Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) Post-Op Care Initial Recovery Expectations

Abdominoplasty surgery is performed in our on-site outpatient facility under heavy sedation or general anesthesia. Standard abdominoplasty usually takes 2 to 5 hours, while mini-abdominoplasty takes 1 to 2 hours. You will need someone to drive you home after and help you out for a few days.

Initially, your abdomen will probably be swollen and feel sore. You will need to wear a compression garment for the first few weeks to minimize swelling and encourage a smooth, compact abdominal shape. Your surgeon will instruct you to walk around within the first few days to encourage blood flow and healing.

Your recovery time will depend on the extent of your surgery and the condition you were in before the surgery; if you are physically fit, you are able to enjoy a faster recovery time. Some patients are able to return to light activity, including work, after about 2 weeks, while others might take 3 to 4 weeks.

Surgeons and staff of the New York Group for Plastic Surgery are here to support you after your abdominoplasty procedure. The following instructions and guidelines will help your recovery process:

• Because abdominoplasty involves removal of extra abdominal skin and tightening of abdominal muscles, you may experience some difficulty standing up straight for the first week or two after surgery. Please do not make any special attempts to stretch or stand up straight during the first three weeks of healing. The tightness will gradually soften as you heal and progressively use your body muscles.
• You will be placed in a compression garment after surgery to provide stability and reduce swelling. The garment must be worn at all times for the first few weeks following surgery; it may be taken off temporarily to launder the garment and to sponge bathe only.

Drain care:

During surgery, the doctor may place one or two drains in your abdomen to help remove fluid that collects after surgery, allowing you to heal faster. These drains have bulbs at the ends which collect the fluid. When the drain is first placed, the bulbs will be compressed to create a gentle suction. As the fluid collects in the bulb, it will expand. Whenever the bulb fills 50% or more, you must empty the bulb by opening the plug at the top and pour out the contents. Please measure the amount of fluid before discarding it and keep a log of how much fluid you empty for each drain. Squeeze the bulb to recompress it and put the plug back into the hole at the top of the bulb, in order to maintain the vacuum.

Milking your drains must also be done to ensure that the tubes leading off from the bulbs do not become obstructed. First, secure the tube to the body using your thumb and pointer finger of one hand. Using the other hand, squeeze the tube while sliding your fingers away from your body towards the bulb; you will not be able to slide your fingers down the entire tube in one stroke. Work your way slowly down the tube, remembering to always keep the tube secured with your other hand. After, the tube may appear collapsed; this is normal and means that you have gotten all the fluid from the tube into the bulb. The color of the drainage will be a bright red immediately after surgery; in the days following it will become a lighter, pink color.

Either the doctor or nurse will remove your drains 5-10 days after surgery. Please bring with you the log you are keeping of your drainage as we use this guide in deciding if the drains are ready to be removed. YOU MAY NOT SHOWER UNTIL THE DRAINS ARE REMOVED. Once the drains are removed you may shower, but please do not remove the Steri-Strips on the incision.