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Tummy Tuck Recovery

February 15, 2012

Written by Christine G. Adamo

Considering a Tummy Tuck?

Despite exercise and dieting, your abs and stomach may not look like you’d hope – or like they once did [sigh]. Well-toned abs can still be yours. For many men and women who want a flatter stomach, a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is sometimes the answer.

Stomach protrusion, looseness or sagging may be caused or influenced by:
  • Pregnancy
  • Yo-Yo Dieting
  • Aging & Heredity
  • Prior Surgical Procedures
  • Bariatric Surgery
If you’ve already scheduled a tummy tuck, you’re probably excited about showing off a leaner, tighter and more slender physique. A tummy tuck can give you all of that. But you have to take responsibility if you want to maximize your results.

Even though it takes longer than liposuction recovery, try not to think of tummy tuck recovery as an inconvenience. Minimize any potential discomfort by preparing ahead. View recovery as a chance to help yourself get the best, longest lasting and most “flat”-tering results possible!

Great Results? Great Consultations!

Before putting on a surgical gown, educate yourself. That’s what consultations are for. Be sure this procedure is right for you. Be sure your plastic surgeon is qualified to successfully treat you.
  • Questions to ask about tummy tuck surgery include:
  • Why am I a good candidate for the tuck you’ve suggested?
  • How long will recovery take and what kind of help will I need?
  • Which parts of recovery are the easiest/hardest for most people?
  • Can I see tummy tuck photos so I can imagine my “new” body?
  • How can I make sure I get the best results from a tummy tuck?
Questions to ask about your plastic surgeon include:
  • Do you specialize in plastic surgery?
  • Are you board certified in lastic surgery?
  • Are you state licensed?
  • How many years have you been in practice?
  • How many tummy tucks have you performed?
Ask questions until you’re sure you’ll get the best care anywhere. Be sure to ask for before and after tummy tuck photos

Tummy Tuck – What Do You Know?

A tummy tuck is not designed to help you lose weight or avoid exercise. It’s not a way to banish stretch marks either; if they lie along areas of skin being removed during your tuck, consider that an added bonus.

Abdominoplasty is NOT recommended if you:
  • Smoke frequently/at all
  • Are in poor physical health
  • Have weight that fluctuates
  • Plan to shed lots of pounds
  • Have unrealistic expectations
Typically, abdominoplasty falls into one of two categories:
  • Full Tummy Tuck – 2 to 5 hrs. of surgery
  • Mini Tummy Tuck – 1 to 2 hrs. of surgery
Full Tummy Tuck – A full tuck requires an initial, hipbone-to-hipbone incision and a second incision at the navel. Fat and skin are lifted so abdominal muscles can be tightened. Excess skin is removed and your belly button is then stitched into place (usually in a new location).

Mini Tummy Tuck – A mini tuck is more localized, addressing the abdomen’s lower half. A shorter incision is required. Muscles are tightened and excess skin is removed. Your belly button may be unaffected or repositioned. Since it’s less invasive, risk of infection may be lower.

General or local anesthesia with intravenous sedation may be used and your vital signs will be monitored during surgery. Liposuction can be performed alongside a tummy tuck and may even influence whether your plastic surgeon suggests a mini or a full tuck.

Tummy Tuck Recovery – Are You Ready?

By this time, you’ve met with a plastic surgeon. You understand cost of tummy tuck and have seen enough tummy tuck photos to know this procedure is for you. When you schedule surgery, ask for recovery instructions and start prepping.

TIP: Keep your recovery instructions handy and share them with whoever is helping you recover after surgery. Prep for your tummy tuck by doing the following:
  • Fill related prescriptions
  • Schedule time off from work/activities
  • Select a comfortable recovery location
  • Keep your plastic surgeon’s phone # handy
Prior to surgery, ask your plastic surgeon what to expect:
  • What medications will I get/take? Why?
  • Will my stitches need to be removed? When?
  • When will my dressings/bandages to be removed?
  • When can I go back to work, do chores and exercise?
  • How many follow-up visits do I need? Can I schedule them now?
Immediately following surgery:
  • Dressings &/or Bandages – will be applied at incision points
  • Elastic Bandages – may be used to keep swelling to a minimum
  • Compression Garments – may be recommended for extra support
  • Drain Tube(s) – may be inserted to collect blood and/or fluids
The steps above are taken by your plastic surgery team to reduce/minimize swelling.

Tummy Tuck Recovery – By the Numbers

Once surgery’s complete, practice self care. Follow doctor’s orders when attending to your incision points. Apply or take recommended medications to reduce pain, swelling and the risk of infection. Some may be topical and others come in pill form.

Tummy tuck recovery can be a numbers game:
  • In 2 to 5 Days – drain tubes will be removed
  • In 2 to 5 Days – your bandages will be changed
  • In 7 to 10 Days – stitches will be removed, as needed
  • In 1 to 3 Weeks – you can return to work/do housework
  • In 4 to 8 Weeks – you can resume exercise/rigorous activity
Other things about recovery worth knowing include:
  • Standing up straight may hurt at first
  • Swelling may stick around for a few weeks
  • Clothing may feel restrictive due to swelling
  • You may be prescribed a pain control pump
  • You can experience numbness for 6+ mos.
  • Your scars should fade within 9 to 12 mos.
Know what signs of infection to look for, as well – intense pain, bleeding, puss, oozing and/or a 100+ deg. fever. Ask your plastic surgeon for a list of symptoms and phone numbers to call (during and after hours) if you believe an infection is setting in.

Abdominoplasty should help you look and feel better about your body. Learn about the risks and benefits of a tummy tuck before scheduling surgery. And, ask your plastic surgeon to help you establish a plan for recovery that is sure to “flat”-ter you!

 
 


 
 

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