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What to Expect When Recovering From Your Tummy Tuck

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If you want your tummy tuck recovery to go smoothly, it's important that you know what to expect during the process. Recuperation is different for every patient, with experiences varying based on age, health, weight, and the way your procedure is performed. That said, here are some common experiences almost everyone should expect when recovering from a tummy tuck.

1. What to expect from your hospital stay

Many people only need to stay in the hospital for a few hours after tummy tuck surgery, but others may need to stay overnight for monitoring. Your doctor will make the best call based on your circumstances, so prepare for the possibility that you might not be back home the same day.

2. What to expect from your swelling

Although swelling will subside as you heal, it can be one of the most uncomfortable parts of the tummy tuck recovery process. Swelling often peaks a few days after surgery and then gradually reduces over the next few weeks. It's normal to see some swelling in the legs, hands, fingers and face too, but naturally, swelling is most prominent around your tummy area. You might feel a little worse before you start to feel better, but taking ibuprofen will help with the swelling and should make it more comfortable to sleep. Alternatively, wearing a compression garment can reduce the swelling, but make sure you consult your doctor first.

3. What to expect from your drains

While drains may seem gross, they're an important part of tummy tuck surgery. You'll find the drains are left in for a few days after the operation to help empty out the abdomen. This will help prevent a buildup of fluids in the area. If you're worried about how to take care of your drains, don't be. Your doctor will show you how and when to empty them.

4. What to expect from your medication

In order to prevent complications after your tummy tuck, you'll likely be prescribed two medicines: an antibiotic and an anticoagulant. The antibiotic reduces the chance of infection, while and the anticoagulant reduces the risk of excessive bleeding. Additional medications may be also prescribed, depending on your medical history or other health issues.

5. What to expect from the timeline

Ultimately, the biggest question on most patients' minds is when they'll be able to go back to normal. Expect your tummy tuck recovery time to take around six to eight weeks. It is recommended that you refrain from any significant physical activity during that period, including bending, lifting, or reaching above your head. You'll also need to avoid driving for a few weeks, so you may want to book time off work if you can't find anyone to carpool with.


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