If you cringe with pain when you hear the words "tummy tuck," maybe some recent advances will change your opinion. A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is an operation used to remove lower abdominal skin and tighten muscles after childbirth or significant weight loss. Traditionally, a tummy tuck was associated with significant pain and a prolonged recovery. Many patients were told to walk bent over from a week or two. Significant changes in the tummy tuck procedure have enhanced the outcome and make the recovery easier. I have also provided some tips to make the recovery process more comfortable for patients.
Avoiding Excessive Tightness
To begin with, plastic surgeons have realized that tighter is not only not better, but can actually make things worse. Research, particularly in breast reconstruction, has shown that beyond a certain degree of tightness, muscles and skin simply stretch. The goal of a tummy tuck is to achieve the ideal amount of tightness that gives a great result, while avoiding the excessive tightness that is associate with prolonged pain and recovery. For instance, muscle repair is precisely performed to restore abdominal shape and function while at the same time allowing the patient to comfortably stand up straight on the first day after surgery. Similarly, excess skin is removed, but only to a reasonable tension. This avoids the patient feeling excessively tight, and contributes to a better scar. By controlling tension and thus limiting post operative discomfort, patients can recover more quickly and most can return to work in an office within a week or two.
Benefits of Dissolvable Sutures
All tummy tucks involve some type of incision. The incision is closed with dissolvable sutures under the skin. This means there are no cross hatches across the incision and there is no need to remove sutures. Additionally, the wound is covered with surgical adhesive, which means there is no need for bandages and patients can bathe normally on the first day after surgery.
- I recommend that our Dallas tummy tuck patients remain under our care at Baylor Hospital overnight. That way our staff can manage your pain and take care of any needs you have in the first 24 hours after surgery.
- Patients should rest in bed for the first few days following surgery.
- Do not shower for at least 48 hours after surgery.
- Keep incisions clean and replace bandages as necessary.
- Drainage tubes will be removed about five to 10 days after surgery.
- Stitches will be removed after about a week.
- A support or compression garment should be worn for about a week after surgery.
- Have a family member or friend available to help care for you in the days following surgery.
- Do not smoke or consume alcohol in the weeks following surgery.
- Take at least one to two weeks off of work.
- Take pain medications as recommended by your doctor.
- Do not drive when taking pain medications.
- Do not engage in strenuous activity for about six weeks.