Of the various regions where extra fat and skin tend to accumulate on the body, the stomach is easily one of the most common. A tummy tuck is therefore a popular procedure at our Tampa practice, as it helps patients finally achieve a flatter, smoother stomach. As with any body contouring treatment, though, a tummy tuck requires ample healing afterward. In order to help our patients benefit from a successful and satisfying plastic surgery experience, we offer the following timeline for recovery. By knowing what to expect after surgery, you can be better prepared to handle any side effects or complications.
The Day of Surgery
If you undergo a mini or full tummy tuck, the surgery will most likely be performed as an outpatient procedure, whereas extended tummy tucks usually require that patients leave the following day. Whenever you arrive home, you will most likely feel sore and fatigued from the surgery. It is a good idea to begin taking your prescribed pain medication before the anesthesia wears off, as this will help limit discomfort early on. For the following day or two, you will be spending most of your time resting, as your tissues begin to heal and you begin to regain your strength. Although this rest is much needed, make an effort to occasionally get up and move your legs, as this will promote circulation and prevent blood clots.
The First Week of Recovery
The initial week will be the most difficult, for it is during this time that the predominant side effects of surgery will surface. In most cases, patients can expect the following:
- Discomfort: Tissues that have been damaged from surgery will result in discomfort as they heal, particularly the abdominal muscles that have been tightened. Prescription painkillers are recommended for at least the first few days, while over-the-counter drugs may be adequate later on.
- Bruising: The area of surgery may form bruises as a result of damaged subcutaneous tissues. Patients should not be alarmed by such discoloration, and can expect it to noticeably improve within seven to 10 days.
- Swelling: The abdomen will almost certainly swell after surgery, usually beginning on the second or third day. This swelling will begin to recede by two weeks, but will be the last side effect of surgery to fully resolve.
These symptoms will vary in severity, depending on the type of tummy tuck received, the surgical technique used, and the body’s response to surgery. During this first week, patients are advised to continue their rest while avoiding any unnecessary physical work, especially any work involving lifting and bending over. A compression garment will also probably be worn for at least this first week, which will reduce the risk of complications, keep the incision and its bandages clean, and improve proper healing.
By the end of the first week, you will most likely be called back to the doctor’s office to have any drainage tubes and sutures removed. Your incisions will also be inspected to ensure they are healing well and are free of infection.
The Second Week of Recovery
As the second week approaches, patients will see apparent improvement in their swelling and bruising, allowing for a more accurate prediction of what the final results will look like. Discomfort may also begin to improve, allowing patients to walk around the house more freely and engage in light tasks. Lifting and bending should still be avoided, however. While walking around, it may be easier to keep the back slightly bent, relieving stress from the abdominal muscles.
Most patients can resume work between day 10 and 14 of recovery, assuming the job is not physically demanding. Although the final results of your tummy tuck will not be fully achieved yet due to residual swelling, a substantial difference will be achieved by this point.
The Final Weeks of Recovery
By the fourth week of recovery, swelling and pain should be significantly diminished, allowing patients to engage in most of their typical daily routine without much difficulty. At this point, your doctor may allow you to resume low-impact aerobic exercises such as riding a bike or brisk walks.
With each successive month, you will find your strength continuing to return, and you will be able to engage in more demanding tasks and exercises. Although you will already be able to see the general results of your surgery, it will not be until the third month or beyond that swelling will completely disappear, allowing you to enjoy the full and lasting benefits of your tummy tuck.
Contact Us for More Information
If you are considering a tummy tuck, schedule a consultation at our office for a more personal assessment of whether this treatment is right for you. Or, if you have recently undergone surgery and have a question about your recovery, contact us to discuss a question or concern.