Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck , is a cosmetic surgical procedure that flattens the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin and tightening the underlying muscles. Most people recover within a few weeks. During your postoperative recovery, you may experience mild pain and swelling both from the procedure itself and from the movements you make while your incision heals. You can get through this period more comfortably by trying various strategies to reduce pain after a tummy tuck.
As you recover from surgery, there are practical steps you can take during the first few months to prevent pain and reduce pain if you do.
- Be physically active – As you recover, you should continue with simple daily activities, get up regularly, and walk around the house. This is recommended to reduce the risk of harmful blood clots and also to prevent you from staying in one position for too long, which can cause pain when you finally get up and move.
- Avoid strenuous exercise – As you heal and your wounds heal, you should not carry incisions by doing strenuous activity or lifting heavy objects for at least six weeks or until you get the green light from your healthcare provider … To begin or return to challenging exercise after you have fully recovered, it is recommended that you maintain a certain level of fitness by doing walking exercises during your recovery period.
- Don't smoke: to speed up the healing process, you should avoid tobacco use . Nicotine seriously reduces the body's ability to heal. This causes the blood vessels to constrict, making it difficult for oxygen to reach the skin cells at the incision site, ultimately slowing down the healing process.
- Avoid constipation – You may be constipated if you don't eat due to nausea or fatigue. Narcotic pain relievers also cause constipation, which ultimately leads to abdominal pain. Try to eat high fiber foods and drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation. If nausea or constipation persists, you may need to take over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Often times, abdominoplasty procedures involve the injection of pain relievers into the area around the sensory nerves, resulting in a blockage of the nerves. This preventive measure has been shown to reduce postoperative pain . However, if you experience postoperative pain, you may need treatment after you recover from your tummy tuck. The options include:
- Over-the-counter medications – Many surgeons recommend taking ibuprofen or naproxen 24 to 48 hours after the procedure if there are no signs of bleeding. NSAIDs can reduce swelling and relieve pain, which can allow patients to stop taking medications earlier, resulting in fewer side effects from these medications.
- Prescription Medications: Long-acting narcotic pain relievers are often prescribed because they do not cause bleeding. However, in small doses, medications can cause constipation; in high doses, they can cause respiratory and heart problems and addiction.
- Pain reliever pump: If you have severe nausea and are unable to take your medication by mouth, another alternative could be a pain reliever, a device that delivers medication directly to the body through an inserted tube. If you are in severe pain, a pain pump can reduce the need for high-dose prescription pain relievers.
There are a few daily things to take care of while you recover after surgery, including wearing compression garments, wound care, and drainage. By focusing on these tasks, you can reduce or prevent pain.
- Compression garments: After the operation, you will be wrapped or given compression garments. Compression garments will reduce swelling and support the abdomen, promoting proper healing . Expect to use it for between two weeks and two months, depending on how quickly you recover. Be sure to inform your medical team if the compression garment causes you pain, as adjustments may be necessary.
- Incision care: A dressing or surgical dressing will be applied over the incision area. You will be given instructions on whether to change these dressings and, if so, how often and how to do it. The most important aspect of home wound care is keeping the wound clean and careful to avoid injury or bleeding. You will also be given instructions on how to keep track of problems such as pain at the incision site, swelling, redness, pus, warmth, or bleeding.
- Drainage care: After a tummy tuck, temporary tubes will be inserted under the skin to drain excess fluid from the surgical site. They will be removed during the first week of recovery or when your healthcare professional is satisfied that the fluid no longer needs to be drained. If you feel pain in the drain or if you notice redness, swelling, or discharge of pus or blood, report it to your healthcare provider's office.
- Antibiotics: You may be prescribed a medication that can be applied to the surgery site and / or taken by mouth to reduce the risk of postoperative infection . The infection can cause pain, but the most common symptoms of infection include fever, swelling, heat, or pus.
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Abdominoplasty is generally well tolerated. However, it is a surgical procedure that carries some risks and side effects, including pain. If you are planning a tummy tuck, you should be ready to recover in a month or two, and during that time you may feel pain. Pain is usually mild to moderate after a tummy tuck. In rare cases, pain or sensory disturbances may persist for months or even years after the procedure. If your pain is severe or persistent, you should inform your healthcare professional.