If you want to avoid complications after your tummy tuck surgery, this guide can help. Here are some tummy tuck aftercare tips.
August 19, 2022
7 min read
Abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure. Essentially, it removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen area. The procedure can also help to tighten up underlying abdominal muscles.
Benefits of a Tummy Tuck
What makes a tummy tuck so popular in today’s day and age? For most people, their goal is to improve the look of the abdominal area and their self-confidence.
Just a few of the pros of choosing a tummy tuck include:
- Improving the look and feel of the abdominal area thanks to the removal of loose or excess skin
- Improvement in the look of scars after abdominal surgeries, such as c-sections
- Improvement in core strength by tightening up the abdominal connective tissue
- Restored mobility and range of motion, especially during exercise
- Improvement in posture due to a stronger abdominal core
- Fixing the separation of your abdominal muscles aka diastasis recti
- You could also experience reduced back pain without the weight of excess skin in the abdomen, and improved core strength
- A boost in self-esteem by feeling more confident and comfortable in your skin
Tummy Tuck Recovery: Post-Surgery Expectations
If you’re seriously considering a tummy tuck, it’s important to have a clear idea of what to expect after your surgery. Most surgeons will tell you that recovery is the most important part.
Your plastic surgeon should explain these crucial parts of your recovery during your pre-surgical appointment briefing:
- If drains will be used and how to take care of them
- How to take care of your incisions
- Signs of infection and how to avoid infection
- Forms of physical activity you must avoid while recovering
- How much you will need to rest
- How to minimize your tummy tuck scar
- What you should avoid doing
- How long you will need to wear your abdominal compression garment to aid in your recovery
- When you’ll have your post-op visit with your surgeon
After surgery, you’ll need someone to drive you home as you go under a general anesthetic during the procedure. It’s important that you have at least one support person around to help you for a few days as you recover.
Your surgeon will brief you on when you can shower and how to do it properly.
Make sure you take the medications your surgeon prescribes. Read more details on this in our Advanced Recovery Treatment Plan.
Tummy Tuck Aftercare Timeline: What to Expect
You may be able to return to work or school in 2 to 4 weeks depending on what kind of work you are going back to. If your job does not involve lifting and extensive time on your feet you may be able to go back to work earlier.
The good news is that an abdominoplasty is an outpatient procedure — which means you can go home the same day. There are several different factors that impact recovery time:
- How old you are
- The type and extent of your tummy tuck, as well as any other cosmetic surgeries performed at the same time
- Your overall health before the surgery
- Your post-surgery care and commitment to recovery
If you have a specific timeline in which you need to recover, you’ll need to discuss this with your plastic surgeon carefully. They cannot guarantee that you’ll recover in this time but can help you aim for it.
Week by Week Progress: Week One
During the first few days of recovery, you can expect swelling, tenderness, bruising, and a ”tight” feeling in your abdominal area. If you have drains, they are there to help remove excess fluid from behind the skin. The drains are usually left in place for a week or two. Read more about what drains are here.
As mentioned, you do not need to stay overnight in the hospital, you can head home after your surgery. However, this might change if there are complications during the surgery, but this is rare.
You won’t be able to see the incision area or your abdomen very much due to the bandages that cover your incision in order to keep things clean and dry. Not only this, but you must wear a compression garment for the first few weeks to assist with swelling and to help the skin adhere back down to the muscle.
Depending on the surgery, you might be able to have a light shower or sponge bath — it’s important not to submerge your incision in water at this point. Let your plastic surgeon guide you on the timeframe for this.
It’s also important to avoid lifting heavy things or bending and twisting at the waist too much. Also do not drive until you are cleared by your doctor.
Light walking is enough exercise for at least the first two weeks.
When week two approaches, you’ll find that your pain levels subside greatly and the swelling will reduce. You might still have bruising, tenderness, and tightness around the incision site. But these side effects will all begin to fade by the end of the second week.
You’ll still need to wear the compression garment as much as possible. At this stage, you might have a checkup with your surgeon and they could give you the ”go ahead” to begin certain scar treatments that speed up healing. But this differs from one person to the next. Read our guide on minimizing tummy tuck scars.
If need be, you might be able to return to minimal desk work, while exercise is still limited to light walking.
By this stage, your bandages are gone, and most of your pain/discomfort will fade. However, you might still have some lingering bruising around your abdomen and a slight feeling of tightness around your abdomen.
You must still wear your compression garment, but you won’t have to wear it all day and night. In week three-four you can resume most of your normal day-to-day activities and even begin some light exercise. It’s still important to avoid heavy lifting or very strenuous workouts such as running or HIIT.
By week four, most of the swelling will subside and you’ll most likely see the results beginning to settle.
In the last weeks of your recovery, you shouldn’t experience any more obvious pain or discomfort. Your scar might be a little sensitive or even numb to the touch, but not painful. Even though you’re at the end of your recovery, it’s important to get the ”go ahead” from your surgeon regarding a return to strenuous exercise.
By week eight most of the swelling and bruising will have subsided and you’ll be able to see the results of your procedure more clearly. As time progresses, the results will only reveal themselves even more.
Aftercare and Recovery Tips
While a tummy tuck can make a big difference in how you look, your recovery and level of aftercare play a key role in the results you see in the mirror. Here are some of the most important aftercare tips to keep in mind:
1. Follow a Healthy Tummy Tuck Diet
Post-surgery, your body needs all the help it can get in order to recover. The best way you can help is by putting the right type of food in your body. This is also important so that you can maintain your ideal weight while you recover in order to reap the best results.
Your plastic surgeon might suggest the best types of foods to eat during your recovery, but well-balanced meals are essential. This includes foods such as lean meat, wholegrains, fresh fruit, and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Avoid alcohol completely at this time.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Along with the right type of nourishment, your body also needs plenty of hydration in order to recover well. Make sure to drink as much water as possible during your recovery, and thereafter — at minimum, drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
Hydration plays a key role in flushing out toxins from the body. Drinking enough water helps to reduce excess swelling.
3. Carefully Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions
Your surgeon will guide you on the important ways to minimize the risks of complications and infection. This includes reducing your exposure to bacteria and germs, getting plenty of rest, eating a well-balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes.
It’s absolutely crucial that you follow these instructions, especially in your first two-three weeks of recovery.
It’s important for your surgeon to be involved in your recovery, and that means scheduling appropriate post-op visits. When you’re in regular contact with your surgeon, they can keep a better eye on how you’re healing, and catch potential problems early.
4. Enlist the Help of Family and Friends
In your first couple of weeks of recovery, it’s important to rest as much as possible. This is one of the best ways to help your body heal. It is important to keep in mind that you will also have reduced mobility and might be in a fair bit of pain.
Make sure to enlist the help of family members or friends during this time. Ask them to take over childcare, cooking, or cleaning duties for the first week or two. Read our recovery guide on How to Recover With Young Kids.
5. Keep Your Expectations In-Check
Keep in mind that a tummy tuck is an invasive form of surgery. This means that the recovery will take time, so it’s important to be patient and not expect amazing results right away.
Give your body the time it needs to heal, for the swelling to subside, and allow your body to reveal the results you’re looking for in its own time.
6. Move Your Body, but Don’t Overdo It
While you need to prioritize rest during your recovery, movement is also important. Getting out of bed and walking around the house is a good way to reduce the risk of blood clots. It will also help prevent a sore, stiff, and achy body.
Take some time to do a few slow laps inside your house or out in your garden throughout the day in order to keep your circulation going. As a general rule, after every 2 hours, get up and walk for 10 minutes. You don’t need to get up if you’re sleeping for the night.
Although you should start walking as soon as possible after your tummy tuck, avoid doing any activity more strenuous than that.
Thinking of a Tummy Tuck In Temecula or Redlands?
We all deserve to feel truly comfortable in our skin and if a tummy tuck is something that can achieve that for you, then we are the team you need on your side.
Get in touch with our team today to schedule your consultation.