A tummy tuck is a popular procedure these days. Many women get this procedure done in order to tighten their stomach skin. This procedure is normally favored by women who have had several pregnancies and they want to get their skin back in shape.
In a tummy tuck procedure, an incision is made on the lower abdomen and excess skin and fat are removed from the region. There is recovery time after the procedure, during which you have to abstain from certain activities and take special care of yourself.
What to Expect During Recovery Period?
Normally, the recovery time for a tummy tuck is 6 to 8 weeks. This can vary from person to person. After the surgery, you cannot drive someone. You will need someone to drive for you. The doctor will put a compression garment on you that you will have to wear for 6 weeks. This garment helps in the following things:
- It controls the swelling that comes after a tummy tuck.
- It supports the tummy skin while healing.
The doctor will also give one or two drains and you have to empty it many times a day. Different kinds of fluid are drained from the body during this period. These fluids include:
- Serious fluid
- Liposuction fluid
This drain has to stay for 10 days to two weeks. After the surgery, you will be sore for a few days. To alleviate the pain, the doctor will give you painkillers. Along with that, he or she will also give you antibiotics against any infection. During this period, you will also experience mild discomfort since the scars are still healing. Scarring is very common in patients, especially hypertrophic scarring.
The surgeon will remove your sutures after two weeks. Antibiotics are given for one week since this is the time when the patient is more prone to infection.
Precautions to Take
During the first few days of recovery, do not stand up straight. Also, you must not drive during this period and keep your activity minimum. There should be no strain on the incision as it can cause pain and swelling.
Keep going for your follow-up appointments so that your doctor can check up on your improvement. You should not lift heavy weights during this period. Extensive weight lifting or putting pressure on the abdominal wall can cause tearing and hematoma.
After the surgery, the incision scar will still be there and the doctor will put a bandage on the area to cover the scar. This will protect you against infection. You have to change these bandages from time to time.
Make sure that you keep the wound clean. Just clean it gently to prevent any kind of bleeding or swelling. Your surgeon will guide you about what to do if you experience any excessive pain, bleeding or redness in the incision area.
The compression garment has to be worn for a few days. This helps in reducing swelling and supporting the tummy area. As a result of this, proper healing is accomplished. Your surgeon will tell you to wear the garment for two weeks to a month. The duration depends on your healing rate.
If the compression garment is causing you any pain or it is too tight, let your doctor know. He or she will make adjustments accordingly.
How to Manage Pain after a Tummy Tuck?
After an Abdominoplasty, you will experience pain and discomfort. In some cases, the surgeon injects a pain killer around the sensory nerves. This helps in preventing postoperative pain. If you’re still feeling pain after the procedure, you can use these methods to alleviate this pain.
Surgeons often prescribe prescription drugs for pain. The benefit of these drugs is that there is no bleeding involved. However, if you are taking the narcotics at a low dosage, you may experience constipation. When the doses are made higher, the risk of heart problems and addiction increases.
There is something called a pain pump which is suitable for people who cannot take oral medication due to nausea. A pump delivers the medicine into your body. If the pain is too severe, a pain pump can omit the need for high dose narcotics.
Maintaining Your Lifestyle After a Tummy Tuck
You have to make a few changes in your lifestyle after a tummy tuck. Some of these are temporary while others are long-term. First of all, you must maintain your physical activity. Do not completely give up on simple chores like day-to-day tasks. Just start with easier tasks. If any kind of movement is causing you pain, avoid it.
You should not perform strenuous exercise after a tummy tuck. Your wounds are still in the process of healing and they should not have to go through the stress of exercise. Most doctors recommend that you should not perform workouts for at least six weeks. However, you can still resume physical activity like walking and mild exercise during the recovery period.
Tobacco is a complete no during the recovery period. It only makes everything worse. Smoking introduces nicotine in your body and this slows down the process of healing. Also, smoking causes vessel narrowing. This leads to reduced oxygen delivery to skin cells at the site of the incision. So, the healing process is delayed.
You should try your best to not be constipated during the recovery time. Sometimes, constipation is caused by narcotic medications while at other times, it may be due to less eating. To avoid being constipation:
- Include more fluids in your diet
- Eat fiber-rich foods in your diet
- Get over-the-counter medication if the problem still persists
You should not go back to driving soon after the surgery since it is strenuous for the incision scar.
Why Should You Avoid Driving During Recovery Period?
The driving post tummy tuck is not recommended since it is strenuous. Most patients want to go back to driving as soon as they can but this is not a good idea. On the very first day after the surgery, you cannot drive due to the effect of anesthesia.
Due to anesthesia, you will feel confused and sleepy, so driving is not an option. Also, surgery is quite a hectic task and you will not be able to drive after it. Even after the anesthesia wears off, you have to let your body heal before you can go back to driving.
After a tummy tuck, you will have restricted movement since moving will cause you discomfort and pain. So, you will not be able to drive easily. This is why doctors recommend that you should wait for at least two weeks. Even basic tasks such as opening the car door will be hard for you. You should resume driving once you can easily do all these tasks.
How to Know If You are Ready to Drive?
Normally, your surgeon will advise you when to start driving. You can also check if you are prepare for it.
Sit in the car and see if you are comfortable. Put on your seat belt and see if it hurts your abdomen or not. Once you are comfortable doing things like opening the car door and turning around to see the traffic, you are ready to drive.
- Move around in your seat
- Look over your shoulder
- Try to open the passenger seat door while sitting in the driving seat
Just do not make any quick decisions. Give your body time to heal before you get behind the steering wheel again. In the meantime, make arrangements for going to work or taking the kids to school.