Real patient depicted, but your results may vary.

When I meet with tummy tuck patients at our Austin, TX, practice they often express a range of feelings. They’re definitely excited about the physical transformation that results from a tummy tuck. But there is usually a bit of nervousness, as well — not only about the procedure but what happens after the surgery, too.

Most patients ask about how uncomfortable the recovery process will be after a tummy tuck. That’s understandable, but the truth is that prescription pain medication can effectively manage the discomfort that most patients experience.

Is tummy tuck recovery painful?

During a tummy tuck procedure, I use EXPAREL® to decrease the discomfort from surgery a patient experiences. Placed directly into the surgical area, EXPAREL contains specially formulated numbing medication called bupivacaine (it’s a type of local anesthetic). I say “specially formulated” because it gradually releases into the body over an extended period, and that provides lasting pain relief.

EXPAREL is not an opioid or narcotic. It works in your body where you had surgery, unlike opioids that affect the whole body. In fact, because EXPAREL works over time, you may need fewer doses of other medications, including opioids. It’s proven to help patients use fewer opioids as they start their recovery.

What’s the fastest way to recover from a tummy tuck?

Overall, being prepared for your recovery is one of the best ways to make sure you have a positive experience. It’s also important to closely follow the post-op instructions we provide; for some specifics there, take a look at a recent post.

What’s normal during tummy tuck recovery?

Many things that are perfectly normal during the recovery following a tummy tuck tend to catch patients off-guard:

  • Using a walker: And not for just a couple of days. We call this the “beach chair” position because that’s what we envision you’ll be doing after you have healed from your tummy tuck! You’ll be flexed at the waist when you return home after a tummy tuck. But this is only temporary. Flexing forward helps to decrease the tension on your muscle separation repair. Around 10 to 14 days, you will be standing upright fully. Using a walker helps with stability and remaining independent, and it gives your lower back a break, too.
  • Ups and downs emotionally: A positive outlook is important during the recovery, but you can expect to feel like your emotions are out of control some of the time, especially if your tummy tuck was combined with other surgeries as part of a mommy makeover. Having a support system of family and friends can help prevent negative thoughts during the recovery. It’s also important to accept help—even if that’s not normally something that comes easy to you.
  • Looking “puffy” and swollen: Seeing the results of your procedure also requires patience. This is much easier said than done: After all, the whole reason to undergo a tummy tuck is to see a flatter tummy. Unfortunately, the extent of swelling isn’t predictable either. It varies by patient. So it may well take you longer to see decreased puffiness than a friend whose tummy tuck recovery was shorter. Avoiding salty foods and wearing your compression garment around the clock can help expedite the process. 
  • Unwanted commentary on your decision: Even when you have a great support system in place, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter people who question your choice to have plastic surgery. Some people will make tactful comments, such as saying that you looked great even before the tummy tuck. But others may be more vocal, opinionated, or even jealous. This may happen before or after your surgery. Try not to take it to heart; just remember that this is your decision, not theirs.

The Piazza Center Experience

Now that you know what’s “normal,” you should also know that we strive to go beyond the ordinary. And that’s not just limited to your time with us during and immediately following tummy tuck surgery. Whether you’re from San Antonio, Austin, or across the country, at the Piazza Center, you’re a Patient for Life.

It starts when you come in for your consultation. Patients always have questions about what to expect, what the experience will be like, how to best prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally. We welcome any and all questions, and we love taking the time to make you feel at ease. Particularly when those questions may be standing between you and taking a leap that will give you renewed confidence in your body!

We never want patients to worry or feel uncertain — whether you’re in the middle of recovery or it’s been many years since your procedure. Please give us a ring whenever you have concerns or a question.

And if you’re at the point where you’re considering a tummy tuck yourself, we’re always ready to talk about that, too. You can see some of my patients’ tummy tuck before and after pictures to get an idea of the type of results that are possible. 

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