A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a popular plastic surgery procedure that removes excess skin and soft tissue of the abdomen in addition to tightening the abdominal muscles.  Patients generally consider a tummy tuck after history of pregnancies or significant weight loss.  In these cases, skin has lost elasticity and may not fully retract.  Redundant skin and soft tissue as well as stretch marks are often of aesthetic concern, which may motivate patients to undergo this body contouring procedure.  To achieve such powerful results in improving abdominal contour, what is anticipated tummy tuck downtime?

Tummy tuck downtime – pain medication requirements

Patients generally require prescription pain medication for a few days following tummy tuck.  It is recommended to taper and then discontinue the medication as soon as possible to lower risk of side effects.  Wearing the abdominal binder may also reduce discomfort by providing support to the muscle repair site during early healing.  Pain medication requirements may be further reduced by applying cold compresses over the first 48 hours post-operatively.  Another helpful technique to reduce tummy tuck downtime is to gently flex one’s waist when standing and ambulating over the first few days to reduce tension at the incisions and muscle repair site.

Tummy tuck downtime – return to work

Patients may generally return to office-based work within a week.  If job requirements are more strenuous, it is important to discuss in detail with your plastic surgeon pre-operatively to ensure adequate recovery time.  The abdominal binder or remaining drain(s) may generally be concealed under clothing to reduce tummy tuck downtime.  Patients may resume driving once mobilizing appropriately and no longer taking prescription pain medication.

Tummy tuck downtime – abdominal drains and binder

The abdominal binder should be worn for 6 weeks after tummy tuck to provide support to the muscle repair as well as to reduce swelling and risk of bleeding.  The drains will be removed once drainage has tapered to an appropriate level.  They are typically removed within 7-10 days based on output and generally have no effect on tummy tuck downtime.

Tummy tuck downtime – return to exercise

It is important for patients to walk short distances during early healing to lower risk of systemic complications, blood clots in particular.  All forms of exercise however, should be avoided over the first month after tummy tuck to lower risk of bleeding and prolonged swelling.  Patients should refrain from abdominal core work outs until 6 weeks post-operatively to allow adequate healing time for the muscle repair site (also referred to as the rectus plication).  During pregnancy or weight fluctuations, the abdominal wall muscles commonly develop a separation or gapping in the midline.  This muscle separation is repaired during a tummy tuck to improve core strength and to flatten abdominal contour.  Patients may resume light cardio and weights at approximately one month post-operatively based on clinical assessment, proceeding to activity as tolerated by 6 weeks.

Please contact us if considering a tummy tuck in the Toronto area to schedule a consultation with female plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Power.

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