Undergoing a tummy tuck can be a daunting decision to make. There is both a financial investment as well as a time investment in the recovery process. Above all else, however, there is concern of the unknown. Many of my own Scottsdale patients wonder:

  • How much discomfort will I be in?
  • How do I sit or sleep?
  • How do I walk when I am supposed to be bent over?
  • What do I do with the binder?
  • How do I go about using the restroom?
  • And many more.

Below is my list of that I have learned from my own patients that have been through the process and have come up with great solutions to common hurdles. I encourage anyone who reads this list and has advice of their own to comment below. We are always looking for ideas to provide our patients a better tummy tuck experience.

#10: Walker/cane:

A tummy tuck naturally puts tension on the horizontal closure. Tightening of the abdominal muscles also creates some discomfort when completely upright; therefore staying slightly bent at the waist is more comfortable during the first week and takes pressure of the incision. Doing so, however, may result in some temporary back strain. A walker or a cane may be helpful for some. Although not 100% necessary, it may help take some of the pressure of the back initially.

#9: Spanks:

Compression shorts such a Spanks or Squeem can be worn early after a tummy tuck but a hole needs to be made on the side to let the drain come through. For very curvy women, the abdominal binder may consistently want to ride up no matter how much its pulled down. This is in part because I place my incision very low. In these cases, Spanks or Squeem with a hole cut out on the side for the drain can be very helpful.

#8: Maxi pads/gauze/supplies:

In my practice, I use a “no maintenance” dressing at the completion of the tummy tuck surgery, however, it always helps to have either 4×4 gauze or maxi pads around. Gauze squares are helpful to pad around the drain and sometimes pad between the binder and the pelvic “hip” bones.

#7: Adjusting binder:

The abdominal binder is an integral part of the tummy tuck recovery process. Proper placement and management of the abdominal binder can be challenging since a low tummy tuck incision will result in an abdominal binder that sits partly over the top part of the thighs. This results in the abdominal binder wanting to shift up while sitting. Marking where the binder is in terms of tightness is the first recommendation since undoing it to pull it down will require knowing how tight it should be redone. Lowering and tightening the abdominal binder is best done while in the recliner or in bed.

#6: Managing nausea:

Each tummy tuck patient handles surgery and anesthesia differently. Most of our patients manage not to have any nausea after surgery. This success is due to a combination of good anesthesia and good surgical technique that can reduce narcotic use. Regardless, our patients are always prescribed anti-nausea medications just in case. Small sips of water and crackers in the first few hours may help curb nausea early.

#5: Compression stockings:

Most surgeons will have the patient wear thigh high compression stockings during a tummy tuck to reduce the chance of blood clots. Keeping these on for a few days after the surgery may not be the most comfortable thing in the world but it will keep some of the swelling out of the legs and will continue to reduce the chance of blood clots.

#4: Taking a shower:

When to take a shower after a tummy tuck will depend on the surgeon. For my patients I tell them that you are allowed to take a shower at any time but I recommend holding off for a couple of days until the first follow up. Replacing the binder and knowing what to do with the drain tube, etc can be cumbersome. More importantly the binder is key and the more it’s worn the better. Once showers do start, using a lanyard or a cheap necklace to pin the drain to is one piece of advice I have heard. A bathrobe tie tied around the waste is yet another option.

#3: Pain meds/managing pain:

This is a two-part tummy tuck recovery advice. The first is Exparel during surgery. Exparel is a numbing medication that is injected into the tummy tuck tissues during surgery. It works for about 3-4 days and brings the pain score down about half. The second part is managing your oral pain medication. Percocet seems to work great as does Valium as a muscle relaxer. Keeping the pain score down to about a 3 or less in the first day or two can be accomplished by staying ahead of the pain. Exparel on occasion will do so on its own but everyone is different and oral pain meds should be used schedules (not when the pain gets too high) in the first day or two and then can be tapered off.

#2: Recliner/Sleeping:

Sleeping with waist bent and legs elevated is probably the most helpful and most comfortable position after a tummy tuck. It’s essentially replicating the position that you were in in the operating room while you were being closed back up. A recliner (especially a powered recliner) will be a great place to recuperate the first few weeks after surgery.

#1: Toilet seat booster:

Most toilets are fairly low to the ground, probably so that no matter how short you are you can get on there. We don’t really notice how low toilets really are until some part of our legs, pelvis, or core hurts. After a tummy tuck, squatting low onto a low height toilet will seem a daunting task especially when you have to go every few hours if you’re hydrated enough. A toilet seat booster will be of tremendous value.

Those are the top ten tummy tuck recovery tips. Contact Dr. Repta more information!

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