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What to Expect from Your Tummy Tuck Recovery

A tummy tuck is a surefire way to take your tummy from flabby to fabulous. Our triple board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Ali Sajjadian, has helped countless men and women throughout Southern California prepare their bodies for life on the beach through tummy tuck surgery. When you live minutes away from some of the best beaches in the world, keeping your body bikini ready is essential. Call Dr. Sajjadian today to schedule a consultation and explore your options for tummy tuck surgery in Newport Beach, CA.

The Tummy Tuck Procedure

Many of our patients enjoyed a flat, tight mid-section during their late teens and early 20s. Then life got in the way. Pregnancy stretched out the abdominal muscles and loosened the skin. Maybe a few extra pounds snuck onto the waistline. At first, crunches and a healthy diet were enough to keep that tummy at its best, but as time marches on, the appearance and physique of the tummy often begin to decline. Many of our tummy tuck patients have worked hard to achieve a flat, tight abdomen, but despite their best efforts, still struggle with an unwanted abdominal bulge.

Our tummy tuck, also called abdominoplasty, is designed to combat those stubborn tummy troubles that aren’t easily remedied through diet and exercise. This is an outpatient procedure and is performed at a local surgery center under general anesthesia. During a tummy tuck, Dr. Sajjadian tightens the abdominal muscles and repairs any muscle separation (diastasis recti). The muscles are sutured together, creating an internal girdle that helps to hold the tummy tight. Liposuction is used to sculpt the tummy, removing unwanted fat from the area. Dr. Sajjadian also removes excess skin, and many of the lower abdominal stretch marks too. If you have a c-section scar, we can often remove it during the tummy tuck procedure.

As Dr. Sajjadian closes incisions, he’ll carefully place drains as needed. This allows for fluid drainage during the recovery process. Finally, a compression garment is placed over the abdomen and recovery begins. Patients are monitored for a short time in our recovery area until they are stable and ready to return home.

Returning Home After Tummy Tuck Surgery in Newport Beach, CA

Most patients return home the same day as their tummy tuck procedure, usually a couple of hours after surgery. Patients are groggy and tired after the procedure and are unable to drive themselves. Most patients arrange for a family member or friend to pick them up after surgery. Some patients choose to hire a post-operative nurse to provide transportation and care. Someone will need to stay with you and help you in the first couple of days after surgery.

You’ll want something comfortable to wear home. We recommend soft pants with an elastic waist, pajama bottoms are ideal, and a button up top. You’ll also want to wear sturdy, slip on shoes that don’t require tying.

What to Expect During Tummy Tuck Recovery

The First Two Weeks

The body heals quickly after a tummy tuck, and most patients are back to most regular activities in under two weeks. Recovery timelines vary, depending on how quickly your body heals and how extensive the procedure is. Here’s what to expect:

  • The First Couple Days- This is the most difficult part of tummy tuck recovery. Patients report that the abdomen feels tight and tender. It may be difficult to stand up straight due to the tightness of the abdominal muscles. We recommend a lot of rest during these critical first few days of healing. Gentle walking, as soon as you’re able, will help the body to heal and will minimize post-surgical complications. Dr. Sajjadian will provide pain medications, either taken orally or using a pain pump, to help you feel comfortable and rest easily. Someone should stay with you for the first 24 hours, and you may need extra help for the first few days.
  • Days 4-7- You’ll feel a little better each day after surgery and will be able to slowly resume regular tasks and activities. Spend the rest of the first week resting, gently walking, and caring for your incisions. Most patients will have drains that need to be emptied and cleaned. We’ll show you how to do this as we prepare for surgery.
  • The Second Week- By Week 2, patients feel a lot better and are able to resume many tasks including work, household duties, and gentle exercise. Mobility will have increased if you’ve been walking regularly. Many patients are able to reduce pain medications during the second week and some return to work. After 14 en days post-surgery, most patients can return to desk type jobs and perform most daily activities, aside from strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, and sexual activity. Ask Dr sajjadian about the specific time you can resume work or regular activies.

Common side effects during early recovery include tightness, tenderness, tingling, numbness, bruising, and swelling.  We’re available at any time during recovery to answer questions or address concerns. Please reach out if you experience any side effects that aren’t expected.

Full Recovery

The first two weeks are the most difficult part of tummy tuck recovery. After the initial recovery period, most patients return to work and other activities, but your body will still be healing. Incisions are dark and sometimes tender. Tingling and numbness are common and may continue for several months after surgery. Swelling will dramatically reduce in the first few weeks, but some residual swelling can remain long after surgery.

Patients can begin to slowly resume exercise and heavy lifting after they’ve received the all-clear from Dr. Sajjadian. This typically takes 4-6 weeks. Sexual activity should also be avoided until your surgeon says you’re ready, often 3-4 weeks after surgery.

By 6-8 weeks after an abdominoplasty, most patients are back to their regular activities. Some numbness or tingling may remain for several weeks or months as the nerves continue to heal. Incisions will slowly flatten and fade, a process that takes several months. Ask Dr sajjadian about the specific time you can resume work, regular activies, or exercising.

Returning to Exercise After Abdominal Surgery

For many of our patients, a tummy tuck increases the urge to exercise. Seeing that tight, flat tummy can be highly motivating. We want our patients to exercise and live a healthy, active lifestyle, but not too soon. Wait until you’re cleared by Dr. Sajjadian to resume strenuous exercise and heavy lifting. Too much activity before you’re ready can damage your incisions and slow the recovery process.

Your first exercises can begin shortly after surgery. Dr. Sajjadian encourages gentle walking, starting shortly after surgery. You don’t need to walk long distances or achieve a fast pace. Slow, gentle walking will help increase circulation, reduce swelling, and lower your risk of post-surgical blood clots. Walk as soon as you’re able.

Gentle exercise can be resumed about two weeks after surgery. Around the time you return to work, you can also begin low impact exercises. Walking and stationary biking are excellent options as you return to exercise.

Once you’re cleared to resume exercise, take it slowly. Introduce new activities carefully and increase the intensity and quantity of exercise gradually.

Everyone heals differently, therefore. you should ask Dr Sajjadian abou the specific time you can resume lifting and strenuous exercises, including abdominal exercises. The abdominal area will be very weak at first. Start with crunches or leg lifts and slowly work up to more difficult abdominal exercises.

How Can I Prepare for My Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Preparation is key to a successful recovery experience. These tips will help you prepare for your surgery and recovery.

  • Fill Prescriptions in Advance- Dr. Sajjadian may provide a prescription for antibiotics or pain medication before your procedure. If possible, fill these before you come in for surgery. After your tummy tuck, you need rest, not a two-hour wait at the pharmacy.
  • Stock Your Fridge- Healthy foods and plenty of water can promote healing after surgery. Fill your fridge with easy to prepare, nutritious options to enjoy during recovery. Many patients are nauseous the first day or two and appreciate having mild, tummy-friendly foods and drinks on hand. Avoid alcohol until you are no longer using narcotic pain medications.
  • Get Help- You’ll need assistance during recovery. Before your procedure, arrange for a ride home and find someone to stay with you for the first 1-2 days. Our mommy makeover patients with small children may need help with childcare for the first several weeks, as they will unable to lift more than a few pounds for about six weeks.

Plastic Surgery Recovery No-Nos- Avoid These Problematic Behaviors During Healing

There are many things you can do to improve healing after plastic surgery, and several activities that you should not do as well. Avoid these activities until Dr. Sajjadian tells you that you can safely resume them.

  • Smoking- Smoking and healing don’t mix. Do not use any tobacco products, including vaping or e-cigarettes, for 3-4 weeks after surgery. We ask that patients stop smoking several weeks before their procedure.
  • Too Much Rest- We want you to rest a lot as you recover from your procedure, but you can have too much of an important thing. In addition to rest, movement is also essential. Gentle walking helps keep the blood flowing and reduces the risks of blood clots after plastic surgery. Get up and start moving the day after your procedure. Take it slowly and keep things in moderation.
  • Alcohol- Alcohol and painkillers don’t mix. Avoid using alcohol until you’re no longer using prescription pain medication.
  • Sexual Activity- Sexual activity should be avoided for 3-4 weeks after surgery. Be careful as you resume sexual relations as the abdominal area may still be tender.
  • Driving- Patients are typically able to resume driving 10-14 days after surgery.

Post-Surgical Checks

Patients meet with Dr. Sajjadian several times during recovery. These appointments are important and should be a priority for all of our patients. We’ll check in on you the day after surgery, weekly for the next few weeks, and every few months until you’re fully recovered.

Your post-surgical appointments provide the opportunity to:

  • Ask questions
  • Assess healing
  • Receive personalized after-care instructions
  • Check in on readiness for driving, exercise, sexual activity, etc.
  • Explore options for pain relief, including prescription pain medications, pain pumps, and over the counter options
  • Address any problems or issues that may arise after surgery

Dr. Sajjadian understands that his responsibilities don’t end in the operating room and works with his patients throughout the recovery process to ensure the best possible experience and results.

Contact Us with Questions or Concerns

As one of the top plastic surgery practices in Orange County, we answer tummy tuck questions almost every day. We love when patients reach out with questions or concerns. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if issues arise.

Dr. Sajjadian has performed hundreds of tummy tuck procedures on men and women. If you’re considering a tummy tuck in Orange County, CA, call us at 949-515-0550 to schedule your consultation with us. Dr. Sajjadian is one of a select few plastic surgeons to hold triple board certification.