Cosmetic Surgery Tips

5 days after tummy tuck

You’ve been thinking about it for a long time. You’ve tried every other trick in the book: dieting from every conceivable angle, working out your booty off (literally), trying to dress yourself up in ways that would disguise your tummy flab. But no matter what you do, nothing seems to work. You’re ready to throw in the towel and just get the tummy tuck.

But a tummy tuck is a big deal—it’s serious surgery, and it requires some real dedication on your part afterward. And while you can’t really know what it’s like until you do go through it, there are some things you can expect from the recovery process.

Here are five things you’ll probably experience during the first few days after your tummy tuck.

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on 5 days after tummy tuck, 1 week tummy tuck pictures week by week. Read on to learn more. We at collegelearners have all the information that you need about worst days after tummy tuck. Read on to learn more.

5 days after tummy tuck

A tummy tuck is surgery to remove fat and skin from your belly and to tighten the stomach muscles. It is also called an abdominoplasty. The surgery makes your belly look flatter.

Your belly will be sore and swollen for the first week after surgery. The skin on your stomach will be mostly numb for several weeks to months. Feeling will return slowly. But you may have a small area on your lower stomach that is always numb. Do not use a heating pad on your stomach while it is still numb, or you could have severe burns. It’s normal to feel tired while you are healing. It can take 5 to 6 weeks for your energy to return.

You may not be able to stand up straight when you come home. You’ll need to get up and walk every day to regain your normal movement. Between walks, move your feet and legs often.

A tummy tuck leaves a long scar that will fade with time. You also may have a small scar around your belly button.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid abdominal exercises and strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 6 to 8 weeks.
  • For 6 weeks, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, a vacuum cleaner, or a child.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • Most people are able to return to work about 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry. Do not take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay to have sex.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if and when to start taking it again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • If you have strips of tape on your incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. Or follow your doctor’s instructions for removing the tape.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. You may cover it with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day if your doctor told you to do so.
  • You will probably have one or two drain tubes in place to prevent fluid from building up under the skin of your belly. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of it.

Other instructions

  • Hold a pillow over your incision when you cough or take deep breaths. This will support your belly and decrease your pain.
  • Do breathing exercises at home as instructed by your doctor. This will help prevent pneumonia.
  • You may have a tube (catheter) in your bladder for a few days after surgery. If so, your doctor will tell you how to care for the catheter.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have severe pain in your belly.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You are bleeding from the incision.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

worst days after tummy tuck

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Posted on June 2, 2020  Dr Rebecca Wyten – BSc, MBBS, FRACS (Plast)

Recovery after Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty – Tips, Timeline and What to Expect

Many patients want to get a tummy tuck but worry about the recovery time afterwards, how long it takes to heal, and how much pain there is going to be. 

Whether you’ve lost massive weight or you’re a mum and want to restore a tight pre-pregnancy body, the tummy tuck is for you. It’s a popular surgery that tightens the belly and gets rid of overhanging and lax skin. But what’s the recovery like?

DOWNLOAD THE TUMMY TUCK GUIDE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON RECOVERY

Tummy Tuck Guide Download

Read more about Tummy Tuck Surgery

The recovery period after a tummy tuck can be a bit demanding due to the invasiveness of the procedure. You might need up to 6 weeks to get back to your normal daily routine. The first week after a tummy tuck is usually the hardest, with pain and swelling at their peak.

We’ve put together a collection of tips and tricks to guide you with what you should know and do to help you get through your abdominoplasty recovery as smooth as possible. Of course we have also put in a week by week timeline detailing what to expect during your post-surgery recovery.

How is Recovery After Tummy Tuck?

Recovery after your abdominoplasty can be a bit tougher than other surgeries. A tummy tuck involves a lot of tissue dissection and trauma. Your body will enter a reactive inflammatory state and will concentrate all its power on promoting healing and fighting off infections.

This translates to several weeks of fatigue in addition to the usual post tummy tuck symptoms. So, what are the symptoms post Tummy tuck?

1. PAIN

Pain after your tummy tuck is natural. It usually peaks 2-3 days after your surgery, but then starts to improve as your body continues to heal. Your surgeon will give you a prescription for pain medication which are normally enough to alleviate the pain. Resting and allowing your body to heal will help the aches go away faster.

2. NUMBNESS

Paraesthesia (numbness) and skin tingling after a tummy tuck is occasionally seen in some patients. Abdominoplasty involves the full thickness of your abdominal wall, which has many sensory nerve fibers transmitting sensation to your brain. Injury to these nerves can lead to temporary loss of sensation in your abdominal skin.

3. SWELLING

After a tummy tuck, your lower belly, hips, thighs, and groin area will swell.

Swelling is a result of your cells releasing inflammatory fluids to help your wounds heal and fend off microbes. The swelling peaks around 1 week after your tummy tuck surgery, however, it will then begin to dissipate on its own. That being said, a residual minimal amount of swelling will remain in your lower belly for a few more months.

4. BRUISING

You can expect there to be bruising after your abdominoplasty. Bruising is the result of damaged blood cells accumulating under your skin.

Initially, the colour of the bruises will be dark red or purple. They will slowly start turning blue, then yellow-green, and will eventually completely fade away after approximately 3-4 weeks.

Timeline of Recovery After Tummy Tuck

Knowing the recovery timeline after your abdominoplasty will help foresee what’s to come in the weeks following your surgery. By having this knowledge in advance you can make necessary preparations. Furthermore, it can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

DAY OF YOUR TUMMY TUCK SURGERY

After fully waking up from anaesthesia, you will be taken to your room to recover. You will be a bit drowsy at first but this will soon pass. During the first night, you’ll be kept on strict bed rest.

You might have a couple of narrow plastic drains coming out of your wounds. These are to prevent fluid and blood collection. They are usually removed a few days later.

In general, you can leave the hospital 1 or 2 days after your abdominoplasty, once your surgeon gives you the all-clear. Your surgeon may also give you discharge instructions, as follows;

  • You may be given a prescription for antibiotics and pain medication
  • Strictly 2-3 weeks of home rest
  • You should have an appointment in 7-10 days for post operative care
  • If your surgeon uses drains, you will need an earlier appointment remove your drains.
  • Once you are at least 7 days post op, you may be shown how you can care for your wounds at home
  • You should wear an abdominal binder or compression garment for at least 4 weeks, or as recommended by your surgeon which can be up to 8 weeks
  • You should sleep on your back for at least 4 weeks (preferably in a recliner)
  • It is recommended to avoid driving for at least 2 weeks
  • It is recommended to avoid strenuous activity (ie, exercise or intimacy) for 6-8 weeks post op

WEEK 1

During the first week post-surgery, you need to rest and let your body heal itself. No chores, no work, no sports. A friend or family member should help you get everything done during this time.

Tummy tuck pain is at its worst during the first week. Nevertheless, your prescription pain medication will help manage your pain during this time. It is also normal to expect swelling and bruising to increase throughout the week.

During this time, you’re encouraged to walk around the hospital ward or house when possible, rather than staying in bed all day. Walking helps the blood circulate in your body and prevents any blot clots from forming.

By the end of the week, you should have a follow-up appointment to have your surgeon check your wounds and recovery so far.

WEEK 2

Once you enter the second week, you can slowly get back to doing light housework, as long as they don’t involve straining and bending. You can (and should) walk around the house or outside when possible.

By this time, the pain will have began to improve, and subsequently, you will need less pain medication. The swelling will start to subside, and the bruising will start to fade.

That being said, sports, sex, and driving are still a no go.

WEEKS 3-4

By weeks 3 and 4 your pain should be almost non-existent when lying down. However, you may still experience some discomfort when getting up from bed, sitting straight, or when driving.

You can generally start to drive after 2-3 weeks of your tummy tuck. Try to postpone any long trips till you are more comfortable driving. At this mark, you can usually go back to work as long as you do not have a labour-intensive job and there is no intense physical activity.

Intense sports and sexual intercourse are generally still not recommended before the one month mark.

WEEKS 4-6

After the one month mark, the initial symptoms will almost be gone. You will have very minimal residual swelling that might hang around for a few more weeks.

You can enjoy the full cosmetic benefits of your abdominoplasty: no more flaps, no more excess skin, no mommy pooch. Just a flat and smooth belly!

Generally, you can go back to light sports activities by this time and gradually work your way up to what you were used to. Sex can also be resumed around 4 weeks after your tummy tuck, but do make sure not to overstress the surgical site.

Returning to Activities After Tummy Tuck

If you’re planning to get a tummy tuck, you probably want to know when you can go back to driving, having sex, doing sports, and sleeping normally. Here’s what our surgeons have to say:

WHEN CAN YOU GO BACK TO WORK AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • After abdominoplasty, we recommend at least 2 weeks off work. During this period you should be resting at home allowing your wounds to heal. You need to make arrangements with your employer to stay home for at least 14 days.
  • If you have a more labour intense profession, it is usually recommended to have at least 3-4 weeks of work to allow your body to fully recover.

WHEN CAN YOU DRIVE AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • You can generally start driving 2-3 weeks after your tummy tuck. By this time, your wounds will have healed and will cause you only minimal discomfort while driving. We do recommend, however, that you avoid any long-distance driving before 4 weeks so that you don’t put a lot of stress and pressure on your abdominoplasty wounds.

WHEN CAN YOU EXERCISE AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • You’re encouraged to gently start moving your body 2-3 days after your tummy tuck. This is to help with general recovery. This exercise should only be done indoors with supervision with advice from your surgeon.
  • After a week, you can walk for longer distances without worrying about your wounds.
  • By week 3 post-surgery, you can start performing moderate exercises (like light jogging), however, no contact sports or weightlifting.
  • 4 weeks post-abdominoplasty, you can usually go back to the gym.
  • From then on you can gradually pick up the pace until you’re back to your normal exercise routine.

WHEN CAN YOU HAVE SEX AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • You usually need to wait at least 4 weeks after your abdominoplasty before you can have normal sexual intercourse.
  • Bending and changing positions can also put a lot of stress on your wound and prevent it from properly healing.

WHEN CAN YOU SLEEP ON YOUR STOMACH AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • We usually ask our patients to sleep on their back in a recliner for at least 4 weeks after their abdominoplasty. This helps keep the wound relaxed and avoids possible injuries that can occur when you sleep on your stomach.

How to Recover Faster After Tummy Tuck

Our team has put together some tips to help you deal with the different aspects of recovery after your abdominoplasty. A simple few adjustments and remedies can help you speed through a full and complication-free recovery.

1. STICK TO INSTRUCTIONS

The discharge instructions given to you by our team should be strictly upheld. These are all science-based recommendations that will help speed up your tummy tuck recovery and boost your wound healing.

2. PAIN MEDICATION

You shouldn’t allow pain to limit your activity or interfere with your sleep after your tummy tuck. The medications prescribed by your surgeon will reduce abdominoplasty pain and are extremely safe and effective if taken as instructed.

3. COLD TOWELS AND ICE PACKS

Applying cold to your abdominoplasty wounds can help reduce the swelling and bruising, making them go away faster. Cold compresses reduce inflammation and soothe the pain.

4. WEAR YOUR COMPRESSION GARMENT

Another great solution to swelling and bruising after a tummy tuck wearing abdominal binders or compression garments. These custom-fit garments can apply well-distributed pressure on your whole abdomen, protecting your wound from harmful tension, and reducing bruising and swelling after abdominoplasty. You should wear your compression abdominal binder for at least 4-8 weeks post tummy tuck, day and night.

5. GET A RECLINER

A recliner can make it much easier to sleep with your upper body elevated. This reduces tension on your abdominoplasty wound.

6. USE A STACK OF PILLOWS

If you don’t have a recliner, put a high stack of pillows under your head and upper torso to keep yourself in a slightly bent posture. You can put pillows on your side to support you since you’ll be sleeping on your back for some time.

Do’s and Don’ts After Tummy Tuck

If you don’t have time to read all our tips and just want the gist of it, here’s a summary of what you can and can’t do after your tummy tuck;

  • The Dos;
    • Stick to your surgeon’s instructions
    • Use cold compresses and towels
    • Follow a healthy sleep routine
    • Sleep on your back for at least 4 weeks
    • Wear compression garments for at least 1 month
    • Keep your compression garment on while sleeping
  • The Donts;
    • No driving before 2-3 weeks
    • Exercise is prohibited before 3-4 weeks
    • No sex for at least 1 month
    • Don’t sleep on your stomach is for at least 4 weeks

Tummy Tuck Recovery – 7 Top Questions

1. WHAT IS THE NORMAL RECOVERY TIME FOR A TUMMY TUCK?

  • The recovery time from a Tummy Tuck surgery can vary from patient to patient.
  • It can be helpful to allow 3 months or more to feel completely recovered – although most patients are through the majority of the healing period in just a few week’s time.
  • Bruising and swelling, can take longer than 2 weeks.
  • On average, you’ll need 2 weeks or more off of your normal work, parenting and home responsibilities; plus another 6 to 12 weeks to allow your body to recover and heal.

2. WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO AFTER GETTING A TUMMY TUCK?

  • You’ll typically can’t DRIVE a car, lift children or anything else, for several weeks after having a Tummy Tuck.
  • You’ll typically need to wait about 10-12 weeks before resuming any more strenuous activities, sometimes longer.
  • High impact sports or training should be avoided for the duration specified by your Surgeon.
  • If you are a competitive athlete, discuss your competition goals and your schedule with your Surgery planning team as far in advance as possible.
  • Remember, when you get a Tummy Tuck, your body has been through reconstructive surgery.
  • You may not feel fully healed for up to 3 months to as long as 4 or 5 months.
  • Some patients say their healing felt like it took 6 months to up to a year – remember, every person’s different.
  • But in general, most patients get back to the majority of their normal day to day activities within a period of a few months.
  • Be patient!

3. HOW PAINFUL IS A TUMMY TUCK?

It may even leave you feeling as if you can’t stand tall. In time, the skin will adjust and the sensations will become less uncomfortable.

  • Discomfort and the sensation of extreme abdominal skin tightness (that leaves you feeling you can’t properly stand up or stretch tall) will typically subside over a period of several days to several weeks.
  • This is part of the process of getting you a tighter, flatter tummy.
  • The scar maturation of your incision lines can take up to 2 years to fully mature (we offer special minimisation treatments, ask us during a consultation).

4. WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP ME HEAL AND RECOVER FASTER?

  • Even if you’re healthy, don’t expect to ‘bounce back’ quickly – especially if you had a sophisticated procedure that included liposuction shaping as well as Diastasis Recti Repair.
  • Make sure you have someone there to help you for – ideally – a week or two after surgery (prepare meals, help you dress/bathe or go to the bathroom) – as your body is going to need healing time.
  • Don’t push yourself or you could harm your incision lines, including leading to an infection or tearing out your stitches – or lead to a bigger scar.
  • Do your research so you know what to expect.
  • Be patient about how long it takes; expect variance.
  • Use your RAPID RECOVERY TIPS as instructed, including all suggested supplements and probiotics.
  • Set your healing environment up to be conducive to resting and recovery (make it a nice place to sleep, rest and heal). Read more on How to Sleep After Abdominoplasty.

Ask your Plastic Surgeon for information and support if you have any concerns about your healing process or your incision line care.

5. WHY IS THE RECOVERY TIME FOR A MINI TUMMY TUCK DIFFERENT?

  • The mini Tummy Tuck recovery time is likely to be a bit shorter than a full Tummy Tuck.
  • It depends on what type of procedure was performed.
  • Even a ‘mini tummy tuck’ is a bespoke procedure, so no two mini tummy tucks will ever be identical.
  • If liposuction was also used for shaping, your recovery may take a bit longer than if your procedure involved only skin reduction.
  • The factors listed above will influence recovery from a full tummy tuck vs a mini tummy tuck.

In other words, the same factors still apply for a mini tummy tuck as for a full tummy tuck. The key difference is that you may have less discomfort or less abdominal tightness, and you may be able to return to normal activities a few weeks sooner than if you’ve had a full tummy tuck/abdominoplasty with abdominal muscle repairs for diastasis recti (torn abs). However, few patients are suitable candidates for a mini-tummy tuck, and it may not get them the tighter, trimmer tummy area they’re wanting. If you have a mini Tummy Tuck, chances are you are very athletic and simply have a bit of loose skin (but no real abdominal muscle separation and no excess abdominal fat).

  • Be sure you DON’T rush back into exercising after a mini-tummy tuck.
  • Ask your Plastic Surgeon what he or she recommends about returning to exercise after an Abdominoplasty or Mini Tummy Tuck

6. WHY DOES THE RECOVERY FROM TUMMY TUCK SURGERY VARY SO MUCH FROM PATIENT TO PATIENT?

The main reason is that no two Tummy Tuck procedures are alike. Every surgery is bespoke. The type of Tummy Tuck surgery you have may be more complex, or more intensive a procedure, than another person. Additional factors that can impact your healing and recovery after a Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty include:

  • your social support system and at-home support
  • your overall health
  • your skin health/skin condition
  • whether or not liposuction was used for improved body shaping
  • the quality of the rest you’re getting, and what you eat, drink and otherwise consume
  • life stress; unexpected stressful events
  • whether you return to work too soon

So expect some variance and ask your Surgeon what is normal during recovery from a Tummy Tuck.

7. CAN I SEE BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS OF REAL PATIENTS?

Head to our before and after gallery to see more tummy tuck surgeries by our team of Specialist Plastic Surgeons from Melbourne and Sydney.

Tummy Tuck Recovery FAQs

CAN I BEND OVER AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • In general, you need to keep a straight abdomen with slight bending while recovering after your tummy tuck.
  • You should avoid bending over too much (e.g. to pick up your child) for the first 4-6 weeks after your abdominoplasty.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T WEAR A COMPRESSION GARMENT AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • Abdominal compression clothes help reduce swelling and bruising and protect your abdominoplasty wound by applying constant pressure on the surgical area.
  • Seroma (fluid collection) and hematoma (blood collection) are more likely to happen if you don’t wear your compression garment after a tummy tuck.

WHY IS MY STOMACH NOT FLAT AFTER A TUMMY TUCK?

WHEN CAN I WEAR JEANS AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • In general, it is recommended that you wear light garment pants after your tummy tuck. Jeans can be too harsh on your wounds and can cause unnecessary pressure and injury.
  • You can safely go back to wearing loose-fitting jeans around 2-3 weeks after your tummy tuck.

CAN I LAY ON MY SIDE AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • After your tummy tuck, it’s recommended to sleep on your back for at least 4 weeks.
  • Sleeping on your side might lead to accidental injury and will drive the inflammatory response toward one side of your belly causing it to swell.

WHY ARE MY THIGHS SO SWOLLEN AFTER TUMMY TUCK?

  • After abdominoplasty, fluid seeps under your skin and accumulates in nearby areas, one of them being your thighs.
  • Thigh swelling is a normal result of abdominoplasty.

HOW DO YOU GET OUT OF BED AFTER A TUMMY TUCK?

  • To get out of bed, you need to support your upper body with your arms (without tensing your stomach), rotate yourself, and then support yourself with your legs. Give yourself a little push, and you’re up!

Medical Sources:

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