At Boulder Plastic Surgery in Boulder, CO, we are passionate about helping our clients achieve a body they can feel proud of. One of the most popular procedures we offer is abdominoplasty, sometimes referred to as a tummy tuck. This procedure is usually sought for cosmetic purposes, like the treatment of loose or excess skin. However, there are also several medical applications for the procedure. Keep reading to learn more about what you can expect, including the recovery length.
How Long Is Recovery After a Tummy Tuck?
Recovery after a tummy tuck generally takes six to eight weeks. That said, individual experiences vary based on several factors, including the scope of your procedure, your health, and what choices you make during your recovery process. You can generally expect to recover faster if you get a mini tuck instead of a full or extended tuck. Here are some steps you can take if you are interested in recovering as quickly as possible.
One of the most important factors to focus on if you are interested in recovering as quickly as possible is staying hydrated. You need to drink around six to eight cups of water daily to have pale urine consistently throughout the day. The exact amount of water you need to drink depends on several factors, including your body mass, whether you eat a lot of water-dense foods, and how active you are.
Get Moderate Exercise Regularly
It is also important that you get plenty of moderately intense physical activity. Moderate cardio is crucial because it supports your circulatory system. Your circulatory system is responsible for delivering all of the nutrients and other substances your skin needs to heal itself. Just be mindful of the way you’re feeling while you exercise. If your intensity is so great that you can’t carry a conversation, you need to ramp your intensity down significantly.
Typically, it is advisable to start walking the day after surgery. It’s okay if you only feel up to walking five or 10 minutes at a time. Just walk for as long as you feel comfortable, and stop whenever you feel the need to rest. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise total.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Sticking to a nutritious diet is also a very important part of the recovery process. If you don’t consume enough of the right nutrients, your skin won’t have what it needs to produce an adequate amount of collagen. The importance of having plenty of strong, healthy collagen is that collagen is responsible for facilitating skin healing. Nutrients you need to consume in abundance include amino acids, zinc, and vitamin C.
Additionally, your recovery may go faster if you limit the amount of unhealthy foods, like french fries and chocolate cake, that you eat during your recovery. Foods that are high in unhealthy fats and added sugar have been shown to damage collagen among other important substances that are necessary for optimal skin health. Alcohol consumption should also be avoided, especially during the first couple of weeks post-op.
You should also do your best to get lots of quality sleep during your recovery period. Do not resist the urge to doze off if you find yourself struggling to stay awake in the middle of the day. Additionally, you should aim to sleep soundly throughout the night, falling asleep when you’re tired, and waking up naturally. Your body knows when it needs rest and when it has had enough rest.
If you find yourself struggling to fall and stay asleep, a low dose of melatonin may be just what you need. Consider taking a 1.5 mg dose of this OTC sleep aid and seeing how it affects your quality of sleep. You also may find that your sleep quality improves if you avoid blue light exposure for a couple of hours before bed. This can be accomplished by walking away from devices that emit this light wavelength or wearing glasses that block blue light.
What Can I Expect My Recovery Timeline To Look Like?
What To Expect During the First Week Post-Op
During the first one to three days post-op, extreme exhaustion is to be expected. You can generally expect to feel extremely tired for roughly one day after surgery if you do not take prescription opioids after surgery. If you take a prescription opioid after surgery, you may feel very sleepy until several hours after your last dose. If your job is not physically demanding, you can generally expect to be able to return to work five to seven days after surgery.
What To Expect During the First Month Post-Op
It is extremely important that you do not push yourself too hard during your recovery. You should not plan on vacuuming, lifting anything over roughly 10 pounds, or getting any vigorous cardio in. If possible, arrange for someone to help you do chores and run errands during this time.
What To Expect During the Second Month Post-Op
During the second month post-op, you should be able to resume life as normal. Some people need only six weeks to recover to the point that their normal exercise routine may resume. Others won’t be able to resume vigorous physical activity until eight weeks after surgery. Also, roughly 42 days after surgery, you should be able to stop wearing your compression garment.
What Restrictions Will I Need To Adhere to?
There are several restrictions you will need to adhere to for varying lengths of time during your recovery. One restriction you will need to stick to is not smoking during the first two weeks post-op. This is because cigarettes contain a harmful substance called nicotine that damages your existing collagen and impedes your skin’s ability to produce more. Additionally, nicotine consumption results in constricted blood vessels, increasing the risk of hypertension.
Not Having Sex
Remember, you will need to avoid strenuous physical activity for six to eight weeks post-op. It is highly advisable that you do not have sex after abdominoplasty for at least the first three to six weeks of your recovery. Vigorous sex should be refrained from until you are fully recovered.
Not Eating High-Sodium Foods
It is also important to avoid the consumption of high-sodium foods during the first several weeks post-op. If you consume more than two grams of sodium daily, there is a chance that you will suffer from moderate or severe water retention. This is not good for your recovery. Make sure that you read the labels on any frozen meals, canned soups, or boxed dinners you are thinking about eating, and keep track of how much sodium you eat every day.
Not Sleeping On Your Stomach
During your tummy tuck recovery, it is of the utmost importance that you sleep on your back for the first three to six weeks at least. You want to avoid sleeping on your stomach to protect the sutures keeping your incisions closed from too much pressure. If possible, sleep in a recliner for at least the first couple of weeks. If you don’t have a recliner, try to sleep with your upper body elevated by pillows.
Am I a Good Candidate for This Procedure?
An initial evaluation is required to determine if a tummy tuck is the right procedure to help you achieve your goals. You will almost certainly qualify for surgery if you are relatively healthy and are concerned about loose or excess abdominal skin. You also will most certainly qualify if you have medical concerns, like a ventral hernia, stress urinary incontinence, or severe problems with your abdominal walls, like diastasis recti.
During your initial consultation, we will verify this procedure is the optimal fit for you by discussing your health and goals. If you are concerned about quite a bit of excess abdominal fat, you may not be satisfied with the results of this procedure. In such a case, liposuction is probably a better fit for you.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today
Most people find that they only need six to eight weeks to recover from abdominoplasty fully. To ensure you heal as quickly as possible, make sure you follow all aftercare guidelines, stay hydrated and well-nourished, and rest as much as possible. If you think a tummy tuck could correct your cosmetic or medical concerns, contact us now at Boulder Plastic Surgery in Boulder, CO to schedule an initial evaluation. You deserve to feel confident in your appearance.