Medically Reviewed April 2023, by Pundrique Sharma - Consultant Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon
Tummy tuck surgery, or abdominoplasty is a technique involving the removal of excess fat and skin from the abdomen whilst strengthening the underlying muscle tissue. This process provides patients, both male and female, with a more aesthetically desirable appearance, and improved confidence following significant weight-loss.
Before making the decision to undergo any medical or surgical procedure, it is essential that all patients have a detailed understanding of the recovery process so that consent can be properly informed. Here we shine a spotlight on tummy tuck recovery and answer some FAQs.
As with any procedure, recovery time can vary based on several factors including:
Your expert Surgeon will work with you on a person-centred basis to formulate a recovery plan and provide a more specific timeline for you to plan around.
As a guide, recovery time usually ranges from 6 to 8 weeks. Although it can be tempting to return to normality soon after surgery, it is important to allow your body enough time and space to rest, avoid any postoperative complications and achieve the best possible results.
In the days following surgery, it is crucial to rest according to your surgeon’s advice. Many patients will spend the first night in hospital where they will be monitored by clinical professionals. It is expected that bruising and swelling will occur post-surgery and it is important to avoid positions that will place pressure on or aggravate the incision.
Once you have been discharged, you will require somebody to take you home. It may help reduce stress and anxiety to make these arrangements in advance. Once you’re back home, you will likely need some assistance as your mobility will be reduced, so tasks involving bending or lifting must be avoided. You will also have been provided with a compression garment and wound care guidance to help.
At this time, excitement will be building in anticipation of your results, but it is important to remain focused on your recovery. All strenuous exercise should be avoided for the first 6 weeks and time away from work should be arranged for the initial fortnight. By this point you will have become accustomed to your compression garment, wound care routine and relaxed lifestyle.
It is important that you attend your post-operative follow up appointments to discuss your progress with your Surgeon and ask any questions you may have.
Compression garments are an essential element of the recovery process. By improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to healing tissue, and promoting venous and lymphatic drainage, compression garments help to reduce swelling, aid the healing process and minimise scarring.
These garments must be worn throughout the recovery process for at least the initial 4 weeks, although timings and specific guidance will be provided by your Surgeon.
Traditionally, compression garments are considered uncomfortable and unsightly. However, at The Harley Medical Group we collaborate with a leading provider of high-quality, handmade medical grade garments to provide our patients with comfortable, well-fitting options.
Immediately after surgery, abdominal incisions will be covered with surgical dressings. There may also be specialist tubes inserted to drain any accumulating fluid from underneath the skin, but these will usually be removed within the first few days.
The incision healing process takes 1-2 months. Proper use of compression garments and avoidance of strenuous movements and positions can help to minimise the length of this process. Part of the aftercare experience at The Harley Medical Group involves guidance on caring for the healing incision, and your personal Nurse Counsellor will be on hand to answer any questions throughout the recovery process. The best way to ensure a seamless transition back to normal is to seek advice when unsure and attend your postoperative follow-up appointments with your Harley Medical Group Surgeon.
Whilst a mini tummy tuck is an excellent alternative to full abdominoplasty for suitable patients who have excess skin below the belly button only, the procedure is invasive and still requires a shortened period of recovery. This will depend on whether muscle tissue has been tightened during the procedure, however strenuous activity should generally be avoided for the first 6 weeks regardless.
The following tips are applicable to both full and mini tummy tuck surgery:
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