A Tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure where excess skin and fat is removed from the stomach area, which can have a smoothing and tightening effect on your mid-section. If you are considering tummy tuck surgery, you may also consider tummy tuck recovery to better plan for your procedure.
Preparing for Tummy Tuck Surgery
You can prepare for a tummy tuck by:
- Providing your detailed medical history to Dr. Doyle
- Consulting with Dr. Doyle about the various risks and your expectations from the surgery
- Stop smoking at least two weeks before surgery
- Not using certain medicines like aspirin and blood-thinning medications
- Preparing your recovery area of home
- Arranging someone to drive you home after the procedure
- Reaching your optimal weight and maintaining it for six months before the procedure
The surgery for a tummy tuck is relatively straightforward. It can tighten your abdomen and remove any excess skin to help improve the contour of your abdomen. Depending on the amount of excess skin that is needed to be removed, the procedure can take anywhere from two to five hours. You may need to stay the night at the hospital for monitoring purposes. The results following a tummy tuck are usually permanent but significant weight gain or loss or pregnancy after the procedure can hamper this result.
There are various types of tummy tucks available and the suitable one for you will depend upon your body and goal. A Tummy tuck can also be performed with other procedures like liposuction to further enhance the result of your tummy tuck.
Recovery Timeline After Tummy Tuck
As each person is different, their rate of healing is different; people may have their own unique experiences during the recovery period. Following the post-operative care instructions carefully will make your recoveries easier and result in the best outcome.
Commonly, tummy tuck recovery will take about a month to six weeks and a detailed description of the timeline is mentioned below:
After the completion of the procedure, there will be some swelling, bruising, tightness of the abdomen, and discomfort. Drainage tubes will be placed under the skin to collect fluid and help in the healing process. A small plastic tube connected to a pain pump will also be placed under the skin. This automatically squirts local anaesthetic under the skin for the first 3 days after your procedure. It is responsible for improving your pain and discomfort significantly. Before leaving the hospital, you’ll be given a compression garment that you need to wear for the next six weeks. Antibiotics and pain medications will be prescribed to prevent infection at the incision site and subside any pain.
You may need to stay in the hospital overnight for monitoring and will need to have someone drive you home. This is because you may feel dizzy and sleepy from the general anaesthesia, so you’ll not be in a condition to drive home by yourself. It’s also recommended that you arrange for someone to take care of you for up to 48 hours following your surgery.
You should start feeling a bit better than the first two days after surgery but there still will be discomfort, tenderness, and swelling. If Dr Doyle is satisfied with your recovery, you may be allowed to take a bath. However, you should keep the drainage site dry and pat dry your incision site after bathing.
You might experience constipation and stomach aches, which are the side effect of the pain medication. You should try moving a bit as soon as your mobility increases as it increases the blood circulation aiding in your recovery process.
The pain pump will be removed around this time and it is quite common for the drains to be removed at the same time, depending on the amount of drainage you are having.
Week One Tummy Tuck Recovery
Surgical drains will be removed either at this period or earlier, depending on your rate of recovery. Your mobility will be greater than in the initial days after surgery, and you should try to increase your mobility slowly. You may even be able to stand up straight a week after the surgery.
However, you should not exert yourself physically as you’ll not be able to do a lot. You’ll still have some tightness, pain, swelling, and bruising during this period.
There will be a great reduction in the pain, swelling, and tightness of the abdomen than in the first few days.
Week Two Tummy Tuck Recovery
The pain and tightness will subside gradually, but some swelling should be still present near the incision site. You may be able to do light activities without much pain. And, if you have extensively recovered you may even be able to return to your workplace.
You still won’t be able to indulge in any strenuous physical activity like exercising, as it will hamper your recovery. Smoking, weight lifting, drinking and physically taxing exercises during this period will still be off-limits. You’ll be able to start on your scar minimising treatment.
Three to Four Weeks Tummy Tuck Recovery
You should be feeling more normal by this time. You should be able to resume light exercises during this period while some may be even able to resume strenuous exercises. However, it is advised that you consult with Dr Doyle before attempting physically demanding exercises. Sit-ups should still be avoided and only attempted 12 weeks after your abdominoplasty surgery.
Almost all of the pain, tightness, and bruising will be minimal or gone. Swelling may still be present to some extent and may last up to three months. You will still feel some numbness during this period, which will gradually decrease with time.
You’ll be able to see the result of the procedure after six months. Scarring will take anywhere from 12-18 months to completely fade.
Tips for Faster Recovery After Tummy Tuck
1. Have someone to support you
Due to the effects of the anesthetics, you will feel a bit dizzy and sleepy. On top of this, pain, swelling, bruising, and tightening of the abdomen will make it difficult to perform any physical tasks. So, you will need someone to drive you home after the surgery and have someone to take care of you for the next 48 hours.
2. Prepare your recovery room
Preparing a recovery room before your operation will help you a lot in your recovery journey. It is recommended that you sleep on your back in a slightly bent position. A recliner is considered the best place to sleep in but if you do not own one, you’ll be able to achieve this position with a few extra pillows.
3. Eat a healthy diet
You should consume a nutritious and healthy diet that will supply your body with plenty of energy to recover. You should keep yourself properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Alcohol should be avoided for the initial few weeks.
It is recommended that you have a low sodium diet over the first week as it helps reduce swelling. In case of constipation, you can have some probiotic or whole-fat yogurt to ease it.
4. Know the potential risks and complications
Every surgical procedure is associated with potential risks and complications. A tummy tuck is considered major surgery but is relatively safe. You should thoroughly understand all the risks and complications before deciding to undergo the surgery.
Some risks and complications associated with a tummy tuck include:
- General risks like including bleeding, anaesthetic risks, and infection
- Fluid accumulation
- Poor wound healing
- Visible scarring
- Loss of excess skin
- Loss or changes in skin sensation around the incision site
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Asymmetric results
- Requirement for a revision surgery
You should be in constant touch with Dr Doyle post-surgery and update him if you have concerns about your condition.
5. Stop smoking before and after surgery
Smoking not only increases your risk for other complications but hampers the recovery process producing an inferior result. Nicotine present in the cigarette is known to cause blood vessels to constrict causing damage to the blood vessels necessary for recovery. You should stop smoking six to eight weeks before and after the surgery.
6. Rest and limit your movement
You should take at least two weeks off from your work and get adequate rest. Your mobility will return gradually and you should start with gentle movements during this period. You should not force yourself into strenuous activities. Highly taxing physical activities should be attempted only after the permission of Dr Doyle. You should wait at least two weeks before returning to everyday activities and up to four to six weeks before returning to strenuous activities.
7. Wear your compression garment
The compression garment is essential for your recovery as it provides support, minimalises swelling, and reduces the risk of seroma. It should be worn right after surgery for up to six to eight weeks.
8. Follow your post-operative care instructions
The post-operative care instructions provided by Dr Doyle are meant to help make your recovery easier. You should strictly follow them.
Tips for a Faster Tummy Tuck Recovery
- Sleep on your back in a slightly bent position
- Eat a low sodium diet
- Have someone to support you
- Wear the compression garment at least six to eight weeks post-operatively
- Get plenty of rest and limit your movement
- Do not attempt physically demanding activities
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
- Follow your post-operative care instructions
Tummy Tuck Recovery Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs About Recovering After Abdominoplasty
Does a tummy tuck lift your pubic area?
A tummy tuck can be designed to lift your pubic area. This has become an increasingly popular request and gives an excellent cosmetic and functional result.
What hurts more a C-section or tummy tuck?
There is no definitive answer to this as each person’s pain tolerance level varies. For some C-section hurts more than a tummy tuck and vice versa.
Can you sleep on your side after a tummy tuck?
How you sleep during the first few days and the first few weeks following a tummy tuck is important for both your recovery and the result of the surgery. It is recommended you sleep on your back or in an elevated position rather than on your side for the initial few weeks.
How long is a tummy tuck recovery?
After a tummy tuck, you will be able to return to light activity within a fortnight and the majority of swelling should subside after about six weeks. Complete recovery following the surgery will take about half a year.
How long does numbness last after a tummy tuck?
Numbness can last for up to eighteen months after a tummy tuck.
How to reduce swelling after a tummy tuck?
Swelling after a tummy tuck can be reduced by wearing a compression garment, staying mobile, maintaining a healthy diet, and the use of prescribed medications.
How painful is a tummy tuck recovery?
The first few days after the surgery are usually a little painful. This is minimised by Dr Doyle inserting a small plastic tube connected to a pain pump that is placed under the skin. This automatically squirts local anaesthetic under the skin for the first 3 days after your procedure. It is responsible for improving your pain and discomfort significantly. You can use pain medications in case of intense pain. You may also feel a pulling sensation after the procedure but this is quite normal and will gradually subside with time. However, swelling will last up to three months.
How to stand up straight after a tummy tuck?
Standing up straight normally would stretch the muscles of the abdomen resulting in discomfort. You should try and stand up in a bent-over position during the first few weeks of your tummy tuck recovery.
How to reduce scar tissue after a tummy tuck?
You can reduce scar tissues after a tummy tuck by following the steps given below:
- Carefully following the post-surgery instructions provided by Dr. Doyle.
- Use silicone-based scar gels provided after your procedure.
- Avoiding exposing the scar to the sun, apply sunscreen when doing so.
- Monitoring for infection, as infection can lead permanent scarring.
- Applying topical creams.
What happens if you don’t wear a compression garment after a tummy tuck?
The compression garment is essential for your recovery as it provides support, reduces swelling, and reduces the risk of seroma. It is recommended to wear it for six to weeks. If you don’t wear the compression garment during this period you run the risk of slower recovery, persistent swelling, seroma, and inferior results.
Can you gain belly fat after a tummy tuck?
Yes, you can gain belly fat after a tummy tuck as fat cells are still present and can expand with weight gain. It’s recommended that you maintain your weight to avoid this. This is why we request that you maintain a stable weight for six months prior to your tummy tuck surgery.
How do I get out of bed after a tummy tuck?
You should follow the steps listed below to get out of bed after tummy tuck
- Hug one of your pillows.
- Roll onto your side.
- Dangle your feet over the edge of your bed.
- Use your elbows to raise your upper body.
- Use your legs to pull yourself into a sitting position.
Who is Dr Mark Doyle? Why choose him?
Dr Mark Doyle is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with over thirty years of experience performing Breast, Body, Face, and Nose surgery. As a highly esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr Doyle is driven by an intense passion for helping patients achieve a happier, more beautiful self through advanced cosmetic surgery procedures.
He maintains a strong commitment to achieving the best possible results for all his patients, both men, and women.
Book a Consultation
If you would like to learn more about tummy tuck recovery or the procedure itself, book a consultation with Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Doyle.
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About Dr Mark Doyle FRACS (Plast) – Queensland Plastic Surgeon
Servicing patients in Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and New South Wales NSW – Northern Rivers, Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore and more.
Dr Mark Doyle is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with over thirty years of experience performing Breast, Body, Face and Nose surgery. As a highly esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr Mark is driven by an intense passion for helping patients achieve a happier, more beautiful self through advanced cosmetic surgery procedures.
He maintains a strong commitment to achieving the best possible results for all his breast, body, face and nose patients, both men and women.
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*DISCLAIMER: All information on Gold Coast Plastic Surgery website is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Results can vary significantly and depend on individual patient circumstances. All images on this website, unless specified as real patient images, are stock images used for illustrative purposes only. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your surgeon. Book a consult for details regarding your cosmetic surgery procedure.