If you suffer from diastasis recti and excess skin and fat around your abdomen, a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, offers a great solution to restore your figure, strengthen your core, and help you look and feel your best.
However, many patients are concerned about recovery after a tummy tuck. While the procedure does require some downtime, you can take steps both before and after your tummy tuck to speed up your recovery and get back to your everyday activities — now, with a flatter, more sculpted stomach.
Dr. George Sanders in Los Angeles, CA, offers his patients decades of experience and the specialized knowledge that comes with performing over 15,000 plastic surgery procedures. Knowing the steps to expedite your tummy tuck recovery can get you back on your feet faster than ever.
What Is a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is a plastic surgery procedure that tightens and contours the abdomen. During the procedure, a surgeon can also repair abdominal muscles that have become separated due to weight fluctuations or pregnancy.
Unfortunately, diet and exercise cannot remove excess skin, but a tummy tuck can achieve a sculpted abdomen if you have loose or sagging skin in your midsection.
How Long Can Tummy Tuck Recovery Take?
The recovery period for any surgery varies by patient. Factors to consider when determining the timeline for your healing process include age, health, body weight, and tummy tuck type.
While you may want to return to your regular activities as soon as possible, your body needs time to rest and heal. You can likely resume low-impact exercise about 4 weeks after surgery, but it might take 6 weeks or more before you can return to strenuous exercise.
7 Tips for Speeding Up Your Tummy Tuck Recovery
Everyone needs some time to rest and recuperate after surgery, but there are effective ways to help your body restore itself after your procedure.
1. Choose Your Surgeon Wisely
Sometimes, choosing a less expensive option makes sense, but surgery is not one of those times. Your results and recovery depend on the surgeon you choose to perform your tummy tuck.
An abdominoplasty is a significant surgery, so selecting a board-certified plastic surgeon with decades of experience and has performed thousands of surgeries is worth the expense.
Understanding these credentials is essential when selecting your plastic surgeon for your tummy tuck. However, choosing a surgeon who takes the time to understand your needs and concerns is also critical. A good surgeon will be honest and work with you to achieve your desired results.
2. Prioritize Your Health Pre-Surgery
Healthy bodies recover faster. One of the best ways to expedite your healing from surgery is to take care of yourself before your procedure. Ideally, you will be close to your ideal weight and able to maintain that weight for some time before your tummy tuck.
In addition, you should maintain an exercise routine, as stronger, fitter bodies have an easier time recovering.
3. Stop Smoking
While the health concerns that come with smoking are widely recognized, quitting smoking before your tummy tuck is critical for your recovery. Tummy tuck surgery requires general anesthesia, and most surgeons recommend quitting smoking well before your procedure.
You will also need to discuss your smoking habits with your surgeon so they can factor that into your care plan. Smoking hinders the function of your heart and lungs, and it can make you more likely to develop breathing problems during or after surgery.
Additionally, smokers experience reduced blood flow, which slows the healing process and increases the likelihood of an incision becoming infected.
4. Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
Your surgeon will offer you instructions to follow before your tummy tuck. These may include taking certain vitamins, reducing salt intake, and avoiding specific medications and alcohol. Following your doctor’s pre-surgery guidance is essential to a smooth experience and recovery.
5. Wear the Compression Garment
After surgery, we ask our patients to wear a compression garment for 6 weeks. The first two weeks are strongly advised to provide support and help to reduce swelling. Most patients enjoy the support that the garment provides for the following 4 weeks. Some patients even wear the garment for longer, but this may weaken the muscles.
6. Take Your Medication as Prescribed
Your surgeon will prescribe an antibiotic for the first 3 days after your abdominoplasty to reduce infection risk. You will also be given a choice of pain relievers, including the option of non-opioid medication. In addition, we inject a long-lasting anesthetic into the area of surgery during the operation that works for the first 3 days, decreasing the amount of pain medication required after surgery.
7. Rest and Move
Your body needs rest and movement to aid in your recovery, and you want your muscles to move again to prevent blood clots and maintain stamina. However, you need to avoid excessive walking, lifting heavy items, and even prolonged standing to allow your body to recover properly.
Take regular, short walks around your home in the first week, but also allow yourself the time to rest and recuperate.
Start Planning for Your Tummy Tuck Today
The first step in preparing for your tummy tuck is finding the right surgeon to perform your procedure. Dr. Sanders, based in Los Angeles, CA, has spent decades helping people achieve beautiful, natural-looking tummy tuck results.
Check out our tummy tuck and drainless tummy tuck pages and learn which procedure is best for you.