Tummy Tuck Recovery: Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, The Woodlands, Conroe, Texas

Paul S. Gill, M.D., Board Certified Plastic Surgeon discusses recovery from a tummy tuck in this edition of the Gill Plastic Surgery Patient Education Series. This video blog is meant to serve as an educational tool to patients considering this procedure to help them select the right procedure, right surgeon, and make the most informed decision. Please feel free to visit the Gill Plastic Surgery website for more information. http://www.drpaulgill.com

Recovering from a Tummy Tuck

Welcome to another edition of Gill Plastic Surgery Patient Education Series. Today's topic is Tummy Tuck Recovery. Tummy tuck can offer a profound result. It can truly recontour and reshape the abdomen in the race affects of aging, pregnancy and weight loss. In order to achieve this result, it is very important to take time to recover in a safe and productive fashion. So today's topic will detail the recovery experience. I find the easiest way to detail the recovery is to give you a timeline. So let's start with that.

Once you've determined a surgery day, we generally prefer to work backwards from that. Approximately two weeks prior to your surgery, we recommend routine blood work to assess if your body is healthy and safe for the procedure. In addition, if you require any preoperative clearance from your primary care or any other specialist, we will attain this well in advance also.

At the two week preoperative visit, I prefer for you to bring a family or a friend who will be helping take care of you, so they can also understand the procedure and the expected recovery plan. This visit will also include reviewing pre and postoperative instructions, giving you prescriptions, taking your preoperative photos, and answering any questions you may have, so you go into the operation with the utmost understanding.

Morning of surgery, you usually see me about 20 minutes before, to perform your markings. As I tell patients, if you have an underwear or a bikini that you want me to try to hide the incision within, I prefer for you to wear that, so that I can adjust the markings within that.

The procedure itself takes approximately two hours. If tummy tuck surgery is performed as the only procedure, I do give you the option of going home or staying overnight. If you have any medical history or any lack of assistance at home, I will always err on the side of caution and recommend you stay in the hospital overnight.

In addition, if you have multiple procedures, such as a breast lift or a thigh lift or any type of extensive surgery, we will then also recommend an overnight stay for your comfort and safety. I always perform tummy tuck surgeries in a hospital setting or in a surgery center adjacent to a hospital. I believe your safety is of utmost importance.

After surgery, I will either see you back in the office the next morning or visit you in the hospital if you stay overnight. This will be a good opportunity to show you how to take care of your drains, take care of your incisions, and also offer detailed instructions of how to ambulate, and most importantly get up out of bed or out of a chair in a safe fashion.

You will be hunched over or walking at an angle for approximately seven days. We find patients through the course of the first week gradually walk more upright. In addition, you will have a compression garment or a binder, which essentially acts as a crutch to your muscle, to repair and also to help minimize swelling. You also have two small drains that will be fashioned to your binder, to prevent fluid buildup under your skin. This is a common cause of infection and the drains work very well at minimizing this risk.

I will then see you back, typically at a one week visit, which is a common time to remove the drains. If your output is high, I will then offer a second visit, at which point to remove the drains. At this visit, we view your incision, assess the vascularity of your skin and go through general postop instructions.

I will then see you back for a second visit at a three-week followup, and at this point, the majority of the swelling is down. There's a special tape or glue that we place on your incision, which will be removed, and we will then review appropriate scar management protocols. At this point, we will allow you to start walking more regularly and progressing your activity level, such that by the six-week follow-up, you're back to your full activities without restrictions. Therefore, you have a one, three, six-week follow-up. You have three-week followup is where we begin to advance activity level, and the goal being by six weeks we want you back to your normal activities.

Generally speaking, we like you in some form of compression for the first six weeks. My typical protocol is three weeks in an abdominal binder and three weeks in a normal compression garment. If you need compression or have swelling after six weeks, we will continue this protocol as necessary. I also tell patients as they're beginning to return to normal activities, it is a great idea to keep the binder or compression garment to act as a crutch to the newly reshaped musculature of your abdomen.

As far as general return to work, I usually ask that patients stay home from a desk job for approximately two weeks and stay home from active labor duty for four to six weeks. After two weeks, generally, patients are off pain medication. They're okay to drive and their drains are out. By six weeks patients have very little restriction, can return to their normal physical activity, gym routines, swimming, etc.

I hope this has been helpful and if you have any further questions, please feel free to call our office or visit our website. Thank you.