Body

Tummy Tuck Recovery: 10 Must Do’s

What to do after a tummy tuck? While the tummy tuck is a common surgery, many patients may be anxious about how they’ll feel after treatment. Keep the following 10 tummy tuck recovery tips that are all must do’s in mind to help you know what to expect from your abdominoplasty recovery and what to do to ensure that you heal properly.

Things To Do In Your Recovery Time For A Tummy Tuck

1. SUTURES

Most of the sutures that are used in the procedure are dissolvable. These are typically woven under the skin in order to avoid the development of “stitch marks.” Some of the sutures placed around the belly button are non-dissolvable, though, and must be removed two weeks after the surgery. You must not remove the white tape placed over the incisions (steri-strips) until it has begun to peel around the edges. Once this has occurred and the tape has been removed the incision site can heal on its own, without requiring any further dressing.

The skin surrounding the treatment site will feel tight immediately after surgery and care should be taken to avoid any pulling on the incisions. You are encouraged to walk slightly bent forward and to place pillows under your knees and head while resting for the first two to three days. Sleeping on your side with a slight bend in the waist (similar to a fetal position) and getting up from lying down in stages (turn from the side, hang the legs over the edge of the bed and carefully use arms to move into a sitting position) are also good ways to reduce pain and maximize comfort. Avoid sitting upright in chairs for the first week as well. Following these steps will help your abdomen to heal properly.

2. TUMMY TUCK SCAR TREATMENT

Once the steri-strips and any other dressings have been removed, you can start to apply a scar cream (such as Dermatix) to the incision sites. Immediately after surgery your scars will be slightly raised and red, but after three to six months of proper care they should begin to flatten and lighten. Scars should be kept away from direct sunlight during the first year of healing. SPF 30 (or higher) sun block must be applied if the line is to be exposed to sunlight. Overexposure can result in pigmentation changes.

3. DRAINS

Drains are used to remove the excess blood and/or fluid related to surgery, helping to prevent their accumulation under the skin. These drains are usually removed within ten days, but, in some cases, may need to be left for a longer period of time. Your drains should be emptied — and the amount of drainage recorded — two to three times each day. Your reports let us know when it is safe to remove the drains.

4. BATHING AND WATER

Bathing will not be possible until all drains and sutures have been removed. You must also wait until the incisions have had a chance to begin properly healing (approximately two weeks) before taking a bath. Swimming pools and whirlpools must also be avoided for at least one month.

5. THE COMPRESSION GARMENT

A compression garment (abdominal binder) must be worn at all times (except during showers or garment washing) for three weeks. During the following three weeks (ie from weeks three to six) the garment can be taken off at night, but must be worn during the day. It’s important to check that the garment is kept in place. If it has slipped upward and isn’t properly covering the incision you should be sure to pull it back down into place by the sides.

The compression garment is important for the healing process for the following reasons:

  • it supports the tightening of the abdominal muscles
  • works to decrease swelling
  • helps the skin to conform to its new position
  • prevents fluid from accumulating under the skin
  • if you don’t now wear your compression garment as directed, your results may be suboptimal
  • the risk of seroma formation may also be increased

6. DISCOMFORT


Dr. Edelstein talks about pain management following tummy tuck surgery.
The greatest discomfort you will experience during recovery will be within the first 24 to 48 hours following surgery. This can be alleviated by taking your prescribed pain medication. To avoid nausea, take this medication with liquids, crackers, soup or toast. Constipation is a common side effect of pain medication, but over the counter stool softeners (like Docusate or Colace) will help to relieve the problem or stop it from developing.

7. AVOID SPECIFIC MEDICATIONS AND ALCOHOL

Certain medications can cause bruising or drainage to increase. Aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Aleve and several other medications must be avoided for two weeks after treatment. You should also refrain from drinking alcohol during this time.

8. AVOID HOT OR COLD WATER COMPRESSES

Hot or cold water bottles/compresses should not be used during recovery unless recommended by your surgeon. Because the tummy tuck temporarily minimizes your ability to properly sense or feel your abdomen, applying hot or cold to the treatment site can lead to frostbite or burns without you noticing.

9. LIMIT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Strenuous activity must be avoided while your body heals. You should maintain your daily routine as soon as you feel able to, but avoid lifting, pushing or pulling any objects over five pounds for six weeks. Unnecessary strain causes harmful pressure and stress on the treatment site. Any kind of straining, lifting or abdominal bending (like picking something up from the floor) should also be avoided. You can resume cardio exercises after about three to four weeks, but abdominal crunches, weight lifting and other strenuous activities must be avoided until at least six weeks following surgery.

10. TAKE TIME OFF TO RECOVER

It’s a good idea to plan to be off work for two to three weeks. During this time you should be sure to relax and let your body heal, but still engage in mild physical activity like casual walks. We recommend that patients not spend all day in bed during recovery as inactivity can cause the formation of deep leg vein clots.

Recovering from a tummy tuck properly is important for your health and for you to be able to enjoy your results!

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Before undergoing any Plastic Surgery Canada procedure, consult an experienced and reputable Plastic Surgeon. Book your consultation at our plastic surgery clinic in Toronto by calling (416) 256-4194 or by clicking here.

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