Tummy Tuck Recovery: What to Expect
The tummy tuck recovery process is the most challenging part of the whole process of getting a flat stomach surgically. The process could take several months, with the first few weeks and days being the most challenging. However, strictly adhering to post-surgery guidelines will ensure that the recovery process in shorter and the experience more comfortable and uncomplicated. Here are some of the experiences to expect and tips to get you through the recovery period.
The post-surgery period
Usually, you may experience dizziness, vomiting, nausea and spatial disorientation as anesthesia subsides. This experience should be over within a few hours. Some patients may experience a recurrence of these symptoms afterward. However, the recurring sensations may be caused by the oral pain medication administered. The incision site will be protected by dressing, over which you will be wearing an elastic compression garment to support the tightening skin and manage the swelling.
You may be required to wear drain tubes in your incision to drain any fluids collecting under the skin. This is however determined by the extent of the surgery. The tubes should be worn for only a week after the surgery. Traditional sutures will then be removed within two weeks
Your surgeon will give you comprehensive details on how to handle your drains, manage dressing and shower during the tummy tuck recovery process.
Handling pain in the recovery process
It is normal to experience some level of pain and discomfort during the recovery process after the abdominoplasty surgery. The pain is usually worse during the first few days but will subside as the days go by. Antibiotics and pain relievers should be taken right from the onset. Pain meds should be taken regularly and before the pain becomes severe to ensure the pills are effective. Some type of pain medication can trigger constipation. It is, therefore, advisable to eat lots of fiber to soften the bowel movement. Since your body is investing a lot of energy into healing, it is normal to feel tired. You need to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated at all times.
It is important to maintain healthy levels of movement. Walking around will boost blood circulation to facilitate healing and clotting of blood. Avoid sitting straight up when you feel the need to get up. First, roll gently to your side up to the edge of the bed then carefully ease into an upright position. It is good to have plenty of pillows arranged to give you the most comfortable position. As advised by your surgeon, you might need to rest and sleep with your head and shoulders raised at an angle.
Avoid any other unnecessary movements and strenuous physical activity. Light exercises can only be done with your surgeon’s consent.
Side effects during the recovery process
- Swelling. Swelling is the most common side effect of a tummy tuck operation. Swelling is worst during the first few days after the surgery. Though the swelling will begin to subside within a few days of the operation, it may take several weeks for the swelling to completely diminish. Your body will take shape after six months. During this time, it is important to document the progress by taking photos. Icepacks and a gentle massage will help the swelling to diminish gradually.
- Bruising. It is normal to have bruises on the tummy after it was cut during the surgery. This should fade in a few weeks. The main concern here is the accumulation of large amounts of blood under the skin (hematoma), which should be reported to the surgeon if it occurs.
- Numbness and itchy sensations are to be expected right around the incision. These sensations may last for a few weeks to months. If nerves were severed and damaged during the surgery, the numbness will become permanent.
- Skin discoloration. Due to the damage on the surrounding muscle tissue and blood vessels, the skin will appear red or pinkish. The color should even out and adopt the appearance of your normal skin.
- Scaring. Scars may be visible on the areas of the incision after healing. Your surgeon can advise you on products you can use to completely eliminate the scar after the tummy tuck healing process is over.
The emotional aspects of the recovery process
A tummy tuck procedure is a major surgery that places a significant amount of stress on your body. The process will also subject your body to pain, swelling and discoloration thereby altering its look. Having to cope with all this may have emotional consequences on you. It is normal for occasional depression and anxiety to set in during the first few weeks. You will find that you become impatient and irritable with people around you. In the event of an emotional breakdown, it is important to seek professional help.
Try to maintain a positive attitude through the tummy tuck recovery process to facilitate healing. Keep yourself occupied with coloring books, mental games or books. Research shows that solving mental problems during the recovery process can trigger speedy healing.
Soon, the healing process will be in the last stages and your body will be feeling and looking better. This will boost your confidence and make you appreciate the fact that you went for surgery.
Preparation for the tummy tuck
Before going into surgery for a tummy tuck, it is important to ensure that you have enough information about what the procedure demands from you. It is also important to know that you may be unable to resume a normal life soon enough and this may take a toll on your work schedule. Make necessary arrangements with your employer if you have a sedentary job.
It is also important to note that all expenses from the tummy tuck procedure will be covered by you and not your insurance. The only exception is if you have a hernia that can be healed through this procedure. Many appropriate financial preparations in light of the tummy tuck surgery.
Ensure that there is someone to take of you during the recovery process. Ask a friend or relative that will be available throughout the entire period. Any unusual developments should be referred to your surgeon promptly to prevent complications.