Tummy tuck surgery is one of the most sought-after cosmetic surgeries in the United States. Although most patients are naturally focused on the aesthetic aspect of the surgery, it is vital to remember there is a recovery period. Here are a few things you should know about tummy tuck recovery.

Immediately After Your Tummy Tuck Surgery

Immediately after surgery, you will notice bandages around the incision site and thin tubes draining any fluid away from the incision site. Your doctor will advise you to rest at an angle for a few days to avoid ripping open the sutures around your incision site.

You may feel pain, swelling, and discomfort after the anesthetic starts to wear off. Once your doctor clears you, you can start taking your pain medication and any other medication prescribed. Your plastic surgeon will also discharge you to go home if you have someone to drive you home.

Length of Recovery

It is important to note that tummy tuck procedure recovery times vary for everyone. Some patients will be up and moving in two weeks, while others may take almost four weeks to feel like themselves. It is important to wear your compression garment faithfully during the first few weeks. Usually, after six weeks, you should be able to ease back into your usual routine.

Your Diet After a Tummy Tuck Surgery

You can go back to your regular diet after your tummy tuck surgery. Your doctor may advise you to stick to a low-fat diet like plain rice and chicken if you experience a stomach upset. Yogurt and fruit are also a great option until you get back on your feet. Drink plenty of fluid to keep hydrated and help your body heal faster.

It is normal to experience inconsistent bowel movements after the surgery. If you have not had a bowel movement after a few days, consult your doctor about taking a mild laxative or a fiber supplement for a few days.

Caring for Your Incision

Your doctor can choose to use sutures to close the incision. Some doctors, however, may choose to use tape or surgical glue to keep the skin together. If sutures are used, they will most likely dissolve as the wound heals. The same goes for the tape, which falls off as the wound heals.

Keep your incision clean and dry using wound care products. You can cover the area with gauze to avoid rubbing it against clothes and irritating the incision site. If you have drain tubes attached, do not take them out yourself unless instructed by the doctor. The surgeon should take the drainage tubes out during your next doctor’s visit.

Tummy Tuck Recovery FAQ

What if you have to cough?

Coughing, sneezing, or laughing will be extremely painful after your surgery. If you are about to sneeze or cough, hold a pillow over your incision and try taking deep breaths instead of coughing. You should call the doctor immediately if you experience excessive bleeding or pass out.

When can I stop wearing my compression garment?

For the best results, you will need to wear a compression garment for the first six to eight weeks after surgery. You may need to wear the compression garment during the first four weeks, even to bed.

How tight should my compression garment be after a tummy tuck?

While a compression garment is important for fast recovery and favorable outcomes, it is important not to have it on too tight to restrict blood flow or breathing. The garment should be tight enough to provide desired results but not too tight that you feel uncomfortable.

Can I remove my compression garment from the shower?

Yes, you can remove the garment when you go into the shower. This should be no sooner than 48 hours after the surgery. Once out of the shower, pat your body dry and put the compression garment back on.

What are the possible risks after a tummy tuck?

All medical risks after a tummy tuck can be easily evaded by keeping the incision site clean and taking it easy the first few weeks. Some patients can experience a lack of feeling around the incision site or swelling. This should go away in a few weeks.

When should I call a doctor?

Call a doctor immediately if you experience excessive bleeding, pass out, or have sudden chest pains. In addition, if you experience shortness of breath, you may have contracted pneumonia and should call the doctor immediately. If you accidentally rip your stitches apart, you should call your doctor and schedule an appointment to fix them.

Other symptoms that should prompt your to call the doctor include the following:

  • A fever
  • Pain, swelling, and bruising that indicate infection
  • Pus draining from the incision site
  • Pain in part of the body (chest, calf, and back of the knee) indicating a blood clot.