You’re feeling pretty sure that a tummy tuck’s a good fit for you after reading my last post. (A little uncertainty’s natural. That’ll work itself out during the consultation, as you get to know your plastic surgeon.) Let’s unpack, then, what exactly the procedure entails, how you should expect to feel afterward, and what you’ll ultimately look like.
What happens during the procedure
Generally, the procedure’s performed under general anesthesia, though it also depends on the complexity of the surgery. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of being asleep, discuss your options with your surgeon beforehand. Either way, it’s considered an outpatient procedure, which means that you’ll go home after a few hours of monitoring following the surgery.
During the procedure, your surgeon will make a horizontal incision just within or above your pubic area. If you have loose skin above your belly button, a second incision may be made around it. They’ll then separate the skin and underlying tissue from the muscles up to your rib cage and repair your abdominal muscles.
The skin and tissue above your abdominal muscles are then pulled down, the excess is trimmed, and the remaining skin is sutured together at the site of the initial incision. (It’ll be easily concealed.) A new opening is created for the belly button, which is then anchored to your abdominal wall. And any excess fat around the new opening is removed, creating the “innie” look.
Most surgeons use dissolvable sutures, which won’t need to be removed. It’s also likely that your surgeon will place surgical drains (clear plastic tubes) to keep fluid from building up in and around the incision as it heals. A drainless tummy tuck is another option. It refers to a suturing method that restricts fluid accumulation. Ask your surgeon about it during your consultation.
How you’ll feel afterward
You may already have encountered some descriptions of the recovery from a tummy tuck elsewhere online. Everyone experiences pain and heals a little bit differently, so it’s important not to assume that one person’s experience will necessarily match your own. Plus, internet rabbit holes rarely offer any reassurance. That said, a tummy tuck is a significant surgery. You should plan to dedicate around four to six weeks to your recovery, and that includes a couple of weeks of initial bed rest.
You’re not going to be able to stand up straight for about a week, and you shouldn’t force it. Many women who’ve had a C-section have equated it to the same sensation. It’s important to enter into a tummy tuck with the mindset that this is you beginning a new chapter. The first few days after your surgery are going to be uncomfortable, but there’s so much of your story still to be written after that.
Setting your expectations
You’re going to notice a dramatic change in the shape of your body right after the surgery, even though the true extent will be obscured by some swelling. Let that be the motivation that carries you through the coming weeks.
As the swelling starts to subside and you begin to feel more comfortable moving around, you’ll get a truer sense of the outcome. Your final results should come into focus within a few months, when the surgery and recovery will be distant memories.
Even more, as long as you maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can expect the results of your tummy tuck to last well into the foreseeable future.