Here’s everything you need to know if you’re contemplating surgery.
Are you thinking about getting a tummy tuck? A tummy tuck can dramatically improve the appearance of your midsection after weight loss or pregnancy, but you should know what to expect before and after the procedure. In this article, we’ll go over what happens during a tummy tuck, how long it takes to recover, and any risks or complications to be aware of.
What Is a Tummy Tuck Procedure?
A tummy tuck (also called an abdominoplasty) is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess fat and skin from the stomach while tightening the muscles underneath. It can also be used to repair diastasis recti, a condition in which the two large parallel bands of muscle (the “six-pack” muscles) that run from your ribcage to your pelvis become stretched and separated so they no longer meet in the middle.
There are several types of tummy tuck procedures, including mini-tummy tucks, extended tummy tucks, circumferential body lifts, and lower body lifts. The type of procedure you get will depend on whether you want to remove fat and/
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A brief description of recovering from a tummy tuck. The recovery time in broken down into weeks, and describes healing, and what you can do during each stage of recovery.
Abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is one of the most common cosmetic surgeries performed worldwide, and has evolved into an effective procedure for body contouring. However, due to the very nature of the procedure, recovery can be a long road. There are many factors that play into the speed and effectiveness of your tummy tuck recovery. Things like a smoking habit, post-op activity levels, your body’s immune response, and your natural ability to heal all contribute to the process. Varying surgical techniques have been developed to hasten recovery time and reduce complications, but the risk of both minor and major complications still remains. The most effective way to lower your risk of post-operative complications is to follow all your recovery instructions exactly as they have been given to you.
First week of recovery
The first week of recovery is usually the most uncomfortable for tummy tuck patients. You can expect our abdomen to be swollen, bruised, and sore. Ice packs can help reduce the swelling, and pain medication will be prescribed to help with pain and soreness during recovery. It is important that you take your pain medication on time, as this will help take the edge off before it gets too bad. You will actually end up taking significantly less medication for pain if you stick to your schedule.
Dr. Leila Kasrai
You will also be prescribed antibiotics to stave off infection. All tummy tuck procedures require a rather extensive incision, leaving your body open to potential microbial attackers. Sticking to a strict antibiotic schedule, which includes completing the regimen, will help your body’s natural immune defenses keep you infection free, and speed your recovery. After surgery, your abdomen will be bandaged and you will start using a compression garment, like an abdominal binder. This will help reduce swelling, prevent the formation of blood clots, and aid your body in healing into the desired contour. Bandages should be changed and the area should be carefully cleaned every day, and the compression garments should be worn 24 hours a day for at least the first 4 weeks.–>
In addition to bandages and abdominal binders, you may also be fitted with an abdominal drain. This is to allow excess fluid to be removed from your body during the healing process and is not commonly used. If they are used for your situation, you will be given specific instructions on how to clean the area, empty the drain, and record the volume of fluid removed.
Lastly, you should try to relax as much as you can for the first week to 10 days, with no vigorous activity or housework for at least four to six weeks. When lying down it helps to have a pillow both below your knees and below your head to help relieve discomfort. You should also be bathing by sponge bath only for at least the first week. That being said, you will not be bedridden. You should try to walk at least a few minutes every hour to keep your circulation flowing. You’ll most likely be walking with a hunched posture for a little while, at least until your sutures are removed.
Throughout your recovery you should be avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and stick to a low sodium diet.
Second week of recovery
By the second week of recovery you should notice pain beginning to subside and any bruising should begin to fade. Any swelling should also have begin to go down, but it will almost certainly still be present. You should still be following your instructions concerning pain and antibiotic medication, as well as sticking to only light activity. Following these instructions will have a positive effect on swelling and pain.
It is usually at this point that stitches are removed, though depending on the details of your surgery and the speed of your recovery, this may not apply to you. You should continue changing your bandages and cleaning the incision area on a regular schedule, as instructed. Your compression garments should continue to be worn throughout the duration of your recovery.
During your second week of recovery you will be encouraged to begin taking light walks to keep your blood circulating well and prevent blood clots from forming. Some patients may even feel well enough to return to work after only 10 to 14 days, but any kind of strenuous activity should still be avoided.
Don’t be discouraged, because it is possible to have a leaner body contour.
Third & fourth week of recovery, and beyond
By the third and fourth week of recovery you may feel pretty much back to normal. At this point you can usually begin a routine of light exercise. However, even if you feel great, overly strenuous exercises like sit-ups or weight lifting ought to be put off for a few more weeks. Most patients are fully recovered by about week six, and once approved by a doctor, can return to full exercise and activity levels.
Pain, swelling, and bruising should be just about gone between three and four weeks into recovery. At this point you will probably be advised to stop wearing your compression garment, and you can return to your normal, everyday activities. This will include your normal diet, as well as the consumption of alcohol in moderation. Even smokers can resume their habit after the fourth week mark, although you may want to take the opportunity to quit for good.
It is not uncommon to experience some numbness in the months following a tummy tuck. This can sometimes take up to two years to fade, and is associated with occasional twinges of abdominal pain. Swelling can also come and go for months after the procedure. The best way to alleviate these ongoing symptoms is with shapeware that provides some compression, such as Spanx.
worst days after tummy tuck
When considering a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, you’ll more than likely envision the end result right from the very start. Convey these goals to the board-certified plastic surgeon during your consultation. From there, the two of you can discuss how to effectively achieve them. It’s also essential to understand what recovery will look like, and how long it will take. This helps ensure you’ve set realistic expectations.
The timeline for tummy tuck recovery varies, based on the individual patient and factors such as age, general health, type of tummy tuck (extended or mini), and level of post-surgery care. After the procedure, your surgeon will discuss your specific road to healing, but patients typically see results and feel fully recovered eight weeks later.
Long Island’s premier plastic surgery practice Buglino Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery developed a useful timeline explaining the various stages of recovery following your abdominoplasty. For more specific information, contact your surgeon.
Immediately After Surgery
Your abdomen will be secured with an abdominal binder, which is later exchanged for a compression garment. A mesh strip surgical dressing will be placed along the incisions, and small tubes around these, to drain any built-up fluid.
Follow your surgeon’s instructions to ensure you are adequately prepared for a successful recovery. You’ll be told how to care for your drain tubes. The secured mesh over the incision will not require any daily maintenance. You will be instructed on the types of physical activity to avoid, how long to wear an abdominal pressure garment, and more. You won’t be able to drive yourself home, so make the proper arrangements.
Several Days After Surgery
Because you’ll have limited mobility for a few days following the abdominoplasty, you’ll need to recruit help. You’ll have difficulty bending, lifting, and standing for long periods, so having someone around to provide assistance can be beneficial to your recovery.
You may feel some pain and tenderness at the site for several days. Most surgeons will prescribe antibiotics and anticoagulants for patients to take. An abdominal support garment should also help with swelling and discomfort.
Patients may want to keep their diets light in the days following surgery to ensure they’re not straining their stomach muscles. Try to eat low-sodium foods to reduce inflammation, and increase fiber intake to decrease strain during bowel movements.
Alcohol, smoking, and excessive sun exposure should be avoided for at least three months post-surgery.
One to Three Weeks After Surgery
It’s also essential to understand what recovery will look like, and how long it will take. This helps ensure you’ve set realistic expectations.
During the follow-up visit with your surgeon, he or she will decide if it is the right time to remove your mesh strip bandage. At this time, you should already notice a significant change in your stomach’s contour.
After the checkup, you’ll need to continue wearing your support garment, based on your surgeon’s instructions.
If you have a sedentary job, you can likely return to work. However, if it requires heavy lifting and constant standing or bending, you may not be able to resume work for two to three weeks.
Those looking to jump back on the treadmill or elliptical machine will need to wait about three weeks. Although ultimately determined on a case-by-case basis, it will commonly take approximately six weeks to return to weight training. When you resume either of these activities, keep an eye on your incision. If you notice any swelling, limit your activity and contact your surgeon.
One to Three Months After Surgery
Many will still experience swelling in the months following a tummy tuck. You may also feel a numbness, pulling sensation, or experience bruising in your abdomen area. The incision should be fully healed, but it’s possible your remaining scar will still appear red and raised. This will eventually become flat and fade.
One to two months after surgery, it’s generally safe to resume normal activities, including strength training or a profession that involves physical activity. However, your surgeon will make the ultimate determination.
One Year After Surgery
One year later, your abdominoplasty should be fully healed, and results visible. Your inflammation should be gone, and your scar faded. Although the latter will never completely disappear, it should be nearly invisible, and hidden beneath your underwear line.
Ensure you’re maintaining your results with a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Gaining or losing weight may change the appearance of your abdominal area, and produce sagging skin. This is one of the reasons why patients should wait until they’ve had all their children before undergoing the procedure. If you maintain your weight, the results of an abdominoplasty by a board-certified surgeon will last a lifetime.