For most of us, the idea of a 7 hour marathon on the operating table is a little (lot!) scary. However, in the hands of the right surgeon, and when you combine several different procedures to be performed in one go, it can absolutely be the best way to go. Jo, was brave enough to share her story with us. She had a circumferential body lift, brachioplasty, thigh lift, abdominoplasty and liposuction all in the one procedure.
Jo is a 53 year old nurse whose story starts when she had a gastric sleeve in 2014 and lost 50kgs. Because of the massive weightloss Jo had heaps of excess skin. She says, “I had empty skin that exercise just didn’t get rid of. My arms bothered me the most – they were big and floppy. Also, my inner thighs were drooping down to my knees.”
Making the Right Decision
Jo says she initially tossed up going overseas for her surgery but never got around to organising it. One of the girls at her work had had surgery with Dr Mark Hanikeri, Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeon based in Subiaco, WA, and so Jo decided to make an appointment with him. She says, “I just decided that I liked what he was talking about. I couldn’t quite understand how he was going to do it, but he told me exactly what he was going to do and he seemed confident and I thought – yes, it’s a long surgery but I’m confident he can achieve it! I have a nursing background and I think people think that makes it easier, but sometimes it’s harder. I think it’s better you don’t know. I now realise I could not have done this overseas and can’t tell you how glad I am that I didn’t.”
After chatting with Dr Hanikeri, Jo decided to get a circumferential lower body lift, brachioplasty, thigh lift, abdominoplasty and liposuction. She also had muscle repair with her abdominoplasty, and her thigh lift was a cut from her knee up to her groin.
Getting to the Hospital
Jo went into hospital the night before the surgery. She was rapt that her insurance company covered it as part of her top hospital cover. She says, “I wanted to be more relaxed. I didn’t want to go in the morning and go straight into surgery.” Dr Hanikeri drew her up the night before (your surgeon will actually draw where they will make the incisions and cut excess skin, etc – this can take ages!) and he explained everything to Jo. “I felt quite relaxed. I was at the St John of God hospital at Subiaco. The nurses were great – their hand hygiene was marvellous! I felt like everybody that I talked to from the person when I first got to the hospital to the domestic staff to the orderlies were extremely professional. That was so good for me”.
The Actual Procedures/Surgery
Jo says, “The anaesthetist was good – he came and visited me and we had a chat. He explained the PCA (patient controlled analgesia) asked if I had any concerns, I felt very confident afterwards.”
The surgery ended up taking 7 hours with two surgeons – Dr Hanikeri and his assistant. Jo’s arms and back were done first, then the abdominoplasty and muscle repair. Her thighs were the last procedure done.
Jo says, “The first 36 hours after the surgery are the hardest. I remember Mark coming to see me. I had a bit of a problem with my blood pressure so they gave me extra fluids – that was sorted straight away. I had the PCA so I decided to myself that if I was awake and in pain I’d press the button. If you get behind in your pain relief sometimes you have to have too much to get back on track – ie. I might need 1 tablet and that will relieve the pain but if I let my pain get out of control I might need 2 and that wipes me out.”
Jo was in hospital from the Wednesday to the following Tuesday. She had drains in for the fluid and she was not confident going home with them in. She had private health insurance – HBF – and says they were good. Her hospital stay and a home nurse coming to visit her at home every day for a week afterwards, were all covered by HBF.
Jo initially started moving by walking around with her dog in the street with three lots of 10 minute slow walks each day. She says her after surgery garments helped a lot, and she’d bought those before the surgery. Dr Hanikeri had helped her prepare by telling Jo where to go to get the garments and what she would need. She says she had one for day and one for night. The night one is looser so you are more comfortable in bed. You have a larger size for straight after surgery and as the swelling goes down you should have a smaller size. Jo says she also had an arms one as well which they also use for lymph drainage.
Jo went back to see Dr Hanikeri after a week. She says his nurse checked all her dressings, and because she was healing so well she didn’t have to go back again until around 6 weeks after the surgery.
Back to work at around 3 weeks post-op, Jo says as a nurse in a staff development role it meant she could go back earlier than if she’d been in a position where she’d had a more physically demanding role such as lifting patients.
Today, 7 weeks post op, Jo has been back at work for a month. She says, “I do get tired at the end of day – but I think I’m back to normal. I don’t have to wear my compression suit anymore but I like to wear them while I’m at work because I feel more comfortable. Everyone who sees me is amazed – I look good!”
The End Results
Jo was 109 kg and is now 60.5kg. She is 161 cm tall. Dr Hanikeri took 7kgs of skin off her during the operation. So, how has it changed her life? “It’s much better – I can buy clothes that will fit my whole body. That was a huge problem as my arms were 2 sizes different to my body. I just have more confidence. I hated my arms drooping and I didn’t like my legs dangling down to my knees. My stomach didn’t bother me that much but now – if I live for the next 20 years I’ll just age normally now.”
Jo’s Advice for others looking at similar procedures
“I am glad I had the surgery in the cooler winter months. Also, make sure you go to a professional doctor – you’ll get proper professional care. Someone that provides an all round service. Dr Hanikeri was an artist, an expert. I feel great, and I’m so glad I found him.”
You can book a consultation with Dr Hanikeri here.