The ins and outs of Angela’s Breast Reduction and Tummy Tuck with Dr Justin Perron, Brisbane

Angela's Story

Trish Hammond: Great, well I’m here today with Angela, who’s in Brisbane. Angela just recently had a tummy tuck, which is abdominoplasty, and a breast reduction with Dr. Justin Perron up in Brisbane who operated from the Mater Hospital. We’re going to have a bit of a chat about it today. Thanks Angela, thanks for taking the time.

Angela: No worries at all. Thank you.

Trish Hammond: Lovely. Angie, tell us, first of all, why did you decide to have these 2 procedures done? What was it that made you think it was time?

Angela: I’m a 40-year-old mum of twin boys that are now 19. After having the twins, I carried them at roughly … I was about 50 kilos at the time when I was carrying boys. Basically, they just wrecked my abdomen. I procrastinated for 19 years and decided that I would finally do something about it. It’s not great when you’re getting told that your boys are 19, and are you still pregnant? That’s not a great thing to be getting every day, so my abdomen was split roughly 10 to 11 centimetres and brought up underneath my solar plexus.

Although everyone normally gets a little bit of sag from Caesar and from a little bit of belly fat, my abdomen, because it came from my solar plexus, it had that protruding feeling which a lot of other people get as well. For me, it was more medical repair, but obviously for aesthetics, it’s amazing.

Trish Hammond: Wow, so 10 centimetres? That’s huge.

Angela: Massive, which Dr. Perron didn’t realize at the time … Not until you get in there do you realize the extent of the damage. It’s a muscle that’s never been joined, so obviously like any muscle, we don’t use it, it becomes lax and just separates. Each year, it’s got worse and worse.

Trish Hammond: Yeah, right. For anyone out there who doesn’t realize, when you have babies, or as you get pregnant, your stomach gets bigger and bigger, and to make room, the muscles basically have to separate. They cannot be repaired unless you actually sew them back together after you’ve had the baby. That’s what that is, so if you notice that looseness in the middle, that’s what that is, which is a little bit like what you had isn’t it, Angela?

Angela: It is. It is. It means that you’ve got that soft area pretty much right under your rib cage all the way going down to below your belly button. It creates everything, from back issues … You can’t build up your core, which as you and I know as females, is essential for holding everything … From posture to back to just the way you walk, the way you sit, so it was for me … I’m now 45. It was really something I wanted to do. He said that as I go into my 50 and 60s that I don’t end up with recurrent back issues and things because of it.

Trish Hammond: Of course. Of course. I’ve had exactly the same procedures as you, and I totally, totally relate. It’s really disappointing because now, Medicare don’t cover that as an item number, but hopefully, things can happen as we go on and as a community or as a team of women, we can help them to realize that we actually really do need this.

Angela: I think it goes on a case-by-case at the doctor’s too. They rate it now as under Medicare that it’s for weight. Again, it’s virtually just having a compassionate doctor that also is very happy to say, “We’ll tick; that’s the box for weight” and moving forward because at the end of the day, it’s got very little to do with weight and everything to do with your health.

Yeah, obviously, because it’s aesthetically pleasing as well, as soon as you have it done, you’ve instantly lost centimetres of skin through the actual tummy-tuck process. When you’re having an abdominoplasty, where you’re actually re-sewing up the torn muscle, you’re going into reconstructive surgery, so it’s imperative.

Trish Hammond: Totally. It’s also imperative, yeah, that you go to the right doctor as well.

Angela: For sure, and I think that the reconstructive surgeon aspect of a cosmetic surgeon is really important because it’s a repair. It’s not just for aesthetics.

Angela before & after

Trish Hammond: Awesome. Thank you so much, Angela. Yeah, you’re so right. You’re so right. I was actually lucky enough to be there during your surgery, so I got to actually watch Dr. Perron at work, which was, I’ve got to say … I mean it was the first surgery I ever watched. I thought I’d pass out or anything, but it was … I loved watching it, and I just loved watching the reconstruction side of it, but from your side, can you tell us how you found the experience? From the time you went in to have your consult, what was it that made you decide on Dr. Perron [crosstalk 00:04:59]?

Angela: Well, again, hindsight’s a wonderful thing, and I wish I had this done pretty much 2 years after I had the boys. I’m in the cosmetic industry. I practice manager at chain of cosmetic clinics here in Brisbane, so it’s not like I’m adverse to the procedures or the language and the protocol. It was just, for me, just that whole consultation process, having to go and get someone to have a look at you. I finally plucked up the courage.

As soon as I met with Dr. Perron, he was just a really easy guy to talk to. Very compassionate … Knew straight away exactly what I wanted and was able to show me pictures straight away of other women’s success. For me, it was just a no-brainer because a lot of the people I know travel around and had the expense of another specialist or another cosmetic surgeon’s consultation.

For me, I think you’ve just got to go with your gut. The fact that someone knows and understands your particular issue, and you feel really comfortable because, obviously, you’re standing there pretty much and your knickers up. They’re having a look at everything and writing over you with black Nicko and also having the technology where he was using, again the [Allergan 00:06:20] Vectra, which is the 3D imaging, so being able to see exactly what sort of shape you could potentially get to.

For me, my breast-lift component was really just, for me … While I was already in there, I thought I would do that. I’ve always been quite big-busted, so for me, it was just lifting up and redoing that while I was there, but for me, it was all about abdominoplasty and making sure I could, I guess manage my expectations too. That’s something that the doctor was able to really make sure that I was able to get the result that I wanted, but he was also really, really clear and able to discuss with me exactly what I was going to expect to get.

That’s really important, and you almost want somebody to, I guess in some cases, tell you, “No” or reguide you in a way that you know he’s going to be able to manage your expectations. I didn’t want to try and achieve the body of a 20-year-old again, but I’ve certainly got way more that what I’ve expected in terms of an end result. It’s 110 percent more than what I ever thought.

Trish Hammond: Yep. It’s funny because when I saw you there, I thought, “Oh, my God, she’s got a cranking body anyway,” and I thought because I know that it’s only going to be as good as the canvas that you start with as well. I was like, “Oh, my God, she’s going to have an amazing result, so and I’ll get to that in a minute. How long were you in hospital?

Angela: The procedure was indicated that I’d be in there for 2 nights. I ended up being in there for 3, and it was purely just because of … The biggest thing, it’s not the surgery. It’s not actually the procedure as much as the medications and things. If you haven’t been … As a normal person, you’re not subjected to that level of medication and pain medication and things. That, for me, threw me around a little bit.

Apart from the procedure, it wasn’t as bad as anything that I’d imagined. It’s because it was right up under your rib cage, and your solar plexus. It’s really about the managing your breathing because you actually can’t get a good diaphragm breath. I think it’s your mindset too. You’ve got to understand that it’s surgery and managing your expectations for that as well but definitely the sooner I got off the pain medication. For me, I was only on pain medication for the first 5 days. Then I was off to nothing more than Panadol.

Trish Hammond: That’s great.

Angela: Yeah, so it’s definitely something that you can easily manage through, but you’ve got to be able to move yourself. You’ve got to remember to get up and do everything that the docs tell you to do because the sooner you do it, the sooner you recover.

Trish Hammond: You were in there for three nights, expecting it to be two, but it was kind of as a result of the pain medication because it does, it knocks you down, and I believe that until you get off that really hardcore pain medication you can’t really truly start to heal because your body’s trying to get used to that as well.

Angela: Process all that. It’s medication. It’s designed to do what it’s meant to do, but you do, I guess, the effects of it of everything from feeling loss of appetite and feeling quite nauseous to you just want to get everything that’s normal to trying to feel again kicked in. For me, that was yuckiest part.

Trish Hammond: Of course. What about the aftercare from Dr. Perron? What did you find? Did he come? You had your operation, and then what happened?

Angela: I couldn’t have asked for any more phone calls. Just the touching base. He saw me every day while I was in the hospital. I got a phone call within the first two days of me getting home. One from his nurse and then one from himself. Each week I was touching base with him. Well, the first week obviously it was every day, and then the phone calls. Then next week I was getting a phone call every week. Then I saw him on the second week with himself and nurse, and then the following two weeks I saw him again, but I was still getting a weekly phone call just to check in on progress and things. Absolutely, I couldn’t have faulted him. He’s just got such a caring way about him, and yet he was still managing what he wanted out of this as well.

That was the one thing. It wasn’t just another procedure for Dr. Perron, he really, I believe, he takes his patients on it’s like a one-on-one for him. It’s a personal thing that he’s going to get each patient’s outcome perfect for him. I think for him to come in on a Sunday when I was still in the hospital just to check on in. It wasn’t just for me. There were other women in there that were in the same line time-frame for me that we all got visited on Sunday by him just to make sure that his work was perfect.

Trish Hammond: What’s funny is that I was going to a conference which I thought he was attending at some point, and I remember sending him a message saying, “Are you coming to this conference?”, because I think there was people there that was expecting him. He said, “No. I can’t come. I’ve got my ladies to look after this weekend.” I thought, “Oh wow. That was just such a really nice thing to say.”

Angela: To say. Yeah. He said that a few times too, where he’s been into the hospitals and things, and he’s missed his own private things. That’s what comes first, and that definitely was evident.

Trish Hammond: That’s so nice. Tell me, how far post-op are you now Angela?

Angela: I was twenty-sixth of August, so where are we now? Nine weeks. I feel great. I’ve still got a lot of numbing all over stomach. My breasts, they’re probably … I probably would have been more aware of them if not having two procedures, but they seem to be a lot more like a walk in the park compared to the abdomen.

The way I’ve healed, my scars, and again it’s just really about moving, I really concentrated on a lot of pre- and post-prep medications, by medications meaning supplements. It’s not a really big thing to find here in Australia, but the plastic societies in the states have really begun it. Although we’ve got some medications that you’re not allowed to take pre-surgery. Post-surgeries, I’m sure it made a big difference. Looking at other women that were coming into the waiting area with already three weeks ahead of me, still doubled over, still in pain, I’ve had none of that. It’s not like I’m a young woman, so I think it makes a big difference. Don’t just rely on panadols. Seek out other things that could be an anti-inflammatory in your body.

Trish Hammond: I know that this is not medical advice, but just for interest sake, because I’m a bit of dosing up on the nutritionals before and after surgery person myself, but I know that a lot of doctors don’t like that. Of course, you always take the advice of your doctor, but can tell us what you took pre and post?

Angela: I took a combination of pretty much double vitamin C, zinc, liver cleanse, and started on a really big cocktail of that first before, just to strengthen.

Trish Hammond: What was that? The third?

Angela: That was the Bromelain and Quercetin. It’s a big anti-inflammatory in the body. It seeks out inflammatory response in the body. Then, post it was really including turmeric into that. Again, gone back onto the Quercetin and the Bromelain. Pretty much triple doses of vitamin C for healing. Triple doses of zinc, and fish oils. The response from everything from my nails to my hair, obviously massive growth factor, so I knew that things were happening but I can’t fault it. I felt it great. I healed really quickly. My swelling was down within a week. I believe for me it made a big difference than just relying on just the body alone.

Trish Hammond: I can remember when I was in surgery, because I saw a couple of procedures that day, and Dr. Perron said that you were going to have a remarkable result because you’d really looked after yourself. You didn’t drink. You didn’t smoke. You ate really well, and you really prepped up for the surgery. He was actually really excited as well because he knew that were just going to have an amazing result regardless as well.

Angela: I think you’ve got it. I think if you’re going to do this you can’t rely on the surgery. We all like a glass of red, but you’ve really got to pull back on some things. Exercise a lot more. At least get your walking and things like that up, because it makes such a difference.

Trish Hammond: That’s true. You only get out of it what you put back in.

Angela: That’s for sure, and it’s not exactly a small, cheap procedure, so you really want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Trish Hammond: That’s so true. That’s so true. Eight weeks post-op, have you stopped wearing compression garments?

Angela: I haven’t, only because my lymphatics can take longer, and obviously it’s a … Doctor Perron advised that doing this procedure on a thirty year old woman is a lot different than doing it on someone in their forties. Lymphatically, which I didn’t realize is this two sides of your body where lymphatic drainage occurs, so I found that by having, although I’m not wearing my hospital compression beautiful garments anymore thank goodness, just bringing out the old spanks and wearing those through the day does make you feel better because your lymphatically not draining as effectively. It’s got a lot to do with the fact that it’s not like you’re actively doing a lot of heavy cardio just yet either. Walking and things regularly, keeping the lymphatics moving, but it’s not like you’re doing heavy exercise that would normally budge that. I found without, I guess, about two hours of not wearing something that was compression, you start to get that fluidy feeling, and you can start to see some distension from your abdomen and things. I’ve been advised just to keep them on through the day now until Christmas.

Trish Hammond: That’s good. It’s like a three-month thing really, isn’t it?

Angela: It really is. Like he said, it’s small bouts of time where you can have them off, but realistically … At our jobs, if our jobs are more sedentary and we’re behind computers, which I am a lot with e-mails and things, you’ve got to remember to get up and move. That’s where you really start to feel it.

Trish Hammond: I reckon I’ve probably asked you every questions anyone would want to know, but then I’m going to hang up and think, “God. I wish I’d asked this question.” If you had three bits of advice to give someone who was going through this procedure, just as your top three, can you tell us what they’d be starting with number one?

Angela: Number one would be do your prep and make sure that you’re as healthy as you can be. Get your body to work as best as you can before surgery. Post-surgery, it really is about move. Get up. Move. Make yourself do the walking in small increments so that you’re not relying on just thinking it’s too painful to do so. Again, go back onto your post-support nutrients if that’s not big for you.

I guess, the third thing, which is a funny thing to ask, but anyone that’s had this surgery will know that you’ve got to wear this amazingly horrible compression underwear. It was a big thing that we made a big joke in the hospital because you’ve actually got to keep these one, and you can’t take them off to go to the bathroom. The one thing that we joked about in there is that the support that’s in there, and I know this is going to be a funny thing to tell your ladies, but they’ll get it if they ever wear one of these, is create a device, a plastic cup, that you can take in with you everywhere you go.

I carried this cup around for the first eight weeks, because you can’t take this thing off. Trying to do a urinate with this thing on is impossible. Many of my work friend ladies made a big joke, and they’ve cut three litre water bottles and suggested I try using that. They’re horrible. Yes, creating your own support tool, because there’s nothing out there. Of course, a lot of doctors don’t realize that that makes it very difficult for a female when everything down there is also compressed. That was my tip. Dr. Perron was joking that we’re going to manufacture our own cut off plastic cup, and we’re going to patent it. I know it’s a wee bit of advice, but the first time you go to the toilet you’re like, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”

Trish Hammond: I can totally relate, because I’ve still got a compression on from some liposuction, and this was hardest garment I’d ever worn. I had a couple of, let me say, accidents, so I know exactly what-

Angela: It’s operating like a five-pronged sprinkler down there, and nothing is going in the direction that was before surgery.

Trish Hammond: That’s really good to know. Really good to know. All right, well thanks Angela. Hopefully you’re happy to share a few non head shots before and afters that we can show.

Angela: Yeah. Absolutely. I’ve given that permission to Dr. Perron, so any of my post-shots. Happy to show.

Trish Hammond: Well, that’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today.

Angela: Thank you. No worries at all. Thanks Trish.

Trish Hammond: No worries. If you’re looking to have a procedure, like a tummy tuck and breast reduction, or if you’re around the Brisbane area or if you want to travel to Brisbane, we can highly recommend Dr. Justin Perron. If you want to get in contact with him, just drop us an e-mail at [email protected]. Thanks Angela.

Angela: Thank you very much. Have a great day.

Trish Hammond: You too.

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