Prior to your tummy tuck, make sure you have all necessary post-op supplies such as gauze pads, ice packs, compression garments, and medication at the ready.
Recovery should be an active and engaged effort, not a passive one. First, you need to know what to expect. But also be aware that no two tummy tuck patients’ recoveries are alike. Just as you are unique, so will be your recovery.
Recovery times will depend on factors like your age, your general health, your post-surgery care, and the type of tummy tuck you received. A “mini tummy tuck” focuses on a small area in the lower abdomen. A full or “extended” tuck can involve the flanks, lower back, and lower chest. A full tummy tuck requires repositioning the belly button, while a mini tuck does not. The more extensive your abdominal contouring is, the longer it will take to recover fully.
Your abdomen will be covered with a surgical dressing following your tummy tuck.
In most cases, small, thin tubes will be inserted around your incision to drain excess fluid. These tubes do not cause additional discomfort.
Make sure you have arranged for some help around the house for at least a couple of days.
You will likely find it difficult to bend or stand for prolonged periods and will need to rest at an angle for a few days. Your doctor will provide instructions on how to lie properly.
Take all medicines exactly as directed.
Pain medication should be taken with food. You will likely have prescriptions for an antibiotic and an anticoagulant. Don’t take aspirin or any medication containing aspirin—such as Advil, Motrin, or ibuprofen—because these products may cause bleeding. Tylenol is a good choice for over-the-counter pain management.
You will be restricted to sponge baths only until your drains are removed.
Following removal, you can return to showering, but you may need to use a chair for a while. Use an antibacterial soap, and take care to dry yourself thoroughly.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are always excellent choices. For example, pineapple and papaya can help reduce bloating and inflammation.
Otherwise, eat normally and increase your water intake. Green tea boosts immunity and antioxidant levels. Tummy tucks often cause constipation. Eat more fiber and ask your healthcare provider for advice. Be careful not to stress your incision site by forcing a bowel movement.
You will likely walk with a slight hunch for a period after your surgery. This is normal. In the meantime, try to walk as upright as you can.
Rest for a couple of weeks. Then begin to increase your activity as tolerated. Slow walking on a treadmill is encouraged. Do not lift anything heavier than ten pounds for six weeks. Avoid swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, and open bodies of water for two months.
You cannot drive as long as you are taking prescription pain medication.
After that, make sure you can sit comfortably behind the wheel and can make all movements required for safe driving.
Your surgeon will tell you how to find your best resting position. You may need to sleep on an incline for your first few days at home.
Keeping your upper body slightly raised with your knees bent somewhat can help reduce swelling. Putting pillows underneath your knees may help take pressure off your abdomen.
Getting out of bed can be tricky. Be careful not to stretch your lower abdominal skin. First, roll onto your side, maintaining some flexion in your hips. Next, use your hand to push yourself into a seated position, then rock forward and use your legs to help you stand.
It is vitally important that you wear your post-surgical support garment/binder at all times for 4-6 weeks, except when showering.
Compression garments are a must for optimal recovery. If you don’t wear your garment as directed, you risk splitting sutures, increased swelling and bruising, and possible hematoma formation.
Leave the gauze and tape on your incision site until it falls off. Taking it off too early heightens infection risk.
Clean your surgical area every day with warm soap and water, and dry it thoroughly. If your doctor gave you a topical antibiotic cream, apply it daily. Starting two weeks following your surgery, you can begin massaging your incision line for 15 minutes per day using Vitamin E or cocoa butter.
Empty your drains three times a day. Record times and drainage amounts on your drainage form.
Drains typically remain in place for up to 21 days following surgery, as determined by your surgeon. Never attempt to remove drains yourself. Doing so can cause severe complications.
Scar care can begin six weeks after your tummy tuck, as recommended by your doctor.
Notify your doctor immediately if you experience:
Keep all scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor.
Think of these sessions as necessary extensions of your tummy tuck procedure.
Stay away from alcohol if you are taking pain medication.
If you smoke, this may be an excellent opportunity to quit. In any event, avoid any form of nicotine for six weeks after your tummy tuck because these products can slow your healing process and trigger complications.
Regardless of position, sex puts too much stress on your healing abdominal muscles.
Ask your surgeon when it is safe for you to resume sexual relations.
A tummy tuck has proved to be an excellent aesthetic decision and procedure for many women. Remember that its full results and benefits can only be realized by carefully following a comprehensive healing and recovery plan.
Receive a one on one consultation with one of our surgeons at our beautiful practice in Akron, OH