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Steff
07-21-2008, 01:15 PM
Hi Everyone,
I haven't been much of a poster in the past but I have been a constant reader. I can't tell you how helpful I found this forum both before my surgery and ever since. I would like to say thanks to all of you as I am very grateful.
I do have an issue to contribute now though and I was wondering if any others have had this problem. In May of 2007 I had anterior fusion L1-L5 and posterior fusion T5-L5. Immediately after the surgery I had an enormous bloated belly that hasn't gone down much since, proportionally. Incisional hernia was ruled out by ultrasound and it's not a tumor, it just seems that the incisions have left me with upper and lower abs that are completely shot. I even did PT and then exercises at home with not much result. Before the surgery I had a thick waist from the scoli but not the pregnant belly I have now. My curves were corrected successfully, I regained 3 inches of height, my rib hump is almost all gone, and I was lucky enough to have an uneventful recovery, but the last thing I expected was to STILL have to wear my elastic waists and my loose tops and to look worse than before the surgery, since the hump was disguised better than the belly is. My surgeon has said I can go back to Pilates mat work and my regular teacher is starting a new class in September. I will see if that helps. But has anyone else had issues with belly muscles? Also, all along the anterior scar you can see this sausage shaped bulge of muscle which is why I was checked for incisional hernia.

I am 55 so not concerned about bikinis but am fairly active and have always looked fit. Now that the big stuff is over I am back to disliking my appearance and not liking it one bit! Any one else have this problem?


Steff
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straighter but still with body image issues

Susie*Bee
07-21-2008, 01:48 PM
Hi Steff! We had our surgeries in the same month-- so I am 14 months out too-- and we are close to the same age. :) But I didn't have an anterior surgery, so can't help you with the swelling bit at all. I'm so sorry that you have this problem-- you are so much better now spine-wise, but it has to be discouraging to have your appearance not meet up with your expectations. Perhaps the passage of time, coupled with continued exercise, will help-- or else maybe they can figure out what is causing the problem and there will be some simple fix. Hopefully there will be some people on the forum who can help. Hang in there! Susie

Steff
07-21-2008, 02:53 PM
Thanks, Susie. I am very happy that I've got my health, that I survived the surgery, that thanks to a terrific surgeon it was a success, and that I'm taller again than my 11 year old son. I went back to work part-time last July and full-time in October and have been doing really well. But I guess I'm vain now in a way I never was or could be before. I have a great back view now, anyway, including some glutes that were previously non-existent. If anyone had this problem and overcame it short of a tummy tuck I'd love to hear from you as I don't plan on doing any more "elective" surgery for a loooooonnnnnngggg time. This was my first surgery and I hope to God it is the last I'll need.

Steff

bsprings
07-21-2008, 07:46 PM
Hi Steff,
I had ant/post surgery in Dec '06 and for months I looked like I was about 6 months pregnant. It gradually went down (after about 10 months) but there are days still that it bloats again and I can't fit into my regular clothes. Not as bad as before, but still a nuisance. I think it is part loose muscles (try to hold your stomach in) and part bloating- why I don't know. I try to eat a really high fiber diet and that helps. If I don't stay "regular" it gets worse! I haven't heard of anyone else either having this problem, but I certainly know what you are going through. I wonder too if it is just swelling- I tend to swell pretty bad over the least little thing, so maybe that explains it. I hope this helps - I do think your stomach will get better over time, because mine has.
Cathie

DebbieM
07-21-2008, 11:13 PM
Hi Steff,

Your post is exactly what I am going through too!! I am 9 months post op. I look pregnant big time and I am not happy about this at all. I also had a thick waist line pre op but now my belly sticks way out. I try holding it in but sometimes that gets tiring. I need to bring it to my doc's attention. I really hope that it somehow goes down. My surgery was also successful. I am 52 yrs. old and I also have been fairly fit all my life. I must say (sadly enough) that your post fits me to the T. Please let me know if pilates or whatever you plan to do helps. It's very discouraging. :(

lelc2002@yahoo
07-22-2008, 06:46 AM
Steff & others, I have it too. & I'm planning to ask about it next week at my appointment (7/28) My tummy bulges out on the left side right over the incision. My P.T. says it is muscles/scar tissue. He gave me another exercise to help this area . Unfortunately, he says that if I could twist it would help but of course I can't...
"let's twist again, like we did last summer"...oh well...Lynne
I'll let you know what the Doc says next week... :)

Steff
07-22-2008, 01:48 PM
Thanks, everyone. Although I wouldn't wish the "belly" on anyone, it's somehow comforting to know others are also struggling with this. I'll continue with the exercises and let you all know whether the Pilates has any effect eventually.

Steff

Shelgrl66
07-23-2008, 01:24 AM
Hi Everyone,
I haven't been much of a poster in the past but I have been a constant reader. I can't tell you how helpful I found this forum both before my surgery and ever since. I would like to say thanks to all of you as I am very grateful.
I do have an issue to contribute now though and I was wondering if any others have had this problem. In May of 2007 I had anterior fusion L1-L5 and posterior fusion T5-L5. Immediately after the surgery I had an enormous bloated belly that hasn't gone down much since, proportionally. Incisional hernia was ruled out by ultrasound and it's not a tumor, it just seems that the incisions have left me with upper and lower abs that are completely shot. I even did PT and then exercises at home with not much result. Before the surgery I had a thick waist from the scoli but not the pregnant belly I have now. My curves were corrected successfully, I regained 3 inches of height, my rib hump is almost all gone, and I was lucky enough to have an uneventful recovery, but the last thing I expected was to STILL have to wear my elastic waists and my loose tops and to look worse than before the surgery, since the hump was disguised better than the belly is. My surgeon has said I can go back to Pilates mat work and my regular teacher is starting a new class in September. I will see if that helps. But has anyone else had issues with belly muscles? Also, all along the anterior scar you can see this sausage shaped bulge of muscle which is why I was checked for incisional hernia.

I am 55 so not concerned about bikinis but am fairly active and have always looked fit. Now that the big stuff is over I am back to disliking my appearance and not liking it one bit! Any one else have this problem?


Steff
----------------------
straighter but still with body image issues

WOW Steff! This sounds like you are talking about me as well. Mine happened ALSO with my anterior/posterior surgery back in Dec 95/Jan 96 (29 yrs old). I had several osteotomies also to bring back the lordosis in my lumbar spine because of a flatback deformity from my past surgeries. At first I thought it was because he had given me such an extreme swayback, but that wasn't the total reason. I was and have always been thin (currently 5'9" and 130 pds). Ever since that surgery, I have been unable to eat much at all because it (food) doesn't go down properly and sits there. My stomach sticks out especially on the left side as if I am 6 mths pregnant. I have had several tests (upper and lower gi's, mri's, ct scans, etc), been in and out of the emergency room because of this and the extreme pain that comes with it. I was told that the lining and muscles are totally shot and this type of surgery does that to you. Not only that, but during the procedure they basically take out most of your intestines, etc., so you have to figure that your organs don't really go back into place totally either. Because of the weakness and problems in this area, I have had hernia repairs as well. (Having children didn't help either) Now since I suffered a spinal cord injury in 2005, which lead to another surgery, I also have bowel/bladder incontinence/restriction mounted with my previous stomach problems. I never know when I need to go to the bathroom because I no longer have feeling in my lower torso or upper part of my legs. The only way I know is when I get so swollen up into my chest area, that I need to urinate or have a bowel movement. I feel like I'm 70 yrs old and I'm only 42! Don't feel like you're alone. I think there are many more of us out there.

Shel

1981-Harrington/Luque instrumentation T9-L5 for 30 degree thoracolumbar curve.
1990-Revision surgery-Broken hardware/flatback deformity/pseudoarthrosis-Cotrel Dubousett instrumentation with extension into sacrum. (never done correctly)
1995-Revision surgery-Severe flatback deformity/kyphosis-Moss Miami instrumentation (T5-sacrum) with titanium cages (back/front/back procedure), thoracoplasty, total reconstruction with osteotomies. (surgeon did surgery while coming down with chicken pox and developed encephalitis with brain damage, etc during 14 hr surgery)
2005-Car accident-spinal cord injury/myelopathy from top of rods/hooks at T5. Surgery to remove hardware, with exception of cages. Permanent damage.
2008-5th surgery pending for severe stenosis in cervical spine, as well as lumbar spine because of prior surgeries.