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Tummy Tuck Recovery: Timeline, Tips, and More

Recovery is different for everyone

If you’re considering having a tummy tuck or have one planned, it’s important to consider what the recovery will involve. Your recuperation will depend on several factors, including your age, health, and body weight. It will also depend on the type of tummy tuck you have.

It’s natural to want to bounce back to normal after your surgery, but it’s important that you give your body time to heal. You may only need to stay in the hospital for a few hours after the surgery, or your surgeon may have you stay for one night or longer. And once you leave the hospital, the real recovery begins. Here’s what you need to know.

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Timeline

Timeline for recovery

You’ll want to figure out a time frame for your recovery so you have ample time to heal and can take a break from certain aspects of your life. Make sure you make the proper arrangements and are fully prepared for your recovery period.

Your drains will be left in for a few days after the surgery. You’ll be shown how to take care of and empty the drains. You’ll likely need to take an antibiotic and an anticoagulant while your drains are in place.

You’ll wear an abdominal binder for about six weeks. This helps to avoid fluid buildup and helps to support your abdomen.

While the recovery period is usually shorter for a mini-tummy tuck, you’ll still need to avoid strenuous activity for at least six weeks. This includes any vigorous exercise or heavy lifting.

After your surgery

What to expect after your surgery

Your surgeon or nurse will properly brief you about how to recover at home.

You will be told:

  • how to care for incisions and drain tubes
  • what to be aware of in terms of infection or overall health
  • what to avoid in terms of physical activity that affects your incision line for six weeks
  • when you need to see your plastic surgeon again
  • how long to wear the abdominal pressure garment
  • how much to rest
  • what you can eat

You’ll need to have someone who can drive you home from the hospital and help take care of you for at least the first few days after your surgery. You can shower 48 hours after you remove your drainage tubes. You may want to take a sponge bath until you can shower. You may be advised to use a chair when showering for some time.

You’ll be prescribed an antibiotic and possibly an anticoagulant. You may be given some type of medication to apply to the skin. Take any pain medication as directed. You shouldn’t take any medicine containing aspirin unless directed by your doctor.

You should also avoid alcohol if you’re taking pain medication, and avoid any form of nicotine for at least six weeks. Smoking can hinder the healing process and may cause complications.

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General guidelines

Guidelines for at-home recovery

You may need to sleep on an incline for the first few days after surgery. Keeping your upper body raised slightly with your knees bent at an angle can help reduce swelling. Putting pillows underneath your knees can also reduce pressure on your abdomen. Your doctor will advise you on this.

Keep moving after your surgery, even if it’s only a bit of walking. This will help to keep your blood flowing, which helps with the healing process and decreases the chances of a blood clot in your legs.

Your surgeon will also tell you how to find an optimal resting position that will be most comfortable. Rest as much as possible since you may feel tired for weeks or even months.

It’ll be several weeks before you are fully back to normal. You won’t be able to drive for a few weeks. You’ll also have to limit strenuous exercise and demanding physical activity for four to six weeks. Your doctor can help you decide what activities you can perform and how long you’ll need to take off work.

Side effects

Possible physical side effects

Most of the intense pain will be in the first few days following surgery. You can take pain medication to control the pain you are likely to experience. You may experience swelling for up to three months after the surgery.

Your tummy may feel like it’s being pulled when you try to stand up straight. You may feel numbness in your tummy for months or even years. It’s normal to have bruises in your abdominal area. You may have fluid-filled swelling above the scar, but this will go away. Your scar may be red and raised, but it will eventually fade.

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Tips

Tips for recovery

Taking steps to ensure a healthy recovery is important. You’ll want to be as healthy as possible during this time.

Set up a comfortable space where you can relax and have your needs met. Allow yourself to rest fully for at least two weeks and make sure not to push yourself to do anything physically before you’re ready.

You’ll want to drink plenty of water to flush your body of toxins and reduce swelling. Keep your diet as healthy as possible. Include as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.

Scottsdale Tummy Tuck recommends the following:

  • Take vitamin A and vitamin C supplements.
  • Drink green tea to boost immunity and antioxidant levels.
  • Take a probiotic supplement.
  • Eat pineapple and papaya to reduce bloating and inflammation.
  • Use arnica to reduce swelling, bruising, and pain.
  • Take a staphysagria supplement to heal your incision.
  • Take a phosphorus supplement or drink ginger tea to relieve nausea.
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Takeaway

The bottom line

There’s a lot to consider as far as tummy tuck recovery goes, but all of it is attainable and manageable. It just requires that you consider and plan for all aspects of this healing process, including the time frame.

It’s a slow process, so focus on getting better each day as you move toward your intended goal of full recovery. Be sure to check in with your surgeon or nurse if you have any questions or concerns.

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