Tummy Tuck Recovery: Tips to Speed It Along
Tummy tucks hurt. There I said it. It’s just the cold hard truth and you have to know that before you go down this path. People always think it’s because of the scar, but that’s really the least of it. Skin tightening doesn’t hurt that much. When you get a tummy tuck, I’m pulling the abs back to the middle, the muscle tightening, that will get you the results you’re looking for. I am not trying to scare anyone, this is one of the most popular surgeries that I perform, but I am just trying to educate you. The more you know the better and, indeed, there are things you can do to make recovering from a tum.my tuck easier.
Good Health Leads to Good Tummy Tuck Results
Want to speed up tummy tuck recovery? Be healthy, I can’t stress that enough. A patient at an appropriate height and weight will not only have a more gratifying result but often a much safer and easier recovery. Dolly Parton once said. “you can’t put 10 pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag” when her top burst at a performance. When we tighten the abs, we are pushing the abdominal contents into a smaller space. Often there is a lot of extra room to take back after childbearing because the abdomen has been overstretched. But if you are overweight, that space will be filled with extra fat (visceral fat) and tightening will be harder. The body will stretch more after surgery, and this lends itself to more discomfort.
Have Someone You Can Count on During Tummy Tuck Recovery
Have the right adult with you during recovery. This is a team sport. You need a helper, a supervisor of medications, and a coach. Having the right person with you for at least the first few days can make it easier for you to move, more comfortable for you being on top of your meds, and overall, just safer. To me, in fact, this is the most important part of recovery. You can not do this alone. Continuity is important. The person taking care of you should, if possible, be with you at your initial consultation, and more importantly, be with you on the day of your surgery. There is much to learn and much to remember. Details are lost when there are too many helpers.
Exparel Can Make for Effective Tummy Tuck Recovery
Exparel has become a game-changer. For two decades I have used a long-acting local anesthetic injected into the abdominal muscles to provide post-operative pain relief. What I traditionally used would last for about 12-24 hours. Exparel is a new formulation of the same anesthetic but it lasts up to 96 hours. It gets patients through most of their discomfort and vastly diminishes the need for narcotics. It does not take away all the discomfort but the discomfort it helps treat lasts far longer. Unfortunately, it is expensive on two counts. The drug itself is expensive because it is under patent, and it takes longer to administer in surgery. Because of this, we offer it to our patients as an option but I strongly recommend it.
For Tummy Tuck Recovery, Fast is Slow, Slow is Fast
When operating as a general surgery resident one of my favorite teachers was Dr. Shen. As we wove our way through complex surgeries he was fond of saying, “Fast is slow- Slow is fast”. A stepwise precise and methodical approach always made for a better surgery. The same holds true for recovery. Many patients want to impress me by being ahead of the curve, doing more, or returning to work sooner. Yes, I want you walking, breathing deeply —but all with common sense. Tissues need time to adhere, Vessels need time to heal so they don’t bleed. Too much too soon actually slows the pace of recovery. Three weeks of good behavior actually makes the remainder of the healing process go much faster.
No Muscle Tightening Makes for Easier Tummy Tuck Recovery
No muscle tightening is an option for some. A tummy tuck is usually two parts. Skin and fat removal, the easy part. Muscle repair and tightening—the part that hurts. You don’t have to tighten the muscle, and for some patients, that’s an appealing option. It means that the same amount of skin and fat will be removed but the abdominal wall will maintain its original shape. There will be no flattening. Recovery is much easier when only the skin is involved, but the expectations of contour must be modified.
“Recover-Quicker” Products are Often Unnecessary
A search of the web will convince you of the multiple items you just have to have to speed your recovery—fancy beds, lifting chairs, wedges, and walkers. Endless scar treatments promote their ability to heal you faster. Garments abound. I deny you none of it, but you don’t need most of it. These crutches that you may think help you in some cases can make you reliant and slow your progress. The most important determinant of your scar is not even your plastic surgeon but your parents and their genetic makeup. I hate to see patients pay a lot for items that they will get rid of in about 14 days. Less is more. Don’t let marketing exceed science.
Find a Knowledgable Plastic Surgeon for Optimal Tummy Tuck Recovery and Results
Be sure you like your plastic surgeon and be sure you know all the details of your surgery. If it sounds like a walk in the park, you’re being sold, not educated. Without question, I have found that the more well-informed the patient is, the more swift, reliable, and safe recovery will be. As with many things in life the more you know the better.
Dr. Adam G. Tattelbaum, MDPC, is a double-board certified plastic surgeon. He enjoys the process of teaching his patients as much as he loves performing surgeries. If you are considering tummy surgery and would like to know more about the procedure as well as recovery, call Dr.Tattelbaum’s office at (301)-656-6398 or contact us online.
Dr. Tattelbaum offers in-person consultations at his offices in Mclean, Virginia, and Rockville, Maryland. Virtual consultations are also available.