A tummy tuck, medically known as an abdominoplasty, is an excellent option for anyone who can’t achieve the flat tummy they want through diet and exercise. Many people have excess skin after having a baby or significant weight loss, and a tummy tuck is the ideal (and only) way to remove that skin. This surgery can also remove lingering fat and create a whole new midsection. Since a tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure, it does require some recovery time. While the recovery can vary by patient, the information below applies to the vast majority of tummy tuck patients. Here is what you can expect regarding tummy tuck recovery time.

 

Planning Ahead to Heal More Effectively

To heal as quickly and effectively as possible, planning ahead is wise. During the first week or two or of recovery, you may need to make some changes in your regular routine. Have a family member or friend stay with you to help out for at least a few days post-surgery.

In the past, tummy tuck patients had to deal with surgical drains after their procedure. These drains could be messy and difficult to deal with, especially in early recovery. Today, Dr. Patterson uses a specialized suturing technique and TissuGlu, a powerful sealant, to keep the skin positioned properly as it heals. TissuGlu is a full 10 times stronger than old-fashioned fibrin sealants, making it the ideal choice to replace drains. The lack of drains means that tummy tuck patients can focus on resting and healing, which can make the entire recovery easier.

Week 1 Recovery

Your Diet: Tummy tuck patients need to monitor the sodium in their diet for the first week or so post-surgery. A low sodium diet will help prevent excess swelling.

Possible Side Effects: It is normal to feel some pain, swelling, and bruising in the abdominal area for the first week. Patients may also feel a sense of unusual tightness. Pain can be effectively managed with over the counter analgesics recommended by Dr. Patterson, as well as prescription pain medicine for the more serious pain.

Bandages: Bandages will have some degree of fluid and blood on them, but it will not be excessive. Bandages can be changed every other day after the incision area is gently cleaned.

Compression Garment: The compression garment that you are given after your tummy tuck surgery should be worn at all times, other than showering and laundering, during the first week.

Showering: Showering should be avoided the day of surgery, but it is safe to shower one or two days following surgery.

What to Avoid: Off-limit activities include: Driving, exercise, lifting anything, housework, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Top Tips For Recovery in Week 1

  • Drink plenty of water, as hydration is an important part of healing
  • Stay in bed. Take advantage of this chance to sleep and rest as much as possible.
  • Have a friend or family member stay at your home for at least three days post-surgery to help out
  • Wear your compression garment, even if it feels restrictive. This garment can help reduce pain and aid in healing.
  • If you experience pain and swelling, use an ice compress
  • Restrict movement, particularly reaching and bending excessively. Bend slightly at the waist to stay as comfortable as possible.
  • Take pain medicine as directed, including the use of any over the counter medication. Don’t take any medications that Dr. Patterson tells you to avoid until you get the okay to resume taking them.

Week 2 Recovery

Your Diet:Tummy tuck patients may resume their usual diet in week two, but it is best to continue a low sodium diet if possible to prevent excess swelling.

Possible Side Effects: It is normal to still have swelling in the abdominal area. Pain, bruising, and tightness will significantly lessened by this time.

Bandages: Bandages will have some degree of fluid and blood on them, but it will not be excessive. Bandages can be changed every other day after the incision area is gently cleaned.

Compression Garment: The compression garment that you are given after your tummy tuck surgery should be worn at all times, other than showering and laundering, during the first week.

Showering: Showering should be avoided the day of surgery, but it is safe to shower one or two days following surgery.

What to Avoid: Off-limit activities include: Driving, exercise, lifting anything, housework, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Massage for Healing: Massage of the abdominal area during the second week can help with healing.

Minimizing Scars: Patients may apply vitamin E or silicone sheets to the surgical incisions to minimize scarring.

Compression Garment: The compression garment should still be worn at all times, other than showering and laundering.

Returning to Work: Most people feel ready to go back to work (and most of their routines) about 10 to 14 days post-surgery. If you combined two surgeries, for example a breast reduction and a tummy tuck, a few extra days of rest may be beneficial.

What to Avoid: Patients can begin driving again in week two, but should still avoid exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Top Tips For Recovery in Week 2

  • Stay hydrated with plenty of water
  • Wear your compression garment faithfully
  • Don’t resume full exercise yet, but walk short distances at a moderate pace

Week 3 and 4 Recovery

Your Diet: While it’s fine to fully resume regular eating habits at this point, remember that maintaining optimum results means eating healthy and staying within your ideal weight range.

Exercise: A full month after the surgery, light exercise is fine. However, major exercise – especially exercise that impacts the abdomen – should still be avoided for another couple of weeks. Sit-ups and weight training are usually permitted at the six week mark, but make sure to get Dr. Patterson’s okay before doing so.

Compression Garments: You can switch to a medium compression garment at this point, for example Spanx. Continue to wear the medium compression garment for a full four to six weeks post-surgery.

Your Final Results: Remember that it may take between three and six months to fully realize tummy tuck results.

Are You Ready For a Flatter Tummy?

Click below to schedule a consultation today. As one of the premier cosmetic surgery specialist on the Gulf Coast, Dr. Patterson can help you realize your dreams of a flatter tummy at last.