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Recovery from Tummy Tuck Surgery
What kind of recovery should I expect after my Tummy Tuck Surgery?
Tummy tuck surgery may be performed as an outpatient procedure, or you may choose to stay in the hospital overnight. If you choose to go home, you will spend one or two hours in the recovery room prior to being released in the company of a friend or family member. We also have a private duty nurse available to care for you in the comfort and privacy of your own home if you so choose. Some tummy tuck patients may need to stay overnight in the hospital. This will depend on many factors, including how extensive the tummy tuck operation is.
Day of Surgery- When you wake up from your tummy tuck procedure, you will be in the recovery room and will be wearing an abdominal binder. You should plan to wear the abdominal binder or compression garment for four weeks following surgery.
Caregiver- When tummy tuck patients leave the surgery facility to go home, they are usually groggy for about 12 hours or overnight. It is very important to have someone who can assist you with getting around and taking your medications for at least the first 24 hours.
Nausea- Most people are nauseated during the first 24-48 hours. To reduce this, we suggest that you take your nausea pill one hour before taking your pain medication or antibiotics.
Sleep- During the first week after abdominoplasty, attempt to sleep on several pillows on your back. Also, keep your legs slightly bent at the hips. This ensures that the tension on your incision is minimized, reducing pain and resulting in a thinner scar.
Painkillers- You’re likely to feel sore for a few days, but you should be up and around in 24 hours. Most of your discomfort can be controlled by the prescribed painkillers.
Q-Pain Pump- Alternatively, you may also be a candidate for a revolutionary new product for the management of post-operative pain called the On-Q Post-Operative Pain Pump. Be sure to ask Orange County plastic surgeon Dr. Agha about this during your consultation if you think you might be a good candidate for this system.
Shower- Remove your dressing, sponges, and gauze pads on the third post-operative day. You may now take a shower. After showering, simply pat your incisions dry and replace your abdominal binder.
First Post-operative Visit- Dr. Agha prefers to see you on Day 5 for your first post-operative visit. At this time, he will remove the drainage tubes.
Swelling- Any swelling in your abdomen and flanks may take three to five weeks to subside.
Driving- It is not safe to drive a car within twenty-four hours of taking pain medication, as your reflexes and alertness may be altered. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Walking- You will probably be unable to stand fully upright for 7 to 10 days after a full or Abdominoplasty™. Even if you can’t stand straight, it is still important to start walking as soon as possible, usually the evening of surgery. This is the best way to reduce the chance of blood clotting in the legs.
Light Exercise- Dr. Agha recommends light exercise to reduce swelling and prevent clotting. Light exercise includes walking, stretching, as well as moving your arms and legs while sitting. If you should feel pain or pulling at the incision site, cease the movement.
Activities- During the first week after surgery, avoid activities that raise your blood pressure. This could cause bleeding at the operative site, which could result in a hematoma (collection of blood). Walking is the safest exercise, especially during the first week. Avoid exercises which directly stress the area of your surgery for a full four weeks. After this period, cardiovascular activities, such as riding a stationary bicycle or brisk walking, can be initiated. Running at this point may be premature.Avoid heavy lifting, contact sports, and jogging for up to six weeks. Six weeks after surgery, you will be nearing your pre-operative state. Avoid pulling at the surgical area to maximize healing and minimize scarring. During the early phase of healing, one must avoid irritation around the operative site as this can worsen swelling and fluid accumulation. This could cause development of a seroma (fluid collection) or cause problems with the wound (dehiscence or opening of the suture line or widening of the scar). Even though the skin is closed, there are many activities taking place beneath the skin.
Healing- You will need a few weeks to recover and heal from a tummy tuck procedure. The typical healing time is at least one to two weeks before returning to work.
Scarring- Every person’s body is different, and many factors contribute to scar healing. Your scars will be firm and pink for about six weeks. Non-smokers and those who follow the Enhanced Recovery Nutritional Supplements routine have a better chance of rapid healing and thinner scarring. Expect to wait at least nine months before your scars lighten in color and become as flat as the rest of your skin. Although they will never disappear completely, abdominal scars will not show under most clothing, even bathing suits.
Follow-ups- Regular check-ups protect against complications.
Emergencies- Some discomfort is expected following surgery.
Be sure to tell us if:
There is an increase in swelling, pain, redness, drainage, or bleeding in the surgical area.
You develop fever, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, or a general ill feeling.
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heartbeats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
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