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The Best Way to Recover from a Tummy Tuck

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Page Updated on May 31, 2022 by Dr. Norman Rowe (Plastic Surgeon) of Rowe Plastic Surgery

What’s a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty  is a popular cosmetic surgery procedure used to remove excess fat and skin from your abdomen. A board certified plastic surgeon carries out the procedure, which also tightens your abdominal muscles. The procedure gives you a flat, firm and well-toned midsection. If you’ve exercised and eaten right, but just can’t get rid of those last few pounds in your tummy, consult a cosmetic surgeon to discover if you’re a good candidate for an abdominoplasty.

The best candidates for the procedure have some excess fat and skin that trouble you. If you’re in good overall health, don’t smoke and have realistic expectations, your plastic surgeon can give you an hourglass shape and a flat stomach. This procedure is customized for your specific needs and body type.

While an abdominoplasty is a popular cosmetic procedure, most people have concerns about recovery after a tummy tuck. In New Jersey, Manhattan, Long Island and the Hamptons, the plastic surgeons at Rowe Plastic Surgery take you through every detail of the procedure, including your recovery. These cosmetic surgery specialists have a detailed aftercare program that you must follow for the best results after your surgery.

What Can I Expect During My Tummy Tuck Recovery?

You likely have high expectations about your tummy tuck procedure, and you wish to see quick results. When you visit this NJ and NYC plastic surgery practice for your initial consultation, make sure you discuss all the issues around your recovery. Your cosmetic surgeon takes you through the procedure and presents before and after images to help you appreciate what to expect during your recovery. Facts about your recovery after a tummy tuck include:

  1. Immediately after surgery. You have a dressing covering the incision after the surgery, with a tube to drain excess fluids. Expect some pain, discomfort, swelling and bruising at this stage, as the incisions are fresh. You rest under observation for a period of time before you can leave.
  2. Recovering at home. The most important stage of recovery starts when you get home. Follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions. If you do it right, your incision heals quickly and without complications. Expect problems if you bend, and avoid lifting and other strenuous activities to protect the sutures.
  3. To relieve your pain and discomfort, the doctor may prescribe painkillers. To promote faster healing of the wound, you can take antibiotics and anticoagulants.
  4. Daily wound maintenance. Avoid showering for a few days to protect the stitches. Wear the abdominal support garment provided to relieve swelling and discomfort.
  5. Lifestyle habits. Avoid smoking and drinking for at least three months post-surgery, as they can affect the healing process.
  6. Back to normal life. Don’t resume work immediately, especially if you have to lift or bend. Prepare to take several weeks off from work for the best recovery after a tummy tuck.
  7. Once the swelling and bruising subside, the results of the tummy tuck become more apparent. You still have to wait four to six weeks for your final figure to reveal itself.
  8. Expect some scarring as the incision heals. The scarring depends on the type of incisions made, but the best plastic surgeon hides the scars as much as possible. Properly taken care of, the scars fade with time.
  9. Follow-up appointments. Your doctor schedules a follow-up appointment to check your recovery. You may be able to make a virtual appointment if you have urgent questions about the recovery.

When planning a tummy tuck, remember your recovery is a process. Plan to take off from work and arrange for someone to help you at home. If you follow your doctor’s aftercare program, recovery goes smoothly, and you enjoy the results more quickly.

What Factors Affect My Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Before you get a tummy tuck, appreciate the fact that every procedure is customized. Your doctor chooses the best surgical technique to help you reach your goals. Some factors that affect the recovery after an abdominoplasty include your:

  • Age
  • General health
  • Quality of the surgery
  • Procedure used for your tummy tuck
  • Post-surgery care
  • Size of the incisions

At Rowe Plastic Surgery in New Jersey and New York City, the team has experience in a broad range of cosmetic surgeries ranging from tummy tucks and skin removal surgery to breast augmentation and breast lift procedures. For each procedure, your doctor provides a tailored aftercare program to promote your healing and recovery.

Does the Type of Tummy Tuck Procedure Change My Recovery?

You have specific body aesthetic goals for getting a tummy tuck. During your initial consultation, the plastic surgeon reviews your medical history, examines your abdominal profile and also considers your expectations. After the assessment, the doctor chooses the best tummy tuck procedure for you. Your recovery time depends on the tummy tuck procedure chosen. The primary abdominoplasty techniques include:

  • Full tummy tuck. This type of tummy tuck addresses both your lower and upper abdomen. The procedure addresses weakened abdominal muscles and excessive skin. The surgeon makes two incisions — one above your pubic mound and another around your navel — to remove excess fat and skin.
  • Mini tummy tuck. This procedure only addresses your lower abdomen. The surgeon makes a small horizontal incision between your hip bones.
  • Extended tummy tuck. This abdominoplasty procedure needs a longer incision to address your flanks. Since it’s larger, the scar takes more time to heal.
  • Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck. This tummy tuck procedure is used if you have excess skin in your midline abdomen. It uses a low horizontal incision with another vertical incision along the middle of your abdomen.
  • Tummy tuck with liposuction. Most of the extensive tummy tuck procedures include liposuction to achieve the best results in less time.
  • Reverse tummy tuck. This cosmetic procedure addresses excess fat and skin in your upper abdomen. The procedure involves an incision just beneath your breasts.

Each of these tummy tuck procedures has its own expected recovery time because of the incisions made and the extent of tissue removed. The type of procedure, the number and length of incisions and your health all factor into how long and how smooth your recovery will likely be.

How Can I Improve My Recovery after a Tummy Tuck?

Some simple tips to promote recovery after a tummy tuck include:

  • Use the pain medication prescribed appropriately.
  • Take vitamin A and vitamin C supplements.
  • Watch your diet. Eat fruits and vegetables in a low-sodium diet.
  • Don’t overdo the physical activity.
  • Take care to avoid infections by keeping your wound clean and dry.
  • Use a compression garment to promote healing.
  • Apply ice packs to minimize pain and swelling.
  • Avoid sudden movements.
  • Start walking as soon as possible to promote blood circulation.
  • Be patient with the recovery.
  • Change the dressing daily.
  • Avoid staying too long in one position.

An abdominoplasty helps you deal with your body issues and improve your self-esteem. The doctors at Rowe Plastic Surgery have performed many cosmetic procedures, each tailored to a specific patient. Contact the practice today to schedule your consultation, where you learn more about your tummy tuck recovery, costs and results. With locations in Manhattan, Plainview and Water Mill, NY and in Montclair and Red Bank, NJ, there’s an office near you.


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