A tummy tuck surgery—otherwise known as abdominoplasty—is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures. While the surgery is generally quick, recovery can take up to several months, especially when it comes to scar prevention and management. It can be frustrating not being able to get back on your feet right away, but it's important to give your body enough time to heal properly. If you're considering having a tummy tuck or if you've just begun the recovery journey, we've gathered the best advice for post-op tummy tuck care to help you see your way to a smoother and sleeker you.
In this post, we'll provide a week-by-week look at the tummy tuck recovery process so you know what to expect. From possible side effects to post-op care and scar prevention tips, you'll be able to bounce back to normal looking better than ever. Avoid post tummy tuck scars and achieve the firm, attractive abdomen you deserve by following this guide for a speedy recovery.
Post-Op Recovery Considerations
While the results can be spectacular, a tummy tuck is a major surgery that requires time off to heal. In general, most individuals are ready to return to work and begin exercising again six to eight weeks after their tummy tuck. However, there are some factors that may impact your recovery, including timeline and tummy tuck procedure. Let's take a close look at a few considerations to keep in mind as you enter the tummy tuck post-recovery phase.
Recovery Times Vary
All bodies are different, so recovery times will vary from person to person. Ultimately, how long it takes for your body to heal after a tummy tuck depends on your age, overall health, post-op care routine, and type of tummy tuck.
The Type of Tummy Tuck Matters
Regardless if you get a full tummy tuck or mini abdominoplasty, you'll need to rest and heal for a few weeks. However, the time frame depends on the type of tummy tuck you receive. This is because different procedures will remove more skin, resulting in a larger incision, or affect the abdominal muscles in the area. For example, a full abdominoplasty requires the belly button to be repositioned, while a mini tummy tuck does not. As a result, there's often a difference in recovery time.
Normal Post-Op Symptoms
There are numerous symptoms that'll arise from your tummy tuck surgery. However, most of them are nothing to be alarmed about. This includes:
Tightness and Stiffness in Abdomen
Experiencing tightness and stiffness in the abdomen after a tummy tuck is normal. As the skin and tissue in the area begins to heal, this feeling will gradually decrease. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication if it's too uncomfortable or painful.
Bruising, Swelling and Redness
It's expected that your abdomen will bruise, swell, and become red where incisions were made. This can become more noticeable if you have drainage tubes to decrease the accumulation of fluid. While your skin may not look the best during this time, have patience since your abdomen will typically look worse before it can get better.
Skin Firmness, Hypersensitivity or Lack of Sensitivity
During the recovery process, you may experience skin firmness, hypersensitivity, or a lack of sensitivity in the abdomen. This is because the tummy tuck procedure will reposition various abdominal nerves and muscles in order to contour the area and reach your desired results. In rare cases, this may also cause a loss of sensation in your upper thighs.
Shiny Skin or Any Itchy Feeling
When a scab begins to form on the incision, you may start to feel itchy, ranging from mild to severe discomfort. Despite the incision site being itchy, avoid scratching the area. Scratching the scab that's forming can open the wound and delay the healing process, resulting in a much more visible scar and even infection. As these areas swell, the skin may also appear shiny.
Asymmetry: Both Sides of Your Body Heal Differently
One side of your abdomen may look and even feel different than the other as it heals. Rest assured that this is normal.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
As with any surgery, there's a risk of infection, which is why it's so important to follow the post-surgical guidelines outlined by your doctor. Below is a list of post-op symptoms that are not normal and should be examined by a doctor right away. Use it to identity signs of infection as you recover from your tummy tuck at home:
- Fever and chills
- Drainage of pus
- Foul smelling incisions
- Excessive redness and soreness
- Site is hot to touch
If you're worried about any tummy tuck complications, including infection and improper healing, speak to your doctor about ways to minimize these risks.