Abdominoplasty Discharge Instructions
Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
- You may shower 24 hours after surgery. Please remove the garment and the dressings over the incisions but leave the steri-strips (paper tapes) in place. This will keep the incisions from widening. You can also remove the gauze in the belly button before you shower. Do NOT submerge the incisions for at least 3-4 weeks. Baths and hot tubs can be resumed once all areas are completely healed. NEVER use a heating pad on the abdomen, burns can occur easily. A blow drier set to a “cool” setting is helpful in drying the areas after showers. Place a hand at the site to make sure the air stream remains cool. You may replace the gauze over the incision line if you would like. It is mostly to protect your garment from getting soiled if you are still having some drainage.
- Expect significant tightness and occasional muscle spasms in the abdominal area. Soreness at the incision and muscle repair sites will decrease slowly over the next several weeks. Some tightness with certain activities may persist for months. Numbness at the surgical site is expected. Be careful in adjusting the temperature of water in the shower. Heating pads should NEVER be used to the area in order to prevent burns.
- Cover the incisions with gauze, “Light Days” feminine napkins or nursing pads, allowing the garment or light tape to hold them in place. This is recommended as long as there is drainage and to prevent irritation of the incisions.
- Driving may be resumed once one’s reaction times, reflexes, and abilities are back to “normal”. One cannot drive while taking narcotic pain relievers. This usually requires up to 10 to 14 days for most people to be safe behind the wheel.
- Don’t be surprised if you notice an onset of thick yellow drainage from your incision or umbilicus between 10-20 days after your surgery. This represents liquified fat cell-NOT puss. This is NOT unusual. If this occurs, cover the area with dry gauze until the drainage stops.
- Avoid heavy lifting for at least 6 weeks after surgery. A 10 pound weight limit is advisable initially. Strenuous activity should be limited for 6-8 weeks post-operatively. To avoid wound healing problems and disruption of wounds, one needs to be mindful of one’s activities. Be aware that it takes 42 days for most wounds to achieve 70% of the strength of intact skin. Even though you may feel “healed” in 2-4 weeks, the wounds are not as strong as you think.
- Activity should be gauged to how one feels. Early ambulation is strongly encouraged. More strenuous activity can resume in 2 weeks. Elevation of the heart rate and blood pressure should be avoided for the first 2 weeks to minimize swelling and bruising. After 2 weeks, one can increase one’s pace in walking but should not resume jogging, aerobics, or high impact activities for at least 6 weeks post-op.
- It is not uncommon that an occasional dissolving suture will surface along the incision presenting as a small open area. This is frequently misinterpreted as “infection.” Removal of the offending suture will usually result in rapid healing. We will do this for you as needed in the office.
- Temperature elevations from 100-101 degrees in the first 2-4 days are usually due to the collapse of the small air passages in the lungs after general anesthesia. This usually does NOT represent infection in most cases unless accompanied by other signs and symptoms such as redness, unusual drainage, increasing pain, etc. This is usually improved with deep breaths, increased activity and occasionally forcing a cough to re-expand the lungs.
- All pain medication can cause nausea when taken on an empty stomach. Please take every dose with food to avoid this problem. All narcotic pain medication cause constipation please use laxatives or stool softeners as needed.
- Early and frequent walking is necessary to prevent the risk of blood clots that could pass to the heart or lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolus. Significant pain and swelling in the leg or sudden onset of shortness of breath are very important symptoms that demand IMMEDIATE attention.
- The sutures that were used are absorbable. We will snip off the knots during a post-op visit.
- Please leave the steri-strips on the incisions as long as possible; eventually they will come off by themselves. This will help prevent the scar from widening.
- If you develop increased redness, warmth, pain, or temperature in excess of 101 degrees, please call our office and have your pharmacy’s phone number available.
- Resumption of sexual activity is dictated by one’s physical comfort level. If this procedure has been performed in conjunction with a bladder suspension or hysterectomy, this activity will be dictated by your urologist or gynecologist.
- Binders and girdles are meant for support and comfort. If they are uncomfortable or causing problems, please remove them. Spandex panty girdles or control top briefs may be more comfortable and are frequently used for support.
Please call our office if you have any concerns or questions not addressed in this instruction sheet.