A tummy tuck can refine and reshape the abdomen of men and women by removing loose abdominal skin. Whether you’ve had one pregnancy or many, undergone a past abdominal surgery, or want to make improvements after weight gain and aging, an abdominoplasty can give you a second chance at the contour you’ve always wanted to achieve.
However, abdominoplasty surgery is considered a major surgical procedure, and as such, you’ll need to dedicate yourself to a successful and complete recovery. As your body adjusts to these dramatic changes, rest and relaxation are key. To have your best recovery, you’ll need to know what to do and especially what not to do during this important time.
Rest Is Definitely Best
First and foremost, plan ahead to give yourself as much rest as possible during the early days of your tummy tuck recovery. Run your errands and take care of your regular household chores before your surgery, so you won’t be tempted to wash the dishes or head to the grocery store. You won’t be able to anyway, so it’s essential that you are totally prepared to spend plenty of time in bed or on the couch. Avoid any unnecessary trips around the house, and try to set up your recovery space as close to the kitchen and bathroom as possible to minimize how much you’ll need to walk. If you can, ask a friend or family member to stay with you and help out for the first few days. Let them answer the door, pick up the ringing telephone, and run out for any forgotten items.
Stay Off the Court
Even when you’re feeling a little better, your plastic surgeon will advise you against strenuous activities. Many surgeons recommend waiting at least three weeks before you resume your regular workouts. Don’t even think about performing any abdominal exercises before this time, either; those crunches could deeply injure a healthy oblique abdominal muscle or loosen your internal stitches. Follow your plastic surgeon’s guidelines closely for specific activities like running, hiking, and even pilates. Talk about your daily routine and ask questions to clarify your restrictions. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Know What to Eat
Believe it or not, the foods you choose to eat can help or hinder your recovery process even weeks after surgery. Some foods can actually add to your swelling by bloating your belly, even leading to intense gas pains that will compound the discomfort you’ll already be feeling from your abdominoplasty. Watch out for these foods as you recover:
- Sugary foods, especially those that contain high-fructose corn syrup
- High sodium (salty foods)
- Processed foods
- Soda and carbonated drinks
- Broccoli, cabbage, and other rough greens
- Limit dairy, especially cheese
By following a proper diet full of healthy foods that promote healthy body functions, including healing, you’ll keep your recovery on track and avert dangerous complications or delays. Talk to your plastic surgeon about the right foods to include in your quick recovery after tummy tuck surgery.
Avoid exposing your scar to sunlight
The incision for a tummy tuck procedure is designed to be hidden from view, even when wearing swimwear. However, it is important for the patient to take responsibility for their recovery and do everything possible to help the scar heal properly. One of the most important steps in this process is keeping the scar out of the sun. Sun exposure can cause inflammation and discoloration of the scar, making it more visible than it would otherwise be. It’s important to protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen often when you are outside, remembering to apply it every hour or so.
It is also important to wear clothing that covers up your incision while it heals. This will provide an extra layer of protection from the sun’s rays and help keep your scar out of sight until it has fully healed. Additionally, if you have any questions or concerns about how best to care for your scar during recovery, make sure to consult with your plastic surgeon for advice on what steps you should take. You can ensure your results look as good as possible with proper care and attention!
No Nicotine of Any Kind
Nicotine should be avoided during the tummy tuck recovery process, as it can impede the healing process and lead to complications. For optimal recovery, abstain from smoking for a minimum of six weeks.
Pets and People
Following surgery, it is important to minimize your risk of infection. To do this, avoid close contact with animals, and steer clear of anyone who has the sniffles or other illnesses until you are completely recovered.
The initial recovery period usually takes two weeks after surgery, at which point you can resume regular activities such as work. Most people find that by six weeks, they feel better and can start more strenuous activities and workouts or weight lifting.
Avoid Binding Clothing
Garb can be hard to come by after an abdominal tuck. You likely had the operation partially so you could slip into some apparel again. But the lump that takes place immediately afterward may make it difficult for you to squeeze into certain clothing. Even weeks after surgery, you should also abstain from constrictive or rough materials since they can cause annoyance to your incisions.
Typically, it’s wise to wear comfortable and loose-fitting garments in the initial weeks after an abdominoplasty. If you intend on taking it easy at home during the day, sweats or comfy pajamas work well. Avoid tight elastic fabric around your midsection by wearing a soft, flowy house dress.
Although most surgeons advise against wearing tight clothing following surgery, there is one exception. To ensure satisfactory results, those who have undergone abdominoplasty and liposuction may be recommended to wear a compression garment in the area around their abdomen.
Resuming normal life and daily activities
If you have young kids, enlisting help with childcare is recommended for the first few weeks, as it’s not advisable to lift them (or do any heavy lifting) straight after birth. Within a couple of weeks, you should be able to manage tasks such as driving, cooking, and shopping.
If you suffer from an injury or illness, it is highly recommended to take off work for up to a month for proper recovery. If your job involves a lot of physical activity, it is especially vital to have enough time off to heal and prevent any further damage. During this time, one should refrain from light exercise, aerobic activity, or weight lifting.
Plan Your Tummy Tuck Consultation Today
To be prepared for a successful tummy tuck and recovery, consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to get the information you need. Contact the office of Dr. Douglas S. Steinbrech, a plastic surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, to book your consultation today. He will be happy to walk you through what you should expect from a tummy tuck procedure or any other surgery that might address your areas of concern. A specialist in Minimally Invasive Aesthetics, he incorporates this philosophy into all of his surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, aiming to get you the best results possible. Dr. Steinbrech has been selected by the Consumers’ Research Council of America as one of America’s Top Plastic Surgeons. Contact his office, located at 60 East 56th Street, Suite 3A, in New York City, by calling (646) 949-0580.