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After Your Tummy Tuck

Crunches after your tummy tuck? Slow down!

Ready for that six pack? Well slow down just a minute. You are well on your way after your tummy tuck, but you’ve just had major surgery and your focus for the short term needs to be on healing, not crunching.

Below is a week-by-week rundown of what you can expect after abdominoplasty, aka tummy tuck surgery. It’s true that everyone is different, but this will give you an idea of an average recovery.

Immediately After Your Tummy Tuck

Immediately after surgery, your tummy will feel tight. Most patients walk slightly bent over for the first few days due to this tight feeling. There are multiple layers of sutures in place under your skin that hold the incision together. Too much pulling or stretching from trying to force youself to stand straight up or lay flat could cause your incision to open up. This is an exceedingly rare complication, but it’s an important reminder not too push too hard too soon.

In addition, Dr. Slack uses progressive tension sutures, which distribute the tension across a much broader area by sewing the skin down in multiple places to the abdominal wall. This takes tension off the incision line which helps decrease pain and increase your ability to move around.

Progressive tension sutures also help prevent seromas from forming. Seromas result when fluid accumulates between the abdominal wall and the skin. Without the progressive tension sutures, drains must be placed to remove this fluid accumulation. Dr. Slack does not use drains, but some plastic surgeons do. You will want to clarify this when choosing who will perform your tummy tuck.

Week 1 After Your Tummy Tuck

The first three to five days are the most difficult period of tummy tuck recovery. You will spend much of this time reclining – often even sleeping in a recliner. During this first week when the pain is most severe, Dr. Slack will prescribe a combination of narcotics and muscle relaxers. A new, long-acting medication called Exparel can be injected into the surgical site as well to numb the area. It’s effects typically last 2-3 days after surgery and is now used by Dr. Slack instead of a pain ball. The hospital or surgery center will charge for using Exparel, but the benefits in initial comfort are well worth the additional cost.

The development of blood clots is a concerning risk after many surgeries, including tummy tuck. This is due to the length of surgery and the decreased mobility during recovery. One important way to help minimize the risk of blood clot formation is to get up and move after surgery. This does not mean walking around the block or running a marathon but simply making yourself get out of bed 2-3 times a day to walk around inside your house. This, in addition to getting up to go to the bathroom and doing specific leg exercises while in bed will lower your risk for blood clots. While it is difficult, due to pain, to get in and out of bed or a recliner, most patients say that once they get up they can walk around fairly well, even if they bent over a bit. Because you will have pain and possibly be taking narcotic medications, it is important to have someone available to assist you as you get up and down from your bed or chair and move around your home.

Here is a video of one of patients 3 days post Abdominoplasty

Week 2 After Your Tummy Tuck

After the first few days to a week, your pain should decrease. You will be able to stop taking narcotics and switch to over-the-counter pain relief medications. Moving around will be much easier for you. However, noticeable swelling will remain through the second week, as you are still healing. Enjoy feeling better, but don’t overdo it!

Weeks 3-6 After Your Tummy Tuck

At the end of that second week, you will feel much more like yourself. If you have a job that isn’t physically demanding you will probably be cleared to return to work and may start to drive again. You will also be able to get some exercise – but no crunches or ab work just yet. You will want to avoid core work for several more weeks. Your surgeon may okay getting out for a brisk walk or other low impact exercise.

As you enter your third week of recovery, much of the swelling will just be starting to go away. This is a slow process that does not happen overnight. Tummy tuck patients are usually concerned by excessive fullness in their lower abodomen during these early weeks. The cause of this is normal swelling, and it will come and go for various reasons. Typically it takes 2 months for most of the swelling to resolve and 6 months for all of it to go away. A compression garment will help conrol the swellling. This will make you feel and look better and also help as you move around, but it won’t make the swelling go away. Only time will do that. Remember you will be feeling better by the end of the second week but you won’t look as good as you would like until 2 months after surgery. So be patient.

Weeks 6 and on After Your Tummy Tuck

This is when you can start to get back to your (new) normal life. Most of your swelling will be gone, and your surgeon will probably clear you to resume normal activity including working out and getting back to more physical employment.

A tummy tuck, like most surgery, isn’t over when the surgeon stitches you up. What happens during the days and weeks immediately following surgery is key to achieving the best results and avoiding unpleasant complications. We know you look forward to get to the gym to work on a fantastic six-pack. But give your body time to do it’s job healing. There will be plenty of time for crunches in just a few weeks.

Tummy Tuck Results: Before and After Photo


For more before and after photos of our Tummy Tuck (Abominoplasty) patients, click here!

What is a Tummy Tuck and Who Can Benefit From One?

Are you a good tummy tuck candidate?

Have you ever sucked in your gut or hidden behind your child to camouflage your belly in a family photo? Have you ever hunted for a swimsuit with a strategically placed band of Lycra to minimize the appearance of your gut? Have you considered just skipping the swimsuit altogether because of your tummy?

If you’ve gone through any of these literal or figurative gymnastics, you may have wondered if you are a good tummy tuck candidate.

Tummy tuck is the simple name for a procedure surgeons call abdominoplasty.

Let’s be clear here. A tummy tuck isn’t a stand in for weight loss. Instead it works best for people who can’t seem to get rid of a flabby or protruding abdomen, despite their best efforts at diet and exercise.

You might have excess fat in the belly region that doesn’t respond to diet and exercise like it did 20 years ago. It might be that you have excess skin that refuses to tighten up after pregnancy or significant weight loss. Or you might have diastasis recti – a condition in which the muscles that are responsible for the coveted “six pack” are weakened and separated.

In these cases, a tummy tuck can offer a solution to your problem by removing fat, excess skin, and repairing the abdominal muscles.

Are you a good tummy tuck candidate?

If your weight is relatively stable, you don’t smoke, and you are unhappy with the appearance of your abdomen, yes, you could be an excellent candidate. At least it’s worth discussing with a plastic surgeon.

Remember that as you meet with your surgeon you must be candid with him. Be honest about your goals and don’t hold back answering any questions he may have about your medical history. This will help him determine the benefits and risks of tummy tuck for you.

Likewise, don’t be shy about asking questions of your surgeon. You will want to know if he is appropriately qualified to perform your surgery. In addition ask specific questions about the procedure you are seeking –

      In what facility will the tummy tuck be performed?

      Exactly how will the tummy tuck be performed?

      What are the risks of a tummy tuck?

      What can I expect while recovering from a tummy tuck?

      What if I’m unhappy with results of my tummy tuck?

In addition, it’s a good idea to review before and after photos of your surgeon’s patients. This will give you a realistic look at what kind of results can be expected.

There are some people who may not be good tumy tuck candidates. First, if you smoke, you are not a good candidate for plastic surgery. Smoking will negatively affect the results of your surgery and impair healing. So quit smoking before you seek plastic surgery.

Further, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, it is best to reach a stable weight before having cosmetic surgery. If you plan to become pregnant in the future, it could undo some of the results of your surgery. It might be best to wait until you are finished having children. However, if you have severe diastasis, it may be worth discussing with a surgeon even if you do expect future pregnancies.

Simply put, if your weight is going to change significantly in the future for any reason, it could affect the results of a tummy tuck.

Over the next few months, we will share plenty of details about what is involved in tummy tuck surgery. How the procedure is performed, how the muscles are repaired, adding liposuction to the tummy tuck, and practical aspects of preparing for and recovering from surgery. Stay tuned for a valuable guide to tummy tuck surgery.

In the meantime, if you want to see what kind of results Dr. Slack’s patients have after tummy tuck surgery, browse the tummy tuck gallery. And if you want to discuss your options with Dr. Slack, set up your tummy tuck consultation

3 Things You Should Know about a Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck can build your confidence.

Just like our bodies, tummy tucks come in different shapes and sizes. Knowing the differences will help you choose the right doctor and make you a good partner in your own care. All of which means a better outcome.

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, can successfully flatten out your abdomen for a more youthful appearance by removing excess skin and fat. People who most benefit from tummy tucks include women who have had children, and people who have lost a significant amount of weight. It can also be a good solution for more slender people who have been unable to get rid of excess belly fat despite diet and exercise.

It is important to note here that a tummy tuck is not a weight-loss tool. You should only consider one if you are at a stable weight and preferably don’t plan on any further pregnancies.

1.There are different kinds of tummy tucks

When you start researching any kind of tummy tuck, you will soon discover there are three or four different levels of this type of surgery. The procedure that is best for you depends on the answers to three main questions:

How much skin and fat need to be removed?
Will your belly button need to be repositioned?
Will your abdominal muscles need to be repaired?

Understanding each procedure will also help you predict things like how big your scar will be and how long you will need to fully recover. Here are the four main types of tummy tuck and their most salient features:

Mini or Modified

  • Small amount of skin and fat removed from the lower abdomen
  • No repositioning of the belly button
  • Horizontal scar just above the pubic area
  • Sometimes includes muscle repair and liposuction

Full

  • Skin removed from lower abdomen to just above the belly button
  • Fat beneath the skin is removed
  • Repositioning of the belly button
  • Scar runs across the lower abdomen from hip to hip
  • Typically will include muscle repair
  • May or may not include liposuction

Extended

  • Full tummy tuck (as described above)
  • Fat and skin additionally removed from the flanks toward the lower back
  • Scar runs across the lower abdomen and around toward the lower back

Circumferential

  • Full tummy tuck (as described above)
  • Fat and skin additionally removed from the flanks as well as the lower back
  • Scar runs completely around the lower abdomen and the lower back

An experienced board-certified plastic surgeon can help you understand which procedure is right for you by assessing things like your anatomy, amount of excess skin, and past surgical history.

2.Tummy tucks can be done with or without drains

Drains have long been used after a tummy tuck to help with recovery. This is because of a necessary space created during surgery between the abdominal wall and the overlying skin and fatty tissue. The space has the potential to fill up with fluid leaked from the raw tissue surfaces in the early phases of healing. This then causes the formation of a seroma, or a build-up of fluid. Without the use of drains, this fluid would have no place to go, causing swelling, discomfort, a prolonged recovery, and a less than optimal outcome.

Drains do, however, come with some risk of infection and they can be uncomfortable. That is why some specially trained plastic surgeons, like Dr. Slack, have begun using what are called progressive tension sutures to get rid of that fluid-producing space.

They do this by stitching the abdominal layers together in a specific way that limits the amount of space for fluid to accumulate. This occurs to such a degree that the drains are no longer necessary. In one study of 450 tummy tuck procedures, done over the course of seven years, the seroma rate (rate of fluid build-up) was cut down from 9% to just 2%, when the progressive tension sutures were used.

Make sure to ask your surgeon if he or she is trained in the use of this procedure, and find out if you are a candidate for the drainless tummy tuck.

3. You play a big role in your outcome

The last, but certainly not the least important, thing you should know about having a tummy tuck is that you play a crucial role in its success. Choosing the right plastic surgeon for you is critical to your outcome. And the best way to do that is to do your homework first (Learn more in our article on How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon).

After you’ve done your research, make sure to do all the things your doctor tells you to prepare for the surgery. This might include getting enough rest, eating well and quitting tobacco–especially that last one (read more here).

After surgery you will be responsible for following doctor’s orders regarding your recovery. This will initially include continuing to avoid tobacco, caring for the incision site, taking your medications, modifying your activity, and getting plenty of rest. Later, following your surgeon’s instructions for scar care, abdominal binding, and maintaining a healthy weight can greatly improve your cosmetic results.

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To learn more about the different types of tummy tucks and which one might be right for you, schedule a consultation with Dr. Slack to develop a specific plan.