Undergoing a tummy tuck procedure is a serious consideration. The procedure itself can do wonders to restore slimmer, smoother contours to your lower abdomen by removing saggy skin and belly fat. It can also repair underlying muscles that have been stretched for example during pregnancy. These results are especially appealing to women who have had multiple children. But beware: a tummy tuck is much more than a “tuck.” It is invasive surgery that requires downtime for recovery. It can often be difficult to exercise the patience it takes for a full and healthy recovery.
We know you want your recovery to be as short and painless as possible, but you must give your body the time and care it needs to heal well. Healing time will differ depending on which type of procedure you undergo.
Mini-abdominoplasty is a less invasive option and is indicated for patients with excess lower abdominal skin with or without a lax lower abdominal wall. The procedure can be combined with liposuction to remove excess fat.
Full abdominoplasty is the best option for men and women with excess upper and lower abdominal skin with or without abdominal wall laxity.
Both procedures can be combined with liposuction to remove excess fat and repair of the laxity of the abdominal wall.
Recovery from a mini procedure may be faster, but the post-surgery dos and don’ts are much the same. These tips will help when you’re recovering from either type of tummy tuck surgery.
1. Give Yourself a Healthy Head Start
The smoothest road to recovery starts before your surgery. Age, weight, and overall health affect the outcome. If you smoke, you’ll need to give it up ahead of time and stay away from smoking during your recovery period, (What a great time to quit!) for at least 2 weeks. Smoking constricts blood vessels, and your body needs maximum circulation for healing. Exercise is essential, even if your regimen is not strict and intense. Every little bit counts.
2. Create a “Recovery Headquarters”
Think about what you will need in the first few weeks following surgery. You won’t be able to drive for about 2 weeks or do anything strenuous, so you’ll need help for trips to the store, household chores, etc. Take time to organize assistance and provisions. Set up an area that can serve as your comfort zone to rest - near the tv, stocked with books and magazines, your knitting needles and a phone charger ready to go. It will be easier to relax if you can slip right into that space when you come home.
3. Follow Your Doctor’s Orders Exactly!
The tummy tuck is performed as an inpatient surgery for 1 or 2 nights after the surgery, so you’ll need someone to drive you home after discharge. Our BHSSCI medical team will give you written at-home care instructions and go over them with you before you leave. Never hesitate to call if you have questions or concerns.
Instructions will cover everything from caring for your incision site, to wearing your compression garment, to safe exercises. These are not suggestions. They are medically necessary steps to help you reach optimal recovery. Cutting corners or doing too much too soon can delay your recovery and negatively impact your body’s ability to heal. Taking it easy now will make you stronger later.
4. Move Around After Your Tummy Tuck
Keeping your blood flowing is essential for healing and to reduce the risk of blood clots. While “take it easy” should be your mantra initially, getting up and moving around - doing a little walking - are good for you. Each day you’ll be able to detect a bit more progress. Most patients can handle additional light exercise after about two weeks, but you’ll have to wait six weeks for more strenuous exercise.
5. Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated When Recovering From a Tummy Tuck
Drinking plenty of water keeps your body and skin moisturized and helps flush away toxins. No alcohol while you’re taking pain medication and no smoking. Eating a healthy high protein, high fiber and low fat diet will provide the best fuel for your recovery. You can also ask your surgeon about vitamins or herbal supplements that might help you heal.
Generally speaking, it takes between two and six weeks to fully recover from a tummy tuck. The more you do to support yourself before and during this process, the sooner you will be able to get back to your normal routine and enjoy the results of your surgery.