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How Painful is a Tummy Tuck?

how painful is a tummy tuck

Medically reviewed by Mr. Omar Tillo MD, MS, EBOPRAS, FRCS (Plast)

A tummy tuck is ideal for patients seeking to flatten and add definition to their abdomen by removing the excess loose skin and fat. In this article, we will discuss the procedure, how painful a tummy tuck is, and how you can best manage any associated pain. 

What to Expect After a Tummy Tuck

Following surgery, your surgeon will provide you with comprehensive aftercare instructions, as well as any necessary prescriptions for pain relief to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. You may experience side effects such as swelling, bruising, and discomfort in the abdomen. These side effects will slowly and gradually dissipate as your body heals. 

In general, patients are usually able to return to most light, daily tasks 1-2 weeks after surgery, including a return to work.

Tips for Pain Management

Making your recovery from your tummy tuck as comfortable as possible is of utmost importance to our clinic. For this reason, see our recommended tips to manage any pain you are experiencing after surgery: 

Take Pain Medication

Depending on the amount of pain you are experiencing, your surgeon may supply you with a short-term prescription for pain relief. This usually lasts no more than a week, and it’s important that you follow your surgeon’s instructions to take this medication properly.

For less severe pain, over-the-counter medications should suffice to manage discomfort and should be taken as the packet describes.

Wear the Compression Garment

You will be provided with a compression garment to manage post-surgical swelling and ensure proper healing of the incision sites. In doing so, you can minimise the risk of wound breakdown and infections, which can cause further discomfort. You should wear your compression garment throughout the first six weeks after your tummy tuck. 

Use a Cold Compress

Applying a cool compress as needed can help to provide ample relief from an inflamed, tender abdomen. Make sure to cover the ice pack in a clean cloth or small towel when applying to prevent ice burn and maintain the hygiene of the incision sites.

Lie Down in an Incline

Taking pressure off your abdomen following a tummy tuck can significantly reduce pain. Lying down in an inclined position, with the head slightly elevated to create a slight bend, is an ideal position for sleep and lounging. This helps to take the strain off the incision sites, preventing wound breakdown and other associated complications. 

Moreover, by reducing discomfort, you should be able to get enough sleep which is essential for your body’s healing process.

Gently Massage Your Abdomen

Promoting circulation and lymphatic drainage can help to reduce post-surgical swelling following a tummy tuck. Any manual massage should be done gently, ensuring that the stitches are undisturbed from any pressure or strain applied. 

For this reason, we recommend working with a specialist who is trained to provide lymphatic drainage massages. Through the CREO Clinic, we work with specialists to provide safe and effective massage, helping to reduce swelling and improving patient comfort.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Time

How long your recovery from a tummy tuck is will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of tummy tuck chosen and the size of the areas being treated – for example, a mini tummy tuck vs. a full tummy tuck

It typically takes patients at least 12 weeks to make a full recovery from a tummy tuck. Patients usually feel able to return to light, daily activities 1-2 weeks after surgery and can resume light exercise after 3-4 weeks. There are many tummy tuck recovery tips you can follow to get back on your feet faster.

Tummy Tuck After Care

Your surgeon will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions before leaving the hospital, including information on how to care for any drains and the incision sites:

Drains

Drains are used during a tummy tuck to reduce the amount of fluid accumulation at the surgical site and, in doing so, reduce swelling. They typically remain in place for up to five days after surgery. 

Prior to leaving the hospital, you will be shown how to maintain and empty any drains. 

Incision Care

Keeping the incision sites sterile and intact is essential in preventing complications from infection and wound breakdown. For this reason, you will be given instructions by your surgeon to clean the area, as well as a compression garment that will protect the incisions. This should be worn for at least the first six weeks after your tummy tuck.

Is a Tummy Tuck Worth It?

A tummy tuck is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures, thanks to its wide array of aesthetic and functional benefits. This procedure can help to mould a flatter, more contoured abdomen while fixing muscle separation and providing relief from back pain and poor posture.

For these reasons, patients generally consider a tummy tuck to be a worthwhile endeavour.

Schedule a Consultation with CREO Clinic Today

If you are considering a tummy tuck, finding the right surgeon who can ensure your comfort both during and after your procedure is essential. At the CREO Clinic, Dr. Omar Tillo has amassed the clinical know-how and experience necessary to make patients feel at ease.

Book a consultation with Dr. Tillo today to ask questions about tummy tuck, learn more about how painful a tummy tuck is, and to get on track to designing your bespoke procedure.

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