Pictured: This is Jennifer, our Patient Care Coordinator—and patient! Here she is 2 weeks after her tummy tuck and liposuction.
We remind our tummy tuck patients at our Austin, TX practice that getting the procedure is much more than just showing up the day of your surgery. Patients must do research to find an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon, properly prepare for surgery, and follow post-op instructions.
In this post, I will explain the cardinal sins of tummy tuck recovery.
- Sun Exposure: It is best to stay out of the sun after surgery. Sun exposure can worsen surgical scars. If you properly follow after-care instructions and protect your incision, it should heal to the point of unnoticeability.
- Smoking: Nicotine inhibits good blood flow, compromising healing. If you want a smooth and speedy recovery, it imperative to stay away from smoking. You’ve made a big investment in your appearance, which should motivate you not to smoke. You wouldn’t want to jeopardize results because of something like a cigarette.
- Physical Inactivity: I recommend that my patients get up and start walking on a level surface within the same day as surgery. Moving around is good for blood flow and should help with healing. Disclaimer: Overexerting too soon can cause adverse effects. Make sure to follow your surgeon’s advice about when you can start doing certain activities. (If you want to learn about physical activity after a tummy tuck in more detail, check out our previous blog post’s physical activity timeline.)
- Alcohol: Stay away from alcoholic beverages while you are taking pain medication. Mixing the two can be dangerous. Once you are finished taking your pain pills, having a couple drinks is okay, but you should not partake in heavy drinking.
- Heavy Lifting: Lifting anything over ten pounds—your pets, kids, etc.—can cause complications. If your job requires heavy lifting, it’s recommended that you take 4 to 6 weeks with activity restrictions at work, but it’s OK to return to work.
- Weighing/Measuring Yourself: Refrain from measuring yourself within the first few weeks. The measurement will not be an accurate depiction of your results. You will be swollen, and although you will love your new shape, your final results will not be truly visible until 6 months after the procedure.
- Looking at before-and-after photos of other tummy tuck patients can help you see the types of final results you might expect.
- Eat Processed or Unhealthy Foods: Sodium can cause worse swelling. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating a clean diet can help prevent extra swelling. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to optimize your surgical results.
- Think Negatively: It is important to have a positive outlook during recovery. A good support system will help prevent negative thoughts during this time. Do not try to do this alone; accepting help is essential. It is also important to be patient with the healing process—the results will be worth it.
Making healthy choices and having good communication with your surgeon will help streamline your recovery.