Like most surgeries, a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) has a recovery period that requires special care and patience during the recovery process. Because the procedure removes excess fat and skin, and helps to tighten weakened abdominal wall muscles, there will be significant after care to ensure proper healing and a beautiful result.
With Dr. Zienowicz you can anticipate following up at our office every week for several weeks, then bi-weekly for several months with subsequent visits as needed through your first-year. We believe that the optimal result comes from an experienced and expert surgeon combined with frequent follow up care by our well-trained and experienced team. Here is a breakdown of what to expect during recovery and tips on how to obtain optimal healing ̶ for results that promote a firmer, flatter and smoother abdominal profile.
Know What to Expect During Recovery
Your recuperation rate depends on the type of tummy tuck, your age, health conditions, and body weight. As with most surgeries, healing is gradual. Complete healing may take several months, while recovery time may be shorter for a mini tummy tuck.
After spending the day at our fully accredited outpatient surgical center, you will go home when feeling alert and well recovered from anesthesia. It is completely normal to have discomfort and swelling for the first few days after surgery, which may be controlled by medicine and a compression garment. While we expect general physical discomfort, the idea is never to cause pain. You will hear from someone in our office when you arrive at home to check in on you and help manage your discomfort. Walking around carefully and as soon as possible after the surgery will help reduce swelling and promote healing.
Once you are home, recovery care may include:
- Tending to surgical site and drains. It’s important to make sure dressings and bandages are clean and changed often. If drains are necessary to aid in fluid removal, you’ll be instructed on how to take care of them and how to keep the area clean.
- Wearing an elastic girdle, abdominal binder, or compression garment for about six weeks post-surgery. These minimize swelling, help eliminate fluid buildup, and support the abdomen.
- Taking prescribed oral medications to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, such as antibiotics, anticoagulants, and pain management. You may also be given topical medications to apply to the skin and scars.
- Meeting with your plastic surgeon for follow-up care.
The appropriate time for you to go back to work and start driving again will depend on the extent of the procedure and your health, but patients are usually able to resume work activities between two and three weeks following surgery. Always feel comfortable asking your surgeon specific, individualized questions about what to expect during your recovery period.
Helpful Tips for Optimal Healing Results
Remember to allow yourself time to recuperate and heal. To help with your recovery, follow these seven tips:
1. Eat a proper diet before and after surgery. Drink plenty of water to help flush toxins out of the body and reduce swelling. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables because they are full of antioxidants and vitamins to aid in healing. Protein-rich foods are also a good idea, like salmon and chicken. They have healthy fats.
2. Rest as much as possible and sleep on an incline. Raising your upper body slightly with knees bent can help reduce swelling. Another tip while sleeping is to put pillows under your knees to reduce pressure on your abdomen. Ask your surgeon about appropriate positioning for a restful night’s sleep.
3. Keep moving, even if it’s just to walk around. This helps to keep blood flowing, to heal, and to decrease blood clots.
4. Don’t push yourself past your limit. Avoid strenuous activity and lifting for at least 6 weeks to avoid injury.
5. Stay positive. Feeling a little sad after a tummy tuck is normal, especially during the first week due to the effects of your pain medication or because you can’t see the immediate result due to post-operative swelling. Focus on why you had the surgery in the first place, your experience with your surgeon and the end results, not immediate discomfort or swelling. You will see these results very soon.
6. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Nicotine causes complications and hinders healing. Alcohol can have dangerous interactions with prescribed pain medications. We can’t stress enough the importance of staying away from people who are smoking or from smoke filled locations.
7. Take care of your scar. There will be bruising in your abdominal area and swelling above the scar, but this will go away. Scars may be red and bumpy at first, but it will fade and flatten after several months. Apply silicone gel or patches may help heal your scar faster and always avoid direct sun exposure for a year. If you can’t avoid the sun, be sure to use 50 SPF or higher before the exposure.
Recovery time is different for everyone, so whether your progress comes in small steps or giant leaps, take it all in stride.
If you’re considering a tummy tuck or other procedures, we would be delighted to help guide you through this process. Get in touch today to learn about your options and schedule a consultation at your convenience.