If you are planning to undergo a tummy tuck procedure, then it is essential that you research thoroughly about the recovery time that will be involved as well as any potential complications that may arise. Also known as abdominoplasty, tummy tucks are today one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries that take place, with nearly 150,000 procedures being performed in the United States alone. Your recovery time after a tummy tuck surgery will depend on many factors, including your body weight, your overall health, and your age. It also depends on the specific type of tummy tuck surgery that you have. While it is only natural for anyone to want to bounce back to normal as soon as possible after the surgery, it is still important that you give your body all the time it needs to heal and recover properly from the surgery. Today we take a look at what you can expect while recovering from a tummy tuck, including tips, timeline, and much more.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From A Tummy Tuck Surgery?
It is only once you leave the hospital after your tummy tuck surgery, that the real recovery starts. Let us take a look at a timeline for recovery after undergoing a tummy tuck. It is important to have a recovery time frame in mind so that you not only have ample time to heal, but you are also able to apply for leave from work and take a break from some of the aspects of your life. You need to ensure that you make the required arrangements and are also fully prepared for the recovery period.
The drains from the surgery will be left in for a couple of days after the surgery, and your doctor or healthcare team will show you how to take care of the drains and also how to empty out the drains. You will also need to take an antibiotic to prevent infection and an anticoagulant until your drains are in place.
You will be wearing an abdominal binder for nearly six to seven weeks. This abdominal binder helps prevent any buildup of fluid and also helps provide support to our abdomen.
The recovery period depends on what type of tummy tuck you have done. Recovery takes a shorter time if you have undergone a mini-tummy tuck, but even with a mini tummy tuck, you will still need to avoid doing any strenuous activities for at least six to seven weeks. This also includes avoiding any heavy lifting or any type of vigorous exercise.
What Should You Expect After The Tummy Tuck Surgery?
Your nurse or surgeon will brief you in details about how your recovery period will be at home.(1)
You will be informed about the following:
- How to take care of the drain tubes and for the incisions.
- What to look out for in terms of your overall health or signs of infection.
- What you have to avoid – in terms of physical activity or exercise – that can impact your incision line for at least six weeks.
- When to visit your surgeon again.
- The time period for which you need to wear the abdominal pressure garment.
- How much rest you require.
- What your diet should include and what to avoid.
You will also need to have someone who can drive you back home from the hospital after your surgery and can also help take care of you for at least the first couple of days after your tummy tuck.
You can only take a shower 48 hours after the drainage tubes have been removed. In the meantime, though, you can take a sponge bath. It is also likely that you will be advised to use a chair while showering at least for some time.(2)
Your surgeon will also prescribe an anticoagulant and also an antibiotic to prevent any infection from happening. It is also likely that you will be given some type of medication for applying topically on the skin. You can take your pain medication as directed by the doctor, but be careful that you do not take any medicine that contains aspirin unless otherwise advised by your surgeon.
Avoid consuming alcohol or smoking, especially if you are taking any pain medication. Any form of nicotine should be avoided, at least for the first six weeks following surgery. Smoking is known to interfere with the healing process of the body and is known to cause several types of complications.
Tummy Tuck After-Care for At-Home Recovery
After returning home, you might experience that you need to sleep on an incline at least for the first couple of days after the tummy tuck surgery. When you keep your upper body elevated or raised just slightly with the knees bent at a slight angle, it will help reduce the swelling. You can also put pillows under your knees. This will help reduce any pressure on your abdomen. Your surgeon will definitely advise that you follow this way of resting for some days after the surgery.
It is absolutely important that you keep moving after your surgery, even if you are only able to do a little bit of walking. This is necessary because it helps keep the blood flowing, helping boost the healing process and, at the same time, it also lowers your chance of developing a blood clot in the legs.
Your surgeon will advise you on how to find the best resting position that will make you feel most comfortable.(3) You need to rest as much as you possibly can since you are likely going to feel tired not just for a couple of days, but it might even last for several weeks or even months.
It will be a couple of weeks before you are able to completely get back to normal. You will not be able to drive for at least six to seven weeks.(4) You also need to avoid doing any demanding physical activities or strenuous exercises for at least four to five weeks, sometimes even longer. Your surgeon will advise you on what type of activities you can undertake and how long you will need to take an off from your work.
Are There Any Physical Side Effects of a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is considered to be a relatively safe procedure. However, you will experience intense pain within the first couple of days after the surgery. You will be prescribed pain medications for controlling the pain. You may also experience some swelling for two to three months following the surgery.
You will also feel like your tummy is being pulled towards one side when you try to stand up straight. It is also likely that you will feel some numbness in your abdomen or tummy for several months or sometimes even for years after a tummy tuck.
It is normal to have some bruising in the abdominal area. You might also develop some fluid-filled swelling above your incision scar, but this will go away eventually over some time. You will also notice that your incision scar appears to be red and raised, but over time, this will also eventually fade, but the scar will not disappear. Some scarring will always be present.
Tips to Help You Recover Faster Following Tummy Tuck Surgery
You can always take some appropriate steps to ensure a healthy and quick recovery process. Everyone wants to be as healthy as possible during their recovery time, so it is important that you follow the below mentioned steps to remain healthy.
To begin with, you need to set up a comfortable space where you will have all your needs met, and you can relax. You need to allow yourself at least two to three weeks to rest and recover fully and do not push yourself to do anything strenuous or physical before your body is ready to take on the strain.
Also, drink plenty of water during this time to keep flushing your body of toxins and also to reduce the swelling. You must follow a healthy diet which includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here are some recommendations with regards to what your diet should look like:(5)
- Take a probiotic supplement to boost the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut.
- Take supplements of both vitamin A and vitamin C.
- Drink green tea, which helps increase your immunity and also boosts antioxidant levels in the body.
- Use arnica to decrease bruising, swelling, and pain.
- Eat papaya and pineapple for reducing inflammation and bloating.
- Consider taking a phosphorus supplement or drink ginger tea if you experience nausea.
- Take a supplement of staphysagria for healing the incision.
Recovery from a tummy tuck surgery is not an easy process. There is a lot you have to consider and take care of to ensure that the recovery goes as smooth as possible. You have to plan for all the aspects of your healing process, including the amount of time involved.
Recovery is a slow process, but you should focus on getting better little by little each day, and you will ultimately be able to achieve your goal of full recovery. Make sure that you regularly check in with your nurse or surgeon if you have any concerns or questions regarding your healing.
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2019). Tummy Tuck Recovery. [online] Available at: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck/recovery [Accessed 10 Jul. 2019].
- Uofmhealth.org. (2019). Plastic Surgery | Michigan Medicine. [online] Available at: https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/surgery/plastic [Accessed 10 Jul. 2019].
- Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) | Cleveland Clinic. [online] Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/abdominoplasty-tummy-tuck [Accessed 10 Jul. 2019].
- nhs.uk. (2019). Cosmetic procedures – Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). [online] Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/cosmetic-treatments-guide/Pages/tummy-tuck.aspx [Accessed 10 Jul. 2019].
- Scottsdale Tummy Tuck Blog. (2019). Holistic Approach to Tummy Tuck Recovery | Scottsdale Tummy Tuck Blog. [online] Available at: https://www.scottsdaletummytuck.com/blog/holistic-approach-to-tummy-tuck-recovery/ [Accessed 10 Jul. 2019].
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