If you’re interested in a tummy tuck, you’ve probably done your research. You’ve read plenty of websites and feel like you know all about abdominoplasty, AKA a “tummy tuck.” You feel pretty well-prepared and ready for surgery.
Unfortunately, you might not have the whole story. The truth is, most websites will only give you so much information about the tummy tuck surgery and recovery. Missing out on some important details can mean big surprises before and after a tummy tuck. Want to have all the facts? Here’s what you can really expect from the surgery, plus a few facts most websites won’t tell you about abdominoplasty.
Clothing Will Be a Tough Fit After a Tummy Tuck
One of the goals of abdominoplasty is to make the abdominal area flatter and smaller by removing excess skin and fatty deposits. In the long run, removing excess fat and skin and tightening the muscles in the area usually means a smaller waistline and a smoother stomach.
But it might take some time before you see that smaller waist. Swelling is very common after a tummy tuck, and that swelling can make it difficult to squeeze into your new high-waisted skinny jeans or a sleek pencil skirt. Eventually, clothing will fit and hang the way you want it to. It’s just important to keep in mind that it might take some time. You’ll need to be patient and not get discouraged while you wait for the swelling to disappear.
You Might Gain Weight (Temporarily)
Swelling after a tummy tuck won’t just affect how your clothing fits. It might also lead to some (temporary) weight gain. You might retain water for a few weeks after the surgery, which can mean that the number on the scale will be higher than usual. Your best bet is to stay off of the scale until the swelling has gone down–there’s no reason for you to spend time worrying about something that’s normal and will go away on its own.
You Might Experience Constipation Afterward
When you have a tummy tuck, your body goes through a lot. The combination of general anesthesia, a change in diet and activity and taking certain medications, can all contribute to constipation. Feeling like it’s difficult to “go” can be particularly uncomfortable after you’ve just had surgery on your abdominal area.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ease constipation after abdominoplasty. Drink plenty of fluids and pay close attention to your fiber intake. Only taking narcotic pain relievers as needed can also help to reduce constipation. Your surgeon might also recommend taking a laxative or stool softener after surgery to help move things along.
Laughing After a Tummy Tuck Might Cause Discomfort
Expressing any sort of emotion, from laughter to tears, after an abdominoplasty can cause some discomfort in the abdominal area. For that reason, you might want to avoid watching funny movies or tear-jerkers during the first few days of recovery. Limiting your movements can also help to improve your comfort — don’t try to reach up and take things off a high shelf or try to pick up your kids or other heavy objects.
You’ll Want to Have Lots of Help After Your Surgery
Speaking of your kids, it’s a good idea to have them spend some time with members of your extended family or close friends while you recuperate after surgery. The fewer responsibilities you have to worry about during recovery, the better. Your kids can enjoy a mini-vacation at Grandma’s or their best friend’s and you’ll have a chance to recover quietly.
Along with sending the kids off for a few days or a week after your tummy tuck, it’s a good idea to get as much help as you can around your house. Get your significant other to step in and take care of everyday chores, if possible. You might also consider hiring a housekeeper or cleaner for a few weeks so that you don’t feel as if you have to do anything when you should be resting up.
You Can Ease Back into Exercise
Often, the recommendation is to avoid strenuous exercise after a tummy tuck for at least a month. The key word there is “strenuous.” While you won’t want to hit the gym for a high-intensity workout or jump in the pool and swim a few laps a week after your surgery, you won’t be bedbound, either.
Your surgeon will let you know when it’s OK to start easing back into physical activity, usually a few days to a week after your surgery. At that time, you might feel up to taking a short walk. When you do start to move again, pay attention to your body. If you feel tired or overworked, don’t push yourself. You’re still healing, so it’s best to go easy when in doubt.
Speaking with a board-certified plastic surgeon before your tummy tuck can give you a good idea of what to expect, in much more than you’d get online. In Houston, Texas, Dr. Paul Vitenas performs abdominoplasty as well as other plastic surgery procedures. Call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas and to learn more about what really goes on after a tummy tuck today.