If you’re considering getting a tummy tuck, you’re not alone – it’s one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries you can get. In most cases, a tummy tuck could be a good option if you’ve already done everything you can through diet or exercise to improve the appearance of your stomach and abdomen. While it’s important to make sure that you’ve prepared sufficiently for the surgery, you should also ensure that your chosen surgeon is prepared as well. A board-certified doctor like Beverly Hills tummy tuck specialist Dr. Lahar will not only give you the results you want, but also peace of mind before, during, and after the procedure.
If you’re still in the information-gathering stage, you’re in the right place – below you’ll find an overview of what to expect if you get a tummy tuck.
First of all, what kind of tummy tuck will you be getting?
That’s right – there’s more than one kind. There are three types of tummy tuck, and the one you get will depend on how much fat or loose skin will be removed.
- A mini tummy tuck is the least invasive kind; it’s for anyone who only needs the procedure for the area under their belly button.
- A full tummy tuck is for people with fat or loose skin that goes above the belly button, as well as below.
- An extensive tummy tuck is for people with more pronounced fat or loose skin over most or all of their midsection.
As you may imagine, the extent of the tummy tuck will have a big influence on recovery times, as well as the amount of scarring that’s left by the procedure. It’ll also dictate the amount of aftercare you’ll need, as a tummy tuck is something that has to be handled gently in the first few weeks after surgery. No matter what kind you get, you’ll have detailed instructions from the surgeon about what to do (and what not to do) in order to get optimized results.
How invasive is the procedure?
A tummy tuck might just involve an easily hidden horizontal scar between your hips, or it might entail an incision that goes well beyond the hips, as well as a vertical incision as well. Here’s a breakdown of what the three levels of tummy tuck could look like:
- A mini tummy tuck will obviously involve the smallest scar; it’ll likely extend a few inches between the hips. Since there’s usually minimal skin sagging with a mini tummy tuck, this is by far the least invasive version of the surgery.
- A full tummy tuck will include a hip-to-hip incision, plus (usually) an incision around the belly button. It’s for people who have either lost quite a bit of weight, or who have a significant amount of loose skin from pregnancy; the abdominal muscles may have also been separated due to pregnancy or weight gain.
- An extended tummy tuck is for those with loose skin on their abdominal region, as well as possibly their lower chest, lower back, flanks, and buttocks. The extent of the incisions will vary, but they may include a horizontal incision that goes past the hips, as well as a vertical incision.
What will the recovery be like?
In a nutshell, you’ll have to structure your entire life around not using your abdominal muscles – and you’ll have to do it for up to two weeks. For most people, they’ll be able to return to their everyday activities by about eight weeks. Let’s look at how your hypothetical recovery would progress week by week.
- Week 1 – This is when the pain and swelling will be at its worst, obviously. You’ll have prescription pain medication to help with that, as well as antibiotics. There’ll be small tubes in the incisions to drain them, which can be taken out by the end of the week. You’ll be sent home with a compression garment that should be worn for a specified number of hours each day; this won’t just keep things from shifting around, but it’ll also reduce swelling and cut down on recovery time. Most importantly, don’t bend or lift anything, and move around as little as possible.
- Week 2 – You won’t feel as tired, and you may even be able to stop taking the prescription pain medication. You’ll probably still need over-the-counter stuff, though; just make sure that whatever you’re taking doesn’t contain aspirin. At the end of the week, you may even be able to return to work as long as it doesn’t involve a lot of standing or physical labor.
- Week 3 – By about this time, you might be able to stop taking pain medication altogether. The compression garment will still be useful to your recovery, though, as the swelling won’t have disappeared by this point.
- Week 4 – Your doctor will hopefully give you the go-ahead for light exercise or other physical activities. Strenuous activities will have to wait another couple of weeks at least, so make sure you don’t overdo it. You may still feel some numbness or a pulling sensation at this point or afterwards, but don’t let it stress you out – that’s totally normal.
How to plan for recovery
Your body will know how to heal on its own, but you also need to ensure that you’re giving it all the help it needs. This means that whatever you’d normally do to take care of yourself, your family, your house, or your pets will need to be done by someone else. Seriously – build a support network of people who can be your arms and legs for a couple of weeks. It also wouldn’t hurt to put some healthy meals in the freezer, so you’ll have a bit less to think about or delegate post-surgery.
A tummy tuck is a big decision, not least because of the recovery time.
Even so, if you pick the right plastic surgeon, you’ll be enjoying the results of the procedure for years into the future. Once you’ve gotten the look you want, the time spent in recovery should be a thing of the past!