Admiring her new trim waistline in the mirror, it was hard to imagine that just a short time ago A.B. was leaving the surgery center to recover after her tummy tuck. After the birth of her third child and successful weight loss, she still felt left with a soft and stretched mid-section. Nine weeks later she’s now excited to show off the results.
A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, involves the removal excess fat and skin from the mid-section and repair of weakened or separated muscles. Compared to other procedures in cosmetic surgery, a tummy tuck is rather extensive. After surgery, the abdomen may be swollen and throbbing; and the skin is likely to be numb. These are normal symptoms and result from the separation of the skin from the abdomen.
Sensation typically returns over the course of several months, often beginning with tingling or itching. As the recovery progresses, the swelling and pain will dissipate and bruising will diminish. Full recovery after tummy tuck surgery will take several months, but many patients are well enough to return to work and a modified routine after several weeks.
When leaving the hospital or surgical facility after a tummy tuck, patients can expect to receive a list of postoperative instructions and advice on general care of the incisions, restrictions on movement or activity, and signs to watch out for such as an elevated temperature or bleeding from the incision. Pain medications are used to control discomfort during recovery. A follow-up visit will typically be scheduled 3 to 4 days after tummy tuck surgery so that the surgeon can examine your incision and see how the recovery is progressing.
Since recovery after a tummy tuck varies from person to person, sutures may be removed as early 5 to 10 days after surgery, or may be left in for 2 weeks or more. Between follow up visits, patients are often encouraged to take short walks to prevent blood clots and ease swelling; and to drink plenty of water. After sutures are removed and under the advice of a surgeon, a patient can gradually increase their rate of activity.
A full recovery after a tummy tuck surgery takes time, how much time depends on the extent of the surgery and the patient’s health. People considering a fully tummy tuck should weigh the downtime and risks involved with the expected outcome: a flatter abdomen, fewer stretch marks, tighter skin and visible muscle tone.