If you’ve decided to undergo a tummy tuck procedure, or abdominoplasty, it’s important to understand what will be needed for your post-operative recovery period and how to prepare. Even if you’ve had experience with plastic surgery previously, an abdominoplasty is unlike most other procedures because it involves working with the muscles. Also, the abdomen is an essential part of the body that gets used in nearly every activity, making a complete recovery necessary before going back to your normal life. Still, if you follow your physician’s instructions and advice, you’ll be up on your feet in no time at all.
What Does a Tummy Tuck Procedure Involve?
Abdominoplasty is an outpatient procedure that can take between two to five hours. If you are having a full tummy tuck with extensive fat removal and muscle suturing, your surgery will obviously take closer to the five-hour mark. Mini or partial tummy tucks concentrated to a small area of the abdomen will take much less time, usually two hours.
A full tummy tuck is performed through an incision placed in the pubic area between the hipbones. If possible, it is placed along a natural crease so as to be less visible. Your doctor will use this incision to tighten the loosened muscles of your abdomen and remove any excess skin or fat. The skin is separated during this process from the muscles, which are then pulled together and stitched into place to create a firmer abdomen and narrower waistline. The skin flap is then stretched down over the newly tightened muscles and excess skin is removed. The second incision is typically made around the navel, where the physician will work to move the navel into its new position. Once the navel is in a more natural location, the incisions are closed and bandages are applied. In some cases, drains may be inserted at the incision site to collect any excess fluids. These drains are removed within one week of the procedure, sometimes as soon as four days afterwards.
How Long Does Recovery Last After a Tummy Tuck?
The length of your recovery time depends heavily on just how much work your surgery included. The more muscle tightening involved, the longer it will take you to heal. Obviously, mini or partial tummy tucks have a shorter recovery time as they usually involve a smaller area and much less work. Most patients are able to return to work within two to four weeks, and then resume more strenuous activities and heavy lifting around six to eight weeks. Based on your specific surgery, your doctor will advise you when it is safe to get back to the regular activities of your daily routine.
What Can I Expect After Surgery?
An abdominoplasty is an involved procedure involving skin, muscle, and fat in one of the most important areas of the body, so you will certainly experience some mild pain and discomfort. Even the smallest of movements can cause pain within the first few days of your surgery, so you will most likely welcome your doctor’s advice to stay off your feet and rest. It is normal to experience swelling, bruising, and some discomfort around the surgery site. You will be able to take medication to help manage the pain, as advised by your doctor.
Seven to ten days after your surgery, and once any drains have already been removed, your stitches will be removed at a follow-up visit with your physician. You will need to wear a supportive garment around the lower abdomen for up to six weeks after your surgery to ensure everything heals properly.
What Can I Do Now to Prepare for My Surgery?
While you’re waiting for the date of your tummy tuck surgery to arrive, take special precautions to stay healthy. Eat a healthy diet to maintain your current weight and practice some light exercise to keep your body healthy and your muscles strong. Your tummy tuck procedure isn’t the answer to reversing poor eating habits, so make sure you stick to a healthy and well-balanced diet before and after your procedure. You should also avoid trying to drop large amounts of weight or following crash diets in the weeks prior to your abdominoplasty.
Make sure to wash your hands frequently in the last week or so before your surgery to help avoid catching any germs at the last moment. You will not be able to have most major surgeries if you are unwell, as it increases the risk of infection. Take precaution to avoid any individuals showing signs of illness and don’t put yourself in unnecessary situations where germs are common.
Drink plenty of water, stop smoking for at least six weeks before and after your tummy tuck, and don’t begin any new medications without consulting with your physician. He or she should be made aware of any and all medications and supplements you are taking at the time of surgery to avoid complications or adverse reactions to the anesthetics. Good communication about all of your concerns, your daily habits, and anything you are expecting from your procedure is key to the success of your tummy tuck surgery.
Where Can I Get Started Scheduling a Tummy Tuck?
If you haven’t yet scheduled that tummy tuck procedure you’ve been thinking about, now is the perfect time to contact a trusted plastic surgeon and start your consultation process. Dr. Douglas S. Steinbrech, MD, FACS, is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and specializes in Minimally Invasive Aesthetics in both surgical and nonsurgical techniques. He completed his surgical training at New York University at the prestigious NYU Institute of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. To book your abdominoplasty consultation with a highly skilled and specialized physician, call the office of Dr. Steinbrech, located at 60 East 56th Street, Suite 3A, in New York, New York, by phone at (212) 750-0070.