Tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that is performed to tighten the abdominal skin, soft tissues, and core abdominal muscles.  As a major cosmetic surgery, it may produce dramatic results in improving abdominal contour.  It is important to prepare for tummy tuck to optimize healing and to lower the risk of developing complications post-operatively.  Here are six ways to prepare for tummy tuck surgery:

Maintain a healthy and stable weight before tummy tuck

It is important to achieve a healthy body mass index before undergoing tummy tuck surgery.  It should also be stable for several months pre-operatively.  Body mass index should be 30 at the upper limit, ideally less than 25, to ensure that you are a good candidate for tummy tuck.  At higher body mass index, there is generally more intra-abdominal fat (also known as visceral fat) which surrounds body organs.  This fat is not removed during tummy tuck and if present to a significant degree at time of surgery, may limit improvements in abdominal contour.  It increases risk of healing and anesthetic complications.  Visceral fat is also linked with chronic disease, including diabetes and heart disease, which is another great reason to achieve a healthy BMI.

Avoid anti-inflammatories to prepare for tummy tuck

It is important to stop taking Advil, Aleve, Aspirin, and other blood thinners a month before undergoing tummy tuck.  Certain herbal medications, including gingko, garlic, ginseng, and fish oil, may increase risk of bleeding and should also be held before and after surgery during early healing.   Other herbals may increase the sedating effects of anesthetic, interact with other medications, or increase risk of cardiovascular complications.   Please advise Dr. Power if you take any herbal supplements so that she may make specific recommendations to help you prepare for tummy tuck surgery.

No smoking!

As discussed in a previous blog posting, smoking is a contraindication to tummy tuck.  It increases the risk of major wound healing complications, including infection, skin flap necrosis, and wound dehiscence (incision separation).  Tummy tuck may be performed if patients commit to smoking cessation for at least one month before and after surgery, which has been shown to lower risk of healing complications.  This is the most important way to prepare for tummy tuck and to improve one’s overall health.

Fill prescriptions in advance

Prescriptions for post-operative pain medication, stool softener, and an antibiotic (to be taken while drains are in place) will be given during a pre-operative visit.  It is helpful to prepare for tummy tuck by filling your prescriptions in advance.  This will avoid the need for stopping at a pharmacy on the way home or for your companion to leave you during early healing to run errands.

Allow time for recovery after tummy tuck

You may need to arrange help with child care, housework, or other strenuous tasks over the first few weeks after tummy tuck.  It is important to avoid lifting over 5 lbs during the first month after tummy tuck to lower the risk of bleeding or disrupting the muscle repair.  If you have young children at home, this is an important consideration to ensure you do not push yourself too much during early recovery.  Making these preparations will ensure that you allow adequate healing time before resuming daily responsibilities.  Dr. Power may also make specific recommendations based on your work responsibilities regarding anticipated time off for healing.

Avoid exercise for one month following tummy tuck

This is an important recommendation to follow to lower risk of healing complications.  You may wish to notify your gym or personal trainer to temporarily suspend your membership or training sessions.  Although patients wish to keep fit after tummy tuck and resume training for further body contouring, it is important to allow the surgical site appropriate time to heal.

Following these steps to prepare for tummy tuck may help to optimize healing.  Please contact us if you are considering tummy tuck or other body contouring surgery.