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Tips to Improve Your Tummy Tuck Recovery

By Brian Kobienia, MD, FACS on March 18, 2014


Edina Tummy Tuck Recovery TipsFrom Edina to Minneapolis and the surrounding communities, our patients have achieved astounding results from tummy tuck surgery. By removing excess skin from the abdominal area and contouring the remaining tissue for a smoother, flatter stomach, a tummy tuck is a great way to finally address a common problem area for patients of all body types.

Dr. Kobienia’s education and experience with plastic surgery guarantee treatment that is both safe and effective, but the body contouring process doesn’t end in our office. After surgery, patients require time to rest and recover before they can truly benefit from their results. In order to enhance your recovery, take the following post-operative tips into consideration.   

Side Effects from Tummy Tuck Surgery

A positive recovery experience begins with accurate expectations. Although recovery time and healing vary from patient to patient, there are a few basic side effects of surgery that nearly everyone will encounter to some degree:  

  • Discomfort: Due to the removal of skin and fat and the tightening of underlying muscles, patients will encounter pain or discomfort as these tissues heal. Initial pain will be mostly felt in the first few days after surgery, while soreness in the muscles may continue over the following weeks.
  • Bruising: It is common for bruising to occur whenever internal tissue is damaged or manipulated. Patients can therefore expect some discoloration in the abdominal area, primarily during the first week after surgery.
  • Swelling: The area of surgery will begin to swell almost immediately as it heals, becoming most pronounced in the first week. Although swelling will begin to subside after the first seven to 10 days, it may not be months until the area has completely conformed to its new curves. 

Dealing with Discomfort

Your plastic surgeon should prescribe painkillers before or after surgery. If you receive this prescription beforehand, it is a good idea to have the medication ready ahead of time, especially if you are also prescribed antibiotics. Remember: it is easier to prevent pain than to stop it, and you should therefore take any painkillers before the anesthesia wears off, continuing their use for at least a few days. Although some patients may prefer over-the-counter painkillers, particularly in the later stages of recovery, it’s important to note that certain medications may result in bleeding complications. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, anti-inflammatories, and other NSAIDs, which should be avoided directly before and following surgery.

In addition, the way you position yourself can significantly impact your comfort. When sitting or lying down, keep your legs bent or propped over a pillow to reduce abdominal stress. When walking around, try leaning over at a degree that is most comfortable. 

Reducing Swelling

During the first 48 hours of recovery, a cold compress can be applied near the abdomen to reduce the onset of swelling. Keep the compress on for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before removing it for an equal length of time, continuing as desired. Although it may seem tempting to use a warm compress for comfort, do not let the area of surgery come in contact with heat or steam until swelling has begun to subside.

To further reduce swelling, keep the following points in mind:

  • Maintain a low sodium diet
  • Avoid sitting for extended periods of time
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Gently massage the area
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects, bending over, and anything that may strain the abdomen
  • Wear your compression garment

The Benefits of a Compression Garment

The use of an elastic compression garment can improve the healing process and reduce the risk of certain complications. By gently compressing the abdomen over the first few weeks of recovery, patients may gain numerous benefits, including decreased bruising, swelling, and discomfort. Moreover, the area will be held in place, lowering the likelihood of muscle strain or further damage to tissues while moving. 

By promoting circulation and fluid passage, a compression garment also decreases the risk of a blood clot, lymphedema, or skin irregularity. Similarly, bandages are held in place and the area is kept sterile, reducing the chance of infection. Speak with your doctor about the use of a compression garment and how long you can expect to wear it.  

Consult Dr. Kobienia

If you are considering a tummy tuck, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kobienia to learn if you may be a good candidate. If you have recently had tummy tuck surgery and would like to inquire about the progress of your recovery, we are happy to assist you. 

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