How will life be after the tummy tuck?
The tummy tuck is commonly performed nowadays on patients suffering due to an excess of sagginess on the inferior abdomen triggered by multiple pregnancies, weight fluctuations or other causes such as the natural aging process. The procedure is a major surgery that involves certain risks and complications that patients should be aware of before scheduling the procedure. Moreover, the life of the patient can be very different (at least during the recovery period) when certain post-op indications must be followed to the letter to ensure getting satisfactory results and avoiding unwanted complications after the procedure.
During the pre-operative consultation with the plastic surgeon, many patients ask about the details of the tummy tuck and how will life be after the procedure.
Tummy tuck: Preparation and operative plan
In preparation for undergoing a tummy tuck, the patient is advised to stop smoking at least three weeks before the date of the surgery, to stop birth control a month before the procedure, and avoid any anti-inflammatory medication and natural supplements for at least two weeks before the operation. These indications should be followed to the letter, otherwise the procedure might be postponed. The patient should also know that it is essential to be in a good physical and emotional condition before undergoing the tummy tuck. In other words, even a simple cold can delay the procedure. Make sure to let your plastic surgeon know if you are suffering from anything right before your operation.
The tummy tuck often starts with liposuction of the abdominal wall and the flanks, if the patient presents significant fat deposits in the area. Liposuction is not a part of the tummy tuck but is often performed in association to achieve superior results. Once the thickness of the fat layer has been reduced, the plastic surgeon will perform the incisions. The length of the incision is dependent on the amount of skin and fat tissue to be excised. If the patient has only a minor level of sagginess on the tummy, a mini tummy tuck might be indicated, and this means a smaller scar and no second incision to transposition the belly button. But more often than not, a complete tummy tuck is performed, and this requires an incision that can go from hip bone to hip bone on the inferior part of the abdomen, just above the pubic area.
After the plastic surgeon strengthens the loose abdominal muscles, corrects potential umbilical hernia and removes the excess fat, the incisions are closed with sutures and compressive dressings are put on the wounds. Keep in mind that the patient will also have drain tubes inserted close to the surgical site.
After the procedure is over, the patient is moved to a recovery room to wake up from the anesthesia.
After the effects of the general anesthesia fade, the patient is allowed to leave the medical facility and return home, if no other complications occur and the patient is in good condition. This means you will need to have someone drive you home as you won‚Äôt be able to drive for some time, partly due to the pain medication you will receive.
You will leave the medical facility with the drain tubes still inside, and the plastic surgeon will advise you to avoid pulling on them or trying to remove them by yourself as complications such as infections can be triggered. The drain tubes will remain attached for a few days until there is no drainage coming through them. Afterwards, you will need to visit the plastic surgeon to have them removed.
After you return home, the recommendation is to take things slowly and don‚Äôt be in a hurry to resume your normal activities. For a few days, you might feel a certain level of discomfort and pain as the procedure is quite an extensive one that worked on a number of tissues, including muscles. Pain is normal after this type of procedure, but the plastic surgeon will prescribe medication that will alleviate the discomfort.
You might also notice a certain level of swelling and bruising on the areas treated. The swelling can even affect other areas, below the surgical site such as the pubic area and the upper part of the hips. This is not unnatural, and the recommendation is to spend enough time lying down to allow the swelling to subside. Compression garments are also mandatory in helping reducing swelling after the tummy tuck, and they should be worn nonstop for a few weeks and even months. The patient is allowed to take showers after the tummy tuck; however, make it a priority to keep the surgical area dry and clean to avoid infections from occurring. Antibiotic medication will be prescribed for five days post-op to help you keep infections at bay.
Due to the size and position of the incisions, the patient might find it difficult to rise from the bed and lie down. This is the reason why the plastic surgeon will recommend you to have many pillows on the bed and to always keep an elevated position of the upper body. This will help you get off the bed more easily and without putting too much pressure on the incision wounds. Moreover, even when walking, the patient will be asked to keep the body slightly bent forward at least for a few days or the week following the procedure to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the incisions. A great level of care and attention should be given to the incisions until they are fully closed as the opening of the incisions can trigger further complications that can be difficult to treat.
The first week after the tummy tuck, the patient should spend enough time resting but also have short walks around the house every couple of hours to avoid the formation of blood clots. This means you won‚Äôt be able to cook dinner, clean the house, or drive the kids to school for at least a few days. This is the reason why most patients will ask a family member or a friend to come help them around the house for at least the first 48 hours.
Daily activities can be resumed within the first ten days, but gradually. However, intense physical activities should be avoided for up to two months. The patient can return to work two weeks after the tummy tuck, but only if the responsibilities don‚Äôt require a great deal of physical effort.
After three months, the patient can have an idea about how the final results will look like as it is often during this time that the swelling and bruising have subsided. In other cases, it can take up to six months and even a year to evaluate the final results of the tummy tuck.
Many patients wonder how life will be after the tummy tuck procedure. In a vast majority of cases, the first two weeks after the procedure are more complicated and more demanding for the patient. During these first two weeks, the patient might experience pain and discomfort that would make medication necessary. Driving is not recommended during this period and also standing up too long is not advised to avoid the excessive swelling of the areas below the surgical site. The patient is recommended to use pillows to support the upper part of the body when lying down and also to walk with the upper part of the body slightly bent forward for a few days to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the incisions that might open.
Any type of physical activity is to be avoided for at least the first month and should only be resumed with the consent of the plastic surgeon monitoring your recovery. However, keep in mind that walking around the house every few hours is essential shortly after the procedure to avoid the formation of blood clots.
Once the recovery period of two weeks is over, the patient can also resume work and other responsibilities that don‚Äôt involve a great deal of physical effort. The results of the tummy tuck will be visible within three to six months when the side effects such as swelling and bruising have subsided.