Recovering from a tummy tuck is individual as any surgical procedure will be.
Some patients heal faster and have minimal pain than others. Everyone has their
own pain threshold so comparing recoveries can sometimes seem like you are
comparing apple to oranges. In general, the normal amount of time you should be
off of work with a tummy tuck is at least two or three weeks. Sometimes it is longer if
the patient has had complications.
So if your recovery ends up being around the
four week mark, know that this is still very normal. It is going to take some
time to see your final tummy tuck results, as you will have some swelling for a
significant amount of time. Or course, patients who are in good physical health
are always going to bounce back sooner. Depending on the type of tummy tuck
procedure you ended up getting, you could require a hospital stay for a night or
Compression / Surgical Garment
More than likely you will have to wear some sort of
after the surgery, which resembles a girdle. This garment should be tight
fitting and helps in the reduction of swelling by preventing fluid build up, as
well as provide comfort and support as you heal. Wearing of this garment can be
for a few weeks or can extend longer depending on how fast you heal. It is
possible you will not be able to stand up fully after surgery, but it is
important to being walking for short periods of time after your procedure to
facilitate blood flow.
Staples or Surgical Glue for Incision Closure
Your incisions might be closed with staples, sutures or
surgical glue or a combination of glue and sutures. The fact that this is major
surgery you will experience pain, bruising, and swelling which will eventually
subside in a few weeks.
If you have had a muscle repair
along with the abdominoplasty, permanent sutures are normally used. A
tummy tuck procedure utilizes both absorbable sutures for the suture line and
non-absorbable sutures for the midline abdominal muscle tightening.
of Moving Around After Surgery
Getting up and moving will help you heal faster, so try to set little goals each
day with walking. This form of exercise is the best medicine as well as other
non-aerobic exercises. Walking can help reduce swelling, prevent
and strengthen your immune system. More than likely your plastic surgeon will
give you post operative instructions with not doing anything too strenuous for
at least six weeks after surgery. You don’t want to do too much, as this could
possibly compromise your incision with reopening your wound.
surgery the inner lymphatic system has been compromised by the incision. When
lymphatic tissues or lymph nodes become damaged, destroyed or removed – this
causes a reaction where the lymph cannot drain normally from the affected
surgical area. The lymph accumulates and gives what we experience in
Lymph originates in blood plasma and is part of the circulatory system running
through the entire body. It is responsible for collecting and removing waste
products left behind in the tissue. As our lymph system continues to circulate
between the cells it collects waste products that were left behind including
dead blood cells, pathogens and cancer cells. The clear fluid becomes protein
rich as it absorbs dissolved protein from between the cells.
procedure varies of course with the size or the extent of your procedure. Your
overall general health contributes to this as well. The use of drains in
makes it less uncomfortable for the patient as well as helping with the healing
with discard of the fluid that has accumulated.
Benefits of Drains
Most plastic surgeons have seen the benefits of using
drains with tummy tucks,
so the likelihood that you might have these is high. They are annoying; however
serve a very important purpose. The purpose of tummy tuck drains is to decrease
the risk of a seroma
formation (fluid collecting between the muscle layer and the skin flap).
of drains in a tummy tuck procedure provides a place for this fluid to escape
from the body, which will reduce the chances of any risks or complications from
occurring. Depending on how much your incisions are draining each day will tell
the plastic surgeon how long the drains should remain. Normally most patients
get the drains removed within one week – but could be as long as three weeks.
The drains that are used for
have thin silicone tubing that are inserted into your abdominal area either
through a specially made incision or through the actual tummy tuck incision. The
thin tubing connects to “bulbs” that provide suction for excess fluid that
accumulates during your recovery time.
You will need to empty out your drains at least two to three times a day,
depending on how much drainage is coming from the incision site. You will need
to keep track of how much drainage you are getting each day, as the surgeon will
want to know exactly how much fluid is being accumulated. The fluid that is in
the drain should be pink, reddish or brownish. If you notice that the fluid
draining from the incision has a greenish tint or is draining too steadily, then
please notify your plastic surgeon immediately. This could be signs of an
infection. Tummy tuck drains are definitely an inconvenience however the job
they perform is well worth it. Read our Wound Color Chart
to make sure the discharge is normal.
To remove the drains the surgeon will pull the thin tubing out. Some patients
have remarked that there is no pain associated with this, and others have
complained that it did feel like a strange sensation when it was being removed.
Regardless, these devices do serve a very important purpose with your
recovery, and most patients accept this as part of the procedure.
Every plastic surgeon will have their own timeline in which they feel it is safe
for you to shower after your surgical procedure. Some surgeons allow you to
shower as soon as two or three days after surgery, and others make you wait
until you have suture removal, which can be a couple of weeks. If you are told
no showering until your sutures are removed, then more than likely sponge baths
If you are released to shower, you
might be told to do this with your
support garments on, so it is important to
have at least two garments available for you, while one is usually drying.
Feeling dizzy and lightheaded after this surgery is not uncommon, so make sure
you have another adult in the house with you during your first shower. Before
surgery, you might want to consider going to the medical supply store, and get a
little stool to use so that you can site down in the shower if you are feeling
lightheaded. Make sure you pin your
drains up on your garment if you are
showering so that they do not get in the way.
It is very important you do everything your surgeon tells you to do on the post
operative instructions. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please
always contact your surgeon first before doing something you are unsure of. The
post operative instructions will include how to bandage your incision, and how
often you should change the bandages. Normally with
the outer edges of the incision will always heal first and the center area will
Ultimately we all want that nice round navel to heal perfectly, so in
order to help this along – there is the
or the “ear-plug trick”.
As everything with your surgery concerns, both
pre-operative and post operative,
you need to run this by your own surgeon to see if he agrees with this. You do
need to wait until the incision around the navel is completely healed and
closed. The marble trick will stretch the navel somewhat, so you might
experience some pain when doing this initially, however it has worked for many
tummy tuck patients.
If you decide on the
marble trick – you will
need to start off by locating some standard size glass marbles, either at a toy
store or a variety store. If you feel the standard size marble is going to be
too big, then you can also use smaller size marbles as well.
Sterilizing the marbles is a must, so either boil the marbles in hot water or
wash them thoroughly with antibacterial soap such as Dial Soap.
Substituting the marble for a soft
has proven to be beneficial with
keeping the navel open so that it will heal in a round shape. Earplugs do have
an advantage over marbles; first, they are much softer and not so cumbersome to
work with. The earplug conforms to the shape of the navel with being able to be
squished to the desired size you need. Once the size is shaped, then place it in
your navel with a piece of tape/or a bandage over the earplug to ensure it will
stay in place.
The incision around the
navel must be completely healed before doing this.
You can either tape the marble to hold it in place or have your binder help hold
the marble in place. Some patients have to start out slow with short intervals
with time with this until they feel comfortable with the marble inside the
navel. Once you work your way up to that point, then it can be worn 24/7.
Massaging the scar tissue around the navel four times a day will definitely help
the scar tissue to stretch. This might be a little bit painful at first, but it
does get better each time you do it.
Whether you use an earplug or a marble, there are ways of shaping your new
navel. Just make sure you sterilize whatever you are using first and that your
incisions are completely closed around the navel.