How many follow-ups are required after the tummy tuck?
The relationship with the plastic surgeon might begin with the pre-operative consultation for the tummy tuck, but it certainly does not end with the surgery alone. The patient is released from the medical facility hours after the operation when the patient recovers completely from the effects of general anesthesia. The patient can return home and recover in the comfort of his own home. However, when the patient is discharged, he will leave with drains still inserted close to the incision site. The drain tubes are necessary to allow fluids and blood to evacuate from the surgical site instead of accumulating and creating hematomas and seromas.
Even if the patient is able to return home for the recovery period and doesn’t need medical monitoring during this time, there is a need for post-op follow up consultations with the plastic surgeon.
The first follow-up consultation is scheduled during the first week after the procedure. During this consultation, the plastic surgeon will remove the drain tubes if there is no longer anything draining through them, as well as to check how the patient is feeling. Make sure to let the plastic surgeon know if you notice or experience any different side effects, apart from the ones discussed before the surgery with the plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon will also check if the surgical wounds are closing and if there is any sign of infection. This follow-up is important as it will allow the surgeon to notice any changes in the recovery process and diagnose a potential complication that might occur. Infection is one of the complications that could easily be avoided or treated in time if diagnosed early.
After the follow-up that will take place in the first week post-op, there is also another consultation that will be scheduled a month from the procedure. The patient will be advised to check in with the plastic surgeon again three months after, six months, then one year after. These consultations are important to allow the plastic surgeon to evaluate how the scarring process is going, if the aesthetic results are according to the expectations, and if the health condition of the patient is all good.
The main role of follow-ups is to make sure the patient doesn’t develop a complication during this time. The results of the tummy tuck are final after a year from when the procedure was performed as this is when the scars have completely matured and healed. The plastic surgeon will notice if the patient develops abnormal scars and give treatment to improve their appearance. Other complications that could occur after the tummy tuck surgery that can be prevented or treated are hematoma and seroma, infection, skin necrosis, wound dehiscence, asymmetries, and unsatisfactory aesthetic results.