Brandy’s Journey

It’s never too late to make a positive change. Brandy knows this better than most. At 45 years old, she has given birth to four beautiful children, found a career she loves, let go of an unhealthy relationship, lost 50 pounds and rediscovered her confidence after a complete internal and external transformation.

Brandy’s journey to a tummy tuck, breast lift and breast augmentation at Surgical Arts of Virginia was more than 20 years in the making. Only a few months after her procedures, she says the experience has already changed her life.

Reclaiming Health – Part I

Healthy living came naturally to Brandy.

“I’ve always had a healthy mindset,” she says. “I’m a very positive person. I’m all for taking care of myself — my skin and my body. People tell me that I don’t look my age.”

She found it easy to maintain her figure throughout high school and college, but staying fit became harder as she grew older.

“I used to be able to eat, eat, eat and not gain anything. Now, with age and stress and my metabolism slowing down, I smell food and I gain pounds! At least it feels that way. I love food, but I had to start watching what I ate.”

And then there were the pregnancies — four of them, spread out over 22 years. No matter how healthy she’d been before having children, or how driven she was to get back to her pre-baby shape, Brandy’s body had changed for good.

“I love children, but I always say ‘Four, no more.’ My last three were very big babies. I lost my body structure. I also had complications with my last baby. He was the biggest — 11 pounds, 9 ounces. I gained a lot of weight with him and developed gestational diabetes.”

After the gestational diabetes diagnosis, Brandy knew she needed to recommit to her health. The condition ran in her family on both sides. She had to get it under control for her own well-being as well as her son’s.

Reclaiming Happiness

Brandy’s physical health wasn’t the only thing at stake.

“My marriage that would have been 10 years did not last. After [our third child], my ex-husband was verbally abusive. He degraded me. He would say things like, ‘You let yourself go a long time ago.’ It was hurtful. I started doubting myself and my appearance.”

Brandy knew she deserved more. Emotionally and physically, she was ready to shed the parts of her life that no longer made her happy.

“I’m very goal-oriented and I was determined not to let that get to me. I was determined to get back to my healthy self. I wanted to be comfortable. I wanted to be confident with who I was as a person. Regardless of the fact that those words were said to me, when I looked in the mirror, I was not happy with what I looked like or my overall health. I wanted to feel good about myself.”

When Working Out Doesn’t Work

Brandy initially took a natural approach. She wanted to avoid needing medication for gestational diabetes, so she joined a gym and spoke with a nutritionist about how she could manage the condition without medical intervention.

“When the gestational diabetes came into play, I knew this was more serious and I needed to work on my weight. I started working out and went on a special diet. I was able to lose a nice amount of weight on my own.”

Brandy lost 50 pounds with the help of her personal trainer and nutritionist and never had to take medication. But despite this incredible success, Brandy’s body fell short of her goals.

“I did lose the weight, but because I had big babies, my muscles and tissues never snapped back. No matter what I did for the abdominal area, it wasn’t working. It was really frustrating.”

Brandy’s stomach and breasts had changed significantly after four pregnancies. Her abdominal muscles were stretched and torn. She had scarring left from three C-sections. Her breast tissues were irrevocably damaged after nursing all four of her children. She started to avoid shopping for clothes — something she used to love — and often found herself trying to suck in her stomach when she felt uncomfortable.

Brandy turned to her personal trainer for advice.

The Wake-up Call

“I talked to the trainer and it became clear that no matter what I did, the muscle in my abdomen was just not going to go anywhere. When you’re working out, you can kind of get false hope that if you keep working out, keep working out, keep working out, eventually it’s going to do what you want it to do… but it won’t always.”

Everything clicked after Brandy spoke to her trainer. She could lose weight and get stronger by working out, but no amount of exercise could repair torn muscles or shrink loose skin. To fix those concerns, she would have to look elsewhere.

“That’s when I decided I would probably have to do a tummy tuck. I’d tried everything, absolutely everything, and nothing could make it go anywhere. And I knew that would be the best time to do it, because I knew I wasn’t having any more kiddos.”

Brandy’s body had worked hard for her family for more than two decades. Finally, it was time to do something for herself.

Brandy’s Journey - Part II

Brandy refuses to wait for her life to change. She calls herself “positive,” “goal-oriented” and “determined.” She’s the “kind of person who needs to get everything done” and who is driven to take action to better not just her own life, but the lives of her four children.

From taking control of her health after a gestational diabetes diagnosis, to reclaiming her confidence after the end of a verbally abusive marriage, Brandy has demonstrated a fierce willingness to pursue positive transformation.

Brandy decided to research tummy tuck surgery after realizing that no amount of dedication to diet and exercise could repair the abdominal damage caused by her pregnancies. She approached the search for a surgeon like she has approached so much in her life: with conviction.

Pictured: Brandy finding a new ride with confidence!!!

Making the Decision

“I realized I had to do this for myself. A tummy tuck was the only way I was going to get the results I wanted. And now that I was done having children, there was no reason why I shouldn’t.”

Brandy plunged headlong into exploring her options. She researched the procedure and looked for surgeons both in-state and in Washington DC. This extensive research led her to tummy tuck specialist Dr. R. Shane Palmer.

“I went online and looked up the pros and cons of surgery. I found more pros than cons, so after that I started looking in the area for cosmetic surgeons. It was between a surgeon in DC and Dr. Palmer. The reviews for Dr. Palmer were just phenomenal. I thought I’d go give him a try and see what happens.”

Brandy was blown away by what she read about Dr. Palmer online. She scheduled a consultation and felt confident she’d made the right choice.

“I wasn’t trying to make a big deal out of it. You want to make sure you choose the best person, but I think sometimes people have a tendency to over-process it. I knew it was something I definitely wanted to do.”

As for the other surgeon?

“I didn’t even go there!”

Meeting Dr. Palmer

Brandy went into her consultation at Surgical Arts of Virginia with a clear idea of what she wanted in a surgeon.

“I wanted somebody who was sympathetic. Who was professional. Who knew exactly what they were doing. Who would be able to answer all my questions. Dr. Palmer was able to do all of it. He thoroughly explained the process of what was going to happen so everything made sense. He was very personable. He did not make me feel self-conscious at all.”

She is equally effusive with praise for Dr. Palmer’s team, who she says handled her consultation with a mix of expertise, compassion and fun.

“Everybody there was so, so nice. They were very warm and friendly, and they had a great sense of humor. They had me laughing a lot. I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable. It’s just an awesome group.”

As a single mother of four, Brandy knew one of the most important considerations in her decision to have surgery would be the financial investment. She spoke with Jason, Dr. Palmer’s Patient Care Coordinator, about her financing options.

“One of the reasons I chose this practice was that not only were they professional and personable and I felt welcomed and comfortable, but the price was also feasible for me. I’m a single parent now, and I could handle these payments. That’s really important — to be able to get good quality care and results, but it also won’t cause you to go bankrupt.”

Brandy was certain she had all the information she needed to move forward.

“I felt very confident when I left the consultation. I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do and that was exactly where I wanted to have it done.”

Brandy On Consult Day

No Doubts

Brandy’s confidence was rewarded. On the day of her tummy tuck, she felt the same certainty that she had chosen the right team for her care.

“I was a little nervous because you just don’t know what to expect, especially if you’ve never had surgery done before. But I had confidence I was in good hands and had a good support system.”

Dr. Palmer and his staff quickly put Brandy’s nerves to rest. She remembers Fiona, Dr. Palmer’s Surgical First Assistant, as being an especially informative and calming presence as she prepared for surgery.

“They talked me through everything. Fiona is amazing. She reassured me and was very, very, very thorough. There was no time for me to have any questions. I didn’t even need to talk — it was like she read my mind or something!”

Brandy’s determination never wavered.

“I felt extremely confident about the procedure. I didn’t have any doubts at all.”

The Road to Recovery

Brandy’s surgery went smoothly and she returned home to begin the healing process. Though she was sore, she was eager to get back to an active life, and found that recovery after a tummy tuck wasn’t as challenging as she thought it might be.

“Recovery for me was pretty good. It’s a big procedure, but at the same time, the way Dr. Palmer does it… it’s not that extreme, if that makes sense. He’s very professional.”

As a natural doer, Brandy found that the hardest part of her recovery was relying on others.

“I’m a jump-back-into-things kind of person. I like to be able to do everything on my own, for myself. It’s hard to let yourself be taken care of. I’ve always been the nurturer and the caregiver.”

Though it was difficult to be on the receiving end of care, Brandy was fortunate to have a special support system: her children.

“My 15-year-old was encouraging me. She kept saying ‘Mommy, I’m so proud of you.’ My younger daughter was tucking me in. My son — he’s a momma’s boy. He kept asking ‘Mommy, are you ok? Are you ok?’ I had to be tougher for them. I think that was good. Having them there made me not be a wimp. I had to be strong. I couldn’t ask for better kids. I’m so blessed to have wonderful kids.”

Brandy soon got back on her feet, and one week after surgery, she got a glimpse of her new figure for the first time.

“I was like wow. I was so happy. In all honesty, a part of me wanted to cry. I was like, ‘This is what I needed! This is what I wanted! I did it! I made that decision!’”

Brandy’s tummy tuck experience was so rewarding that she decided it wasn’t the end of her journey. Three months later, she returned to Dr. Palmer for a breast lift and augmentation.

Brandy Breast Lift and Augmentation Before & After


Brandy’s Tummy Tuck Before & After

Click to view larger version

Brandy’s Journey – Part III

Starting over means leaving something behind. Often it’s something worth losing, and though it can be bittersweet to face a new starting line just after finishing a tiring race, the rewards of beginning again are precious.

Brandy came to Surgical Arts of Virginia seeking a fresh start after four pregnancies and significant weight loss had changed her body. She’d made progress she was proud of, but she was struggling to reach her goals through diet and exercise alone.

“It was discouraging,” she says. “No sooner would I get to a point when I was happy and content with what I looked like, then boom — here comes another baby. And you have to start all over again. Plus, you have the aging factor and your metabolism slows down.”

Brandy’s new beginning wasn’t just about her appearance. She was ready to rediscover herself after moving on from a verbally abusive marriage and adapting to life as a single mother. It was time to leave behind many things that no longer served her, and reclaim the confidence and happiness she deserved.

Brandy entrusted Dr. Palmer with the first step of her surgical journey — a tummy tuck — and was so pleased with the results that she returned for a breast lift and augmentation a few months later.

A Mommy Makeover, Step By Step

Brandy found herself in Dr. Palmer’s office the first time after realizing that exercise could never repair her torn abdominal muscles or reduce the loose skin on her stomach. A similar realization brought her back to Dr. Palmer for breast surgery.

“It was the same thing as the tummy tuck. The breast tissues were damaged because I’d nursed every single one of my children. I knew that, to make my body look proportioned right, I was going to have to have surgery.”

A breast lift and breast augmentation had always been part of Brandy’s plan. She discussed all three procedures during her initial consultation with Dr. Palmer. After learning about her goals and her lifestyle, Dr. Palmer recommended that she complete her surgeries in stages rather than together in a procedure popularly known as a mommy makeover.

“Dr. Palmer was very honest. That’s one thing I liked about him. He wanted to make sure I had proper time to recover from the first procedure, so I could focus on getting that one part of my body to heal before I took on another.”

The staged approach had additional benefits. By beginning Brandy’s journey with a long-term plan in mind, Dr. Palmer was able to create a comprehensive surgical plan that took all of her goals into account and ensured her final results were beautifully proportionate. This combination of expertise and attention to detail strengthened Brandy’s confidence in her choice of surgeon.

“After I went back for my last follow-up for my tummy tuck, I scheduled my breast augmentation. I knew right away. I never considered anyone else.”

Breast Lift and Augmentation

Brandy knew what she was looking for from her breast surgery.

“I wanted to look proportional. I wanted to look natural. Some women want to do the exotic, exaggerated look, but I wanted to look natural.”

With this vision in mind, Dr. Palmer guided Brandy through the decision-making process that precedes a breast augmentation procedure. He took measurements to suggest an appropriate implant size and projection, and used her stated goals to make recommendations regarding her implant type, shape and placement. Brandy ultimately chose saline implants placed under the muscle.

“Because I wanted a natural look, that was his recommendation. He also told me which incisions were going to work best. He showed me pictures of people who had my body frame, so I had a visual of what it would look like on me. I trusted him so much at that point. I felt very comfortable with my decisions.”

Brandy’s surgical plan also included a breast lift. Combining these procedures would improve the fullness, shape and symmetry of her breasts, while simultaneously restoring her bust to a more youthful, lifted position. She scheduled the surgery for her children’s spring break when she knew she’d have time to rest and recuperate.

Trust The Process

Brandy had been nervous before her tummy tuck. Although she had confidence in Dr. Palmer and his team, the prospect of undergoing cosmetic surgery for the first time was daunting. This time around, those nerves were gone.

“When I had the breast lift and augmentation, it was different. At that point Dr. Palmer and his team pretty much became like family. It was that type of environment.”

The surgery went smoothly and Brandy was thrilled to find that this recovery was easier than tummy tuck recovery had been. She credits Dr. Palmer’s decision to separate her procedures with making the healing process more comfortable and manageable.

“Everybody’s pain tolerance is different, but even for someone whose pain tolerance is high, like me, I would totally recommend going one step at a time. It’s a process. Buildings are not made in one day.”

For other patients considering plastic surgery, Brandy offers the following recovery advice:

“A support system is important. Sometimes your kids can be the best support system because you have these little creatures who look up to you and they make you stronger. If your work is on board, that’s also key. I’m fortunate to have a very good supervisor who kept checking on me. One of my co-workers drove me home. Those ladies are like my sisters. Make sure you take your medication like you’re supposed to. And pace yourself. Everyone knows their body.”

Healthy, Happy, Whole

Brandy has much to celebrate these days. Now fully healed from her procedures, she’s enjoying her new figure and the new lease on life it helped give her.

“I feel amazing! I definitely feel more confident about myself. I have more energy. I used to avoid trying on clothes — now I love doing that. My body feels balanced. When your core is flatter, your posture is better. You walk differently because you feel more confident.”

Brandy’s physical transformation has not gone unnoticed by others.

“Friends were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you look amazing!’ They knew I’d lost a lot of weight already, but they were just like ‘Wow.’ I had a gentleman, he was 35 I think, and when he discovered how old I was, he said, ‘Wow, I hope I look like you when I’m that age!’ Those words are reassuring that I made the right choice.”

But the most important part of Brandy’s transformation happened below the surface, and it was just for her.

“I feel complete. I feel whole. I didn’t do it for anybody else. I didn’t do it for my ex. I did it for myself. I did it because I wanted to feel good about myself and about my health. Even though internal beauty is more important than outer beauty by far, if we don’t feel good about how we look on the outside, it shows. If you feel good about yourself as a person, then you’re more confident and it just shows.”

Are You Ready for Your Transformation?

“I couldn’t have asked for a better surgeon and team. The practice suits its name. Dr. Palmer’s definitely an artist.” -Brandy

We thank Brandy for her kind words and for sharing her powerful story with us. At Surgical Arts of Virginia, we pride ourselves on creating meaningful, lasting relationships with our patients. We’re honored when patients entrust us with their care and when people like Brandy choose to share their experiences.

If you can relate to this journey and are ready to discuss your options for abdominoplasty or breast surgery in Fredericksburg, contact us today for a consultation. Dr. Palmer looks forward to becoming part of your story.

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