From brain surgery to in-grown toenail removal, surgical procedures may run the gamut from more complex to less complex, but if you’re the one being operated on, you know that there’s no such thing as a minor surgery. When you’re trusting your own body’s well being to the skills and dedication of a surgeon, you’re making an important decision, and you need to know exactly what you’re in for. When considering a tummy tuck, one of the main concerns patients express is about the recovery process. Our patients are active, professional, socially-engaged, and they don’t want to be held back from fully experiencing the vibrant life that is Chicago. Tummy tuck candidates and patients should know that, while their surgery is not a day at the spa, with a few simple steps, they can be back to their normal lives in a “no time” that’s as flat as their new tummies.
In the days both leading into your tummy tuck and following, eat simple, nutritious foods. There’s no need to make any great effort to rapidly lose weight prior to the surgery. In fact, while avoiding foods that are known to irritate your own system, its preferable you maintain normal eating habits. After the surgery, you’ll want to keep food intake moderate and avoid things that are extra heavy or spicy. It’s perfectly normal to want to reward yourself for taking the major step of a tummy tuck with some food or dessert you especially crave, and we say, “go for it,” but once you’ve celebrated and normalized, it is time to consider establishing sustainable long-term healthy eating habits.
It’s advisable to set aside at least a week away from work following your tummy tuck in order to dedicate yourself to recovery. Some may not feel up to returning to work after a week, but most, unless they perform the most physically demanding jobs, can safely do so. If you’re able to set aside two weeks, that’s all the better. Three or more weeks is a luxury that is rarely needed, so if you have the ability to take extended time off, that’s entirely discretionary.
Gimme a Hand
You’ll want to arrange to have someone who can offer you support the first few days after your surgery. Though balance is rarely a problem, you won’t be able to move as fast as you’re accustomed to, so you’ll need to get the hang of using a shuffling motion with your feet for the first few days. Be especially cautious of any tripping hazards around your home. It is likely that you’ll benefit greatly from the assistance of another when getting up from a reclining position or getting on and off of the toilet. Be sure to discuss with your doctor and supportive friend ahead of time proper methods of lift assistance to avoid falls and potential back injury.
Is This Thing On?
Like many surgical procedures, a tummy tuck can put your normal bodily systems into a temporary state of confusion. A few days of constipation is not an uncommon side effect of surgery and pain medication. A wise bet would be to start an over-the-counter stool softener a day or two ahead of the surgery to prepare yourself for this possibility and minimize your discomfort.
As the great 20th century thinker Daffy Duck once reflected, “I’m not like other people. I can’t stand pain. It hurts me.” If you’re considering or planning a tummy tuck procedure, you’re almost certainly wondering if it’s going to hurt, how much it’s going to hurt, and how long it’s going to hurt. A tummy tuck involves the tightening of the abdominal muscles, and frequently includes at least some planned liposuction around the area. Don’t expect this to tickle. Many patients experience moderate pain for a week after the surgery, lessening through the second, most often manifesting as a difficulty in finding a comfortable position in which to sit or lie for very long. Speaking with your doctor ahead of time to develop a temporary pain management regimen that’s right for you is crucial. Plus, on the bright side, pain and tenderness are related to inevitable swelling in the area. A tender area is one you can expect to decrease not only in pain but in size as you move forward.
Take It Easy
On the off chance you’ve scheduled a try-out with the Chicago Bulls for the day after your tummy tuck, you’re going to want to make a phone call. As important as exercise is for overall health and will be for maintaining your newly acquired figure, in the days following your surgery, it’s best to get a little taste of how the couch potatoes live. As time progresses, you may begin to resume normal activities, but listen to what your body is telling you. It is vital to avoid damaging your abdominal sutures. Activities which place great stress on your muscles, including weightlifting, high-impact aerobics, and running should be avoided for a few weeks.
Remember Why You’re Here
These side effects are all manageable, but not much fun. You certainly didn’t sign up for them on their own merit. When you’re tempted to get frustrated, just remember why you chose a tummy tuck in the first place. You had a vision in mind for a body that better reflected the you that you knew you were meant to be, and you had the strength and courage to take these steps to bring that body to life. Recovery’s no fun, but it’s worth it because you’re worth it.