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“Everyone heals differently, and every surgery is unique. Below is what a typical tummy tuck patient experiences. Tummy tucks are amongst the most involved surgeries I perform for cosmetic reasons. Despite the longer recovery period than some of the other surgeries I perform, If a patient needs a tummy tuck to repair the muscles and remove the extra skin, I feel that the results achieved with a tummy tuck are definitely worth the investment in the recovery period.” - Dr. Khalifeh

A timeline for Abdominoplasty Recovery

The tummy tuck operation is performed under general anesthesia or Intravenous Sedation. The timeline below describes the patient’s experience after the procedure is done:

Day one—the first few hours

Immediately after the procedure is finished, the patient is transferred into the recovery area, where she/he may wake up from anesthesia and be monitored for approximately one hour. The patient will have typically one Jackson-Pratt type drain collecting fluids underneath the skin in the operative site. There will be a layer of gauze dressing over the incision. The patient will have an abdominal binder to help maintain light compression to the site. Any discomfort in the tummy is treated with pain medications until the patient is comfortable. The patient will be able to get into a car with a responsible adult and be driven home. Assistance to get up from a sitting position is helpful, but the patient will be independent.

For any discomfort, you will typically have a narcotic medication prescribed. You will also be prescribed an antibiotic. Your diet will be your regular diet, and you may start eating the evening of the procedure.  You will be able to move around and take care of yourself at home, although you should plan on having someone to help for the first few nights. Moving around the home is very important in the recovery process and is recommended.  We recommend walking "hunched over" a bit, and this is to minimize tension on the incision which gives you the best and finest scar results.

Many times, we will also recommend prophylactic lovenox treatments.  Lovenox is a blood thinning injection that we prescribe to minimize the risk of a deep vein thrombosis or DVT. 

Day two—the day after:

This is a difficult day as the soreness is apparent. The pain medication will be important in ensuring that you remain comfortable. You will need assistance to get up from the chair to stand up, but generally speaking, you will be able to move independently.  Moving around the home is recommended to prevent any problems.  The drains will need to be emptied out every four to six hours.

Day three:

Some people feel better if they shower, others prefer to take sponge baths and keep the dressings on. Either one is acceptable. Should you decide to shower, the drains are tied around a piece of rope so that your hands are free.  Running water with you facing away from the shower is acceptable. Bathing or any submerging in water is not yet acceptable.  After the shower, you may place new gauze along the incision to protect from the binder. You will still be needing the pain medication.

Day 5-7:

By day seven, the pain will start to improve drastically, and you can start moving around the home a lot easier without much help.  Dr. Khalifeh will see you around day seven, you can expect continued bruising and swelling at this point. Dr. Khalifeh will usually remove the drain at that first visit.

Day 14:

Many people elect to return to jobs that are “desk” jobs and do not require any manual labor at work. You will still have a drain in place, and shorter days are helpful. You will be able to drive at this point.

Day 14—21:

Dr. Khalifeh recommends at this point starting  silicone scar strips on the incisions, which can be obtained over the counter at many pharmacies.  In more difficult skin types, he may recommend Embrace Scar Therapy, which is more expensive but sometimes helpful. 

Day 30:

You will have a one—month follow up with Dr. Khalifeh, to make sure you are continuing to heal well. The incisions are now ready to receive massage to help the internal sutures dissolve faster and minimize scarring. At this point cardio exercise can generally resume, as can sexual activity.

Day 90:

You will have a three-month follow up with Dr. Khalifeh. Typically we take before and after pictures at 90 days. There is still some minor swelling that will continue to improve over the next several months.

Day 360:

The incisions are fading and become harder to see.

Best position to sleep during recovery from tummy tuck

For the first week after surgery, reclining in a reclining chair or by placing a lot of pillows on the bed is the preferred position.

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