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Tummy Tuck

What Can I Expect After Surgery?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 15:50

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

After surgery the following temporary symptoms are common. They usually resolve quickly.

  • Discomfort or pain, which may need pain medication during the first few days
  • Bruises and swelling of the abdomen
  • Bleeding
  • Numbness of the central part of the abdomen below the navel
  • Nausea or vomiting after general anesthesia

Patients usually need to wear a pressure garment over the treated area to control swelling and help in healing. The surgeon will instruct the patient in how long to wear this garment. During that time, take it off only to bathe. Also, patients may wear elastic stockings to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Nice To Know:

Special Instruction May Include:

  • Care of bandages
  • When to return for removal of stitches and drainage tubes if present
  • How long to wait before bathing
  • When to start walking, to encourage blood circulation
  • Avoiding straining, lifting and bending
  • Propping up knees during sleep

Results will become more apparent as swelling goes down. Some patients may not see the final result for three to six months or longer.

The surgeon's incisions will leave scars, but they usually are made in places that are not noticeable. It may take many months before these scars begin to fade.

Need To Know:

When To Contact The Doctor:

After surgery, patients should call the doctor right away if they experience:

  • Severe pain
  • Signs of an infection, such as redness at the treatment site and fever
  • Breathing difficulties after general anesthesia
  • Heavy bleeding

How Long Does Healing Take?

Everyone heals at different speeds, so these are general guidelines for healing after a tummy tuck.

  • Non-dissolving stitches will be removed within 10 days after surgery.
  • Patients can resume normal activities and light work within a few weeks. Avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for a month. Patients should wait at least two weeks or until the wounds heal before having sex.
  • Bruises take three weeks or longer to fade. Swelling can take six months to disappear but begins to recede after the first week.
  • Numbness of the abdomen below the navel usually goes away after several months. A degree of permanent numbness may remain, however.

Will the Results Last?

Results last a long time if patients do not gain or lose a lot of weight. Remember that abdominoplasty is not a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise.

If a woman becomes pregnant after a tummy tuck, there is a risk that the skin may stretch again. Aging also will cause some laxity of the skin.

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)