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Douglas A. Taranow, DO, FACOS

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Posted July 31, 2018 in Tummy Tuck

Undergoing a tummy tuck procedure (abdominoplasty) is a life-changing event. The lower abdominal area of an individual is permanently and surgically altered to create a better version than the one present. A tummy tuck procedure can restore and repair a mother’s abdominal muscle wall after childbirth or aid in the skin removal of someone who has undergone major weight loss. Additionally, this procedure will restore an individual’s self-confidence and self-esteem. As with any other surgical procedure, though, abdominoplasty has a recovery period, and it is important for a patient to understand what to expect with that recovery.

Hand is drawing lines with marker on belly

Preparation Is Key

Being well prepared before surgery can help you get off to a good start in the healing process. The first and most important thing a person can do before surgery is maintain a healthy diet low in sodium and high in fiber. A healthy diet will ensure that the body is capable of undergoing surgery as well as fighting infection and healing properly after. Low sodium foods will help reduce swelling, while high fiber will aid in bowel movements and reduce strain on the abdomen. Also, having all your basic needs prepared for beforehand can decrease stress and put your mind at ease for the upcoming weeks. Making sure you have a designated person to drive you home from the surgery center and assist you during the first few days is critical. Furthermore, it is wise to have food on hand at home as well as pain medication prescriptions already filled; this way, when you come home, you can focus completely on your recovery

The First Week

For tummy tuck surgery, you will be placed under IV sedation or general anesthesia. After waking, you will feel groggy and have some discomfort in your lower abdomen. Your designated person will take you home after you are fully awake and discharged. A compression garment will be worn to help reduce swelling and provide support, and you may also have a drain in place to allow excess blood and fluid to exit your body. After several hours, the pain medication that was given to you immediately after surgery will begin to lose its effectiveness. Prescribed pain medication will help you manage pain and discomfort for the next several days. It is advisable that you minimize activities for the first few days and rest. However, you should keep up a low level of activity to reduce the risk of blood clots. Some suggested exercises include calf and thigh exercises while lying in bed to promote circulation. When standing, it is also advised that you not stand up straight; this will help you avoid strain on your abdominal muscles or the vulnerable incisions. You are able to shower two days after your procedure. After one week, the drain will be removed at the first follow-up appointment with your surgeon.

Weeks Two and Three

You will continue to wear the compression garment during these weeks. Patients with a more sedentary job can return to work after one week. For more physically demanding jobs, it may be two to three weeks before you can return to work. Pain and tenderness in the abdomen will continue for several weeks. During this time, you should slowly increase your activity and be careful not to overexert yourself. Strenuous exercise should still be withheld from for several more weeks. Most patients find Advil® or MOTRIN® to aid in controlling the soreness. The use of silicone sheeting to reduce scars should be considered.

Months One to Three

Swelling will continue to be present for one to two months following surgery. You should avoid sun exposure for at least three months to prevent sun discoloration or irritating sensitive skin around the incisions. Sunblock should be used whenever skin will be exposed to sunlight for the first six months. Patients may return to the gym slowly one month post surgery. After two months, your surgeon may give you the go-ahead to introduce more strenuous activities into your daily routine.

Three Months and Beyond

By this time, most of the swelling will have dissipated, but it is not uncommon for a small amount of swelling to still be present at three months after your surgery. Incision scars may be dark and raised, but these will continue to change color as they fully heal. While your new abdomen may be visible now, final results may take up to one year to become clear.

For more information about abdominoplasty recovery or to schedule a consultation, contact the office of Dr. Douglas A. Taranow at 212-772-2100.