Jul 11

How to find a surgeon

It’s been almost 3 years since my surgery and I’m still doing great. No HS. Surgery cured me, and believe me, it was a horrible, digusting thing that made me miserable and disgusted with myself. I wish I had before surgery pics to show how awful it was, but I was too embarrassed to have any taken, even with the privacy of self timers and digital cameras on the anonymous internet. That is something I regret. My surgeon though DID take pics, and it was the most shameful and difficult thing, to raise my arms and let him do that. My husband at the time hadn’t even ever seen my armpits, and we’d been together for 5 years! How can you hide your armpits for FIVE years you might ask? Yes we had sex, wild, and often, thank you, so it wasn’t due to lack of intimacy. It was due to the fact that if you really want to, you can keep your arms down when it counts, and you just have to scale back on the hanging from the chandelier intimacy.

So I get questions about how to find a plastic surgeon. I can’t say I have a formula for it, because my “score!!” only had to happen once. But for what it is worth, this is what I did. Maybe it will work for you, too.
1. Go to the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.aaps1921.org/ Look for surgeons in your area. I concentrated on ones who did burn recontruction and other more “humanitarian” work, not just boob jobs and tummy tucks. Not that I would be opposed to some gratis aesthetic work mind you, but because I thought perhaps one who was more altruistic in his skillset would be more likely to have heard of HS. I can’t say this did or didn’t work, as my surgeon turned out to make his bread and butter (and maintain a verrrry nice office in a Snotty Part Of Town) off of nose jobs and face lifts, enough to make any Real Housewife swoon.
2. Cross reference these surgeons with those on your insurance list, as this is the end all be all of yes or no to your surgeon. Viva la Freedom of Choice, within PPO guidelines of course.
3. Cold call every one you would be willing to drive to and ask the nurse go between if your Dr has ever heard of HS and has experience doing surgery. Don’t expect the nurse to know what HS is. Hidrawhat? I heard that often. Spell it, nicely of course, and ask her to please ask her Dr. if he has heard of it. Be prepared to keep a notebook with notes, because you’re gonna log more calls than a telemarketer with a new crop of numbers that aren’t on the Do Not Call List.
4. If you have choices (lucky you! You must live in California), you can cross reference those who are close to you and you like with their credentials. I did this, though it was maybe overkill. I wanted a doc who had been around the block a few times. A Dr Phil, this ‘aint my first rodeo surgeon. At the American Medical Association website, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/education-careers/becoming-physician/medical-licensure/state-medical-boards.page you can see lots of important things about your potential Dr. Like when they got their license (last week?) and where? (Community college, or a Cracker Jack Box?) I thought this was important. Also, I wanted a guy who was old enough to have experience, but not some ornery, crotchety old man who was set in his ways and not up to learning new procedures or practices. Old enough to know better, and young enough to do it again, as I like to say.
4. Keep trying. This will take legwork. You will spend a lot of time on the phone. No one is going to do the work for you (except for the fact that I have done a lot of it for you here lol!) and you have to take responsibility for your health and be your own advocate.
Think, how badly do you want this? How willing are you to make your own destiny? Will you persevere? It took me months. Good luck. HTH.



Dec 10

Summer of 2010

It’s now official and I think I feel confident in saying so. I no longer have HS. The surgery worked, I am cured. I know some people say it didn’t work for them and they have had recoccurances, but I haven’t had a single one. I really think the trick is to get ALL the affected tissue out. If it means going very deep, down to the fat layer, GO THERE. I told my surgeon, better to take too much than not enough.

The only thing I can think of to say that is a negative, and it’s minute, is my right arm, on the underside near my armpit will feel slightly numb at times. Like it’s fallen asleep and is half waking up. The Dr. said there could be some nerve damage from the surgery and it is slight and not all the time (not even frequently) but there are times it feels like I could pinch it hard and not feel all of the pinch. No biggie. It isn’t permanent and it isn’t bothersome.

My arms look great. The scars are fading and look wonderful… I go to the gym and wear tank tops and no one seems to notice even when I raise my arms. Life is SO GOOD to be healthy and free of HS.

If you are considering surgery, I highly suggest you read this blog from the beginning to the end. Start at the back and work your way up. You will then get a true idea of what it will entail. I hope everyone who needs help can find some solace in my pa



Dec 10

Christmas 2010

I have been so fortunate that it is over 2 years now since my last surgery, and I am still HS free. Every season that passes is another breath of relief for me, and the knowledge that perhaps I have truly beaten this demon becomes more believable. Still and as always, if I can be of help to any one of you who are about to embark upon the surgical journey to get rid of your HS, please email me with questions. I would love to help. HS is a lonely disease and if I can help you share the burden, that makes me feel very good. I’ve been blessed, and hope you can benefit from a similar success.

Tracy



Jun 10

June 2010

No HS has returned. I am healed, my arms look great and I am healthy. If you are considering surgery, read this blog from the beginning to now to get an idea of how to do it and what to expect. There are many anwers to almost all your questions within, if you stick with it and read it. I wish anyone who needs to find freedom from HS the best of luck.



Sep 09

Trying pics again- these are 8.5 months post op, from May ’09

May 2009, 8.5 months post op

May 2009, 8.5 months post op

8.5 months post op, "worse" arm

8.5 months post op, "worse" arm

Finally!  I got new pics to upload. I will take more pics soon. They look even better now. The redness fades every month. The spots in the center where the grafts were last to close get smaller. I’m truly happy with the results.



Sep 09

One Year!

I have made it to the one year mark. I can’t believe it! Funny, today I just made my follow up appt. with my surgeon. The receptionist and I joked: one year, from which surgery? Doesn’t matter. We’re past the first one, but before the end. Hard to believe one year ago I was wearing a wound vac and in agony.

So much has happened in my life since… but I will say this. Having HS surgery has CHANGED my life. Nothing I have done, not even lost a lot of weight and gotten dangerously, attractively in shape (lol) has made as much of a difference as being HS free. I would do it all over again, twice. Literally. I would. It has been worth every ounce of pain and pain in the assness.

My arms look GREAT. I wear tank tops now! Can you imagine?! I can’t. I truly marvel when I put one on. People might think I am trying to show off my toned arms, but I’m really relishing the fact that I can wear a sleeveless shirt in public, and have clean sheets in the morning, and wear white shirts again. (Imagine, a WHITE tank top! lol).

Truly. I am happy. Dr. Paul has been a Godsend and I intend to bow to his greatness when I see him again in 3 weeks. Thank God for him, my health, and successful surgery.

I swear, I know I have said this before, but I will post new pics. I tried twice already, in previous posts, but the site would not upload them no matter what. Perhaps it will now, that the site has been revamped.

Oh. to the person who left the comment that my blog has helped so much- I can’t tell you how that made me feel. I am so, so, so glad… it’s what wasn’t there when I was googling my head off before I had surgery, and if I can help someone get rid of the bane of all human existence by helping them through their HS surgery, then part of my life has meaning. I truly mean that. Email me away- my email, for public consumption, is teej360@yahoo.com. I will answer your questions and help as best as I can.

Tracy



May 09

9 months post op

I saw my surgeon in April and he said I was doing remarkably well. There is NO HS anywhere. No reoccurances. My surgeon is very happy. I’m thrilled. He gave me my life back.

The donor site on my thigh has faded to barely visible, and the scars on my stomach have faded a lot as well. Under my arms, it’s tight and it wrinkles when I stretch it (looks sort of like a burn victim, when it’s at rest- it’s hard to tell in these pictures because I have my arms stretched up and the areas are therefore tightened).

Bottom line, I’m well, I’m healthy and I’m very happy with the results. Surgery was well worth all the pain and trauma.



Jan 09

Five months post op

I am doing so well. My armpits look great, considering how they were to begin with. I feel good, I have full mobility and I am so glad I did the surgery.  Not a spot of HS anywhere on my body. The grafts are almost healed and will get lighter in color in time. My donor site doesn’t feel like a thing has happened to it even when I rub on the skin. My stomach is healed, and the scar is almost flat from the first, full thickness graft that didn’t take. I just feel awesome. My Dr. said he doesn’t need to see me again until April. Whoo hoo!

Here are the newest pictures:

Hmm. I can’t get them to upload. Let me try again.



Jan 09

Forgot to add, for those about to have surgery

I found out what made my chin and the lower half of my face break out so bad and be so dry and scaly following the operations. Apparently when you are about to be intubated for surgery, they swab your lower face with betadine or something to kill all the germs. That TOTALLY screws up my skin, in such a bad way, and all 3 times I had surgery I paid for it (not knowing why until after the 3rd one). The last time it took about 10 days for the scaliness to go away. My advice to anyone having any surgery where you will be under general anesthesia is when you wake up, wash your face off with clean water really well (perhaps even your normal cleanser) and put some lotion on. Do this everyday, perhaps several times a day.


Jan 09

Jan. 3, 2009

Well it’s a New Year, and 2009 will mark the first year in all my adult life that I don’t show any symptoms of HS. I hesitate to say I don’t have HS, because I believe it’s like cancer in a way… or being an alcoholic. You may be in remission, and you may not show signs of it but there’s always a chance it will come back.

I saw my surgeon Tuesday, for the first time in a long time, and he said I’m doing great. Yes, the areas are tight and wrinkled when I pull my arm up straight but I have full mobility and I don’t have HS there. Small price to pay. He said quit using the Scar Guard now, as it can thin the skin with too much use (frankly, I wasn’t good about using it too often, it was a pain but it did wonders on the scar on my stomach!) Now I just use lotion on them several times a day. The donor site doesn’t look much different. It’s still quite dark pink, but in time it will fade. I feel good.

I don’t have to see him again until April! WOW!! I’m amazed. And happy! It’s a long drive up there, 120 miles roundtrip, so that’s good. I need to take new pics and update the blog again soon. I will.

Happy New Year to all.