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8 Tips for Recovery After a Tummy Tuck

If you are considering undergoing abdominoplasty (a tummy tuck) here are 8 things you should consider pre and post surgery to help ensure the best recovery and results.

  1. Have a proper diet
    Both before and after surgery you should strive to eat a normal diet. A healthy diet improves your overall health, making your body stronger before surgery and better able to recover afterwards. Though you may be tempted to try and lose extra weight just before surgery you should avoid doing so unless told to do so by your plastic surgeon. You should also avoid any medications or supplements that cause your blood to thin right before surgery. You should also avoid alcohol after your surgery while you are on strong pain medications. Once you are off the medication you can discuss the possibility of imbibing small to moderate amounts of alcohol with your doctor or plastic surgeon.

  2. Avoid infections
    All surgeries have risks, but the amount of risk can be reduced through proper prep work. Many surgeons recommend their patients bathe with a chlorhexidine solution before surgery in order to decrease the amount of bacteria on their skin. This reduces the chance of infection during surgery. Your plastic surgeon will go over any pre-surgery bathing instructions with you.

  3. Avoid constipation
    Many patients experience constipation after surgery as a side effect of their pain medications. To counteract this many surgeons will prescribe an over-the-counter stool softener before surgery. You should have this prescription filled and waiting for you at home for when you return from surgery so you can go home and rest without having to run errands.

  4. Relax and recover
    Though many patients will be able to return to work after a week, some patients will require additional time to fully recover. Many plastic surgeons suggest taking two weeks off work, three if you can manage it. When you are able to return to work will depend not only on how quickly you recover but also what sort of job you have and your transportation arrangements. Desk jobs are less strenuous than physical labour, and getting a ride to and from work is more ideal than taking public transit or driving yourself.

  5. Prepare for limited mobility, but try and stay active
    After an abdominoplasty you will likely need assistance getting up from a sitting or lying down position and will likely need assistance getting on and off the toilet when you use the washroom. At first you will likely need to shuffle, and will not be able to walk quickly or easily for at least a few days. Despite this reduced mobility you should try to pump your legs and walk as many times during the day as possible to prevent your blood from forming clots.

  6. Restrict activity
    You should avoid activities that strain your abdominal area for at least 3 months, though exactly how long will be determined by your plastic surgeon based on your individual needs. This is to avoid disrupting the internal corset-like effect of the operation. Inadvertently releasing the muscle tightening sutures will cause your abdomen to bulge, a condition that may require a second surgery to correct.

  7. Expect pain and tenderness
    As the abdominal musculature tightens you will experience ongoing pain. Abdominoplasty is also commonly paired with liposuction along the sides and back of the waistline in order to effectively contour your waist. If you undergo an abdominoplasty you should expect pain and tenderness in the front and back of your torso for at least a few weeks. Though pain will be quite strong in the first week the second and third weeks should be more manageable. Pain is an indication that the muscles are still contracting, meaning you are likely going to experience further reductions in size. It can take a few months for the swelling and tightness from an abdominoplasty to fully resolve.

  8. Be realistic
    Though abdominoplasty can produce dramatic changes it is not a simple or easy procedure to undergo. Do some research and and ask your plastic surgeon to show you actual before and after pictures so that you can have an accurate idea of what you can expect.

Before you consider undergoing an abdominoplasty or any plastic surgery consult with your doctor and plastic surgeon to help determine if the surgery is right for you.

Dr. Brian Peterson is a board certified plastic surgeon based in Kelowna, British Columbia. His specialties include facial rejuvenation, body contouring, breast enhancement and non-surgical skin care. Contact Peterson MD at 250.868.9099 to book your consultation.

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