A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is often performed as an outpatient procedure using a local anesthesia and sedation or general anesthesia. However, some patients need an overnight stay in the hospital afterward, either because of the extensiveness of the procedure or as a preventative measure. Whether you go home the same day or the day after your surgery, there is a relatively extensive recovery period involved with a tummy tuck. Since the success of the procedure is directly related to close adherence to post-surgical instructions, we will give you an idea of what to plan for after your abdominoplasty procedure.
The Day of the Tummy Tuck Procedure
If you are released from the hospital the day of your procedure, you will need to have someone drive you home from the hospital and stay with you for at least the first 24 hours after your surgery. While your activities may be extremely limited during the first two weeks of your recovery, it is a good idea to get up and around somewhat as soon as possible after surgery. A small amount of time on your feet will promote the healing process and reduce the potential for abdominal swelling.
Tummy Tuck Recovery: The First 24 Hours
The first day after your procedure will probably be somewhat uncomfortable. You will probably notice tenderness, swelling and bruising in your abdominal area. Your doctor will probably prescribe medication to use after the procedure to reduce pain and prevent infection. It is a good idea to fill these prescriptions prior to your surgery so the medication is ready and waiting when you arrive home. You may have a drain to help the treated area begin the healing process and prevent infection.
Tummy Tuck Recovery: The First Week
Most patients spend a good portion of the first week after a tummy tuck resting at home. The majority of cosmetic surgeons recommend a few days of bed rest after abdominoplasty. During this time, you will have very specific instructions on how to change the surgical dressings and bathe. You may also be given guidelines on how much walking to do during this initial recovery period. While a limited bit of gentle activity can promote the healing process, too much exercise initially may actually hinder recovery.
Tummy Tuck Recovery: The First Few Weeks
Many doctors recommend a surgical garment be worn the first few weeks after surgery. This reduces swelling in the treated area. You might also be instructed to wear compression hose for a period of time, to help reduce the risk of clots forming in your legs after surgery. You will be instructed on how to sit and move about safely without affecting your surgery site. It is important to follow all post-operative instruction precisely to ensure your body heals as quickly and completely as possible after abdominoplasty.
Tummy Tuck Recovery: The First Two Months
Most patients return to work two to four weeks after surgery, depending on the type of work they do. You will also be able to return to your regular exercise program after about six weeks, depending on how well your body is healing. Scarring will become visible during this time, but will probably fade considerably during the first year. Ask your doctor if there is anything you can do to reduce the appearance of your surgical scars if you are concerned about them.
Post-operative appointments after a tummy tuck usually take place within the first few days after surgery, and then monthly for the first three months. Your doctor will want to see you again six months after your procedure, and some may schedule an appointment for one year after surgery as well. While abdominoplasty does involve a longer recovery time than many other cosmetic procedures, most patients are happy with the dramatic results they achieve and find the recovery time to be well worth the benefits of the procedure.