Achieving Tummy Tuck Recovery
No matter what kind of surgery you may have, whether medical or cosmetic, how you take care of yourself afterward is just as important—if not more so—than the results of the surgery itself. Surgeons can do a lot to make you feel and look better, but they can't work miracles. What happens after the surgery is up to you.
In order to achieve full tummy recovery, it's vitally important that you take proper care of the surgical site after having a tummy tuck. Appropriate aftercare helps you avoid complications while you heal.
What Will I Feel After My Tummy Tuck?If you've never had cosmetic surgery, you'll find it feels similar to medical surgery in some ways, but quite different in others. Having a tummy tuck is nothing like having your appendix removed. While you recover from your tummy tuck, you can expect to feel the following, to some degree. Everyone is different, so your experience will differ from that of other patients.
The skin, underlying tissues, and muscles in your abdomen will all have been shortened, so your abdominal area will feel quite taut for one to two months. This tight feeling will be most intense in the center of your abdomen, so you may feel more comfortable sitting rather than standing or lying flat, both positions that stretch your abdomen.
Swelling also contributes to the sensation of tightness. As you begin to heal and resume normal activities, the tight feeling will eventually subside.
Pain and Discomfort
Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication after your tummy tuck. Some patients may find they need this more than others do. In addition to taking your pain medication, it's important to follow your post-surgical instructions, and avoid activities that may make the pain worse.
The pain you feel will be deeper in the abdomen, but on the surface of your skin, you'll probably feel numbness, especially close to the incision. This happens because nerves will have to be cut in order to perform your surgery, and it takes time for them to regenerate. The numbness is temporary, and you'll regain sensation as your tummy tuck recovery progresses.
Your skin may also feel itchy or tingly, the way it feels when your foot falls asleep. You may also experience an occasional shooting pain. Again, this is normal during nerve regeneration, and will eventually subside.
After Your Surgery
A tummy tuck is an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home the day of your procedure. At that time, you'll feel groggy and sleepy as the general anesthesia wears off. You should be able to walk out of the clinic with a little help, but you'll find it difficult to stand up straight. Walking slightly bent forward will be more comfortable and easier for you.
You'll leave the clinic with an entire ensemble of post-tummy tuck wear, including bandages, an abdominal binder, and drainage tubes extending from your incision.
Because you'll be groggy for some time after surgery, you must have someone stay with you for at least the first 24 hours after surgery. You should get as much bed rest as possible during this time. You'll also be unable to drive while taking narcotic pain medication, so make sure you've done a complete tummy tuck preparation, and you have everything you'll need for the days and weeks following surgery.
First Few Weeks
As you move out of the days immediately following your surgery, your tummy tuck recovery will begin to progress further toward full healing.
Time Off Work
You'll want to take one to two weeks off from work, depending on the type of tummy tuck you had, and the nature of your job. If your job keeps you sedentary, you may be able to return to work after just one week, but keep in mind that you may still have some discomfort and difficulty moving around. If your job is more physically demanding, more time off is highly recommended.
You should avoid strenuous exercise for at least six weeks following your surgery. Slow, steady walking is encouraged to assist with healing, and to promote healthy blood circulation.
We most often use dissolvable sutures at TCC. It can take up to six weeks for all your stitches to dissolve completely. If skin staples are used instead, they'll be removed in about ten days during one of your follow-up appointments.
During your tummy tuck recovery period, you should wear loose clothing with elastic waistbands. The waistband of your pants should never be so tight that it digs into your stomach. This could potentially leave indentations in your skin, and cause irritation of the incision site.
A Few More Precautions
Keep your incisions out of sunlight, including tanning beds, to help minimize the visibility of your scars.
If you have small children, make sure you have help during your tummy tuck recovery period as you will not be able to lift them. This would place too much strain on your abdomen, and could impede your healing.
Avoid baths, swimming and hot tubs for at least four to six weeks after your tummy tuck.
Throughout your recovery, monitor your body and how you're feeling. Make sure you attend all your scheduled follow-up appointments. If you feel anything is wrong during your recovery, contact us right away.