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Tummy Tuck Tummy Tuck Recovery

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Tummy Tuck Recovery / Abdominoplasty Recovery

While the majority of the information here can be applied to a tummy tuck performed anywhere, some of the information applies specifically to practices of Doctors Perrotta and Pellegrino of Peninsula Plastic Surgery.  Speed and quality of recovery depend on the type of abdominoplasty.  Skin-only abdominoplasty patients recover faster than full abdominoplasty patients.  During a skin-only abdominoplasty, the surgeon removes the excess skin but does not tighten the deep muscle layer.  In a full abdomonoplasty, he/she also tightens the deep muscle layer.  In the Recovery Room–the moment you wake up from anesthesia, you will notice the post-op garment surrounding your belly.  It will feel very tight.  You will also notice one to three soft rubber tubes with clear bulbs on their ends.  The nursing staff will teach you and your caregiver how to manage these drains (see below).  You will feel drowsy and as if you keep falling in and out of sleep.  You might feel some nausea.  Both of these sensations are from the anesthesia.


First Night After Surgery –You will feel drowsy.   As the anesthesia wears off, you will start to feel pain.  You may also feel nausea, due to the anesthesia and pain medication.  Your pain medication can also make you feel itchy.  If you develop a rash or hives, call your doctor immediately. You or your caregiver will have to empty the drain bulbs every four hours.  If any of them fill up in less than four hours, call your doctor and discuss it with him/her.  For directions on emptying your drain bulbs, click here  Never disconnect the bulb from the drain. Remember to take your antibiotics, keep your hips flexed at all times, and flex your ankles at least twenty times every hours to prevent deep clots from forming in your legs.  If you begin to vomit or retch, call your doctor so that he/she can call in some anti-nausea medication.  Retching and vomiting can jeopardize the repair on your deep abdominal wall and cause more bleeding. If you underwent a full abdominoplasty, avoid using your abdominal muscles.  To rise up in bed, roll over to your side first and then push yourself upward with your hands.  When entering your bed, craw on front first and then roll to your side.  To sit up, again, use your arms, not your belly muscles. When you walk, do so bent over to reduce the tension across the suture line.  Skin-only abdominoplasty patients can ignore this paragraph.


Day after Surgery — You will be more alert.  You might notice more pain as you become more mobile.  Also, you will notice the onset swelling.  Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids


Second Day after Surgery — You will experience more pain on this day than any other, and you might see swelling of your ankles and feet.  Both are due to the inflammation and edema (fluid collection).  Toward the second half of this day, you will start to visit the bathroom very often to urinate.


Day Three through Day Seven — You will continue to gain function.  Your requirement for narcotic pain medication should taper off.  Your drainage should diminish enough for your tube(s) to be removed at the doctor’s office.  Between day five and seven, you should finish using narcotic pain medication and switch over to Ibuproren or tylenol.


Day 8 through Day 14 — You are gaining function and walking more upright.  You will feel occasional sharp pains when you twist and produce some internal tension along the internal fibrosis (scarring).   Full abdominoplalsty patients must refrain from lifting anything over 10 pounds, as straining can destroy your deep wall repair.  Since you no longer are using narcotic pain medication, you should be able to drive.


Day 15 through Day 28 — Skin-only abdomipolasty patients should be ready to return to full activity, including work. Full abdominoplasty patients must continue to  avoid lifting objects over 20 pounds and may start waking exercises but nothing strenuous enough to cause straining. These patients with desk jobs can return to work, provided they continue to honor the restriction on heavy lifting.


Day 29 through 42 — Some time during this interval, surgeons will inform full abdominoplaslty patients they are fully recovered and can return to full function, including strenuous physical activity.


It is very important for you to understand that the information above is for educational purposes only and does not constitute post-operative instructions, which you must receive directly from your surgeon.  We encourage you to contact any of our doctors to discuss your questions and concerns.