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Five Secrets to Ensure a Comfortable Tummy Tuck Recovery

Recovering from a Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, has the power restore a smooth, flat abdominal area.  It is a surgery often considered by new moms and people who have made it through a large weight loss to make your abdominal area flat and smooth once again.  It’s a surgery that’s often considered by women who are finished having children.  A tummy tuck is also a common choice for people wanting their taut tummy back after making it through a large weight loss, ending up with a substantial amount of saggy, stretched abdominal tissue.

While a tummy tuck can turn back the hands of time on your abdomen’s appearance, it is not an easy procedure.  Understand that your recovery will take some time and can be a bit uncomfortable.  However, there are a few things, you may not have thought of, that can be done to make the recovery process as easy and comfortable as possible.

1.  Take It Easy

Rule number one after a tummy tuck: relax. On the first day after surgery, you probably won’t feel like doing much except sitting in your favorite chair or laying in your bed.  Some swelling and bruising are to be expected, plus you will feel mild to moderate discomfort.  Your surgeon may even prescribe a pain reliever to help you rest easier.

If you’re used to being active, you may find relaxing after your surgery to be difficult.  Think of this time as a chance to catch up on missed TV, or to finally read that book everyone’s been talking about.  Don’t let being cooped up at home drive you crazy.  To make the first few days after a tummy tuck a little easier, gather some books, magazines, DVDs, and other quiet activities to pass the time during your recovery.

2.  It’s OK to Take a Walk

Although you may not feel like doing much after a tummy tuck, it is OK, and recommended, that you begin moving about the next day.  Taking short walks, such as up and down your hallway or even going around the block, can help minimize swelling and reduce the risk of blood clots.

You won’t be power walking or even going at a normal pace for a few days, or even weeks, after a tummy tuck.  Remember: go slowly just to get your limbs moving, and take your time.  You might want to recruit a friend or relative to lean on, in case you tire out before you get back to the comfort of your bed or chair. 

3.  Avoid Straining

Short, gentle walks, and eventually light chores, are suggested over the first days following a tummy tuck.  But remember, any activity that involves straining, fast movements, heavy weight lifting, or that make you break into a sweat should still be avoided.  At your first post-surgical follow-up appointment, your surgeon will let you know when you can finally resume vigorous activities.  It should be expected that this will probably take a month or two. 

Since you should be avoiding heavy lifting and straining for at least four weeks after surgery, this fact can dictate when you decide to head back to work.  If you primarily work at an office desk, you might feel ready to head back in a week, or at the most two.  But, if your job involves physical activities, such as heavy lifting, lots of walking, and carrying loads, your surgeon may recommend taking even more time off.

4.  Consider a Warm Baths

Standing is not very comfortable in the few first weeks after a tummy tuck; meaning that a shower may not be as relaxing as a bath.  As you recuperate from surgery, you may even find that you prefer taking baths. Talk to your surgeon about when it will be acceptable to take a regular bath. He might recommend waiting until your sutures are gone and until the drains are removed before you get in the tub.  In the meantime, sponging off and washing your hair in the sink might be the best way to get clean.

5.  Get Help

The biggest secret to a comfortable abdominoplasty recovery is help – as much as you can get.  Do not try to get through your recovery period alone. For one thing, it will be difficult to do much those first, few days after you tummy tuck.  You might have trouble making it from the bed to the bathroom on your own, never mind trying to prepare yourself a meal.  Who helps you doesn’t matter, it can be a friend, your partner, or a sibling. What’s most important is that you’re able to trust the person and can depend on him or her to be there when needed.

Dr. Paul Vitenas, Houston’s most trusted Board Certified plastic surgeon, can give you further details on the recovery after a tummy tuck, as well as more specific instructions on making your recovery as comfortable and as complication-free as possible. Patients at his Houston practice often have the option of staying over the first evening, in his extended care suite, which can take the pressure off your first post-op night at home.  If you think you are ready for a tummy tuck and you want more details, call 281.484.0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas.