Recovery Tips After a Tummy Tuck

Almost 130,000 Americans receive a tummy tuck each year, and that number continues to trend upward 2% each year. There’s no surprise why tummy tucks remain so popular: a tummy tuck can help you achieve a flat stomach, reveal a toned abdomen, and boost your confidence. 

While you might be familiar with what a tummy tuck can do, you might not know what to expect as far as recovery goes. Alfred Sofer, MD understands that your recovery journey is every bit as important as your surgery. Below, Dr. Sofer shares recovery tips to make your tummy tuck recovery as smooth as possible.

Recovery tips immediately after surgery

Once you’ve decided that a tummy tuck is right for you, your next question is likely, “What’s recovery like?” The recovery process starts as soon as you wake up in the recovery room after your surgery. Immediate recovery includes:

  • Monitoring by nursing staff
  • IV medications and/or antibiotics
  • Pain medication
  • Moving around (and walking soon after surgery) to help reduce the risk of blood clots

Your abdomen will be covered with a surgical dressing, and in many cases, we place thin, small drainage tubes near your incision sites. These drainage tubes help to drain fluid that may build up around your incision. 

The most important recovery tip is to follow all of your post-op instructions as carefully as you can. Dr. Sofer provides specific instructions based on the type of tummy tuck you had, your overall health, and any other specific conditions or needs you have. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, he has met stringent training and safety requirements, and as such, he provides recovery advice and assistance throughout your healing process. If, at any time during your recovery you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office. 

Recovery tips at home

Be realistic about your recovery timeline. It’s tempting to try to rush back into your normal routine, but giving yourself time and space to heal is important. Proper care and plenty of rest can help you avoid unwanted complications like an infection from a poorly cleaned incision site. 

Recovery tips at home include:

  • Taking any medications as directed (including taking the full dose of antibiotics)
  • Keeping your incision site clean and dry
  • Eating nourishing meals
  • Staying hydrated and walking to reduce swelling
  • Wearing compression garments if instructed to do so
  • Arranging for a friend or family member to help with childcare 

Even before you arrive for your surgery, you can prep your home to make your recovery easier. 

Prep your kitchen

Eating healthy, nutrient-dense meals can facilitate your healing. Fiber-rich foods (including fruit, vegetables, and whole grains) can help prevent constipation, which is a common side effect of any surgery. Bone broth, brothy soup, bananas, and plain toast may be easier to stomach if you’re nauseous. Since you won’t likely feel like cooking after your surgery, stock your fridge and freezer with these ingredients. You can even load your freezer with pre-made meals so you won’t have to worry about cooking (or ordering in) right after your surgery. Stock your pantry with healthy (but easy to grab) snacks at hip-level. This will prevent you from having to bend down (which won’t be comfortable right after surgery). 

Prep your bathroom

While taking a bath isn’t advised until your incision is healed, you can take showers after your surgery. Your first shower may be uncomfortable since you’ll be sore, but these tips will make showering easier:

  • Keep toiletries, soap, shampoo within reach to avoid having to reach or bend 
  • Consider using a shower bench so you can sit and rest if needed
  • Get back into your binder/compression garment as soon as possible to help with swelling
  • Stock your bathroom with any incision care supplies (e.g., gauze) you need so you can reapply dressings after your shower

You may even find that dry shampoo and sponge baths are easier for you at first. Remember, take your time!

Adjust your calendar

In addition to following post-op instructions, eating well, and resting, it’s important to prepare your calendar. Driving will be off-limits until Dr. Sofer gives you the green light. Here are a few tips to help with this temporary restriction:

  • Schedule grocery deliveries (rather than driving to the store)
  • Arrange for a friend or family member to drop off/pick up your children from activities, school, camps, etc.
  • Schedule time away from work, and reschedule any other appointments during your recovery period

Tummy tucks, like all plastic surgeries, require a bit of downtime, but they provide long-lasting results. To learn more about tummy tucks or to schedule a consultation, call our Fairfield, Connecticut or Miami, Florida office. Alternatively, you can book an appointment online.

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