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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 or he may wake up from anesthesia and be monitored for approximately one hour. The patient will have typically one or two jackson-pratt type drains collecting the fluid 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 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 have typically a narcotic medication prescribed, usually Percocet, Oxycodone or Dilaudid. You will also take antibiotics. Some patients elect to also receive Exparel(tm), a long—acting numbing medication.

Your diet will be your regular diet, and you may start eating the evening of the procedure. You will be able to move about and take care of yourself at home, although Dr. Khalifeh recommends having someone to help for the first few night. Moving around the home is very important in the recovery process and is recommended.

Day two—the day after:

This is a difficult day, and 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 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 acceptable yet. After the shower, you may place new gauze along the incision to protect from the binder. You will still be needing he pain medication.

Day seven—ten:

By day seven, the pain is starting to improve dramatically, and you can start moving around the home a lot easier without much help. Dr. Khalifeh will see you around day seven, and if you have two drains in place, we typically will remove one. After your first visit, Dr. Khalifeh may clear you to drive if you are not taking any narcotic pain medications. You will also finish the antibiotics at this point.

Day ten—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 will see you again, and evaluate the next drain for removal. Typically, the drain are all out by week two—three, but this will be determined by your individual healing. He will also make sure the incision is healing well. Strategies to minimize scarring will begin. Dr. Khalifeh recommends silicone strips such as Scarguard or Mederma scar cream to help minimize the scarring. These can be obtained at your local CVS.

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 45:

Heavier lifting can resume at this point if you are healing well.

Day 90:

Your 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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