Dr. Cassileth has performed hundreds of tummy tuck surgeries at her state-of-the-art surgical center. She understands the concerns that her patients have before their surgery and while it is second nature to her, she realizes that surgery raises a lot of questions. We want to provide general information based on the most commonly asked questions that patients have asked during their pre-surgery appointments.
As always, you can contact our office for further information if needed. We have several staff available to help you get through your recovery from the day of surgery, until you are fully recovered.
After your surgery, you will be monitored in Cassileth Plastic Surgery's surgical recovery area until you are fully awake and alert. Once you are up on your feet, we will help you move around, get dressed and prepare to be discharged. You will have waterproof dressings on your incisions, which are to be left in place until your next visit. You will also have a drain, which is necessary to assist with excess fluid and to ensure fluid doesn’t collect and cause an infection.
Our anesthesiologist will release you with instructions concerning your pain medication. Usually you will be prescribed Norco or another pain medication and you will likely be on it for about a week. You can ask any questions you have about drug interactions or how to take the medication at this time, or you can call in later to discuss any concerns.
Your drain will need to be emptied and monitored. We will show you how to do this and how to measure the fluid output. The amount of fluid output over a 24-hour period will determine how long you need to have the drain. It will be in place for 3 to 7 days. The rule of thumb is that once the output drops to 30cc in a 24-hour period, the drain can be removed.
You will need to be driven home or to the recovery retreat you have selected and you will need an adult to stay with you for the first 24 hours at a minimum. With tummy tuck surgery, it is very helpful to have someone with you for a few days who can help with meals, keeping track of your medication schedule, deal with children, pets, phone calls, etc.
Tummy tuck surgery has traditionally been considered one of the more painful procedures until the release of an injectable anesthetic called Exparel. Dr. Cassileth has found that administering this long lasting anesthetic directly into the tissue during surgery provides dramatic pain relief. This anesthetic lasts for 3 days and combined with the prescribed pain medication, keeps patients very comfortable.
You will need to rest as much as possible for the first week and you won’t have your normal energy. The comparison that many people have mentioned is it is similar to the energy level they have during a bout of the flu. Resting, drinking plenty of water, walking and stretching will help you recover as quickly as possible. Over-exerting yourself is easy after surgery, so be sure to adjust your activities accordingly.
Tummy tuck surgery is done to remedy two problems; excess skin and a protruding abdomen due to muscle damage. Not all people have both problems. A small percent of women won’t need the muscle repair usually necessary after pregnancy and will just have the excess skin removed as part of a mommy makeover. Patients who only need excess skin removed will have a faster recovery as the muscles will not be corrected by during the surgery.
During the procedure, the excess skin is removed, the muscles are repaired and the remaining skin is pulled very tight and sutured. Patients should try to walk upright and should stretch the area as much as possible. It will be normal to want to walk in a hunched position but this will not help the healing process. Normal walking and stretching won’t cause any damage or cause the sutures to come loose.
It will be more challenging for patients who have had muscle repair to force themselves to walk upright, but this is necessary to avoid complications. The Exparel and the prescribed pain medication should make it possible to do this without too much discomfort.
The incisions and the drain are covered by waterproof dressings. You can shower but be careful to adjust the water stream away from the incision. Turning your back to the shower spray seems to work well. If the dressings do somehow get wet, come in so we can change them. We don’t want anyone other than our staff to do this to ensure the site is kept sterile. You will return for an office visit 5 to 7 days after your surgery.
Avoid any heavy lifting for 4 weeks. It is best not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk during this time. If you have small children, have someone assist you with them. Work on standing normally, as erect as possible whenever you are up.
Depending on the type of work you do, you may be able to return to work after 3 weeks. If your job requires lifting or is physically demanding, you should arrange to have a month to recover before trying to resume work. Ask the patient coordinator at Cassileth Plastic Surgery if you have any concerns about when to return to work.
Any type of high impact exercise should be avoided for 6 weeks. Some patients who have just had excess skin removed with no muscle repair might be able to resume high impact activities in 4 weeks. Check with the office before you begin high impact exercise. Running should not be resumed for 6 weeks.
Scars will resolve over time. The full recovery period for a tummy tuck is about a year. You will see the results of your tummy tuck long before this but it takes about a year for the scars to fully fade.
If you have any questions about anything related to your recovery process, don’t hesitate to call the office. The best Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Cassileth and her staff are here to support you throughout your recovery.
Days 5 through 7