healing timeline + tips for recovery (breast explant, lift, and abdominoplasty surgery)

[Warning: the reals + wrinkly stomach pics ahead. Proceed with caution] 

Hi friends! Thank you again for all of your kind wishes and comments on the post about my surgery. I was overwhelmed with all of your support and genuinely appreciate those who took time to leave a comment here, on Instagram, and Facebook. It can always been a little daunting to put yourself out there on social media, especially when you feel vulnerable, and you always wrap me up in kindness and love. Thank you for being so wonderful.

You can read more about why I got my breast implants removed and diastasis recti repaired here. (<— classified as a full abdominoplasty because my ab separation was all the way up, and I had loose skin above and below my belly button.)

While I was recovering, I chipped away at this post with some things that came to mind. There are some tips mixed in with my personal experience, and as always, please remember that only we can make the best decisions for ourselves and our health, with our doctor’s guidance. 

What to Expect: Breast Explant, Lift and Abdominoplasty (Including Tummy Tuck Before and After Photos)

Day 1 (Day of surgery): I’m shaking as my alarm goes off. Quickly, I shower, get dressed (in a plaid shirt and comfy shorts I’ll end up wearing for 2 days), and head with Tom to the surgery center. The Dr marks me up with Sharpie, we take pictures, and before I know it, I’m on the operating table, getting my happy juice before I doze off to Dreamland. My body tends to want to fight off anesthesia, so the second they start “lightening” the amount, I WAKE UP. On the OR table. Every around me assures me that it’s over, but I’m still trying to talk (I have no voice from the tube that was down my throat) and also trying to Hulk myself off the table. (My wrists are strapped down.) I’m pretty sure people wake up in recovery? I was wide awake as they lifted me onto the other roll table thing -I did watch Grey’s Anatomy but my brain isn’t helping me remember what it’s called- and wheeled into the recovery room. Tom comes in to keep me company, and my entire body is shaking from the anesthesia. I tell the nurse that I’m in a lot of pain, and she gives me Demerol. It relaxes me a little TOO much, my blood pressure starts to plummet, and they have to quickly give me fluids. In a few minutes, I’m feeling ok again, and talking to the Dr.

Good thing Tom is there because I can’t remember a single thing we discussed. I just remember my blood pressure crashing, getting the fluids, the shaking/doom feeling going away, and drinking ginger ale. I hadn’t had ginger ale in SO LONG and it’s pretty much the best post-surgery drink ever. So bubbly, sweet, and refreshing.  

We head back to the hotel where a wheelchair is waiting, and straight into bed for a long nap. When I wake up, I’m actually feeling pretty great. I eat some nice and salty gluten-free crackers, drink more ginger ale, and we order room service and watch movies.

My recovery timeline:

Day 2-4: The very hardest days. In the middle of the night after my first day post-op, I wake up in SEARING pain. I’d stayed on top of all of my pain pills and muscle relaxers, and wake up having to count down until my next dose. It was pretty terrible. These couple of days are a blur of naps, reading a bit, and watching movies, in addition to getting up every hour or so (hunched over) to walk around the room for 5 minutes so I can move my legs. (<— Doc suggested this to prevent blood clots, and Tom also has to give me daily Lovenox injections to prevent clots for 7 days.) We order a lot of room service and Postmates, since I don’t end up leaving the hotel room the entire time we’re there.

breast explant, lift, and abdominoplasty surgery

(I’ve never watched so much TV in my entire life)

We have my post-op appointment on day three, and drive home. We stop every hour and walk around -it’s quite a sight hunched over with my compression socks on- and make it home to madre and the girls. The girls know I have an owie and can’t pick them up yet, and they’re super gentle and sweet. I’m SO thankful my mom can stay with us for two weeks. She and Tom end up doing everything around the house and for Liv and P, while also taking care of me. Every time I think about everything they’re doing, it makes me start to tear up because I feel so overwhelmed with gratitude and how fortunate I am to have them in my life. There’s literally no way I can do anything functional at this point; I need help getting out of bed and shuffle around, either to the kitchen, the bathroom, or back to bed.

Day 5-10: Each day, I start to feel a little bit more *normal* and can stand a little more straight. I spend a lot of time on the couch (the girls can snuggle with me and I’ll read them books or watch movies with them), or in bed taking naps. By this point, I’m starting to get bored, and also missing be able to spend all day going on adventures and playing with the girls. I take a break from my binder and super tight sports bra each night to let everything air out, and massage my belly with arnica gel and coconut oil. We watch a lot of movies, and I sleep a lot. 

Tom also takes the drains out from my breasts, which is intense. It’s almost like minor surgery haha. The doctor showed him how to do it since he wanted to spare us another drive to Atlanta and back, and as soon as the drains are gone, I feel RELIEF. It makes it much easier to move around and take a shower. I still have my belly drain, but 1 drain compared to 3 is pure bliss. 

Day 10, I make the switch to Tylenol because I only have 2 pain pills left -I feel like I need to save them in case the pain gets worse- and it’s kind of a rough day. I’m extra sore and tired. I spend a little more time lying on the couch, snoozing, and taking breaks to walk around and shake my legs out. I’m glad I switch to Tylenol because the pain meds were seriously messing up my stomach. (I won’t go into details but I took probiotics twice a day, Colace 3x a day, ate prunes and drank Smooth Move tea.. and things were still not ok.)

By Day 13: I feel SO much better. I feel more mobile, I’m able to contribute more to our family (I can make quick snacks and meals for the girls.. and for myself) and we took my belly drain out, so I’m drain-free! Taking a shower minus the drains is AMAZING. We head to my post-op appointment and get so much good news. Everything is healing as it should be, and I can start to transition carefully towards move normal activities. I can also ditch the binder and wear Spanx instead (I order a couple of these from Amazon), drink alcohol (YEAH), start to add in gentle walking around the block, and massage everything with Vitamin E. This appointment makes me feel so relieved that everything is doing what it should be.

Week 3: I continue to feel better, but feel tired and swollen by the end of the day. I’m wearing these Spanx during the day, and my binder during the night. I’m surprised by how awesome it feels to have my abs back together. Everything feels like it’s back in place. Before it felt like my stomach was always pushing out. I thought I’d be sad that I can’t work out by this point, but I can’t even imagine going to the gym. (Not that I would go early, but I thought I’d feel good enough that I’d be sad I’d have to wait. Nope. Not even close to feeling ready.) 

Week 4: I’m back into my daily activity levels, and it feels awesome. I’m still walking pretty slowly, and tend to do almost everything in slow motion, but I can take Liv to school and pick her up, make all of the girls’ meals, fold and put away laundry, and get some computer work done without feeling like I need a nap halfway through. I’m still wearing my Spanx (starting to transition to that at night instead of the binder), and my sports bra, and using arnica and coconut oil on my torso. I’m waiting for my surgical glue to come off until I start using the Vitamin E on my incisions.

I take a walk around the block.. in slow motion… and am super tired afterwards.

Week 5: I’m cleared to lift P again, and life changes. I feel like I can do everything I need to do -it was SO HARD to have to bring P to the couch every time she wanted me to pick her up and hold her. She’d have to crawl onto my lap instead- and while I’m still being careful, I’m pumped about it. I start to walk around the block more often, because I’ll be cleared to exercise the next week, and will need to start teaching again the week after that. I feel like I can definitely teach at this point, and will just need to spend way more time coaching than doing the actual exercises.

Week 6: I’m cleared to work out again! The doc said to take it easy to start, and avoid super heavy weight lifting, dedicated core work and insane things for another 6 weeks. For now, I’m just excited to do some jogging and barre. He also says I can stop wearing Spanx 24/7 and just wear it during workouts and if I feel more swollen/puffy that day. This is my first week teaching, and while I only do maybe 10% of the class, it’s really hard. I’ve lost a lot of my strength and flexibility. 

Week 7-8: Since we evacuate to Atlanta to escape Hurricane Irma, I book an appointment just to get everything checked out and have a couple of questions answered. There is a small part on the center of my scar he might revise next year -apparently revision is no big deal and done with local anesthesia and very little downtime, but I’m REALLY hoping it flattens out on its own- as well as two small dog ears. These are hard to avoid, and it’s like a puffy/fatty area at the ends of the incision. I’d prefer to stay far away from a scalpel from now on, so I’m crossing my fingers that I heal well and all of the residual scar puffiness goes the heck away.

The good news is that I’m cleared to lift weights again (wahoo!) and everything is healing as it should be. He gives me some silicone strips to try out for scar healing, so we’ll see how they go. 

From now on, I just hope everything continues to heal well and that I continue to feel better and more normal. <3 

Let’s talk about a few things:

-Pain pills. Whenever I have a medical procedure, I take the pain pills for a couple of days and then wean onto Tylenol instead. I have a pretty high pain tolerance. I ended up needing almost every single pain pill they gave me. I took them for 9 days, and took all of my muscle relaxers, and can’t imagine taking anything less. This recovery stuff is not for the birds.

-Recovery smoothie. I didn’t have much of an appetite for the first few days, but even after I was eating like normal-ish again, I continued to have this smoothie almost every day:

breast explant, lift, and abdominoplasty surgery

-1 1/2 cups almond milk

-1 scoop vanilla protein 

-1 scoop collagen

-spinach

-1-2 tablespoons almond butter (or 1 tablespoon almond butter + 1 tablespoon MCT oil)

-1/2 cup frozen cauliflower

-lots of cinnamon

-ice

It was so refreshing and was an easy way to pack in a lot of nutrients at once. 

-Drains. I’m in a couple of Facebook groups so I can lurk/learn about these procedures, and so many people would complain about their drains. The first day, I was like, “Why are they complaining? The drains are kind of annoying but not so bad.” By like Day 2, I got it. They were terrible. They ached at night and it was so hard to get comfortable. The sites where the drains came out ached whenever they were bumped or moved, and draining them was just nasty. Thankfully Tom did it for me for at least the first 5 days since he’s not grossed out by that stuff. Something that helped me shower was to get a lanyard, clip the drains to it, and they would just hang around my neck. Showering is terrible for the first couple of weeks. Since I couldn’t lift my arms -I got a lift with my explant- my mom and Tom had to help with washing my hair or scrubbing myself. The things we do.

-Must-haves. Extra sports bra (I had to keep them compressed for 2 weeks after my explant and lift), an extra belly binder to wear while you’re washing the other one, and soft camisoles. The binders are SO itchy, and you can wear a camisole underneath. I also rubbed arnica gel on my stomach (not by the wounds) and top of my chest to help with swelling. I also highly recommend Arnica gel for bruising and swelling. Pineapple contains bromelain, which is also supposed to help with swelling. I didn’t take the bromelain supplements, but made an effort to drink pineapple juice and eat fresh pineapple in the first few days.

I also had this wedge pillow for sleeping in bed and it was clutch. (For tummy tucks, they generally recommend sleeping in a recliner or reclined chair position with knees bent and head/shoulders elevated. We don’t have a recliner, but the wedge pillow was perfect. I just used that with a regular pillow on top, and two pillows under my knees.)

All of my must-haves for each type of recovery are listed at the bottom of this post. 

-Recovery and time sleeping/resting. This is so crucial, and as mamas, it can be SO hard to do. This is why it’s important to enlist help during this time. You don’t want to try to be a hero, do too much, and set yourself up for complications (like fluid build-up or tearing muscle repairs). It’s boring and hard to sit still. Also, I found that even though I was sitting and resting a lot, I didn’t have a ton of mojo to get work done or write. It’s different to be resting when you need to rest compared to resting because it feels good to just chill.

I had a lot of help with the girls since I couldn’t lift P for 5 weeks. Madre was here for the first 2, then we had a babysitter while Tom was at work. The good news is that our babysitters are amazing, so it never felt awkward with them here while I was here. When P was napping and Liv was at school, we’d chat and watch Netflix together. It was SO HARD to not pick up my babies, and childcare backup was expensive, but worth it to avoid complications. The good news is that even though I couldn’t lift the girls, we could still snuggle together. We spent a lot of time on the couch, curled up in a blanket, or I’d sit on the floor and read books or play dolls with them. 

-The roller coaster of emotions. My doctor told me that my muscle repair would hurt so much that I wouldn’t even notice my breast pain, and he was exactly right. My breasts felt awesome immediately after getting the implants out. I knew I made the right decision, despite the large scars and the drains. They had ached and burned for so long that the pain from surgery was nothing compared to how I felt before! It was sweet, sweet relief. I felt light, pain-free, and SO happy.

With my abdominal repair, I doubted myself around day three. I still couldn’t easily get out of bed by myself, could hardly walk, had sneezed (THE WORST), had an enormous scar, and was wondering if I’d made the right choice. It got into my head a little -I just wanted to feel good and be able to take care of the girls- but within a few days, as the scar began to heal and I realized how awesome my abs feel together again, I knew it was worth it. The smooth skin is a welcomed improvement, and I’m glad I decided to go for it. 

Before and After pics

I wasn’t originally planning on posting before/after pics, but in my last post, I received quite a few requests to share them. While I was researching these procedures, it helped me tremendously to see pictures of the healing process, so I’m going to share them for those who have asked. It was also helpful for me to see pics of people who had this procedure who had loose skin from childbirth, and ab bulging from the DR. When I saw these types of pictures, and read their stories about how great they felt afterwards, it was reassuring to me. 

Please keep in mind that I’m a human, with real feelings. While dissenting opinions and thoughtful conversation is always encouraged on the blog, comments that are posted for the sake of personal attack (against myself or others who weigh in) will be removed. 

My stomach before (facing forward):

Tummy tuck before and after

Close up… I like to think it looked like the bottom of a burrito (which really is the best part of a burrito)

breast explant, lift, and abdominoplasty surgery

Side view:

Tummy tuck on fit person

Relaxed side view at the end of the day (the pressure on the connective tissue all day made me super bloated):

Diastasis recti protrusion

After:

5 weeks post op (belly button is still healing/swollen):

tummy tuck on fit person

Side view, relaxed: (5 weeks post up):

tummy tuck on fit person

[Sorry for the bad lighting in these pics, but I didn’t want to edit any of them. Sorry, no boob pics. lol.]

So there ya go!

Thank you so much for reading. Cheers to everyone working on a happier and healthier version of themselves; whatever that looks like for each of us.

xoxo

Gina

My must-haves:

Breast explant and lift:

Zipper sports bra

Arnica

-Coconut oil (I get mine from Thrive Market)

Pure Vitamin E

-Button-up shirts. I especially loved these button up pajamas.

Wedge pillow (while drains are still in, or until Dr says you can lie flat)

Soft camisole to wear under the compression bra

Bralettes and wireless bras (after healing and Dr gave the ok to ditch the sports bra. This is my very fave.)

Abdominoplasty:

Wedge pillow

Spanx camisole

Spanx leotard (I got two of these and LOVE them)

-Faja (this one can be strapless which is nice if you want to wear an off-shoulder top or dress. It’s also very tight and supportive. Not as soft and comfy as the Spanx but does the trick.)

Vitamin E

-Coconut oil

-Foods on hand that don’t need to be prepared (or were prepped in advance and frozen!), and snacks, like dried fruit, ginger ale, coconut water, and bars

Arnica

-Soft leggings and comfy pajamas

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123 Comments

  1. Cassie on September 14, 2017 at 7:22 am

    What a journey you’ve been on. I’m so glad you are healing and feeling stronger. It’s amazing to me that you managed to keep the blog running with no hint of what you were going through until you are almost better. Here’s hoping you get a break from medical interventions for a bit.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:05 am

      thank you so much, friend. yes, i pre-wrote a lot of posts and took a lot of pics <3
      thank you- i hope so too.
      xo

  2. katelyn on September 14, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Holy shit! I don’t know if I’m oblivious or out of the loop, but I had no idea how intense this was. I am so glad you’re okay and healing well. I hope you’re proud of these really tough decisions, you’re super brave!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:05 am

      this comment made me lol. holy shit is right 🙂
      thank you!

  3. Karen on September 14, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Thank you for your honesty and for your in depth recovery details! Your scar looks so thin and seems so low especially for a full tummy tuck! Have you tried on any of your bikinis? Wow, you look really great. I’ve been going back and forth about the idea of replacing a small-ish problem with a scar, but reading how the muscle repair seems worth it to you, I feel so much better about it. And thanks for all the great post-op recommendations! Off to Amazon!!!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:06 am

      thank you, friend! he did an AWESOME job. on the sides, you can hardly see the scar already
      my scar is actually on the high side because i have a short torso and he didn’t want to pull it too tightly (it makes it harder to walk haha), but if i wear bottoms that aren’t super low-rise, you can hardly see it
      you’ll do so great <3

      • jessica on September 20, 2017 at 10:25 am

        this is interesting, i have a short torso too (and only 5’2″) and have been considering a tummy tuck. I went in for a consultation last year, now we are going back and forth about adding another baby to our family, but they never mentioned the effect it would have on walking if the incision is low. is your scar above your underwear line?

        • Fitnessista on September 20, 2017 at 12:22 pm

          it is above my underwear line.
          the placement of the scar shouldn’t affect standing up straight; it’s how tight they pull the skin and how much skin you have for them to pull. if i had more extra skin they probably could have pulled it tighter and made it lower.
          <3

  4. Meghan Zook on September 14, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Gina, you are amazing! Also, your surgical repair looks great, those doctors must be amazing at what they do. You go girl!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:07 am

      thank you! he did an incredible job

  5. Jen on September 14, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Gina – I have been so impressed by both your transparency and authentic voice as you’ve shared about your experience with surgery and everything that went into your decision to do it. I am a firm believer that a woman’s body is her own to love and care for and that she has every right to do whatever makes her feel good in it. I hope you know that by sharing your story, you are creating space for other women to do that. So proud of you sister, you are so strong. Sending you prayers for continued healing. xoxo

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:07 am

      thank you so much friend- that means the world coming from you 🙂

  6. Emily on September 14, 2017 at 10:15 am

    You look great! I really appreciate your transparency, it’s so inspiring to the rest of us <3

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:07 am

      <3 thank you so much for being here and reading!

  7. sarah on September 14, 2017 at 10:30 am

    You’re awesome.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:08 am

      <3 <3

  8. Brittany Taylor @ The Gourmet Financier on September 14, 2017 at 10:37 am

    It makes you want to ask Tom “Never thought you’d signed up for this when we got married huh?” Aren’t good hubbys the best?!
    Thank you for being so transparent! I am so glad you are feeling better and more confident about yourself.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:08 am

      the crazy thing is that it didn’t faze him AT ALL. good hubbys are the best 🙂
      <3

  9. Bethany @ Dose of Discovery on September 14, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience with transparency and authenticity! I know it will be valuable information to many. And you look fantastic! Prayers for continued healing. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:08 am

      thank you so much, friend. i appreciate it <3

  10. Kelli @ Hungry Hobby on September 14, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I seriously didn’t even know you could do something like that to get your stomach repaired after child birth, like I never even thought that was an option. I don’t even have kids yet, but it’s so cool to know thats an option!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:10 am

      <3

  11. Juliette | Namastay Traveling on September 14, 2017 at 10:59 am

    You are awesome! and wow, I’m incredibly scared of surgery but this has helped ease my anxiety (a bit, I’m still nutzo). So glad you’re feeling great, your honesty is always appreciated!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:10 am

      hang in there. i had nightmares about it for a month! you’ll do great <3

  12. Nicole Kump on September 14, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Love how honest you are about your surgery, your feelings about it and during it, and the aftermath. You’re lucky to have such a wonderful mom, and Peta is so awesome! Glad you are feeling better and getting back to normal!!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 11:11 am

      thank you so much, friend. and yes, they are the best <3

  13. Amanda on September 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

    <3 for your strength to undergo two major surgeries and your bravery and confidence to share your experience with us — words and photos. I want to send a care package for you and the girls to help you return to normal.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 10:46 pm

      thank you so much, amanda! that is so sweet <3

  14. Liz on September 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

    As a nurse, this was really interesting to read. I rarely get such a thorough story from the patient’s point of view. I’m so glad you’re healing well, and you look fantastic. Hugs to you <3

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 10:46 pm

      <3 sending a hug back to you! thank you for what you do as a nurse. in every medical experience i've encountered, the nurses have been the best

  15. Elizabeth on September 14, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Glad to hear you on well on the road to recovery. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share. I have a 2 finger separation with bulging after already completing PT. It’s always nice to hear others experiences. You look wonderful.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      <3 thank you, and thank you for reading!

  16. Catherine on September 14, 2017 at 11:41 am

    You are such a strong, brave woman, and an inspiration!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      thank you so much for reading <3

  17. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups on September 14, 2017 at 11:43 am

    My goodness girl, what a recovery. So glad you are feeling good now and had such great support around you. I can imagine how difficult it would be to not be able to scoop up the babies and stuff for weeks. Thanks for sharing this, it is so nice to hear real stories and perspectives and I will definitely revisit this if I have any surgeries I need to prepare for in the future. I love your honesty and willingness to share.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      <3

  18. Juliana on September 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Have you tried emu oil on the uncooperative part of your scar? I had a similar situation after a (much more minor!) surgery and I swear the emu oil is why I didn’t end up needing a revision like they originally thought I would. I think most health food stores carry it.
    Glad you’re back on your feet, happy recovery!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      no, but i love emu oil. thank you so much for suggesting it- i’ll be on the lookout for some!
      thank you <3

  19. Natalie on September 14, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I had a tummy tuck with muscle repair and flank lipo on 6/1/16 in Atlanta. I, too, had an ab separation that went from the top to the bottom–5″ spread the whole way. The recovery was the hardest thing I’ve ever done (and I’ve had A LOT of surgery!).

    …and 8 months post-op I got pregnant (TOTAL SURPRISE!!) and am currently 31.5 weeks pregnant with this baby. I am interested to see how much loose skin I have (my muscle repair is holding…too well–baby is all up in my lungs because it’s like wearing a corset 24/7). I have to get a revision next year because of dog ears and an area of necrosis I had in the center so they can just remove any extra skin then, but it will be interesting to see how much I have after this baby.

    Anyway, good job being brave and putting yourself out there…and let me just tell you, if you think you’re flat now, just wait! My swelling didn’t completely go away until 6 months post-op and it was amazing to see what I looked like completely flat. (I’m linking my blog and you can search for before and after pics if you want)

    Have a great day!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      i just read your story! i can’t believe everything you went through. you look AMAZING, btw
      congrats on your pregnancy. please keep me updated on the revision and how everything goes <3
      i'm excited to see what the final result looks like - it's still a bit indented and i'm swollen above my incision
      xoxo

  20. averie @ averie cooks on September 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I had noooooooo idea that the ab surgery was SUCH a major, major deal. I thought the two were on par with each other in terms of pain, healing, recovery, etc. and sounds like definitely not the case. You are a huge trooper to say the least! The best part…is that you are *happy with you* and happy you did it. As always, sharing your story with the world will help so many. You are brave, generous, and it makes a difference for so many people. Thank you for being so open!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      ooh man. it was intense! glad it’s over, and yes so happy i did it <3
      xo

  21. Diana on September 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    That really is the best part of the burrito … 🙂
    From one Mama to another I can totally relate to the change in scenery on my belly and having things just be off. I think it’s awesome that you were willing to come out and talk about your experience and share pictures. It’s so refreshing to see people being real!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      the best!
      thank you so much <3

  22. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on September 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    It’s incredible what modern medicine can do and how well our bodies heal when we’re good to them!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      <3 amen!

  23. Liz on September 14, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Good lord girl you have been through a LOT! SO glad you had all that support to recover fully and are feeling good now. They gave me gingerale mixed with cranberry juice after I had my son and it was legit the BEST thing EVER!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      ahh that combo sounds amazing!

  24. CB on September 14, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    I think you look beautiful before and after but agree with you that it’s most important to feel comfortable in our own bodies whatever that means! Having implants that ache and hurt all the time would not be OK. I really appreciate your (continuing) openness and honesty!)

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      thank you so much <3

  25. Blair on September 14, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    What an amazing difference, while you looked wonderful in both pictures I can imagine how much better you’ll feel with your abs together. I still have a bit of a abdominal distasis – that I got after my first but knew that I wanted at least 2 more and now I want JUST one more but I have a feeling I will need a little assistance with my abs and I have another area that needs some repair (ahem down below) but am hopeful that a good doctor will do it after birth … We’ll see. How wonderful to have your mother come assist, there is nothing like mom 🙂 Glad you are feeling better now!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      my midwife was telling me that sometimes it’s good to have another baby so they can.. fix you up. haha
      thank you! and yes, there’s nothing like mom being here 🙂

  26. Tracy on September 14, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Once again thank you so much for all of your info and honesty about your experience! This is so helpful to me and so many women! Sounds like the worst is behind you. Continued healthy recovering to you!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      thank you so much, friend <3

  27. Amber Pyles on September 14, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Good for you! Thanks for sharing your journey. It’s something I’ve considered doing as well. Glad you are healing well! Congrats and enjoy!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      <3 thank you!

  28. T on September 14, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    This may be dumb but how did they know to do a lift? I want my implants out but would rather not do a lift. And it sounds like the explant recovery was relatively easy. Thanks again Gina for sharing this!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      the doc will assess and let you know. mine was super honest and said i definitely needed one. usually if you have a decent amount of breast tissue you can get away with not doing a lift. i don’t have very much tissue and my implant was pretty big, so i needed one
      xo

  29. Melissa Giovinazzo on September 14, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    wow, I’ve seen a few plastic surgery shows and they never really go into what it’s like to actually recover. Honestly, I’m shocked by your strength and resilience. Definitely helpful to understand the pluses and minuses.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      yes!! on the plastic surgery shows, they show the surgery, and then they show them at a party surprising their family and friends. they don’t show the in between with drains and hobbling around haha

  30. Catherine on September 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Your blog is so inspirational and real. Thank you so much for being so open and honest. I have turned to it for help through what felt like postpartum depression (I was never diagnosed but know that I suffered through it), and now I will share this post with my dear friend who is contemplating having the same stomach muscle surgery you had after having her two children. You offer so much help and hope to others, Gina. Thank you.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      thank you so much, and thank you for reading <3

  31. Colleen on September 14, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    HOLY CRAP that scar looks so scary! I don’t think I would have been brave enough to have that done!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      that was the scariest part. i was like, ” i have to be ok that my body is being cut in half.” it was terrifying

  32. Jess on September 14, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing! I know surgery *may* be in the future for me as I’m struggling with DR (and all the ailments that come along with it) after having my third baby.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      <3 <3

  33. Julia on September 14, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Thank you sooo much for sharing! As a fellow mama of two, I was very curious about the abdominoplasty, before and after. Odd question, but are you happy with your new belly button? I always think to myself that I would be unhappy losing the look of my belly button the way it is now (hooking upward… but unfortunately so much saggier and sad looking). I appreciate your honesty and could relate to much of the recovery as I am still recovering (5 months out) from a hip surgery. A great hubby and family support makes all the difference. All the best to you moving forward!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      hey!
      yep i’m pretty neutral about it. it’s a flattie -not an innie or outie- but i’m glad i still have one. i saw some that looked super weird and mine looks pretty normal.
      hope you continue to heal well from your hip surgery <3

  34. valerie on September 14, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    thank you for this awesome post! everything you shared was so valuable to me since i will be having my implant removal surgery soon. it sounded like the recovery from the abdominoplasty was worse than recovering from the explant – was that the case? i’m not gonna lie – i was kinda hoping for some boob pics – lol – but that’s only because i’m in that boat.
    thanks for the must have lists also!!
    glad you are doing so well!

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      seriously the explant recovery was a picnic compared to everything else. are you getting a lift?
      if anything, the drains are a pain, but i would have felt great and almost back to normal after a week if i just did explant
      excited for you <3

      • valerie on September 14, 2017 at 10:46 pm

        thanks for the quick reply!
        i’m going back and forth between your site and amazon – trying to prep!
        no lift…
        you look great btw!

        • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 10:56 pm

          without a lift, it’s going to be EXTRA smooth sailing. i’m excited for you! just rest a lot, take the pain pills, and drink lots of water <3
          thank you!

          • valerie on October 18, 2017 at 11:38 am

            I’m in recovery mode (day 6) and the drains are NO JOKE…
            I sent you an email at gina@fitnessista.com with a few more ?’s but I’m not sure if that’s the correct one.
            Time cannot go by fast enough right now – lol



          • Fitnessista on October 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm

            i didn’t get it! that is so weird. will you send to fitnessista@gmail.com
            hang in there! i hope you get drain relief soon.



  35. Rachael on September 14, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    I think it’s so amazing that you are so open about these surgeries. I actually live in Atlanta and am trying to select a surgeon for an augmentation. Any tips on how to select a plastic surgeon? I’ve had a few consults but am having a hard time deciding, which makes me think I haven’t found “the one”.

    • Fitnessista on September 14, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      when you know, you know. i would definitely shop around until you’re 100% sure. ask a lot of questions, look at pics, and go for the general vibe and how you feel
      i saw dr. ghazi and was super happy 🙂

  36. Courtney on September 15, 2017 at 10:02 am

    So I have no idea how muscle repair surgery compares to a c-section and am not trying to compare, but I’m SO glad you took the time to recover because I did not after an emergency c-section and it made the recovery a LOT harder. I’m sure that time away from your kiddos was very hard! The medical community truly doesn’t give respect to mothers, so you have to make that time and space for yourself! Glad you seem to be on the other side…oh the stories us mamas could tell (the constipation!!!!!!)

    • Fitnessista on September 16, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      thank you, friend! <3

  37. Anne on September 15, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Wow you are seriously the best patient ever! I’m a RN on a post-op floor and the abdominplastly patients definitely have a rough go. Your incision looks a little higher than I would have imagined, but I can’t believe how flat your stomach is! Glad you made it through the worst of it, I’m sure you’ll be much happier with the separation repair and your own boobs back! Happy healing!

    • Fitnessista on September 16, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      thank you so much! i’m so glad i did it <3 the scar is higher than i'd like, too, but i guess i didn't have enough skin for him to pull it down more without adding tension to the wound.
      thank you for the awesome work you do to help out patients. nurses are the best <3

  38. Jamie @ madrediem on September 15, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this and the before/after pics! I have always said that I will get a mommy makeover as soon as I know I’m done with kids, since I gained so much weight with my son (pre-eclampsia & bed rest = 70 pound weight gain) and have SO much loose skin. And I definitely struggle with DR and the bloating and feeling like my insides are poking out of the front of my core. I will be referring back to this once I finally get the surgery since it’s so detailed and you have awesome recommendations. THANK YOU!

  39. Amy S on September 15, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    You look beautiful – honestly, both before and after! I’m just glad you’re feeling well again. I can’t believe how intense the surgery and recovery sound!

  40. Jessie R on September 15, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Yay for getting back to regular routines and being happy with our routines :). Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing with us- you are one awesome person! And I would agree, ginger ale is great 😀

  41. Mama on September 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks so much for posting!!! After 3 c sections it’s so true, the abdominal surgery pain is no joke!! So glad you had a village to help you after!! My DR is not as bad as yours was but the bloating at the end of the day still gets to me. Praying and working on mine everyday but your new bod is as rocking as it was before!! ????

  42. Wendyr on September 15, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I think you looked amazing before but so glad that the surgeries made you happy. We mamas need to make sure we are feeling our best, and I hate it that people might say otherwise. You are showing your daughters that it self-care is important which is a wonderful gift.

  43. Christina on September 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

    Looking at those pics, I think you made the right decision.

  44. Bets on September 16, 2017 at 6:51 am

    Thank you SO much for sharing pictures and for going into detail about recovery. My husband and I are saving up to fix my ab separation and hernia. I feel vain for wanting to do so but hearing from you and other women makes me feel like it’s valid to want to fix it. It’s helpful to know what to expect and see that it’s worth it. I’m so happy you were able to do this for yourself.

  45. Rachel on September 16, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Hi, I know this is a few days later, but I’ve been reading your blog for years, and I appreciate these kinds of posts so incredibly much. I’m probably never going to have plastic surgery–just not right for me–and I don’t plan to have kids, and I get so so much out of your blog. I appreciate that you are a REAL person with a REAL body who tells a REAL story. I read other blogs and look on people’s IG feeds, and some fitness professionals I know have had plastic surgery of some kind, and it’s so frustrating when they don’t talk about it or say anything, and the impression you get is: these people have this body through diet and exercise, so why can’t you?

    If you want to get implants, great! If you want them removed, great! But if you don’t tell your community–a community built around health and wellness and body image–then it gives the false impression that you’ve had no “help” along the way. We all deal with ups and downs of body image, and stories like yours are a beautiful reminder that it’s ok to have a body that’s had plastic surgery, it’s ok to get help if your body isn’t recovering from childbirth the way you’d like, and it’s also ok to talk about it. I’m certain that putting yourself out there in this way is scary and challenging, but from one loyal reader who tries to do her best for her own body every day: thank you. Thank you for making the choices that are right for you, and thank you for being open and honest about it.

    Your surgeries sound like they took a lot of recovery time, and I’m so happy you’re feeling better. I am sending love and good wishes!

  46. Beckah on September 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Good for you for going for it, and also for being brave enough to post publicly! I had a tummy tuck about 2 years ago, and literally no one knows about it, except my husband!! Our friends just knew that I was “having surgery” but I didn’t go into detail and I think they probably assumed it was some sort of female surgery. 🙂 I just didn’t want to deal with comments and criticism …I’m petite and fit, and was/am fine with my body except for that darn belly. It’s not something I could exercise away, and even at a low body fat %, I still had loose skin.

    100% agree on the recovery – it was TOUGH. That being said, I had an “easy” recovery and did the drainless tummy tuck, which isn’t for everyone, I know. I ended up being a good candidate for it, and am glad that I did. However, sneezing and coughing were the WORST! Horrible pain. Even now, almost 2 years out, my lower belly is still numb. I’m used to the feeling though and it doesn’t bug me. My scar is still dark, but it’s nice and flat thanks to the Mepitac tape I used religiously, and it’s definitely hidden by underwear or a bikini bottom. I avoided ab exercises for at least 6 months, maybe more. A bonus is that your swelling will just continue to decrease, so something to look forward to! 🙂 All in all, I’d do it again because it’s worth it. 🙂

    A tip for those interested in reading about plastic surgery – google Real Self, it’s a site where women document their plastic surgery stories. I never posted, but it was a good source of info while I was thinking about it, and it’s also just fascinating to hear others’ stories.

    Thanks for bravely sharing your story!! 🙂

  47. milania dela cruz on September 18, 2017 at 12:19 am

    I think it’s so brave of you to not only to share your story but to share pictures!! without filter or anything. I like to think that all women are confident with how we all look but like you said, there is always something to work on. I hate my lower pouch, it never goes away despite what i do. grrrr. lol but I am healthy, alive and have a relatively good life. thank you for sharing your story in the realest way possible. you are definitely my favorite blogger! I’ve stopped reading other bloggers just because I don’t have time to read everyone’s but I’ve maintained reading yours! I can totally relate to you, as I’m sure most of your readers. I have my board exam on tuesday and I’m taking study break to read your blog! 🙂 wish me luck and good luck on your progress and safe recovery! xoxo

  48. Samantha Vander Wielen on September 19, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing about your healing journey!! You look great and seem to be healing so nicely! So glad you’re able to lift both P and weights again, too : ) xo

  49. Stephanie W on September 20, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Do you think the spanx would be beneficial for someone 6 months postpartum? I confirmed with my midwife that I do not have much separation but I have had a hard time strengthening my core. I am signed up for Barre Bootcamp so I’m excited to get back into a routine of working out. I was thinking that maybe wearing those would help me remember to sit straight while working in front of the computer and playing with my babies. I feel like if I am not flexing my abs I look 4-6 months pregnant! Thanks for any input you may have!

  50. Lindsey on September 27, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Praise for sharing up close because this actually gave me a nice slap in the face of what a large baby does to your skin vs just needing to lose the baby weight (which is my case! I had a 10 lb baby 9 months ago and am carrying around 20 extra pounds STILL, overall, but especially in the midsection are…. and just everything is hangin’ out because of zero core strength, and it’s VERY helpful to know what is just extra stretched out skin that isn’t bouncing back on its own vs fat I need to lose which can be done!)

    good luck w/ the recovery!!!

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