Tummy tuck is a popular cosmetic procedure that helps to tighten the abdominal muscles and skin. It can also be used to remove excess fat and skin, as well as repair loose or torn abdominal muscles. The procedure itself involves removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen, tightening the abdominal muscles, and repositioning them underneath the skin. This can help you achieve a flatter stomach with a more defined waistline.
Right here on Cosmeticsurgerytips, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on how long does tummy tuck pain last, warning signs after tummy tuck, tummy tuck pain reviews, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.
Is Tummy Tuck Painful
As patient counselors at our plastic surgery centers in Denver and Golden, CO, Carrie and I have listened to many tummy tuck patients. We have talked with these patients before surgery and after recovery—and helped them push through their fears.
We meet with women daily who want to eliminate sagging skin and a protruding abdomen and reduce the extent of stretch marks left behind after pregnancy or weight loss. However, many patients have become so frightened by the perceived “painful” recovery—that they end up postponing their procedure for months and sometimes years!
Listen up! Procrastination is a big mistake! Why put off the future of a sleek, flat, bikini-wearing, defined stomach for a few weeks of discomfort? Understanding the truth about pain, taking advantage of modern pain management, and setting yourself up with ample recovery time and support will make for a successful recovery.
HOW PAINFUL IS A TUMMY TUCK?
Many patients worry about what to expect after a tummy tuck. Luckily, the pain during tummy tuck recovery does not outweigh the amazing results afterward, and men and women who’ve had the procedure give it a 96% Worth It rating on RealSelf.com. Keep in mind that the human psyche is extremely masterful at dramatizing a painful recovery scene before we have experienced the event. The truth is, nothing about the tummy tuck recovery is excruciating.
HOW LONG DOES THE TIGHTNESS LAST AFTER A TUMMY TUCK?
The discomfort after a tummy tuck comes not from the incision, which will actually be numb for some time, but from the muscle tightening. Patients find normal activities such as standing up straight, walking up stairs, and getting out of a seated position or bed uncomfortable because the core muscles are sore after being sewn together from the breast bone to the pubic bone.
Think about it this way: A tummy tuck is basically military boot camp for the abdominal muscles. Those stubborn muscles loved the roominess of your loose abdomen. For about a week, they retaliate by acting sore and tired. Those muscles quickly become angry and fatigued from the layers of sutures placed to keep them tight. The soreness diminishes after a week and you start to think less and less about it. Most women are walking upright and going about daily activities after just 2 weeks.
Patients go back to working out at 4 to 6 weeks post-tummy tuck. Some report small muscle “zingers” with workouts or yoga, which is completely normal. However, we advise patients to go back to working out slowly and back off if it hurts. Many of our extremely active patients get back to working out sooner and report stronger core strength as an added benefit.
A GAME-CHANGER IN PAIN MANAGEMENT: HOW EFFECTIVE IS EXPAREL?
In addition to using a no-drain tummy tuck technique and prescribing the best oral pain medications available, Dr. Vath, Dr. Wolfe, and Dr. Steinwald offer EXPAREL® for long-lasting pain control. This non-narcotic, non-opioid pain reliever is injected directly into the abdominal tissue, fascia, and muscles during surgery. It is effective in managing pain for up to 72 hours post-op.
Not only does EXPAREL help patients get through the first 72 hours post-op with significantly reduced discomfort, but it is also great for patients who wish to limit the amount of narcotic pain meds they need to take. Oral pain relievers can cause extreme drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, and constipation in some patients. Our patients who opt to add EXPAREL to their procedure report a 50% reduction in narcotic pain medication consumption versus those who do not. EXPAREL adds to the total surgical investment, but the patients who have used it feel it is well worth the cost.
WHAT IS THE FASTEST WAY TO RECOVER FROM A TUMMY TUCK?
Set yourself up for 2 weeks of doing nothing but recovering. Carrie and I counsel patients about getting into the “recovery mindset.” Most of us modern women are busy and overscheduled. We do it all: From working, cooking, rearing children, exercising, to volunteer work. We like to think we are superhuman. This notion can make for a frustrating and uncomfortable recovery process because we aren’t able to keep up with the demands and responsibilities of “normal” life during the first 2 weeks post-surgery.
Your energy will return in a few short weeks. However, you will not be able to run the household or your career by yourself during this time.
Sleeping a lot is normal (and encouraged!) during recovery. You shouldn’t be making any important decisions or responding to serious emails while on pain medication. Remind yourself that you just had SURGERY and you need downtime. Enlist your family and friends to help out with meals, cleaning, running errands, and watching the kids. You’ll be glad you asked for support.
How Long Does Tummy Tuck Pain Last
If you’re considering having a tummy tuck or have one planned, it’s important to consider what the recovery will involve. Your recuperation will depend on several factors, including your age, health, and body weight. It will also depend on the type of tummy tuck you have.
It’s natural to want to bounce back to normal after your surgery, but it’s important that you give your body time to heal. You may only need to stay in the hospital for a few hours after the surgery, or your surgeon may have you stay for one night or longer. And once you leave the hospital, the real recovery begins. Here’s what you need to know.
Timeline for recovery
You’ll want to figure out a time frame for your recovery so you have ample time to heal and can take a break from certain aspects of your life. Make sure you make the proper arrangements and are fully prepared for your recovery period.
Your drains will be left in for a few days after the surgery. You’ll be shown how to take care of and empty the drains. You’ll likely need to take an antibiotic and an anticoagulant while your drains are in place.
You’ll wear an abdominal binder for about six weeks. This helps to avoid fluid buildup and helps to support your abdomen.
While the recovery period is usually shorter for a mini-tummy tuck, you’ll still need to avoid strenuous activity for at least six weeks. This includes any vigorous exercise or heavy lifting.
What to expect after your surgery
Your surgeon or nurse will properly brief you about how to recover at home.
You will be told:
- how to care for incisions and drain tubes
- what to be aware of in terms of infection or overall health
- what to avoid in terms of physical activity that affects your incision line for six weeks
- when you need to see your plastic surgeon again
- how long to wear the abdominal pressure garment
- how much to rest
- what you can eat
You’ll need to have someone who can drive you home from the hospital and help take care of you for at least the first few days after your surgery. You can shower 48 hours after you remove your drainage tubes. You may want to take a sponge bath until you can shower. You may be advised to use a chair when showering for some time.
You’ll be prescribed an antibiotic and possibly an anticoagulant. You may be given some type of medication to apply to the skin. Take any pain medication as directed. You shouldn’t take any medicine containing aspirin unless directed by your doctor.
You should also avoid alcohol if you’re taking pain medication, and avoid any form of nicotine for at least six weeks. Smoking can hinder the healing process and may cause complications.
Guidelines for at-home recovery
You may need to sleep on an incline for the first few days after surgery. Keeping your upper body raised slightly with your knees bent at an angle can help reduce swelling. Putting pillows underneath your knees can also reduce pressure on your abdomen. Your doctor will advise you on this.
Keep moving after your surgery, even if it’s only a bit of walking. This will help to keep your blood flowing, which helps with the healing process and decreases the chances of a blood clot in your legs.
It’ll be several weeks before you are fully back to normal. You won’t be able to drive for a few weeks. You’ll also have to limit strenuous exercise and demanding physical activity for four to six weeks. Your doctor can help you decide what activities you can perform and how long you’ll need to take off work.
Possible physical side effects
Most of the intense pain will be in the first few days following surgery. You can take pain medication to control the pain you are likely to experience. You may experience swelling for up to three months after the surgery.
Your tummy may feel like it’s being pulled when you try to stand up straight. You may feel numbness in your tummy for months or even years. It’s normal to have bruises in your abdominal area. You may have fluid-filled swelling above the scar, but this will go away. Your scar may be red and raised, but it will eventually fade.
Tips for recovery
Taking steps to ensure a healthy recovery is important. You’ll want to be as healthy as possible during this time.
Set up a comfortable space where you can relax and have your needs met. Allow yourself to rest fully for at least two weeks and make sure not to push yourself to do anything physically before you’re ready.
You’ll want to drink plenty of water to flush your body of toxins and reduce swelling. Keep your diet as healthy as possible. Include as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.
Scottsdale Tummy Tuck recommends the following:
- Take vitamin A and vitamin C supplements.
- Drink green tea to boost immunity and antioxidant levels.
- Take a probiotic supplement.
- Eat pineapple and papaya to reduce bloating and inflammation.
- Use arnica to reduce swelling, bruising, and pain.
- Take a staphysagria supplement to heal your incision.
- Take a phosphorus supplement or drink ginger tea to relieve nausea.
The bottom line
There’s a lot to consider as far as tummy tuck recovery goes, but all of it is attainable and manageable. It just requires that you consider and plan for all aspects of this healing process, including the time frame.
It’s a slow process, so focus on getting better each day as you move toward your intended goal of full recovery. Be sure to check in with your surgeon or nurse if you have any questions or concerns.
Warning Signs After Tummy Tuck
Once your tummy tuck surgery is completed, you must follow all the instructions given to you in order to heal properly and have a good outcome. Use this as a checklist of progress as you heal. Included are normal post-surgical experiences and key health considerations that may be a cause of concern.
NORMAL POST-OPERATIVE SYMPTOMS
Normal symptoms of abdominoplasty and signs to watch for following tummy tuck surgery include the following:
Tightness and stiffness in abdomen: Bruising, swelling and redness: Tingling, burning or intermittent shooting pain:
These are normal experiences as the skin, tissues and sensory nerves heal. Pain medication and muscle relaxants will help you cope with any discomfort. If you have drains, you may experience additional localized discomfort. Consistent sharp pain should be reported to Dr. Tanna immediately.
Skin firmness, hypersensitivity or lack of sensitivity:
This is normal and will gradually resolve over time.
Shiny skin or any itchy feeling:
Swelling can cause the skin in treated areas to appear shiny. As the healing process advances, you may also find a mild to severe itchy feeling. An antihistamine like Benadryl can help to alleviate severe, constant itchiness. If the skin becomes red and hot to the touch, contact our office immediately.
Asymmetry: both sides of your body heal differently:
One side of your body may look or feel quite different from the other in the days following surgery. This is expected. However, extreme asymmetry should be reported to Dr. Tanna immediately.
TO ALLEVIATE ANY DISCOMFORT, AND TO REDUCE SWELLING, YOU MAY APPLY COOL, NOT COLD COMPRESSES TO THE TREATED REGION.
Crushed ice or ice packs must be wrapped in a towel before being applied to the skin. Do not apply ice or anything frozen directly to the skin. Apply cool compresses, for no longer than 20-minute intervals.
Whether you are released on the same day as the surgery or after an overnight stay in the hospital, you will only be released to the care of a responsible adult. All of these instructions must be clear to the adult who will monitor your health and support you around the clock in the first 24 hours following plastic surgery.
Do not smoke. Smoking can greatly impair your safety prior to surgery and your ability to heal following surgery. You must not smoke.
Keep dressings clean and dry. Your incisions will seep fluid and some blood for a short time after surgery. Do not remove any steri-strips over your stitches. You can replace any compressions garments over the gauze. If you have a drain placed in your incisions, carefully follow the instructions for drain care and record the amount of drained fluid. It is okay to shower with drains in place. It is also okay for the shower water to come in contact with your incision sites.Wear your compression garment around the clock. Remove the compression garment only when showering.
Do not shower until 48 hours after surgery. During this time, keep the compression garment on. Two days (48 hours) after surgery, you may remove the garment. Any gauze or dressings that fall away from the incision can be thrown away. After the shower, replace the compression garment. There will be surgical clue and tape placed over your stitches. Do not remove this.
Take a warm, not hot shower. Do not take a bath. Do not rub your incisions. It is okay to pat or air dry your incisions after surgery. Apply a fragrance free moisturizer to the surrounding skin, but not on your incisions.
Follow the drain care instructions provided to you. If you have a drain placed in your incisions, a nurse should have shown you how to operate the drain, empty the drain, and record the amount of fluid from the drain. When showering, you should secure the drains with a lanyard or wrap so that they are not dangling down.
Take all oral pain medication and antibiotics as prescribed. For less severe pain, use over-the-counter Tylenol.
Do not consume 4000 mg of Tylenol (acetaminophen) in a 24-hour period. Prescription pain medication can contain acetaminophen (Percocet contains oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen), so watch all possible sources.
Recline, do not lie down. This will be more comfortable for you, and can reduce swelling. Always keep your head elevated. Do not bend forward or over. Sleep with a few pillows or in a recliner to maintain a flexed position.
Do not stand fully upright: Standing upright could greatly affect your results and could cause serious injury. Within 1-2 weeks after surgery, you will be able to stand upright again. You may slowly begin to stand taller each day as the tummy region continues to heal.
Rest, but not bed rest. While rest is important in the early stages of healing, equally important is that you are ambulatory, meaning that you are walking under your own strength. If you are drinking plenty of water you will be walking to the bathroom. This will be enough activity.
Do not resume any exercise other than regular walking. Refrain from weight-bearing or abdominal crunching exercises. Walking is essential every day to prevent the formation of blood clots. However, with appropriate hydration, this should be easily achieved.
Relax. Do not engage in any stressful activities. Do not lift, push or pull anything. Take care of no one, and let others tend to you.
Take all medication, exactly as prescribed. This includes oral pain medication and muscle relaxants. For less severe pain, it is okay to use over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil).
Maintain a healthy diet and good nutrition. Fluids are critical following surgery. Stick to non-carbonated, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free and green tea-free beverages including fruit juices and water, milk and yogurt drinks. You must consume at least 8 ounces of fluid every 2 hours. Stick with soft, bland, nutritious food for the first 24 hours. Constipation is expected after surgery and can last for days.
Dr. Tanna will inform you when to start scar massage, lymphatic drainage, and massage therapy. This can help soften any firmness or contour irregularities. This is usually started 2-6 weeks after surgery.