There’s no denying that tummy tuck and liposuction are two of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the country. But what happens when you have tummy tuck or lipo, but then end up with back pain?
According to a recent study from the Journal of Neurosurgery, up to 70% of patients who undergo a tummy tuck or liposuction may experience some level of back pain. This is understandable—after all, these procedures usually involve removing fat deposits from the belly area, which means that your waistline will be significantly smaller than before. That’s great news if you’re looking for a slimmer figure, but it can lead to other problems if it leaves your muscles and ligaments stretched out and weakened.
In addition to stretching out your muscles, the skin around your abdomen may also become loose after surgery, which can cause sagging and other issues down the road (and make clothes fit differently). And finally, many people find themselves having trouble walking after these procedures because they’re so sore or uncomfortable.
So what can you do if you’re experiencing back pain after tummy tuck or lipo? First off: don’t
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Back pain after tummy tuck
Recently, a patient came into my office for a consultation about a body contouring operation. She was concerned about back pain after a tummy tuck as she had read that it can be a problem. Unfortunately, she ended up choosing another surgeon to perform her tummy tuck operation, one who claimed to have a special technique to prevent resulting back pain. If your back pain is a result of a sports injury, then you may need to seek Sports Medicine Injury Therapy.
Why unfortunately? Because I know through tummy tuck surgical experience and research at my NYC practice that the only way to guarantee zero back pain after a tummy tuck is to perform a subpar operation. Let me explain.
The Anatomy of a Tummy Tuck
During a tummy tuck, an incision is made in the lower abdomen, and the skin from the umbilicus down to the incision is removed. The remaining tummy skin is then pulled down while the mons pubis region is lifted slightly in order to close the resulting wound. How tightly the wound is closed depends almost entirely on the height at which the initial incision is made.The lower the incision, the tighter the closure will be.
There is always some pain associated with a tummy tuck, as with any surgery, but there are tips for relieving tummy tuck pain which your surgeon will discuss with you. However, some patients experience back pain as well. There are some useful references you can find online in this regard.
What Causes Back Pain After a Tummy Tuck?
Back pain after a tummy tuck is an occasional phenomenon but is not the norm. It sometimes occurs in patients who don’t have a lot of lower tummy skin to remove, resulting in a tighter closure than usual. This prevents the patient from being able to stand upright for a few days or sometimes weeks after the surgery. It is important to mention that there are NO reported incidents of patients not being able to stand straight after reasonable recovery time.
However, many similar patients with very little tummy skin to remove never experience back pain while recovering from a tummy tuck. So, why does this happen in some patients and not others?
This tight closure is both the ideal result of a tummy tuck operation and the ultimate cause of related back pain. A tight closure requires more time after the operation to allow the patient to relax, stand straight, sleep on their belly, or extend their back.
If this recovery period goes on for more than a week—as sometimes happens—then it should be no surprise that patients might develop some back pain. This is the result of remaining in a hunched position for a week and has nothing to do with the surgery proper. You might check out this useful reference to relieve back pain and get well ASAP.
If this recovery period goes on for more than a week—as sometimes happens—then it should be no surprise that patients might develop some back pain. This is the result of remaining in a hunched position for a week and has nothing to do with the surgery proper.
The Reality of the “Special Technique”
So what was the “special technique” developed by a plastic surgeon in Chicago that my consult patient chose in order to avoid back pain?
In order for the surgeon to promise no back pain after a tummy tuck, he would have to make the incision higher on the tummy. In doing so, he would remove less tummy skin and would not have a tight abdominal closure.
In other words, to avoid the possibility of back pain, a patient undergoing this “special technique” would come away with her tummy not as tight as it could be. Not only that, she may not be able to wear a bikini ever again because the scar will show from the higher incision.
Be Informed About Your Tummy Tuck
Realistically, if you are going to sign up for a tummy tuck—including all of the cost, both financial and otherwise—wouldn’t you want the best tummy tuck you could get in NY? If my consult patient had understood the problems associated with back pain prevention, I wonder what choice she would have made.
If you are considering a tummy tuck or any surgery, make sure you are fully informed of the techniques your surgeon plans to use and ask questions about recovery times, scarring and, any other concerns you might have. You might even want to check out one of my other blog posts regarding tummy tuck recovery — it even includes a video to help you better understand the process.
Informed decisions are the key to great results. Visit my website for more information about tummy tucks, including procedures, recovery and photos of actual patients. You can schedule your tummy tuck consultation using this online form or by calling my office at (212) 249-4020.
Back pain is a serious issue. Unless it is a result of a surgery, you should consult a chiropractor. Go to https://highesthealthchiropractic.com/ to learn about the benefits of chiropractic care.
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tummy tuck pain day by day
The only thing standing between you and a flat tummy is your tummy tuck surgery and recovery. We’ve got the surgery handled. You’ll be under anesthesia and won’t need to do a thing. Day by day tummy tuck recovery is your job. We’ll monitor you throughout the process and are available to answer any questions or concerns, but you’ll be the one putting in the time and effort to recover safely from surgery.
Day by Day Tummy Tuck Recovery
Here’s what to expect from your day by day tummy tuck recovery. We’ll walk you through the process day by day.
Day 1: Surgery Day
Many patients go home on the same day as their tummy tuck procedure. Someone will need to drive you, so arrange for a trusted adult to bring you to and from your surgery.
When you wake up from anesthesia, you’ll remain in recovery for a couple of hours. Our nurses will carefully monitor you and attend to your needs until you’re ready to return home.
Patients report feeling groggy, tired, and occasionally nauseous. You’ll feel weak and sitting or standing up may be uncomfortable on the first day of your tummy tuck recovery.
Days 2-7: The First Week
Rest and recover the first week after your tummy tuck procedure. This week you’ll be restricted in the activities you can perform and you’ll need to be off work.
- You’ll return to meet with us, usually the day after surgery. Your plastic surgeon will check on your healing, tell you more about your surgery, and answer any questions at your follow-up visit.
- You may have drains for the first few days. These drains help remove fluid from the surgical area. Drains are removed three to seven days after surgery.
- Patients wear compression bandaging or garments during the first week. Compression helps to reduce swelling.
- Start taking gentle walks as soon as you’re able.
You may feel tired and tender and will likely have some bruising and swelling after surgery.
Days 8-14: The Second Week
During the second week, you’ll start to feel much better. By the end of the week, many patients are ready to return to work.
As you resume your regular activities, do so slowly. Doing too much too soon can lead to injury or complications. It’s difficult, but don’t rush.
Keep wearing your compression garment to limit swelling and hold your new contours in place.
Days 15-21: The Third Week
By Week 3, most patients are back to work and feel much better than they did originally. Most patients will no longer need prescription pain medication. If you still have discomfort, over-the-counter pain medications can be used.
Keep wearing your compression garments. We usually recommend that patients use compression garments for about a month after surgery.
Week 4 and Beyond
By this point in recovery, you’ll be back to many activities. Most patients feel significantly better and can see the results of their procedure, a flatter and tighter tummy.
- Many patients can resume gentle exercise at four weeks post-surgery. Wait six to eight weeks before returning to abdominal exercises or very strenuous activities.
- Some residual swelling is common, even several weeks after surgery.
- Scars are usually very prominent at four weeks post-surgery but don’t worry. They will start to fade soon after. As scars heal, they become smoother and lighter.
We’ll give you specific instructions about recovery and what to expect.
After Tummy Tuck: The Exercises That Support Your Recovery
Many patients are ready to start exercising as soon as possible. For the next several weeks, you’ll make up for your body’s lack of strength with willpower. However, instead of pushing past pain, like in your pre-tummy tuck cardio or weight sessions, you’ll use it as an indicator to slow down and back-off.
The following three activities may not look like exercises, but considering you’ve just come out of surgery, they’re likely what’s best:
Week 1: Tummy Tuck Recovery Workout: Patience, and a Few Steps
Patience? That’s not a workout! At this stage in your recovery, however, it’s the best thing. And it’s not always easy. Even if you don’t feel sore, your body needs to rest.
As soon as immediately after surgery, your doctor may want you to do some light movement, like standing or walking a few steps to get the blood flowing. During the first week, a progression from walking a few steps to walking across the room may be considered a win.
And of course, you’ll probably want to do more, and that’s where the willpower comes in. You need the patience to hold back. Plan to have a spouse or friend with you when you attempt these first maneuvers. Not to mention, you’ll need some help around the house with things like child care and anything that involves bending or lifting.
Week 2: Tummy Tuck Recovery Workout: Short Walks
At this point, you’ll start feeling a little stronger, but be careful. Maintaining patience remains part of your challenge. If you overdo your walks or attempt a jog, you risk causing damage and slowing your recovery.
Instead, consider a slower build. Last week, a walk across the room was a good goal, this week, maybe a stroll down the hall can grow, over a few days, to a walk to the mailbox. Although these milestones may not impress your friends, given time, your flat and properly healed tummy will do that.
And around the house, continue to seek and accept help. This may even be an ideal time to train a spouse or a child to do a few more chores, as long as it doesn’t involve you bending over or lifting anything. And, once they know what they’re doing, they’ll never have an excuse not to do it again!
Weeks 3-4: Tummy Tuck Recovery Workout: Longer Walks, Light Weights
You’re feeling better, so why not bust out a 5k run? Definitely not yet! You can, however, continue to build on your previous week’s progress and incorporate new muscle groups.
At this stage, you can SLOWLY increase the speed and distance of your walks. Don’t, however, compare what you’re doing now versus your pre-surgery cardio. You’re not looking to find the point where you have to stop.
You can also consider light weights that work areas other than your belly, like your arms. Keep in mind, almost all weight lifting uses a little bit of your core, so start light and use pain as your guide.
As for work around the house or beyond, at this stage, you’re still not 100% ready to do a marathon house cleaning session or a surprise day at the office. You’ll again need your willpower to let others do otherwise easy things for you. Really, it’s OK. You’re almost there.
Week 5 and Beyond: Business as Usual (or Better)
With your doctor’s permission, you may be able to resume your regular workouts and life as usual. Again, everyone’s body is different, so don’t assume any lingering soreness means you’ve failed. Your body may simply need more time.
Even if you feel great, try to ease (not jump) back into any of your intense pre-surgery workouts. Remember, your previous routines were likely based on having a belly and wanting it gone. Good news, with the tummy tuck, you’ve accomplished that. Actual core strengthening exercises like leg lifts, planks, or Yoga can be introduced but again, start small and build.
When you chose a tummy tuck, you made a significant decision to improve yourself. Take a look at your pre-surgery photos. That person is gone, and, with a robust recovery, the new one will feel better than ever!
Making Your Day by Day Tummy Tuck Recovery Easier
Our goal is an easy and comfortable recovery for all our tummy tuck patients. We’ll talk about simple strategies to improve your recovery experience. These options aren’t a good fit for every patient, but if you’re a good candidate, you can improve your recovery experience.
- Drain-Free Abdominoplasty – Our drain-free abdominoplasty uses progressive tension suturing to eliminate the need for post-surgical drains. Cleaning and maintaining drains are some of the most difficult parts of tummy tuck recovery. Patients find that recovery is easier and faster when drains aren’t needed.
- Pain Medications- Prescription pain medications make recovery easier and more comfortable for many of our patients. We’ll talk with you about your options and help you find effective solutions for controlling discomfort after surgery.
We are available to help throughout the recovery process. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.