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Recovery from Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Recovery from Tummy Tuck Surgery

Abdominoplasty is a significant procedure. Some patients may require a brief hospitalization or stay in a recovery center, depending on their general health and the extent of the procedure. Most patients require 1 to 3 weeks recovery time before returning to work and 4 to 8 weeks before resumption of exercise or strenuous activity. Recovery from a mini tummy tuck is usually more rapid.

Following surgery, you may be wrapped in bandages or placed in a compression garment to minimize swelling and support the abdomen as it heals. Small, thin tubes called drains may be left in place under the skin to collect any excess blood or fluid that may form. These will be slipped out after a few days when the amount of drainage has diminished. Your doctor may recommend the use of a pain control pump. This is a separate small tube that drips a continuous infusion of local anesthetic under the skin into the surgical site. This may diminish the amount of postoperative pain and make moving around easier during the first few days after surgery. Bandages will be changed within 2 to 5 days following surgery and if non-absorbable stitches have been used they will be removed 7 to 10 days after the procedure. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to shower or bathe.

Your abdomen will feel sore and it may be hard to stand up straight for the first few days. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication to make you more comfortable. Swelling may remain for a few weeks and your pants and skirts may actually fit a little more snugly during this stage. Numbness may be present for six months or more and feeling may never return to some areas.

Scars are the skin’s way of healing so some scarring is inevitable when surgical incisions are made. Tummy tuck surgery will produce a scar across the lower abdomen. A scar may also appear around the belly button. The healing process and scar visibility differ from person to person. Scars usually fade with time but some residual scarring will remain. Your plastic surgeon will do his/her best to make the incisions in areas that will be hidden beneath clothing or within the belly button. The scars may appear to get worse during the first few months and may take 9 to 12 months before they flatten and lighten in color. Although the results of abdominoplasty are generally permanent the outcome can be diminished by significant weight fluctuation.

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