After a Tummy Tuck: How to Recover Post-Surgery
Making the decision to get a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, means you’ve likely tried the usual, nonsurgical methods to reduce excess fat around your belly. You might be trying to get rid of loose, sagging skin after weight loss or strengthen weakened muscles after pregnancy. Whatever the reason, a tummy tuck can be an effective way to get your waist in shape – and restore a youthful appearance! It can be truly transformative, which is why it remains one of the most sought-after procedures today. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the procedure ranks in the top five most popular cosmetic surgeries performed in the United States.
Here at AW Plastic Surgery, we’ve helped countless patients with abdominoplasty, which helps strengthen the abdominal wall, remove loose skin and eliminate those stubborn fat deposits. Not only is the resulting firm, toned core aesthetically pleasing, it also has quite a few surprising benefits to your physical health. In this post, we’ll share what happens after surgery and how gentle exercise can help with your tummy tuck recovery. Of course, before you leave our office, Dr. Wilson and his nurses will guide you through what to expect to ensure that you have a speedy, restorative recovery.
You’ll Need Rest – And a Lot of It
You’ll need to take it easy immediately following your surgery. Rest is the best medicine, especially as your ab muscles undergo much-needed repair. Your core is responsible for sitting, standing, bending, and twisting, which means now is the time to kick back, relax and ask your loved ones for help in days following your surgery. (If you’ve had a full tummy tuck surgery, the recommended rest-in-bed period is typically 10 to 14 days.)
During this time, you might find simple motions, like reaching for the remote control, strenuous! Expect a limited range of motion at first, and take the time to heal. For the first few weeks, you’ll need to avoid raising your arms above your shoulders to prevent stretching this tender area. When you’re ready, you can begin building muscle in other areas like your arms and legs with gentle calf raises, light arm weights, or exercise bands.
When To Resume Walking
Walking is a great, low-intensity workout that lightly engages your core, improves blood flow, raises your heart rate, and requires no specialized equipment. Nearly anybody can take a brief walk near their home, and they can do it whenever it’s most convenient for them.
In the first few days, your goal should be to work toward sitting up unassisted and then gradually work your way up to being able to stand. As soon as you feel able to get up and move around, in about roughly a week, start taking short walks. At first, this can be just around the house, then maybe around the block, and then maybe around the neighborhood in about 4 to 6 weeks. Walking will help reduce inflammation and swelling in the early days of your recovery, in addition to doing some preliminary work of strengthening your core muscles.
Use Planks to Firm and Tone After Two to Three Months
You’ll definitely want to get the “all clear” from your doctor before you start putting a lot of physical strain on your abs using weights or even body weight resistance. When your doctor has given you the thumbs up, one of the best activities you can bring into your regular routine is planks.
Planks can be used to specifically target your rectus abdominis and external and internal obliques, the three muscle groups that make up the visible parts of your abs. You can do them with no equipment or use things like chairs or exercise balls to give yourself an incline or decline. As you near the end of your recovery, planks can help tighten up your core muscles and highlight the results of your tummy tuck.
Reintroducing Low-Impact Workouts
Now that your healing process is well underway, you can start some light strength training that doesn’t pull your core like standard sit-ups or crunches. One of the best training environments you can put yourself in when you’re in this part of the recovery is the pool.
Working out in the water provides moderate resistance without straining your muscles, and the buoyancy feels relaxing. Even light swimming is an ideal way to strengthen your body after your tummy tuck procedure. You can use a pool noodle to help you float while you gently kick your legs, jog in the shallow end, or use a kickboard to get your blood circulating and lightly challenge your abdominal muscles.
Engaging Your Core With Planks
Body weight resistance is a good first step to keeping your core strong after you’ve undergone a tummy tuck. When your doctor gives you the thumbs up, one of the best activities you can bring into your regular routine is planks. With your own body weight, you can do planks anytime and anywhere.
Planks can be used to specifically target your ab muscles and external and internal obliques (your sides and “love handles”), the three muscle groups that make up the visible parts of your abs. As you near the end of your recovery, planks can help tighten up your core muscles and highlight the results of your tummy tuck. Many of our patients do them while watching TV or sports. If you have kids, challenge them to a plank contest – you just might win!
Ready To Get Your Tummy Tucked?
For many, getting a tummy tuck is the last resort after trying multiple diets and workout regimens. Our patients report that after spending years discouraged with excess belly fat, making the decision to get an abdominoplasty was one of their best. With the right surgeon and proper recovery plan, a tummy tuck takes away the dreaded muffin top and saggy, loose skin like nothing else. Are you ready to get your tummy tucked? If you have questions or are ready to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wilson, AW Plastic Surgery’s board-certified plastic surgeon, reach out to us here. We can’t wait to see you!
Call our plastic surgery practice in Portsmouth, NH at (603) 294-4526 to schedule a tummy tuck consultation. Contact us using our email form to ask questions or share your comments.