Help Ensure a Speedy Recovery - Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline
Because the tummy tuck procedure is major surgery, recovery after treatment must be properly planned for. By understanding the tummy tuck recovery timeline, you can be better prepared for the healing process and give yourself the best chances for a speedy recovery. Though each recovery is unique to the individual, the following is an overview of the basic recovery timeline for tummy tuck surgery. For your specific timeline, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Fort Worth-based plastic surgeon Vishnu Rumalla.
Prepare for Tummy Tuck Recovery Before Your Surgery
There are steps you can take to help prepare your body for recovery even before surgery. Since smoking inhibits the body's ability to heal, smokers and should stop smoking a minimum of two weeks before surgery and should not resume smoking until the body is fully healed. Quitting smoking well in advance of surgery allows time for the blood to be properly oxygenated by the time of the tummy tuck procedure. Other ways to prepare for recovery are to have a good supply of ice packs, along with an assortment of loose fitting clothes. You will also want to arrange for a friend or family member to bring to and from the hospital and stay with you for the first few days after surgery.
The First Week of Recovery
The first few days following surgery are typically the most painful and uncomfortable. Bruising, swelling, and pain are to be expected and may continue throughout the first week. Applying ice packs and taking pain medication as prescribed by your physician can help reduce pain and discomfort during the initial recovery phase.
Alcohol and smoking should be avoided as these can lead to complications. A low sodium diet should be adhered to reduce swelling. Strenuous activities like exercising, lifting, and even driving must be avoided to prevent complications like reopening incisions.
Drainage tubes are often needed during the first week of recovery. These help pull excess fluids away from the incision, reducing swelling and bruising. The drains can generally be removed within the first week of recovery. Bandages will be placed to protect incisions and must be replaced per surgeon instructions. A compression garment should also be worn both day and night during the initial recovery. It is useful to have help around the house during the first week of recovery, as moving around may be difficult.
The Second Week of Recovery
Swelling, pain, and bruising are likely to persist during the second week of recovery; however, they should begin to lessen. Alcohol and smoking must still be avoided, as alcohol can interfere with medications and lead to bleeding, and smoking can inhibit healing. A low sodium diet should continue to be followed to further help with swelling. Bandages will still require changing, but you should see less discharge as the body heals. Compression garments should continue to be worn day and night, especially if returning to work; some patients are approved to return to work around the 10th or 14th day after surgery. Though some may be able to return to work, strenuous activities must continue to be avoided. It is also during the second week that patients should get out of bed and take light walks to encourage blood circulations and help prevent blood clots from forming in the legs.
The Next Three to Six Weeks
After about the third week of recovery, patients should begin to see an improvement in pain and swelling. Generally, by the fourth week, many patients feel almost back to normal. Though you may feel recovered by the fourth week, strenuous activity should still be avoided. Once approved by your surgeon, generally around the 6th week, you may participate in strenuous activities again. During the 3rd to 6th week of recovery, compression garments should continue to be worn; however, they may be worn just during the day rather than day and night. Not smoking, abstaining from alcohol, and maintaining a low sodium diet should continue until fully recovered, around the six-week mark. Following all surgeon instructions and properly caring for yourself will help reduce your risk of complications and help you see the full results of tummy tuck surgery.
Schedule a Consultation
To discuss your personalized treatment plan or for more information about tummy tuck surgery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Rumalla.