If you’re planning a tummy tuck, you’re no doubt excited about the results you expect to achieve. You may also know that abdominoplasty requires a longer recovery period than most cosmetic surgeries. Why is that?
Unlike many other procedures, tummy tuck surgery ventures inside the abdominal wall in order to tighten muscles that have become loose and separated. Healing from this and the other techniques plastic surgeons often choose to slim the torso (such as liposuction) means that the body uses a great deal of its “healing reserves” after surgery, notes Dr. Andrew Gear in an article on RealSelf.
Interestingly, though, like Dr. Gear, we have noticed that many of our New York tummy tuck patients bounce back pretty quickly and easily after surgery, while some take a bit longer. We’ve grouped some recovery steps everyone should know about into timeframes—have a quick look at these measures that are under your control:
As Dr. Gear states in his article, those people in good shape before surgery tend to zip through the post-op period. Even if you’re not in tip-top form right now, you can begin an exercise program and make progress. Similarly, you can work on your diet not just to be close to your optimal weight, but to ensure your body has the nutrients it needs as well. Make a few changes if your eating habits aren’t the best, but don’t starve your body!
Dr. Gear also emphasizes the benefits of thinking positively, both physically and mentally. Those who expect to do well after surgery tend to have a good experience.
Initial Tummy Tuck Recovery
During the first few days following their procedure, we advise our New York tummy tuck patients to be kind to themselves. Even though we are careful to avoid issues such as significant blood loss during surgery, the procedure does take the “starch” out of you. Be sure to be ready to rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid stress and so on.
Also, be smart about activities. We encourage gentle walking, with more mobility added each day. This promotes good circulation to aid the healing process and prevent blood clots. On the other hand, abdominal muscles must not be strained. That means no lifting and no strenuous exercise for a while. It also means avoiding constipation by taking stool softeners we’ll prescribe.
Smart Beauty Guide, a website published by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, offers more suggestions for recovering from a tummy tuck. Other plans recommended for the initial post-op period include:
• Having help at home: You’ll need someone with you, at least for a few days, to help you get up from reclining positions. They can also help with meal preparation, pet care and other tasks around the house. After this, you may have someone stop in daily or be “on call” if you live alone.
• Resting: Be sure to give your body the rest it needs. Have books, magazines, music, movies and other entertainment options on hand. And while you may be able to return to light work in a week or ten days, plan for two weeks away from the job if at all possible.
• Managing discomfort: We usually inject a medication that will minimize pain for the first 72 hours—enough to get the patient through the typical initial pain (many are able to walk upright out of our office!). But it’s completely normal to have moderate discomfort for a few days after that. We suggest you take the prescription medication we’ll prescribe on a schedule for a few days, then taper and switch to over the counter drugs. You’ll heal better and feel better with your discomfort under control, and there’s no benefit to getting off prescription drugs a day or two too soon.
• Pursuing good habits: We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to refrain from smoking after surgery. Smoking slows down circulation, which is a bad idea after any surgical procedure. Also, avoid alcohol and other drugs when you’re on pain medication.
In the Long Run
It goes without saying that after investing in tummy tuck surgery, you’ll want to celebrate the outcome. So go ahead and buy some new clothes that show off your figure, and maybe plan a tropical vacation. But give some thought to making your results last the rest of your life too. Even if you were in fine form before surgery, consider how you can maintain good health as your body ages. Incorporating a diet that makes sense and frequent exercise into your everyday life will ensure you get the most out of your abdominoplasty now and in the future.
Even though a tummy tuck dictates a recovery period that’s more involved than many surgeries, patients almost universally say the results are well worth it. In fact, a new study confirms that the procedure helps restore both form AND function—you can read our blog post about that here.
If you would like to talk with us about whether a tummy tuck in New York makes sense for you, just send us a quick email.