Planning a tummy tuck? You’re in for a major transformation! A tummy tuck sculpts not just excess fat and skin, but also tightens the underlying abdominal muscles. As such, recovery can take several weeks, and requires an investment of research, planning, and especially patience. Here are 6 things you might not know about the initial period after your abdominoplasty in San Diego.
1. You can go home after your tummy tuck.
A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is most often performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning that you will go home after your surgery. While tummy tuck recovery can be taxing during the first two weeks, it is better for you to move around after surgery rather than remaining in bed 100% of the time: light movement after surgery helps prevent blood clots. (This is so important that Dr. Gallus sends all her tummy tuck patients home with electronic devices that compress their legs to improve circulation.) Recovering in the comfort of your home also means you can choose who will be looking after you during recovery and curate a restful setting. Even our patients who undergo multiple mommy makeover procedures at once go home after surgery.
2. You may or may not need a drain after tummy tuck—it depends on your body and your surgeon.
A surgical drain is a device that a patient wears at their incision site after surgery to collect fluids and promote a healthy healing process (for a tummy tuck, the incision is along the base of the abdomen just above the pubic area). Post-surgical drains stay in for about 2 weeks.
It is well-known that drains can be uncomfortable; they may tug and pull, and they are cumbersome to carry around. That’s why certain surgeons perform a tummy tuck technique that doesn’t require a surgical drain. This drain-free technique is not just a regular tummy tuck without the drain—it requires a skilled surgeon who is experienced with this special suturing technique, and not all surgeons offer this option.
We aim to perform drain-free tummy tucks where possible, but in certain cases, a drain is required for your safety.
At Restore SD Plastic Surgery, Dr. Katerina Gallus aims to offer every abdominoplasty patient a drain-free recovery, but not every patient is a good candidate and every surgery is a unique case. You may need to wear a drain to enjoy a safe, speedy recovery process if you have a BMI over a certain threshold (about 30), for example, or if liposuction is a significant part of your procedure.
3. Know the causes and signs of a seroma.
A seroma is a buildup of fluid after surgery. Seromas are fairly common, and for the most part they simply pose a nuisance: large or painful seromas typically will need to be drained and some additional compression will also be added to the area to aid in resolving the issue.
To prevent seromas after tummy tuck surgery, follow your recovery instructions to the letter, especially the instructions that caution you not to bend over, exert yourself, or get back to activities in the first couple of weeks after surgery. Too much bending and twisting before your wounds have healed properly can lead to seromas after a tummy tuck.
If you do see the signs of a seroma, call your board certified plastic surgeon. You may be developing a seroma if you see these signs at or near the area where you had surgery:
- Swelling, or a swollen lump beneath the skin
- Tenderness or soreness
- Fluid leaking through incisions
Most seromas can be quickly resolved, but if they become infected they can be more dangerous. Call your doctor ASAP if you see any of these signs of infection: your skin becomes warm to the touch; the wound drainage is no longer clear; you have a fever, rapid heart rate, or are short of breath; or pain, swelling, and redness worsen around the seroma.
4. While you’ll need to stop certain supplements, others can be beneficial after tummy tuck.
Before surgery, we will instruct you to stop certain medications and supplements. While the list of what not to take is pretty long, you may be surprised to learn that there are certain supplements that may facilitate your tummy tuck healing process:
- Bromelain: The enzyme found in pineapple can help to reduce pain, swelling, inflammation, and bruising.
- Zinc: Vital for every stage of the healing process.
- Vitamin C: Plays a role in collagen formation for ideal wound healing and scar formation.
- Arnica: Commonly used to reduce inflammation and bruising.
5. Lymphatic drainage massage may help with healing.
Manual lymphatic drainage massage is a very light massage that moves in the direction of the lymphatic system to promote fluid removal and speed up the recovery process (similar to manual compression). While lymphatic massage isn’t critical for a healthy recovery, tummy tuck patients who choose to receive these massages find that it makes a positive difference.
6. Rest, rest, and keep resting—even when you start to feel better.
For two weeks after a full tummy tuck, you shouldn’t have any plans or obligations. Even when you start to feel more like yourself again (usually around the end of week 2), it’s critical to stick to your recovery guidelines.
Avoiding bending, twisting, and exercising for 4-6 weeks to protect your internal abdominal muscle sutures.
The reason that you must keep movement light and easy for 4-6 weeks is to protect your internal abdominoplasty sutures. During surgery, we tighten the abdominal muscles to correct stretching or separation (a.k.a diastasis recti repair). You can’t see these sutures, but they are the reason you have to resist the urge to deep clean the house, plant your garden, work out at the gym, or return to physical activity at work (i.e. waiting tables or nursing).
Schedule your tummy tuck consultation with Dr. Katerina Gallus in San Diego
For an understanding, expert San Diego tummy tuck surgeon, choose board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus at Restore SD Plastic Surgery. Dr. Gallus is there for you every step of the way to listen to your goals, empower you with information about your procedure, and guide you through the recovery process. To schedule your consultation today, call 858-224-2281 or contact Restore SD online.