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What Are the Side Effects of Tummy Tuck Surgery?

By Kenneth Smart Jr. on June 30, 2014

A woman with smooth, well defined curvesA tummy tuck is a popular body contouring procedure that helps patients achieve a smoother, tighter abdomen. Depending on the surgical technique used, results can be limited to a small area below the navel or extend to the upper abdomen and sides. For any tummy tuck procedure, though, patients should understand that recovery time is necessary. Moreover, a few side effects are common results of surgery, and play a large role in the timeline of your recovery. 

Before undergoing a tummy tuck at our Dallas plastic surgery office, gain an accurate idea of the recovery process. By keeping realistic expectations about your surgery and its short- and long-term results, you can benefit from a successful, satisfying experience.

Initial Side Effects

When you first arrive home after surgery, the most immediate and apparent side effects will likely be from the sedative or general anesthetic used. You will probably not be in much pain while the anesthetic is still present, but you will feel tired. Patients also sometimes experience disorientation, light-headedness, and nausea. It is best to begin resting as soon as you arrive home, as this will ease the side effects of anesthesia and is an important part of the healing process.

Even before the anesthetic wears off, however, you should begin taking your prescribed painkillers. This is because it is easier to control your discomfort preemptively, before it fully sets in. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly as they pertain to any medications.

During this first day of recovery, you may also notice intermittent light bleeding from your incisions. Remember to keep your bandages on and, if directed, wear your elastic compression garment. This should keep your incisions clean and reduce bleeding complications. Contact your doctor if blood loss increases or continues past the first 24 hours. 

Side Effects over the First Week

Over the first few days of recovery, you will most likely experience a few side effects that continue to worsen through the third or fourth day. These are typical effects of surgery, and are a natural bodily response to tissue damage. Although the severity of these effects will vary among patients, based on the extent of tissue removed, most patients will experience at least some degree of the following:

  • Discomfort: You may experience pain at first, as your incisions and underlying tissues begin to heal from surgery. Discomfort will be the most acute during the first week, and can be managed through prescription painkillers before switching to over-the-counter analgesics later on. Once most of the pain resolves, it is not uncommon for patients to experience a recurrent period of soreness in later weeks as the abdominal muscles adjust to their internal sutures.
  • Bruising: The area of surgery will probably become bruised due to damaged blood capillaries during surgery. Bruising does not typically worsen past the middle of the first week, and will mostly resolve by the end of the week.
  • Swelling: Swelling is one of the most prevalent results of surgery, and is often the last effect to disappear. After a tummy tuck, patients may not see swelling begin to go down until seven to 10 days. By two weeks, patients should notice a dramatic improvement, but the area may not completely conform to its new curves for months after surgery. Although you will feel fine and resume your regular lifestyle long before then, it is important to remember that any lingering swelling will obscure the final results of treatment. 

Tummy Tuck Techniques and Recovery

One of the biggest factors in your recovery is the type of tummy tuck procedure you undergo. A mini tummy tuck, for example, requires the smallest incision and removes a minimal amount of tissue from below the navel. Patients who have a mini tummy tuck will therefore benefit from easier side effects and a quicker overall recovery. Since a full, conventional tummy tuck addresses a larger area of the abdomen, patients can expect more widespread side effects. This is even truer for an extended tummy tuck, which utilizes incisions around the hips and removes a large amount of tissue from the abdomen and flanks. Furthermore, patients who opt for the extended procedure also require a longer period of rest before returning home - usually an overnight stay.

Contact Us for More Information

If you plan on having a tummy tuck or are concerned about a recent procedure, our office is ready to answer any of your questions. Contact us for more information on our body contouring procedures or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Smart. 

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Frisco Office

6898 Lebanon Rd
Ste 102
Frisco, TX 75034

More Info Directions (972) 334-0400