Things You Need To Know About Your Tummy Tuck Recovery
Tummy tuck surgery is growing in its popularity for both men and women because it’s an effective way to restore youthful tightness to the midsection. People come to this procedure for differing reasons—moms looking to recover their once flat belly once they’ve finished childbearing, professionals who want a more toned appearance, and people who have lost tremendous amounts of weight looking for tighter skin. Each of these reasons is a powerful incentive to prolong or restore a svelte, attractive waistline. Once you’ve made the decision, it’s time to get to work and plan.
In fact, many agree that planning your recovery is just as important as choosing the type of procedure you want done. Recovery times vary depending on age, health, the type of tummy tuck you receive as well as how you plan post-surgery care. Too much too soon is something to avoid. To help, we’ve included keys to help our patients, including moms with small children, put in place a sensible window of prolonged help with things like lifting and bending.
The First Three Days After Surgery
Hospital stays tend to be 1-3 days. After anesthesia, it is unsafe to operate a vehicle. Be sure to arrange to have someone drive you home from the hospital. You’ll also need someone to help take care of you for the first few days, especially moms with small children.
Pain management: Tummy tucks do not tend to be very painful. We do, however, provide our patients with long-acting pain medicine directly into the muscle on the first day. Additionally, most patients take prescribed narcotic pain medication for 2-3 days and switch to Advil or Tylenol. Patients can also purchase a pain medication called Experil from the surgery center. This option provides near-complete pain relief for 3 days.
Other medications: Your doctor will also prescribe an antibiotic and perhaps an anticoagulant. You may also have a topical ointment for the incision area. Follow your doctor’s directions and avoid aspirin unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Transitioning To Home Care
Bathing: If drains are needed, they are left in for a few days after the surgery. You’ll receive instruction on how to take care of and empty the drains. You can take a sponge bath until 48 hours after you remove drainage tubes. Once you resume showers, be sure to have a chair in the shower.
Special garments: Tummy tuck patients wear an abdominal binder for six weeks to support the abdomen and avoid fluid buildup.
Movement restrictions: No lifting. That’s why the right planning helps. Also, get lots of rest. Some walking is useful to prevent clotting. Ask your doctor what he recommends.
Avoid strenuous activity, including vigorous exercise, for at least six weeks. Standing upright and walking may be slow-going for a while. Plan to take it easy for several days. As your abdominal muscles adjust and stitches heal, standing and moving will become less painful.
Diet and nutrition: Fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs can be beneficial for reducing bruising and swelling, and boosting immunity. Green tea for its antioxidant properties, arnica to reduce swelling and bruising, and staphysagria for itching associated with wound healing. These are some of the popular foods tummy tuck patients may use but double-check with your doctor to be sure.
Sleeping: You may need to prop up with pillows to create an incline for sleeping. Pillows under your knees will also reduce stress on the sensitive abdominal region.
Keep moving: After surgery, a bit of walking is good. Expect to feel tired for months while your body is healing. Sleep when you feel tired. Rest will speed up your return to normal.
Consult with your doctor on what activities you can perform and when it will be safe to return to work.
Gradual Return to Normal Activities and Long Term Recovery Windows
Most patients return to work in a week to week and a half with some soreness. Active jobs are closer to two weeks. Light walking and weights of up to ten pounds may be possible within a week. Aerobics and twenty-pound weights may be okay after four weeks with your doctor’s permission.
You can safely return to driving within a week or two after 48 hours of no pain narcotics.
When You'll See Your Results
The final results of your tummy tuck will reveal when your body has finished healing from the surgery. Bear in mind that swelling may continue up to 3 months, and it’s not uncommon to experience numbness below the belly button for up to 6 months. You can expect that scars may stay red for 12-18 months (use scar creams for silicone sheets for up to 3 months), and then turn gradually white. The final shape of your abdominal area won’t be apparent for 6 months to a year. But it will be worth the wait!
Be patient because your results will come. Lower body recovery is a slower process than any other cosmetic procedure. Look for daily progress and always feel free to check with your doctor or nurse with questions and concerns.
FAQs About A Tummy Tuck Procedure
The goals of tummy tuck surgery are to remove the stretched and sagging skin, fat, and stretch marks on the lower abdomen. It also helps tighten up the abdominal muscles helping to create a flatter stomach. The procedure is performed at the hospital or surgery center under general anesthesia.
As with any surgery, there are associated risks. Only you can decide whether a tummy tuck can achieve your goals and whether the recovery and risk profile are acceptable to you. Fortunately, significant complications from tummy tuck surgeries are relatively infrequent. The most common complications are problems with delayed healing, infection from the stitches, minor tissue loss in areas of delayed healing, and widened or thickened scars
Although infrequent, the risks and complications of tummy tuck can include
- Bleeding, hematoma, or bruising
- Infection particularly from the absorbable sutures
- Loss of sensation below the belly button
- Widened or thickened scar especially in patients of color
- Delayed wound healing with skin or tissue necrosis
- Dog-ears or residual fullness on the sides is common
- Unsatisfactory results that may require additional procedures. Patients will generally be responsible for any associated facility fees.
Dr. Chang is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who has gained a national reputation for providing his patients with natural and sensually feminine results. His work has been featured in national publications such as New Beauty magazine, his YouTube channel that has highlighted his surgical techniques has attracted thousands of followers, and he has been voted Top Plastic Surgeon year after year.
Costs depend on what you have done. A mini tummy tuck would cost around $8,000 and a full tummy tuck would cost around $10,000. Costs also vary depending on the region, hospital costs and surgeon costs. It is important to find the right surgeon for your surgery and not decide on price alone.
As it is a surgical procedure, there will be some discomfort after the surgery. Pain medication will be provided and it is important to take time to recover and not do anything strenuous straight away to protect the area. Your doctor will work with you to ensure your pain is managed. The pain should be mild to moderate.
A tummy tuck takes excess skin and fat away and is a surgical procedure. Liposuction only takes fat away. Sometimes the procedures can be done together. If you think this is something you would like, talk it over with your surgeon at your consultation.
If you plan to become pregnant, we would advise you wait to have a tummy tuck until after you have had your babies. Your stomach muscles are tightened during surgery and pregnancy can stretch them out again. There should be no health risks involved once your incision area is healed.
Ready for a flatter tummy?
For those wondering whether a tummy tuck might be the best cosmetic solution for you, we invite you to simply come in for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Chang or one of the cosmetic laser and injection nurses to explore whether you would make a good candidate. To find out more whether Aesthetica can help you, contact us online or at 703-729-5553 to arrange an appointment. Dr. Phillip Chang is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia near Leesburg, Virginia and an expert in a wide variety of cosmetic treatments.
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