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Tummy Tuck in Chicago



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I found everyone's posts about which procedure and surgeon they went with to be really helpful when I was struggling to find the right surgeon so I thought I'd start a thread for mine too. I've lost over 170lbs total and am currently 16 months out from my surgery, and at a stable weight for over 3 months.

I just scheduled an extended Tummy Tuck for this August with Dr. John YS Kim in Chicago at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. There will just be a single scar, and even though I do have a bunch of extra skin above the belly button too, he said I didn't need a Fluer de Lis which is great.

I had also seen Dr. Shifrin who had recommended a circumferential lower body lift to get all my extra backside skin too, with "auto-augmentation" to make it rounder. Dr. Kim recommended to not try to do that at the same time since the recovery would be quite difficult with both front and back worked on at the same time. I was having a hard time understanding how I would even recover when it would hurt to be on my back, front and sides so it wasn't hard to convince me.

I was really unsure of if I was "at weight" or not and as long as I was standing there naked in front of him, I asked if I had more weight to lose or not, or if it was just skin. I find it impossible to tell. He said that I actually don't have much fat, just some on my pubis and above belly button which he'd remove with liposuction at the same time. It's nice to just focus on being a stable weight and not wondering if I'm getting it done too soon.

The surgery should take 4 hours, and I would go home the same day, and then see him once a week for the next 4-6 weeks. There will be 2 drains in place and removed 2 weeks later as well. Plus a binder/compression garments for 3 months.

The surgeon fee was $16,000 with a non-refundable 10% down when I scheduled and the remainder due 3 weeks before the surgery. With hospital and anesthesiologist fees it came to $20,800. If I change my surgery date, I lose the the deposit so I can't chicken out. 😅 There was another surgeon there, Dr. Galiano, whose fee was $10k less which was tempting, since it was still a great doctor at Northwestern hospital, but I really liked Dr. Kim and kind of wanted "the best". Dr. Shifrin who performs the surgery in an outpatient surgical center at his office would have cost $22k. I didn't feel comfortable doing these surgeries outside of a hospital so that helped narrow down my choices too.

I have BCBS and only one of the surgeons was willing to try to document skin irritation so that insurance would pay for some of the procedure. Everyone else was just like "lol no it's cosmetic" and that was the end of it. I get infections from time to time but they do respond to medication and don't happen all the time so I felt like it was really unlikely that I could go that route. Insurance said that if your pannus was below your public line AND you have infections that don't clear up, then they would pay for just the Panniculectomy.

The entire experience really convinced me that you have to see multiple surgeons because prices are ALL OVER the place, even within the same practice/hospital, and everyone had a different idea of what work I should do, the combination of it, pain management, etc. After the first consultation, I learned that I suck at asking questions while in a paper gown, and gave the surgeon a printed copy of my questions and asked him to walk through each one with me, which also was a great way to way to feel out their personality and willingness to work with me.

My plan is to also get a breast, arm and inner thigh lift but none of the doctors wanted to talk about surgeries that wouldn't happen for maybe a year or longer out. Once I'm recovered from the Tummy Tuck, then we'd discuss the next area to focus on which for me would be arm/breast combo. So this process is going to take a while, with having to save up all of my vacation for the entire year for each surgery.

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For the abdominal piece you may be able to use sick leave/take FMLA. Diastasis recti repair is considered medical. I was able to take 3 weeks of sick leave for mine.

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I had one of my consultations with Dr. Shifrin. He's very well-known, that's probably why his prices are a little higher. Although Chicago prices in general are going to run high. I had the full lower body lift and none of my three consults would do more than that in one surgery. There are a lot of surgeons who don't like having patients under anesthesia for more than six hours, and you can't really do both a lower body lift and something else in that amount of time (I figured a Tummy Tuck wouldn't take as long as a lower body lift, since with the latter they do front and back, but i think my LBL was also about four hours). I had my breast and arm lift in a second surgery, and then about 18 months ago (long after my other surgeries) I had a face and neck lift by a different surgeon (one who specializes in facial plastic surgery)

P.S. I also didn't like the fact that Dr. Shifrin did his surgeries in his office suite - or one other place in the area (can't remember where it was - somewhere in the Loop, though). He said I could stay at the hotel across the street (I was an out-of-town patient), but I really wanted to be monitored that first night, *just in case* something happened. That was the deal breaker for me.

Edited by catwoman7

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3 hours ago, catwoman7 said:

There are a lot of surgeons who don't like having patients under anesthesia for more than six hours, and you can't really do both a lower body lift and something else in that amount of time (I figured a Tummy Tuck wouldn't take as long as a lower body lift, since with the latter they do front and back, but i think my LBL was also about four hours).

This. My surgeon doesn't do combos (though the body lift is already a combination procedure in itself) - except when it comes to "smaller stuff". Lower body lift was about 6 h of surgery time . Legs about 4 h.

Plastics are no piece of cake when it comes to TUA. The surgeon I chose won't even do breast and arms in one sitting because breast will require a lot of TUA because I don't want implants so he's going to grab as much thoracic wall tissue as possible. The mobilization of that tissue alone will require app. 1.5 hours.

Also ask yourself how much of the surgeon's concentration is left after a procedure that lasts about 4 h or longer. I want to have good results with minimal complications as much as I'd like to have breasts and arms in one sitting. Tbh I'm not sure about arms yet. They don't look good but from a strictly medical POV...

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13 hours ago, kristieshannon said:

For the abdominal piece you may be able to use sick leave/take FMLA. Diastasis recti repair is considered medical. I was able to take 3 weeks of sick leave for mine.

Thanks, I had only been focusing on the pannus part (which insurance wanted to see intractable infections) but hadn't looked into the diastais repair part. I'd assumed that fixing the bulging tummy was cosmetic too.

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