Real Patient: Sarah | Michigan | Ann Arbor Plastic Surgery

Sarah’s Story

Patient Stories | Tummy Tuck

I am 39 years old and the mother of two children, both born via c-section. I am 5’-5” and about 110 lbs. I have always been thin, but gained 60 lbs with each pregnancy, which stretched out my stomach skin, and resulted in a muscle separation (diastasis recti). I lost the weight and my body was thin again except for a protruding stomach that made me feel as if I were a few months pregnant. I wore one piece swimsuits and hid my stomach with loose tops, which didn’t feel normal to me because I was confident with the rest of my body.

The First Consultation

I started looking for a surgeon in 2019. At the time I lived in Grand Rapids. First I went to a “big name” – think giant office that felt like walking into a 5 star resort. Dripping in shimmering chandeliers and cushy places to sit, it was a beautiful place, but the consult did not feel right. The doctor spent too much time bragging about how his car could drive over the breast implants he designed and not enough time talking to me about my concerns. I’m sure he is a fantastic surgeon, but I didn’t feel heard.

The Second Consultation

The second consult was with another big name in Grand Rapids with plenty of great reviews. When I was changing, I overheard him yelling at an employee in a disrespectful manner and immediately felt uncomfortable. When I saw him, he promised me that my scar would be perfect and that I’d be lifting my toddler up within a week or two of surgery. Big promises. I asked to see photos of his scars, and the ones that were provided didn’t make me feel confident.

The Third Consultation

The third consult also did not go well. It was rushed, and I felt dismissed.

Finally we moved and I found Dr. Ballard. She LISTENED to me. She heard my concerns. She didn’t make big promises. She warned me that the scar would be great, but could end up with slight imperfections. She told me it’d be a month or more before I’d be lifting my toddler. This information made me feel confident that she was being honest with me. The photos of her scars were immaculate. She didn’t promise me that mine would be, but Shelly spoke up for her and told me that the photos were not hand picked “best of the best” photos, but that all of her scars turned out beautifully. Shelly was warm and genuine. Dr. Ballard made me feel like finally I had found someone who knew what I wanted, addressed all of my concerns, and explained everything to me in detail. I always felt like I was in good hands.

The Surgery

The day of the surgery I was incredibly nervous. Dr. Ballard made me feel relaxed and confident, and the staff at the surgery center were awesome. Everything went smoothly. Recovery was literally perfect. I had the drains in for 5 days. I am a month out and my scar is PERFECTION. My belly button is tiny and adorable, with no “ring” around it like I’ve seen on patients from other practices. This whole procedure went perfectly, with a dream outcome.

Final Thoughts

I always thought people in the after photos must be sucking in their stomachs. I never thought my stomach could just be flat all of the time, without me doing anything. But here I am – no skin hanging over my jeans, no pregnant stomach, no hiding anything. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. 3 years in the making, and it just took me finding Dr. Ballard to pull the trigger and I’m so grateful things turned out the way they did. She is so talented!