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Thread: Stomach after surgery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Stomach after surgery

    Hi! I have just been referred for surgery and I am waiting to get a 2nd opinion. I have had scoliosis since I was 15, but recently have had some progression. (32yrs now) I have a thoracolumbar curve and have always been a little squished in the middle. I have to work very very hard to maintain a flat stomach. I work out daily with a lot of cadio, muscle strength training and eating healthy. I have read some posts on here that frighten me. Some people have said that their belly protrudes even more after the surgery. Not sure why, but maybe the lordosis? I am terrified of this surgery for many reasons and this is one of them. I guess I always assumed if my torso was elongated my stomach would end up flatter. I am just curious of anyone's experience with this. The doctor said I will have rods and screws and be fused from T3 to L3. I want to be straight and pain free, but I am wondering what the side effects are? Also, my doctor said I will be back to normal in 6 weeks and can continue my normal life. He uses a robot to do the surgery. Thank you very much for reading!!!
    Sara

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Indianapolis area
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    Hi there,
    What is your degree of curvature, and who is your surgeon? I'm a little troubled by two things you said. One, I don't think you can count on being back to normal at 6 weeks post-op. It's possible, but that sounds more typical for teenagers, than adults. I am 12 weeks post-op and not back to normal. Two, I have not heard of a robot doing this surgery. Perhaps you mean he will assistance from various machines? I know there is one that monitors for nerve damage. I would recommend getting a second opinion from a well-respected doctor before you proceed.

    Oh, yes, my stomach does protrude more than pre-op. However, I think this is a temporary condition caused by weak abdominal muscles, constipation and greater lordosis. I am hoping it will go away in six months to a year, when I can do more to strengthen my abs. Good luck!
    age 41
    80* thoracolumbar; 40* thoracic
    Reduced to ~16* thoracolumbar; ~0* thoracic
    Surgery 3/14/12 with Dr. Lenke, T4 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Not "confused" anymore, but don't know how to change my username.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2012
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    Hi! Thank you for your response. I am seeing a surgeon named Richard Francis. My curve was 37 degrees, but according to my last X-ray, has progressed to 40.46. The surgery Dr. Francis does uses a technique called Mazor robotics. It creates a pre operative blueprint of The surgery. This helps with accuracy which leads to Shorter recovery and length of stay. I am actually getting a second opinion the end of July. I just want to be sure this is what I need. Did you have normal lordosis before surgery? Thanks again!
    Sara

  4. #4
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    May 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sdm52980 View Post
    Hi! Thank you for your response. I am seeing a surgeon named Richard Francis. My curve was 37 degrees, but according to my last X-ray, has progressed to 40.46. The surgery Dr. Francis does uses a technique called Mazor robotics. It creates a pre operative blueprint of The surgery. This helps with accuracy which leads to Shorter recovery and length of stay. I am actually getting a second opinion the end of July. I just want to be sure this is what I need. Did you have normal lordosis before surgery? Thanks again!
    Sara
    Hi Sara

    Welcome to the forum. I'm currently waiting for further scoliosis surgery but have shrunk in height by 2 inches in 12 mths. My surgeon thinks with my curves I will get approx 3-4 inches back in height which would be fabulous. I'm 27 and have always been small but conscious of my stomach because my torso is squashed down. I've seen some amazing pictures on this forum that seem to show the torso lengthening, the curve reduce considerably and the stomach stretched out. In particular a lady called Doreen who had surgery a few months ago (think she's 44) lost approx 12 pounds in weight after surgery and her before and after pictures look great, you can definately see her stomach has been stretched out and flattened. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Re surgery I think a second opinion is always a good idea.

    Good Luck

    Jenna
    27 yr old Female.
    Scoliosis since 12yrs, fusion to lower curve in 1998, costioplast 2001 and further corrective surgery 26 July 2012.
    Now the proud owner of a very straight spine. T1- L5 fusion.
    Mr Dunsmuir, Orthopaedic Surgeon, LGI Leeds.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
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    1,955
    I was also fused T3 to L3, anterior only. My stomach didn't stick out any more after surgery, (that's after all the surgical swelling goes down, which can take a few months.)

    I was FAR from 'back to normal' in 6 months; that really does sound like he's pushing his estimate. I did feel much better at 6 weeks, but I was still on narcotics and still very 'tender.' I wouldn't say I was back to normal, honestly, for 18 months. I was 46 at time of my surgery.
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  6. #6
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    Jun 2012
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    Thank you so much for all the responses! The thing I find strange about my situation is that my curve has been stable since I was 16. It has all of a sudden progressed 3 degrees. My doctor said it is a progressive curve. Has this happened to anyone else?
    Sara

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    520
    Quote Originally Posted by Sdm52980 View Post
    Thank you so much for all the responses! The thing I find strange about my situation is that my curve has been stable since I was 16. It has all of a sudden progressed 3 degrees. My doctor said it is a progressive curve. Has this happened to anyone else?
    Sara
    Hi Sara,

    Welcome to the group! There is an average "margin of error" when measuring curves of +/- 5 degrees. Within a two month timeframe last year, my spine was measured differently by three different doctors:
    Non-surgical orthopedic doc: T56, L50
    Atlanta surgeon: T72, L59
    Dr. Lenke: T70, L68

    I asked the Atlanta surgeon why the big discrepancy between her measurements compared to the ortho doc, her response, "... she wasn't measuring for surgery..."

    Feel free to take a peak at my pre/post op tummy pix on my April 25 entry of my blog. Because my spine was collapsing at an aggressive rate (6 degrees per year over 5 year period. 5 years ago my curves measured at 40*), my abdomen was being pushed out. For years I didn't understand why my tummy looked like I was getting fat, despite my weight not increasing, because I worked out for years. Once I learned how bad my curves had progressed, it was crystal clear what the issue was and that I needed to do something asap.

    Keep us posted on your journey.

    Warmly,
    Doreen
    44 years old at time of surgery, Atlanta GA

    Pre-Surgery Thorasic: 70 degrees, Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 68 degrees, lost 4 inches of height in 2011
    Post-Surgery curves ~10 degrees, regained 4 inches of height

    Posterior T3-sacrum & TLIF surgeries on Nov 28, 2011 with Dr. Lenke, St. Louis
    2 rods, 33 screws, 2 cages, 2 connectors, living a life I always dreamed of - now pain free!

    http://thebionicachronicles.blogspot.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    100

    progressive curves

    Hi Sara,
    Welcome to the forum! For most of us older patients, we end up having the spinal fusion surgery because of progressive curves. When I was in my mid 20's, my curve was 28 degrees and then was 35 degrees seven yrs prior to my surgery. Then for whatever reason increased to 60 degrees.

    As for as recocery time, i would be skeptical about a 6 wk time frame of being back to normal. My son who had his surgery at 16 was out of school for two months and was playing tennis at 3 mos post-op, but that is not the norm for adults. Granted, I am much older than you but was still in great shape prior to surgery. Now at 1 yr post-op, I am beginning to feel much better. There is still stiffness and other aches but I can live with this new normal.

    Best of luck to you as you make your decision.
    Donna
    Female - 49 yrs old at surgery
    Surgery 5/5/11 - Dr. Bridwell, St. Louis
    Fused T3-L3
    60 degree thoracic curve corrected to 30 degrees
    Tennis player & returning to the courts!
    http://s1050.photobucket.com/profile/walkingmom1/index

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,516
    Welcome to the forum. I think it is a good idea that you are getting a second opinion. At first, my stomach was not as flat as before surgery when I had pretty decent ab muscles. With a lengthened torso and getting ab muscles back with exercises, I feel that I look much better than before surgery.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 63
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  10. #10
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    May 2012
    Location
    United Kingdom, Leeds
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sdm52980 View Post
    Thank you so much for all the responses! The thing I find strange about my situation is that my curve has been stable since I was 16. It has all of a sudden progressed 3 degrees. My doctor said it is a progressive curve. Has this happened to anyone else?
    Sara
    Hi Sara.

    After my spinal surgery at 13yrs my spine was stable year on year so I was discharged as an out patient at 21yrs. I began getting different and more severe pain in the summer of 2010 and noticed my right rib cage was feeling different so went back to my specialists.
    I don't know when my spine started moving again but my top curve has gone from approx 20-30 degrees to 104 degrees and the pull of this is now making my lower curve increase even though I have a harrington rod at the bottom.

    Jenna x
    27 yr old Female.
    Scoliosis since 12yrs, fusion to lower curve in 1998, costioplast 2001 and further corrective surgery 26 July 2012.
    Now the proud owner of a very straight spine. T1- L5 fusion.
    Mr Dunsmuir, Orthopaedic Surgeon, LGI Leeds.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    78
    Hi,
    I have some thoughts but I my surgery isn't scheduled until September... so i don't have first hand experience.
    First Stomach - I think after the swelling goes down your stomach should get flatter. You should go in on both sides of your waistline! that's one thing i'm excited about. I, like you, have done a lot to keep my physical body in as best shape as we scoli's can and keep as fit as possible. From all the research that i've done there are beautiful after pictures!
    second - the robot, my surgeon does that as well. Some use it some do not, I think it's personal preference.
    3rd- recovery - my surgeon said it like this: "you're in great shape, you will have an easier recovery than most, but still you are going through a major surgery. First 6 weeks suck, second 6 weeks you head to PT and that will feel amazing, after that 3month mark, depending on how your body reacts to the surgery you will start to do things easier, and things will start to feel more "normal" "
    4th- SECOND opinions are a must. It also put me more at ease with my decision. NOT that all the surgeons wanted to do the same thing, but it gave me a more clear decision as who to pick
    5th- progression - I was measured differently as well. All the surgeons were basically the same give or take 5 degrees and my chiro measured me at 20 degrees less. But I dont' think it matters, what matters is that i was getting worse, I lost 2 inches in height, so my spine was obviously collapsing, and I know surgery is the right answer. Good luck, I love this forum there are so many wonderful helpful people here! WELCOME!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Indianapolis area
    Posts
    964
    Sara,

    Three degrees is within the margin of error for xray measurement. You can't really say you've progressed until a change approaching more like 10 degrees has been documented by the same surgeon, measuring the same way. You could measure 3 degrees different between the morning and the afternoon.

    Evelyn
    age 41
    80* thoracolumbar; 40* thoracic
    Reduced to ~16* thoracolumbar; ~0* thoracic
    Surgery 3/14/12 with Dr. Lenke, T4 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Not "confused" anymore, but don't know how to change my username.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    40

    Progression of Curves

    I was diagnosed with a double curve when I was 13 years old. I never had any problems nor did I have pain. I had three children by natural childbirth and all had been well until about 10 years ago at which time I started experiencing pain. I've been on pain meds, celebrex, had injections, did yoga, physical therapy and finally just now at 56 years old had 2-stage spinal surgery to stop the progression. Unfortunately I didn't have any good x-rays or reports over the years that all was well but it was obvious that over the past 10 years things have progressed to the point that I had to make a decision. So, unfortunately one can go years without any problems and then all of a sudden things start to change. My advice would be to get good "scoli" x-rays (not just regular x-rays) every year by a good competent SRS surgeon. Have him/her measure the curve/s and keep your own records so that if the time should come that you need to make a decision, you'll have adequate information. Also, these days you can ask for a copy of the x-rays on CD which would also be a good idea. You never know when things in the doctor's office will get misplaced so this way you'll always have your own records. It's very important to keep up with your own care!!

    Marjorie

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