Tips for the Ultimate Tummy Tuck Recovery

May 16th 2021

Congratulations! We're sure you’re feeling pretty uncomfortable right now, but rest assured: you’re on your way to your new self! But you’re going to go through some ups and downs while you recover from your tummy tuck surgery before you start to see your full results. Thankfully, Dr. Barrett has curated a whole host of tummy tuck recovery tips, best practices, next steps, what you should expect, things you should be concerned about, as well as what to do and what not to do while you recover from your tummy tuck.

1. Get moving. Walk around and stay mobile, starting the day of your surgery and three times a day, every day—but keep it under a mile. This will help to prevent deadly blood clots, in addition to the compression socks you’re likely wearing (and should keep wearing for about three days).

2. Drink up. Staying hydrated will help your body recover the fluids lost from surgery. Things like water, Gatorade Pedialyte and soup are great choices.

3. No pain, no game. How painful is a tummy tuck? Pain after a tummy tuck, especially over the first three days, is expected. If you can, take Tylenol or CBD oil. Dr. Barrett recommends (and personally uses) Wild Health CBD to all his plastic surgery patients. Swelling is also very normal, even if it extends upwards or downwards. Swelling, especially around your incisions, may take up to a year to completely subside.

4. Still normal. Anxiety and even depression are all completely normal after tummy tuck surgery.

5. Down the drains. When getting home, make sure your drain is on suction, keep track of your drainage output for removal and empty it at least twice a day—and don’t worry, darin removal is a very simple, painless procedure. If your drain is leaking, simply reinforce it with gauze and tell your surgeon at your next appointment.

6. Support. It’s important to have someone with you for the first 24 hours to escort you while walking around and to and from the restroom to ensure you don’t get lightheaded, fall and hit your head.

7. Scars, what scars? Starting at two weeks post-op, you should start using Skinuva® on your belly button. Skinuva® is surgical scar healing cream that’s backed by science and uses highly selective growth factors which are shown to be twice as effective as silicone cream. Before that, regularly apply antibiotic ointment.

8. Speaking of belly buttons. Ask your surgeon for a surgical sphere at your two week appointment, A surgical sphere tapes to the belly button and creates a more natural look by aiding in definition.

9. Legacy-maker. Starting at two weeks post-op, you can start adjuvant therapies like the Venus Legacy: a multipolar, radiofrequency skin-tightening treatment with pulsed electromagnetic fields that optimizes liposuction results and speeds up healing

10. What binds us. Don’t put your abdominal binder on too tight—it might leave permanent marks on your body. And if you develop an allergic reaction, please discontinue using it right away and wash the area with soap and water. You only need to wear your binder for two weeks; after that, switch to compression garments like spanx

11. Work it out—or don’t (at first).

a. For the first two weeks, just do some light waking. You don’t want to raise your heartrate, so no strenuous activities and be careful walking up stairs.

b. After two weeks, you can resume some exercise: walking upstairs, incline workouts, isolated leg workouts. Avoid any upper body workouts.

c. After four weeks and beyond, you can do some light jogging. And at week six, you can resume upper body and core workouts.

d. Most importantly, pay attention to your body! If something hurts, take a day or two off before easing back.

e. When lifting children, wrap your arms around them and lift with your legs

12. Dos and don’ts:

a. For the first three nights, sleep with your back upright, and then slowly start coming back down flat. to help some of the initial swelling go down. After that, you may sleep flat on your back.

b. Use antibiotic ointment on your belly button twice a day (bacitracin or polysporin are recommended)

c. Steri-strip 411. It’s OK if your steri-strips fall off; you can simply replace them with a band-aid. Swelling may occur, causing a blister to form under your steri-strip—this is totally OK; just apply antibiotic ointment twice a day and the strip will be removed in-office. If you develop an allergic reaction to your steri-strips, remove them all, wash with gentle soap and water and take Benadryl or Claritin. Avoid steroids or hydrocortisone.

13. Pick up the phone. Call us if you:

a. Have a fever over 101 degrees;

b. Have significant bleeding or drainage from any incisions;

c. Have Grapefruit-size swelling in the abdomen;

d. Haven’t urinated in the first 12 hours post-surgery;

e. Have persistent nausea, vomiting and can’t keep anything down

What is the recovery time for a tummy tuck?

A minimum of two weeks of downtime is needed for your initial recovery—but keep in mind that it’s really dependent on the individual and the procedures performed; some may need longer than two weeks of downtime. Keep in mind that no matter what procedure combination you choose, you don’t want to do any heavy lifting for at least six weeks.

What to buy for tummy tuck?

To ensure you have the best possible outcome, Dr. Barrett has some supplement must-haves he recommends for all his patients. We already touched a bit on Wild Health CBD above, and it’s really a game-changer for pain management, anxiety and sleep. Magnesium Breakthrough is also essential to control the muscle spasms that may occur as you recover from your tummy tuck. It can also help with constipation and sleep. Arnica Recovery Complex contains both arnica and bromelain, and is an effective, holistic way to decrease the inflammation after surgery that occurs in your body without causing a leaky gut that can happen with traditional anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or aspirin. Formulated to provide the optimal level of nutrient support, for enhanced recovery after surgery, Healfast Post-Op gives your body the necessary nutrients to heal and helps you detox from anesthesia, in addition to also reducing swelling, bruising and inflammation, and aiding in pain control. MassZymes, a digestive enzyme supplement, breaks down the debris created from the wound healing process, improves tissue remodeling and actually reduces the lab markers of inflammation, making it one of the best supplements for healing after surgery. Dr. Barrett has also curated an ultimate recovery kit to set his tummy tuck patients up for surgical success with the least amount of down time and discomfort possible.

Note: The following video is intended for only Dr. Barrett’s patients exclusively. If you have had surgery by another surgeon please follow up with that surgeon for particular details about your surgery.

You can also check out this video to hear tips, tricks and post-op instructions from Dr. Barrett himself.

In a tummy tuck, which many don’t realize, there is muscle repair, which is what extends recovery. Yes, the extra skin is removed, but when you have children or weight gain, the abdominal muscles widen. Unlike other surgeons, Dr. Barrett performs a double plication to repair this widening, which strengthens the core muscles, narrows the waist and flattens the tummy.

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