Timeline and Tips and Tricks for a Quicker Recovery after a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
Abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck is a fairly common surgical procedure that helps to eliminate excess skin and fat from the abdomen. Abdominoplasty, just like every other surgical procedure, requires a specific recovery period that will vary from person to person. Your recovery after abdominoplasty will depend on several factors including the type of tummy tuck you had, your age, health status, and body weight. Your surgeon of choice will definitely play a huge part in your recovery process and the general success of the procedure.
While there are several surgeons with just enough experience and expertise to carry out abdominoplasty for any individual, it is rare to find a surgeon that will cater to your individual needs and tummy tuck expectations. Over time, Dr. Karan Chopra has proven to be truly committed to his patients in terms of their specific needs and aesthetic expectations.
Abdominoplasty recovery, which may take anywhere from four to eight weeks also greatly depends on your post-surgery care. Therefore, it is important to follow the detailed aftercare instructions that your surgeon will discuss with you after the procedure.
Abdominoplasty Recovery Timeline
After your tummy tuck procedure, you might experience soreness or swelling in your abdomen for a while. You may also lose any sense of feeling in the skin of your stomach for several weeks or months. In most cases, you will be required to wear a compression garment over your abdomen to help with the healing process. Although you may not be able to stand up straight or find the energy to move around for some time after your surgery, it is necessary to take short walks as often as you can to reduce the risk of blood clot formation in the incision area. It is important to note that your tummy tuck will leave a scar that runs horizontally from hip to hip or around the belly button depending on the type of tummy tuck you have. It is impossible to totally eliminate this scar but its appearance can be minimized with the right aftercare.
1. Immediately After the Procedure
After you wake up from your surgery and the general anesthesia wears off, your abdomen will be covered in surgical dressing to stop bleeding and prevent any possible infections. In most cases, you will lose fluids around your incision site and your surgeon will place tiny tubes in that area to prevent accumulation of such fluids and provide easy drainage. These tubes will have to be emptied consistently to prevent occurrence of an infection and their attachment should not cause you any additional discomfort.
Depending on the type of tummy tuck you had and your general condition after the surgery, you might be allowed to go home after 24 to 48 hours or your surgeon may advise that you stay in the hospital for a few days for observation. No matter where you spend your first few days after a tummy tuck, it is necessary to walk for short periods as often as you can to prevent formation of blood clots around your incision site.
Swelling and slight bruising around or on your incision site is completely normal for the first few days after your surgery. Dr. Chopra will prescribe painkillers and antibiotics to help relieve pain and prevent any possible infection to the incision area. You may also be prescribed anticoagulants or blood-thinning medication to help with formation of blood clots.
You will be required to wear a special binding garment over your abdomen after the surgery. This garment will help provide abdominal support and prevent buildup of fluid around your incision. This garment should be worn consistently till your surgeon gives you the go-ahead to take it off. After you leave the hospital, it is recommended that you have someone at home to help you out with daily tasks as quality rest after your surgery is necessary for a speedy recovery.
2. The First Week of Recovery
The first week of recovery for most patients after abdominoplasty is most likely to be the most uncomfortable because of all the restrictions and limitations the patient has to get used to. You will have to be extremely consistent in your aftercare during this week as the first week post-surgery is usually the defining week for a successful tummy tuck recovery.
During the first week of recovery after abdominoplasty, it is normal to experience mild bruising, discomfort and swelling around the incision area. Ice packs and prescribed medications for pain and inflammation should help during this period. You should consult your surgeon or healthcare provider before taking any drug with aspirin or any other medication that was not prescribed by your doctor.
Your abdominal muscles will be recovering during this week and you will likely experience difficulty when trying to bend, lift things, or carry out simple daily tasks in general. Although it is necessary to move around post-surgery to reduce formation of blood clots, you should avoid tasks that require you to put unnecessary pressure on your abdominal muscles. Stressing your abdomen during this delicate recovery time can cause your wound to open thereby affecting the healing process.
You should regularly change the surgical dressing over the incision site and clean the area thoroughly following the surgeon’s aftercare instructions. The tiny tubes that help to drain fluid from the incision site should also be cleaned and taken out during this week when the surgeon deems it fit to do so. Usually, the tubes are taken out after five days.
Any form of smoking or alcohol intake during this period should be avoided as they will have a negative impact on your recovery time and general health. It is necessary to consume a healthy, low-sodium diet and stay hydrated all through your recovery period to maintain and healthy status and possibly speed your recovery time up. You should consult your surgeon if you begin to experience fever, nausea, or any unusual pain around your incision site.
3. The Second Week of Recovery
While the second week of recovery comes with less restrictions than the first, it is still important to carefully obey your surgeon’s aftercare instructions. During this week of recovery, the bruising and swelling around your incision site should begin to fade and the pain should have subsided by now. You should let your surgeon know if you are still experiencing intense pain, bruising, or swelling around this period.
During this second week, your surgeon may clear you to have your stitches removed after careful observation. Whether or not your stitches are removed in the second week, it is still important to clean your incision area and change the surgical dressing regularly. You should continue to take the prescribed pain medication and antibiotics until your surgeon asks you to stop. You will also wear the binding abdominal garment this week to help support your abdomen and improve healing.
A lot of patients are able to resume light daily activities after the first week but strenuous activities and any activity at all that might put pressure on the abdomen should be avoided. Smoking and alcohol intake should still be avoided during this week as they may reverse or slow down your healing process. While you are free to resume your normal diet after the first week of recovery, it is advisable to still limit your sodium intake to reduce inflammation or swelling around your surgical site.
You can begin to take extra aftercare steps recommended by your surgeon to reduce the appearance of a nasty tummy tuck scar. Gentle massages around the surgical area will help promote blood flow and may speed up the healing process. Application of vitamin E, silicone sheets, or Scar Guard consistently and under the supervision of your surgeon should help your tummy tuck scar heal nicely and minimize its appearance.
4. Third and Fourth Weeks of Recovery
During the third and fourth weeks of recovery, you should feel much better and you will be able to resume your daily activities if you weren’t able to do so in the second week. Once you receive approval from your surgeon, you will be able to resume light exercises and longer walks. However, you should put off strenuous exercises or workouts that stress the abdominal muscles such as sit-ups. Most individuals are able to fully resume most exercises much later in their recovery timeline.
You should have complete relief from general pain, bruising and discomfort during this period and the swelling should be at a minimum. It is completely normal to experience some form of numbness in the skin covering your abdomen for a long period after your tummy tuck. You may also experience occasional pangs of pain on or around your incision site for a while. You will also have to continue wearing your binding garment until your surgeon advises you to stop.
This period of recovery is the best time to start creating and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine to help you maintain your ideal weight and abdominal figure. You should also continue the application of scar treatments on your incision area to minimize its final appearance.
Tips and Tricks for a Quick Recovery after Abdominoplasty
Apart from carefully obeying the aftercare instructions of your surgeon, there are some guidelines you can follow post-surgery to speed up your recovery process after abdominoplasty.
- Always remember to change your surgical dressings according to your surgeon’s instructions;
- Wear your abdominal garments regularly until your incision site is completely healed;
- Avoid constipation as much as possible by eating foods high in fiber;
- Avoid alcohol intake, smoking, and vaping for about 6 weeks after your abdominoplasty;
- Take your prescribed medication and do not consume drugs without consulting your surgeon;
- Always keep your wound sterilized and take extra steps to prevent infection of your incision site;
- Avoid strenuous activities and exercises that increase pressure in your abdomen;
- Try to walk with a slightly hunched posture for the first few weeks’ post-surgery as walking with a straight back can cause tension in your abdomen;
- Avoid hot baths post-surgery and try to wear loose-fitting clothes as much as possible;
- Be patient with your body.
FAQs about Abdominoplasty Recovery
What is the best way to sleep after abdominoplasty?
- While it is important to walk with a slightly hunched posture after abdominoplasty, it is also necessary to adopt the right sleeping posture to facilitate a quick recovery. In the first 2 to 4 weeks of recovery after your abdominoplasty, it is recommended that you sleep on your back in a slightly bent position. You may also sleep on your side in a fetal position after the first two weeks’ post-surgery if lying on your back feels unnatural to you.
What type of clothes should I wear after my abdominoplasty?
- During your recovery period after abdominoplasty, you should wear loose-fitting clothes that would make you feel comfortable. You should avoid clothing that tend to increase pressure around your abdomen. Fitted jeans, belts, and other tight clothing can cause great discomfort and unnecessary tension to your incision site.
What sort of foods should I eat to speed up my recovery after abdominoplasty?
- To speed up your recovery after abdominoplasty, you should eat foods with high protein and fiber levels. These foods will encourage growth of new tissue and ultimately speed up your recovery. These foods include beans, broccoli, chicken, eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, and tuna.
Should I avoid any type of food during my recovery period?
- During your entire recovery period, you should try as much as possible to limit your salt intake as foods with high sodium can increase swelling around your incision site. You should also completely eliminate alcohol during this period.
Further Reading about Body Procedures:
- Read Dr. Chopra’s page about Liposuction 360
- Read Dr. Chopra’s page about Drainless Tummy Tuck
- Read Dr. Chopra’s blog about How to Get a Flat Stomach or a Flatter Abdomen
- Read Dr. Chopra’s blog about Benefits of Wearing a Compression Garment After a Tummy Tuck