After Surgery Instructions: Tummy Tuck

After Surgery Instructions: Tummy Tuck

Post-Procedure: The First 7 Days

Medications and Diet: All of the medications you have been prescribed are very important. Please read all the directions below carefully, and call us if you have any questions. REMEMBER TO EAT BEFORE YOU TAKE YOUR MEDICATION.

CELEBREX (200mg)- Take one tablet by mouth every 12 hours for the first 72 hours and then continue as needed.
GABAPENTIN (100mg)- Take one tablet by mouth every 12 hours for the first 72 hours only.
ULTRACET If prescribed (37.5 mg TRAMADOL/ 325mg ACETOMINOPHEN) -Take 1-2 tabs every 4-6 hours as needed for pain. When you have finished the Ultracet or you don't need it anymore, you can take Tylenol instead.  You can start taking Tylenol 6 hours after your last dose of Ultracet.
This is your pain medication that is taken as needed only for pain.  You should try to cut back on your pain medication three days after surgery to avoid nausea and constipation. Please note that per DEA regulations, we are unable to refill this prescription. Please call us if you are experiencing more pain than is covered by the medications provided. You may need to get additional pain medication from your primary care provider. You should try to wean off the Ultracet to acetaminophen alone (Tylenol) as soon as possible after the surgery.
ZOFRAN (Ondansetron 8mg)- Place one tablet under the tongue on the day of surgery and then used as needed every 8 hours after surgery if you have nausea
This is a very potent anti-nausea medication that will prevent nausea after your surgery.  It is placed under the tongue and dissolves immediately.
FLEXERIL (Cyclobenzaprine 10mg)-Take one tablet by mouth every 8 hours as needed for muscle spasms. You should take this medication every 8 hours after surgery for the first two days, then as needed, and at night before you go to bed.
MILK OF MAGNESIA (OTC LAXATIVE)-12 OZ bottle- Take 1 tablespoon in one dose to help relieve constipation as needed.  The maximum dose is 4 Tablespoons in 24 Hours.
You can stop it once your bowel habits return to normal.
BOIRON PELLETS (Arnica Montana – herbal medication used for swelling) - Dissolve 5 pellets in the mouth 3 times a day for 5 days.  Use until finished.

Activity: You should refrain from high impact activity and limit your day to day activities to support your healing. Have someone help you to go to the bathroom and take a shower. For the first week you should stay at home as much as possible and only go out for emergencies. Don’t drive for the first week, if it hurts or if you are on pain medication or taking the muscle relaxant.

Dressings: leave everything alone for 36 hours. After 36 hours, take off the garment, netting and gauze. Leave the steristrips (small white tapes) in place over your incision. After this you can take a shower. After the shower put on the garment again (make sure the seams are facing the outside), directly over the steristrips. You do not need to put gauze on your incisions. Do not start using the scar stick or tape yet, we will instruct you on this after your one-week appointment.

Showering: After 36 hours, then pat dry. Do not take tub baths or get into a Jacuzzi or pool.

Diet: for the first few days, eat only soups and bland food that are easy on your stomach. Start eating only in small quantities.

Drain: empty the drain directly into the toilet. Look at how much is in the drain when it is not on suction and record the amount every time you drain it. The drain is not removed any earlier than 10 days after your surgery. Please make sure that the drain does not get kinked under your garment. It is better if the drain comes out from under the bottom of your garment OR (if your garment also covers your thighs) though a hole in the garment. Try not to let the drain rest on your skin under the garment.

Normal things: It is NORMAL for the abdomen to be swollen, look strange, be numb, have electric shocks and pain. Please be patient with all of this for a few months, and it will all go away. Depression and mood swings are common too. Remind yourself that everything will be better soon.

Appointment: PLEASE REMEMBER your one-week appointment. This is a very important appointment to keep.

Questions: During business hours, please call our office at 844-595-1959

Post-Procedure: After The First Week

It is okay to shower for the next month. Do not take baths, get into Jacuzzis, swimming pools, the ocean or lakes.

It’s okay to walk or do a low setting on the treadmill or elliptical machine after two weeks. Do not do any heavy lifting, running, or upper body exercises for one month. It is important to exercise and eat right once you are healed so you do not gain weight.

Keep your belly button dry and open to the air.

Wear brown tape on your incision. Change once every three or four days or if it looks wet. You may notice some stitches in the incision, these will fall out by themselves within two weeks.

Wear the compression garment as close to 23 hours a day as possible for the next month. It is okay to remove it to shower. You may purchase another one if you would like to have a spare, but get the “Stage 2 Garment” (more comfortable).

Call us when the drain is LESS than 25cc a day for two days in a row to have it removed. Continue the antibiotics until the drain is removed. Strip the tubing at least once a day.

Swelling and bruising will take up to 6 months to go away. Please be patient. You will not see results immediately. The first month, you may find it difficult to wear clothes you used to wear. This is normal, and is due to swelling.

Post-Procedure: After The First Month

Congratulations! You have completed the initial healing phase of the surgery! Remember, you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and there is still a lot of swelling at this point.

It is okay to start exercising. Start slow, and increase as you feel the movement is not causing pain. Remember to listen to your body. If something is painful or causes soreness, do not do it right now and try again in a few days. Exercise is extremely important. People either gain weight or lose weight after plastic surgery…and you should be losing weight as the swelling goes away. Watch your weight on the scale weekly, and call us immediately if you are gaining. Remember, weight loss is the key to your success in this procedure.

The scar is going to continue to heal. Stop using the brown tape and use the scar stick twice a day. It is normal for the scar to be purple or red. Be patient and do not expose the scar to the sun or to tanning beds. Keep it covered with black tape and a bathing suit if you are out in the sun. Most scars can take a year or even longer to fade. If the scar becomes thick or wide, call us immediately. Another good alternative is to use ScarGuardMD.

Excess skin or “dog ears” at the end of the incisions is not a problem. Usually they go away in 6 months. Please be patient with them. If they do not totally resolve, we can do a very minor procedure under local anesthetic to remove them in 6 months (at no cost to you).

You can stop wearing the garment if you like. If you feel better with the garment on, it does not hurt to continue wearing it. You can also go to a stage 2 garment if you like. It is a good idea to keep the garment, because on active days or work out days, you may feel swollen or bloated. Wearing the garment over night helps to reduce that swelling.

The results will continue to get better as long as you lose weight, exercise, watch your diet, and are patient. It can take up to 6 months to a year to see the final results.

Follow up: remember, we are always here for you for any type of problem. Call us immediately if you feel something is not right. It is our goal for you to have the best result possible, and communication is the key to achieving this goal.

Post-Procedure: Frequently Asked Questions

“Do I remove the steri strips, or does the doctor remove them?”

The doctor or nurse will see you at your one week follow-up appointment and will tell you when is the best time to remove your steri strips. Until then, the only dressings you should remove are the big pieces of white tape and gauze, and only after 36 hours have passed after your surgery.

“When can I take my first shower?”

The doctor recommends you wait 36 hours after your surgery to take your first shower. It is very important that you have a family member or friend there with you when you take your first shower, in case you feel dizzy or weak. You have a list of detailed instructions in your surgery handbook that the nurse gave you at your pre-op appointment, and also a duplicate copy in the envelope that the surgery nurse sent you home with on the day you had surgery.

“When do I start using my scar stick? How often do I apply my scar stick?”

The doctor or nurse will see you at your 6-week follow-up appointment and will tell you when is the best time to start using your scar stick. After they tell you to begin using it, you will be applying it to your scars twice daily, once in the morning after your shower, and once again before bedtime.

“When can I get my drain removed?”

You may have your drain removed after you have had 25cc or less of drainage for two full 24 hour periods in a row, and when it has been at least 10 days after surgery.

“When can I lay on my stomach?”

The doctor or nurse will see you at your one week follow-up appointment and will tell you when is the best time to start sleeping on your stomach. For the first week, the doctor recommends sleeping on your back with your head elevated with two or three pillows to help to reduce swelling.

“Do my stitches dissolve or do I need to come in to the office to have them removed?”

All of our doctors use dissolving stitches. It is important that you keep your follow up appointments to ensure that the doctors and nurses are able to watch your progress as you heal.

“When can I start exercising?”

The doctor or nurse will see you at your one week follow-up appointment and will tell you when is the best time to start exercising. For the first week, the doctor recommends that you focus on resting, and after one week he will generally clear you to start a low-impact exercise routine such as walking or a low-incline setting on an elliptical or bike. After six weeks, he will generally clear you to resume your regular exercise routine, including weight lifting, aerobics and running.

“When can I go swimming/take a bath?”

The doctor does not recommend swimming or tub baths for six weeks; showers only for the first six weeks after surgery.

“How long will I stay swollen/bruised?”

It is normal to have swelling and bruising all the way up to six months after surgery, or longer depending on the type of surgery you had done. However, it will get better every day and you will continue to see improvements, especially when combined with a healthy diet and exercise routine after your doctor tells you it is okay to begin exercising.

“How do I know when it is time to remove the Pain Pump, and how do I remove it?”

Your pain pump has been filled with enough pain medication to continually medicate the incision area with enough pain medication to provide you pain relief for a few days following surgery. The actual number of days the medicine lasts you depends on how often you activate the button which gives you additional medication for periods of increased pain. When you notice that the pump is empty, you can remove it using the following steps:

  • Wash your hands
  • Remove the clear dressing covering where the catheter enters your body
  • Pull the catheter gently out of your body. If it is difficult to remove or you feel resistance, stop pulling and call the office immediately
  • If you feel uncomfortable removing the catheter yourself, you may schedule an appointment to come in and have the nurse remove it

Content written and approved by Darshan Shah, MD Plastic Surgeon.