When people ask me if the surgery to repair my abdominal diastasis and umbilical hernia was worth it, I occasionally hesitate.
The recovery is far from easy, the scar spans the entire width of my abdomen, and I still am dealing with minor little niggles here and there (incision itching, skin and muscle tightness, abdominal pain and soreness, spitting sutures, a seroma that won’t seem to drain, and numerous irrational worries).
But then I look at the before and after photos and can’t help but answer with a resounding
YESSSSSS. It was worth it and then some.
Because I realize it didn’t take long for me to forget what I was dealing with before surgery: guts that felt like they might spill out on the floor, low back pain, abdominal pain, core weakness, a stomach that looked 13 months pregnant…
But the pictures are worth a whole boat load of words.
The stark contrast reminds me of precisely why I needed this surgery in the first place. Despite all of the minor annoyances I’m dealing with now, the pictures remind me that I should feel nothing but gratitude for having had the opportunity to do it.
The before and after shots…’nuff said
I was amazed by how flat my stomach was immediately after surgery. I actually had very little swelling this first week, but would swell more in subsequent weeks. This was the day I got my drains out and when I developed the seroma in my lower abdomen.
That “ball” below the incision line is the seroma. I started developing some bruising and swelling at this point.
By two weeks I noticed a big difference in my energy and comfort level. I was still mostly confined to the house, but was able to walk with just a slight hunch as opposed to seriously bent over
This picture was at the end of the day and I was really swollen. In the evenings I could feel the swelling coming on, especially once I started working out more. This week I started walking or riding a recumbent bike up to an hour each day.
I ran a mile nonstop this week! But I still felt pretty unstable in my abdomen and continued to wear the belly binder during the day, although I might take it off for bed.
By 6 weeks I finally felt comfortable enough to take the belly binder off for good, even for workouts. I was running pretty regularly at this point (up to 2 miles at a time), doing the elliptical, and riding my road bike. Swimming still was pretty painful; flip turns were out of the question
Took this last week. I’ve noticed the swelling has really started to go down. I’ve started doing gentle ab work (planks, yoga, pilates, TVA exercises) and am starting to get some functional core strength back; definitely not ready for crunches or sit ups yet. But I’m totally unrestricted as far as running and biking, and even swimming feels pretty good now (flip turns are still sketchy). While I’m still not at 100%, especially with running and swimming, I’m back on my training plan for the Kona Ironman! At this point I still have tightness in my abdomen (from the muscle plication and the skin removal), and some pain if I put too much strain on my abs. Overall I’m feeling really good at 8 weeks! The initial recovery was harder than I thought, but the speed of the recovery has been WAY faster than I expected.