Tummy Tuck Recovery: What Should I Expect?

Regular exercise and wholesome food choices are almost always the way to go when it comes to achieving and maintaining a strong core and a tight, toned midsection. Unfortunately, no amount of hard work or healthy eating can eliminate persistent fat, excess skin, and stretch marks.  

Sometimes, a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is the only way to get the abs you want. It’s the only way to reinforce a weak abdominal wall following pregnancy, tighten extra skin and erase stretch marks after a major weight loss, and get rid of that persistent “middle-age spread.”

Knowing what to expect following your tummy tuck can make your recovery process a lot easier. Our abdominoplasty specialist, Dr. Christopher Brooks, offers a few basic guidelines to help you along the way.  

Recovery is an individual process

As with any major surgery, there’s no one answer for how long it will take for you to heal and recover following a tummy tuck. Even so, Dr. Brooks can give you an accurate idea of exactly what you can expect based on your age, overall health, and the type of surgery you plan to have. 

Not all tummy tucks are created equal — a “mini” tuck, which only addresses the lower abdomen, has a faster recovery time, while a full tummy tuck, which is a more involved procedure, requires a longer recovery time.  

All recoveries follow a general course

After your surgery is complete, Dr. Brooks can give you a more specific timeline for your recovery. If you’re like most patients, you should start to feel back to normal about two months after your procedure.    

Before you reach that recovery milestone, however, you must first progress through several phases of healing. Here’s what you can expect in general, whether your tummy tuck is minor or extensive. 

Right after surgery

When you wake up after your tummy tuck, your naval and the incision in your abdomen will be covered with surgical dressing. In the majority of cases, Dr. Brooks performs abdominoplasty with an advanced “drainless” technique that uses dozens of extra sutures to avoid the need for postsurgical drains.   

Although you may feel more comfortable resting in a recliner position for your first few days of recovery, early hydration and ambulation is also important for the prevention of blood clots. Dr. Brooks will show you how to get up and walk in a bent-over position so you don’t strain your incision.  

Moderate pain, which can be controlled with pain medication, is common right after a tummy tuck. To prevent skin necrosis and other complications, Dr. Brooks does not begin abdominal compression (to address swelling) immediately after surgery.

Daily at-home care

Because Dr. Brooks closes tummy tuck incisions with dissolvable sutures and dresses them with adhesive, they require minimal care as they heal: simply shower each day as you normally would, using a mild cleanser and water to gently wash your incisions.

You may also be given a topical cream to help your incision heal faster. To keep swelling and discomfort to a minimum, it’s important to wear your supportive garment (abdominal binder) for the recommended amount of time each day. 

Ongoing help at home

You’ll have limited mobility following your tummy tuck, especially in the early days. Because it will be difficult for you to bend, lift, or even stand for a prolonged period of time, it’s important to enlist a reliable helper for your first few days back at home. 

If you have young children, you’ll need someone else to do all the lifting. Squatting, lifting, and carrying anything heavy, including a small child, is definitely not something you should be doing during your first few weeks of recovery.  

Resuming your routine

Although most people choose to take 2-4 weeks off work following a tummy tuck, you may be able to resume certain aspects of your normal routine, including driving and cooking, about a week or two into your recovery.  

If you have a physically demanding occupation, however, it’s critical that you take plenty of time off for your recovery. The same holds true if you’re a fitness enthusiast, as diving back into your workout routine before you’ve healed can jeopardize your recovery. 

You should also avoid resuming any lifestyle habits that can drastically slow your recovery, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. In fact, you shouldn’t smoke or drink for at least three months following your tummy tuck.  

Long-term recovery

It can take up to three months for postsurgical swelling and bruising to disappear completely, and much longer for the scar from your incision to diminish significantly.   

You can prepare for a smooth recovery

Remember, your recovery is shaped by how well you adhere to postsurgical instructions. That’s why it’s important to understand them before your surgery, and seek clarity if you need it. 

To learn more about abdominoplasty at Brooks Plastic Surgery, call our office in Hollywood, Florida, at 954-256-5838, or use the online booking tool to schedule a visit with Dr. Brooks.

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