This week our Expert Interview is with a triplet mom in our network, Karla Gravitt, of My Baby Drama. Karla was kind enough to answer some of our (slightly nosy) questions about her recent abdominal surgery.

L: Exactly what procedure did you have done recently?

K: I had a tummy tuck combined with abdominal muscle repair and an umbilical hernia repair. All procedures were done by a plastic surgeon and I went home the same day as the surgery.

L: What made you decide to have it done? Was your family supportive?

K: As a 5’0″ short torso petite women, I knew carrying triplets was going to do a number on my body. Although my husband stressed he would be perfectly happy with my post-triplet belly, he was also extremely supportive of my desire to get my body back. We made the decision early in the pregnancy to set aside money for a tummy tuck in my future. After my pregnancy, I worked hard to resume my athletic lifestyle and lose my pregnancy weight. Although I got back into shape, I had a lot of extra hanging skin in addition to 4″ abdominal muscle separation and an umbilical hernia. The main points we considered when scheduling the surgery were:
-We are overjoyed with the three children we have and both of us are positive we do not want any more children in our future.
-I was back in pre-pregnancy shape and was at a steady goal weight.
-The children’s grammy was available to help out with the children during my recovery.

L: How did you go about finding a surgeon?

K:My OBGYN and general surgeon both recommended a few plastic surgeons in the area. I also got recommendations from a few people who had the surgery done. A few names kept reappearing and I scheduled consultations with two plastic surgeons. I was impressed with both surgeons; however one spent much more time with me during the consultation and had an excellent bedside manner. It was very important to me to feel comfortable and confident during the whole process. That is exactly how this doctor made me feel from the beginning to end. There was very little difference in the two estimates I received.

L: Can you give us a ballpark figure for how much it cost? Did insurance help cover any of it?

K: After doing a little research, the estimates I received were inline with the average cost of a tummy tuck, between 6,000-10,000. I did not need any liposuction which is often done in combination with a tummy tuck so my cost was on the lower end of average. I have heard that some women are able to get some of their costs covered by insurance. Both plastic surgeons I consulted with would only get insurance to cover the cost of the muscle repair and hernia repair. Neither of these costs were included in my estimates.

L: How long did the surgery take?

K: The surgery took about 3 hours. Honestly, I was more nervous the day I defended my masters thesis than I was the day I went in for surgery. Again, the surgeon and his staff were excellent and they made me feel very comfortable the entire time. I was feeling great up until I peacefully fell asleep under general anesthesia. The next thing I remember was waking up in recovery where my husband was immediately brought in.

L:What was the recovery like? How long does it typically take to feel %100 again?

K: The first few days were pretty rough. Many women ask how it compares to a c-section. I would say the soreness is comparable but the first few days overall are worse. With a c-section, I was not put under general anesthesia and I think recovering from that alone made the first few days of the tummy tuck revovery harder. The first day I was extremely nauseous and my throat was a bit sore from being intubated. After the first 3 days, the recovery was much quicker than my c-section recovery. Of course, I had been on bedrest for several months prior to my c-section but ran 4 miles the day before my tummy tuck surgery. I think being in shape made for a speedier tummy tuck recovery.
For the first 1.5-2 weeks, it is hard to stand up straight due to the tightness in your abdomen. I had a drain in place for 6 days. I am about 3 weeks out and besides feeling a little sore, I am almost back to normal. The abdominal swelling will last on and off for another several months. A tummy tuck with muscle repair is major surgery and they say it takes almost 6-8 months to fully recover.

L: Are you pleased with the results?

K: Again, I will continue to see improvements over the next several months as the swelling subsides but so far, I am extremely pleased with the results.

L:What advice would you give to women who are considering having surgery?

K: Again, a tummy tuck is major surgery and not to be taken lightly. The best results are achieved once you are at your ideal weight so I recommend achieving any weight loss goals first.
You also need to set realistic expectations. You will be left with a scar that goes from hip to hip. Also, if you have stretch marks above your belly button, they will just be moved to your lower abdomen. I was blessed enough to carry my babies to 33 weeks and had numerous stretch marks. Although my belly is flat and the extra skin is gone, I still have stretch marks.
Also, I was not prepared for how challenging “taking it easy” would be with three 16 months olds in the house. My kids stayed with the grandparents for a week while I recouped and rested. After a week, they came back home but I still had help 24 hours a day for the first three weeks. Even with an extra set of extremely competent hands, I did more than I should have. My doctor told me to wait three weeks to pick up my children or do any major bending or twisting. There were a handful of times I twisted wrong or picked my child up when I shouldn’t have out of necessity. For the first few weeks I was exhausted at the end of each day. If your children are young, arrange for as much help as you can.

Here’s Karla, 33 weeks pregnant with triplets!

Post pregnancy

After surgery!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Karla! You look amazing! Stop by My Baby Drama and say hi to Karla!

Have you ever thought about surgery to help reverse the effects that having a multiple pregnancy has had on your body? If it were a FREE procedure, would you do it?