my stomach. And I need that boost.

I deserve that boost.

Here are some of the facts about SmartLipo:

  • It differs from traditional liposuction, in that it uses a very small cannula (tube) containing a laser fiber which is inserted under the skin and used to destroy fat cells. Because the laser energy also interacts with the dermis (skin) the procedure also results in skin tightening.
  • SmartLipo is minimally invasive and performed under local (as opposed to general) anesthesia. The laser causes blood to coagulate quickly, resulting in less bleeding, swelling, and bruising than traditional liposuction. This also means a quicker recovery time and minimal potential side effects.
  • SmartLipo delivers lasting results, as long as weight is maintained. Results will even last through pregnancy.
  • SmartLipo is FDA approved and requires only one treatment, which may last from 45 minutes to two hours.
  • Results are seen immediately, and will continue to improve for up to four months.

I’m expecting to spend about 2 hours in the procedure, because I’m having my upper and lower abdomen done.

Here’s my SmartLipo timeline:

  • July, 2011 – Consultation appointment: lasted about an hour; received lots of helpful information, had a full examination, and asked lots of questions.
  • December 2011 – Booked procedure; applied for Care Credit card to finance half of the procedure; made a budget.
  • January 3, 2012 – Pre-op appointment: lasted about half an hour; received instructions and information for preparing for the procedure, had an examination and measurements taken, and asked lots of questions.
  • January 6, 2012- Ordered compression garments; booked hotel room
  • January 18, 2012 – Pick up prescriptions; pay remaining balance for procedure.
  • January 31, 2012 – Travel to location; follow pre-op instructions.
  • February 1, 2012 – SmartLipo! 9:15 am
  • February 1 – 21, 2012 – Wear compression garments continuously
  • February 2012 – Follow up appointments
  • April 2012 – Follow up appointments
  • June 2012 – Follow up appointments

I’ll be blogging about the whole experience, and documenting the changes and challenges along the way. I’m doing this because we all deserve to feel good about ourselves, and some of us have tried everything else, but need a little more help to get there. And that’s okay.

Sure, God made my body the way it is…but He invented plastic surgeons too…

Links to SmartLipo (and relevant) blog posts:

The Quest to Not Be Fat Anymore

Good Things Coming

Compression Garments and Reservations

Hello, Insurance?

SmartLipo Diary: Part I

SmartLipo Diary: Part II

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