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Tummy Tuck Recovery: What to Expect

Submitted by Dr. Bernabe Vazquez on September 29, 2020
Miami Tummy Tuck Recovery

In the 30+ years he’s been practicing as a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Bernabe Vazquez has helped put “The Miami Tummy Tuck” on the map in South Florida and beyond. The combination of a shorter incision scar with curve-enhancing 360-degree liposuction has made this unique surgical approach the preferred procedure for hundreds of happy patients.

One of the most common questions we receive from those considering the surgery is: “how long does tummy tuck recovery take, and how intense is it?”

Managing post-surgical care, recovery time, results expectations, and understanding how to maintain your results are all important pieces of a successful tummy tuck. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect in the hours, days, weeks, and months after surgery …

The First Few Days After Surgery

Immediately after surgery you’ll have bandaged dressing on your incision, and may have a small tube for drainage. With the Miami Tummy Tuck, the incision is smaller than with traditional tummy tucks. This sometimes means there’s no need for a drainage tube, as this less invasive style of tummy tuck decreases the collection of fluid and injury to the blood supply of the lower abdominal wall. If you require a drainage tube, it will most likely only be for the first 24 hours.

Resting at an angle for the first few days is important and instructions about moving around will be given to ensure you prevent clotting while you’re healing. You can expect to have difficulty bending, lifting and standing for long periods of time in the very beginning. It’s best to plan for help around the house for the first week for sure, and then as needed based on your pain tolerance. If you have young children or high-maintenance loved ones to look after, you’ll definitely need help those first few post-surgical days.

Caring for your incision, and instructions about medications orally and locally (if necessary) will be given to you by Dr. Vazquez and his team. Along with resting at an angle, you’ll also wear a tight surgical garment for several weeks to help reduce swelling and speed recovery. 

Smoking and drinking alcohol should be avoided in the days following surgery, as both can increase your risk for serious side effects related to blood thinning or clotting. 

The Weeks After Surgery

Your recovery time will vary – we can’t emphasize this enough! There is no hard and fast rule for how long it will take for you to recover because your age, general health, type of tummy tuck, and post-surgery care all play a role in determining this timeline. Based on these factors, Dr. Vazquez will be able to provide you with a more details about what you, personally, can expect. In most cases, tummy tuck patients begin to report feeling close to “normal” around the eight-week mark.

Remember to ask for help if you have small children or need assistance around the house. Movements like squatting, picking up, pushing, or pulling heavy items should be avoided the first few weeks — so forget about rearranging your living room, and just chill. Resuming basic tasks such as grocery shopping, driving and cooking are usually advisable after 1-2 weeks. 

Avoid intense exercise or other physically demanding tasks until you have healed. Walking is encouraged once you feel ready – just be mindful of your swelling. Florida’s heat and humidity can contribute to intense swelling in post-surgical patients, so avoid the heat as much as possible. 

As for returning to work, that will depend on what type of job you have. Discuss your work situation with Dr. Vazquez before and after your surgery, as he’ll be able to provide you with personalized advice based on your unique situation.

Dr. Bernabe Vazquez highly recommends visiting an experienced massage therapist for regular lymphatic drainage massages in the weeks following your tummy tuck. Post-surgical lymphatic massage has been shown to help expedite healing, and leads to better results being visible sooner.

The Months After Surgery

Lifestyle choices are an important part of your post-operative care and recovery. Abstaining from smoking and alcoholic beverages in the weeks after your surgery will improve your healing time and results. In the long term, smoking can compromise your results by reducing your skin’s elasticity and by speeding up the signs of aging in your skin. Overindulging in alcohol is one of the most common factors in post-surgical weight gain — so keep this habit in check if your results are important to you.

Numbness and tingling in your abdomen and near the incision scar can be experienced even months after your tummy tuck. This is normal and part of the recovery process, and is the result of the nerves in the region healing. It can take up to three months for bruising and swelling to subside. 

You’ll likely be encouraged to wear your surgical garment for at least 6-8 weeks, and in some cases, may prefer to wear it longer. 

Post Surgical Results: Managing Your Expectations

Due to swelling and internal healing, your results won’t be evident immediately. But by the two week mark, you’ll be able to start admiring your new, slimmer, more proportionate and contoured figure. If you have had a cesarean previously, your scar may be incorporated into that scar. Similar to a cesarean scar, a tummy tuck scar can take several months to a year to fade. 

In order to improve and get the best results, ensure you follow all of the post-operative care instructions and abide by healthy lifestyle choices. Make the most of your tummy tuck by feeding your healing body with a nutritious and healthy diet. You can work on your results immediately through diet while you are waiting to begin exercising again.

Maintaining Your New Results!

Once you are completely healed and given the greenlight, it is time to get into the groove maintaining your results both physically and through lifestyle choices. It’s important to remember that your body can still gain weight, and you can sabotage your surgical results if you’re not actively working to maintain them.

By the six month mark, you’ll really be able to see your results for what they are. By this point, healing is generally complete, swelling has subsided, and pain has faded — which means you can get back to focusing on more important things, like which bikini you want to wear on your next vacation, or which form-fitting dress does the best job at showing off your new curves! 

Want to see before & after photos from actual Miami Tummy Tuck patients of Dr. Bernabe Vazquez? Click here, or follow us on Instagram or Facebook. Ready to start the conversation about a cosmetic surgery procedure? Give us a call! (305) 858-8222