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What to Expect After a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Parcells Plastic Surgery

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Recovery is different for everyone

You’ve met your board-certified plastic surgeon. You’ve selected your date for your surgery and have all your preparations in order. But what about recovery time?

In New Jersey tummy tuck surgery or abdominoplasty, is a very common plastic surgery procedure. However, your length of recuperation and the overall postoperative course will depend on several factors including your overall health and compliance with your physicians’ instructions. Understanding this recovery process and timeline will make your surgical transformation much easier.

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It’s natural to want to bounce back to normal after your surgery, but it’s important that you give your body time to heal. 

Instead of rushing to get back to your baseline level of activity, spend some time organizing your recovery so you have ample time to heal and can take a break to avoid stressing your body. Talk to family and friends to make the proper arrangements and be fully prepared for your recovery period.

Patients in my practice are encouraged to spend a night in the hospital to monitor fluid intake and output, drain output, and overall pain control. 

Most men and women are back to light daily activities by 5-7 days. Most can return to work at about 2 weeks. No heavy lifting or gym until 4-6 weeks. Full strength activities can usually be resumed by 6 weeks. 

Illustration of Tummy Tuck New Jersey

What should I expect immediately after tummy tuck surgery?

  • how to care for incisions and drain tubes
  • what to be aware of in terms of infection or overall health
  • what to avoid in terms of physical activity that affects your incision line for six weeks
  • when you need to see your plastic surgeon again
  • how long to wear the abdominal pressure garment
  • how much to rest
  • what you can eat

  • The day after tummy tuck surgery you will be placed in a surgical compression garment which you will wear for an additional 6-12 weeks. This helps to avoid fluid buildup and helps to support your abdomen.

    After staying in the hospital overnight, you’ll need a family or friend who can drive you home from the hospital and help take care of you for at least the first few days after your surgery. 

    You should avoid alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana / CBD / vape products as they can hinder the healing process and result in open wounds.

    Drains are usually left in place for upwards of a week after surgery. You’ll be shown how to take care of and empty the drains. You’ll also need to take an antibiotic and an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots while your drains are in place.

    It is important to have documentation on your recovery process. Ask your surgeon for specific instructions that should include:

  • Caring for your drains
  • Specific concerns to be aware of 
  • Medication dosage and administration
  • Activity limitations

  • Additionally, ask your surgeon specific questions about your individual recovery period and how long until you can resume normal daily activities. 

    Possible physical side effects

    Most patients say the first 1-3 days after the procedure are the most difficult in terms of managing pain and mobilizing around the home. 

    A small amount of swelling is normal and the use of the compression garment can help improve that.  

    Numbness around your abdomen is normal and may take months or years to improve. 

    Bruising around the area is also normal. 

    Scars will be red and raised several weeks after surgery but will eventually settle with time and scar massage. 

    Is there anything I can do to optimize my abdominoplasty recovery?

    Remaining healthy before, during, and after the surgical period is very important in overall recovery.

    Eating fruits, vegetables, and other items high in protein will provide the body the nutrition it needs to heal. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and marijuana / CBD / Vape products. 

    Drink plenty of fluids and take a stool softener as needed, especially if prescribed narcotics (even if only short-term). 

    A raised toilet seat and removable shower head are helpful bathroom additions. 

    In terms of sleeping, some patients prefer a recliner for comfort for the first few nights.

    You’ll want to drink plenty of water to flush your body of toxins and reduce swelling. Keep your diet as healthy as possible. Include as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.

    Tummy Tuck Before & After

    A final message:

    Congratulations! You’ve made a decision that will most certainly be life-changing. Recovery may feel daunting but for most patients, it is easily manageable as long as you plan and comply with your doctor’s instructions. 

    While it initially feels slow, focus on your recovery day-by-day and before you know it you will be back to your new, improved baseline. 

    Be sure to contact your surgical team for clarification or if you have any questions or concerns. Ask about how to clean your belly button as well as pearls for showering with and without drains and how to care for your incision site.

    And lastly, for best results, see a plastic surgeon who is board certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons

    Parcells Plastic Surgery offers the most advanced surgical and cosmetic medical spa treatments to women in New Jersey.

    Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alexis Parcells is here to educate and empower you to celebrate your natural beauty.

    4 Industrial Way West #101, Eatontown, New Jersey 07724
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