Posted by Dr. Shareef Jandali
Many patients are often concerned about the recovery after a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty. I thought I would review the recovery in detail, in chronological order after surgery.
A tummy tuck is an outpatient surgery, meaning patients do not need to stay overnight in the hospital after surgery. A tummy tuck involves removal of all the skin and fat between the umbilicus (belly button) and the pubic area. Therefore, immediately after surgery, the patient must be flexed at the waist in order to avoid pulling or tension on the incision. Patients walk slightly hunched over for this reason as they leave the hospital. Every patient is placed in an abdominal binder at the end of surgery, which helps support the abdomen and decreases any swelling from liposuction.
At Jandali Plastic Surgery, we give patients all of their prescriptions before surgery at their preoperative visit. This way, they can fill them ahead of time and don’t have to worry about filling them on their way home after surgery. They are given a prescription for nausea, although this is rare. In addition, they are given a prescription for a pain medicine like Percocet and a muscle relaxant like Valium. This combination works very well to keep the patient comfortable after a tummy tuck.
There are usually two drains in the abdomen which come out right above the pubic area. These drains are meant to prevent any fluid from collecting in the surgical site under the skin. These need to be emptied once or twice a day at home, which is fairly straightforward and instructions are given by our staff. The drains are usually removed 7-10 days after the surgery.
Immediately after surgery, it is important to get up and walk around every two hours while awake. Just sitting or lying in bed can cause clot formation in the legs, which can be dangerous.
Two days after surgery, the patient can shower. I instruct patients to tie a long ribbon around their neck so that the drains can be pinned to this and aren’t just dangling from the skin. It is best to shower mostly with one’s back toward the shower, but it is good to let soapy water run over the abdomen, just not soak the incisions. Baths are not allowed as they will soak the incisions. The abdomen should be padded dry afterwards.
Although the scars are always placed nice and low, and hidden underneath the panty line, it is still important to have a nice thin scar after surgery. We give every patient a complimentary SkinMedica Scar Recovery Gel, which is applied twice daily, usually starting about two weeks after surgery. In addition, we instruct patients to massage the scar as they apply the scar cream, which aids in final scar appearance.
Patients can usually walk completely upright within a few days to a week after surgery. Routine daily activities can be performed the day after surgery. As long as work doesn’t involve heavy lifting, patients can usually return to work about 7-10 days after surgery.
New mothers who are done having children often want to have surgery as soon as possible to return to their pre-pregnancy body. However, their weight should be stable for about 3 months and it is best if it has returned to their pre-pregnancy weight. In addition, timing for surgery needs to take into account the need to lift the new baby after surgery. I advise female patients who are new mothers that they need to have some help with the baby around the house for the first few weeks after surgery. In addition, toddlers cannot be lifted for about 2 months after surgery, as they can often weigh 20-30 lbs.
Patients can have sex a few weeks after a tummy tuck, as long as they feel comfortable and the sex is not too vigorous. Any position that could put too much tension on the incision should be avoided until about 6 weeks after surgery.
We advise patients not to lift, push, or pull anything more than about 10 pounds, for about a month after surgery. At about 6 weeks after surgery, light aerobic exercise can be resumed. At 8 weeks after surgery, any exercise can be performed, including core exercises or sit-ups.
If you are interested in an abdominoplasty, come visit our plastic surgery office in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Call 203-374-0310 to set up an appointment with Dr. Shareef Jandali. We look forward to seeing you!