Summary: Recovery and plastic surgery go hand-in-hand. And it’s vital to be prepared for your recovery. Make sure you can time off of work and that you have plenty of help around. Even in a sunny place like Clear Lake TX plastic surgeons will tell you to stay inside, keep everything clean, and take it easy for a while. And sometimes that’s the hardest part. Recovery interrupts your life, forces you to take it easy, and can be incredibly uncomfortable. This is especially true with a procedure known as the tummy tuck. Hopefully, with a bit of advice, we’ll be able to make your tummy tuck recovery a little more bearable.
Swelling and the Tummy Tuck
Swelling after surgery can be a troubling and vexing. You were promised these wonderful results. Where are they? Well, of course, those results are coming. Swelling, unfortunately, is a required tribulation on the path to get those results. This is true of every procedure from breast augmentation to liposuction to facelifts. But there’s one procedure that is particularly infamous for swelling: the tummy tuck. It’s worth pointing out that the tummy tuck is an incredibly popular procedure—many men and women like the fact that it can eliminate unwanted tissue.
But it takes some effort to get to those results. When it comes to the tummy tuck swelling how long it lasts can be a big variable. It depends on how much work the surgeon had to do, how your body responds to the healing process, and how closely you follow your recovery instructions (seriously, the surgeon gave you a pressure garment for a reason: you should wear it until your surgeon says otherwise). So, let’s take a look at what tummy tuck recovery should or might be like, on a week by week basis.
Tummy Tuck Swelling: How Long it Lasts
Weeks 1-2: This is probably when your swelling will be the worst. It’s during this time that you will definitely want to be wearing your compression garment. You’ll also want to limit your salt intake, as salt can force your body to retain liquids—and actually increase your swelling. It’s also not uncommon for the swelling to move around, even into your legs. That said, while moderate swelling is to be expected, a huge increase in swelling could be a complication—and you’ll want to consult your plastic surgeon just to be sure. Depending on the type of tummy tuck swelling how long before it goes away will be variable. During these first two weeks you will also often have drains in place to help diminish swelling.
Weeks 2-6: It’s during this period that your swelling should start to subside. Generally, after two to three weeks, the drains will be removed. Even still, you will have some residual swelling throughout this period. It’s not uncommon for many patients to retain fluids and actually—according to a scale—gain some weight after their surgery. The reason for this is two-fold. First, your body is healing, so it’s trying to hang on to everything that might be useful. Second, your body is busy repairing itself—so you’re going to be putting on a bit of water weight.
6 weeks – 6 months: I know, that’s quite a jump, right? But the reality with tummy tuck procedures is that they can take up to six months for you to completely heal. So I know you’re thinking: I have to wait how long for my tummy tuck swelling to go away?! Six months seems like a long time. But around the six week phase is when swelling moves from incredibly noticeable to subtle. In other words, you should be able to live your life relatively normally after six weeks, but there will be some swelling for up to six months.
6 months – 12 months: This is when your scar tissue will mature. Some patients will opt to have bandages kept on their scars (these bandages are specially formulated to help minimize scar tissue) during this period, but not everyone does. Obviously, you should talk to your plastic surgeon about this before you make any decisions.
A Good Recovery Will Protect Your Results
Recovery is not fun. We all know that. And a tummy tuck is a deceptively intense procedure. You think it’s just a little bit of skin-smoothing, but that’s not the case. Plastic surgeons generally rebuild abdominal tissue and its surrounding structure, and that can be pretty intense. In fact, to help mitigate the pain, plastic surgeons will often implant a pain pump or give patients a shot of a numbing agent.
However, it’s important to note that tummy tucks also generally have great “worth it” ratings. In other words, people usually love the results. According to plastic surgery social media site Real Self, tummy tucks have a 96% worth it rating. That’s exceptionally high, even when compared to other popular procedures such as breast augmentation.
But you have to follow through on your recovery. Remember that plastic surgeons emphasize recovery because, in essence, you’re protecting your results. And once you get through that recovery and you see your smooth new belly, you’ll probably agree with everyone else: a tummy tuck is tough, but worth it!