Whether you’ve got a bit of a tummy pooch after having kids or you have some extra skin in your abdominal area following dramatic weight loss, a tummy tuck can help you get a flatter and more toned-looking stomach. Those dramatic results naturally go along with a more dramatic surgery and a fairly extensive recovery process. Knowing what to expect during and after the surgery can help you be as prepared as possible, both physically and emotionally. Here’s a tummy tuck checklist to help you prepare for your procedure so you know what you can expect in the weeks or months to follow.
Choose Your Surgeon
Along with deciding to have a tummy tuck in the first place, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is who will perform the surgery. You want to consider a few different factors when you choose your tummy tuck surgeon. First, you want to work with a surgeon who “gets” you and with whom you get along.
Bedside manner is important, even though you’ll be under anesthesia for most of the procedure itself. After your consultation with a potential surgeon, you want to walk away with a sense that the doctor really understands what you want from the tummy tuck and your reasons for moving forward with it. What you don’t want is a surgeon who talks over you or tries to pressure you into making a decision.
The second thing to look for in your surgeon is extensive experience and board-certification. Not having any past experience performing tummy tucks and not being board certified in plastic surgery should be dealbreakers. You want someone who knows what they’re doing and who’s invested a fair amount of time and energy in learning their craft and developing their skill.
Choose Your Surgery
Not all tummy tucks are the same. There are a few variations on the procedure. The type of tummy tuck that will best suit you depends on your overall goals. For example, a mini tummy tuck, which focuses on the area below the belly button, might be ideal if you have a small tummy pooch or some stretch marks on the abdomen. A classic tummy tuck, which focuses on the area above and below the belly button, can be ideal if you want more dramatic results or if your goal is a considerably firmer, tighter abdominal area.
Finally, an extended tummy tuck might be the right choice for some patients. Sometimes called a body lift, an extended tummy tuck treats the abdominal area as well as the hips and lower back. It’s usually recommended for patients who have lost a lot of weight and who have loose, sagging skin all over the lower portion of their torso.
Prepare for Surgery
Once you’ve chosen your surgeon and have reviewed your surgical options, it’s time to prep for the procedure itself. How much preparation you need to do depends on a few things. If you live alone, you might need to spend more time getting your house in order than someone who lives with a partner or spouse. If you have kids, you’ll want to make arrangements for them before your tummy tuck, so that there’s someone to look after them as you recover.
You might also need to make some changes to your lifestyle habits to prepare for the procedure. For example, if you’re a smoker, your surgeon will ask you to quit several weeks before the surgery. Smoking increases risks for poor healing, complications, and poses a safety risk.
Prepare for Recovery
Getting ready for the recovery period ahead of time will help reduce stress and ensure your life runs smoothly while you recover. There are a few tick boxes you’ll want to go over and check off before the date of your tummy tuck.
For example, ask the surgeon how long you’ll need to take off from work and make sure you request an adequate amount of time off from your job. Be sure to find someone to cover for you for your other commitments, such as PTA meetings or volunteer projects.
It’s a good idea to get your kitchen and refrigerator ready to go. Find out what you should be eating after surgery and prep a few meals or arrange for a meal delivery service during your recovery period.
It’s also a good idea to get a team to help you out during the recovery period. Arrange for a friend or relative to stay with you during the first few nights back home, if you live alone. You might want to hire a cleaning service for a couple of weeks to keep your home in order.
Finally, find things to do to keep you busy during your downtime. Organize your Netflix queue so that you have plenty to watch, stock up on magazines, or head to your local library and check out the books you’ve been wanting to read.
Dr. Paul Vitenas is a Houston-based plastic surgeon who regularly performs tummy tucks and body lifts. To learn more about the procedure and what you should include on your tummy tuck checklist, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation today.