R ecovering from a tummy tuck is nothing to sneeze at - but you will want to cough. Sound crazy? That’s just one of the tips and tricks I share in this episode of The Trillium Show on how to have a successful Day 1 of recovery after your abdominoplasty surgery. Listen to this episode to learn why it’s better to plan ahead for pain management than play catch-up, the importance of moving around during your recovery, and more so that you feel prepared for what’s to come going into your procedure.
In this episode, we cover:
Dr. Hall: Welcome to The Trillium Show, where we help you make the changes you want to see in your body, in your mind, and in your life. I’m your host, Dr. Jason Hall.
Dr. Hall: If you have just had an abdominoplasty, day one is the day that you wake up and you scratch your head and you wonder what in the world you’ve just gotten yourself into. So, I wanted to make a quick show talking about how to make day one a little bit better because it’s going to be the time when you really kind of start second-guessing your decision to have an abdominoplasty. The preparation for day one really starts the night before. We tell everybody that during and after an abdominoplasty surgery, you really want to stay ahead of pain control.
Getting behind and trying to play catch up is really difficult and so by staying ahead of pain management, you keep from doing this peak and trough of hurting and feeling better and hurting and feeling better. And so, we have you take something — or recommend that you take something — every three hours alternating a narcotic-containing medication with a non-narcotic, anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen or Motrin. Preparing for day one, like I said, starts the night before. So, before you go to bed, you want to set out all of the medications that you’re going to need during the night. That means if you’re going to bed at nine or ten, setting an alarm, setting out the pain medicine that you need at twelve or one, setting out the pain medicine that you need at three or four so that you can wake up to that alarm, roll over, take a pain pill, go back to sleep. And it makes the waking up and getting going in the morning so much easier if you’ve stayed on top of that pain medication the night before. That is kind of tip number one.
The second tip is, in the morning, have help. You’re really going to want to have help getting out of your garment — it’s going to be tight — and getting in the shower. A shower is going to make you feel more human, it is going to be very refreshing, it’s going to be really a pleasant experience to feel clean the day after surgery. You kind of feel grimy once you wake up the day after surgery. And so, get in the shower.
When you take the garment off, it is not unusual to get a little bit lightheaded. That garment is nice and snug and when you take that off, it’s very similar, you know physiologically, the way that your body reacts to taking off that tight garment is almost like you stand up too quickly and you can get a little bit lightheaded. So, when you’re removing that garment the first time, be sitting down, have some help, because it’s not unusual to feel a little bit lightheaded. In the same vein, have somebody help you when you’re getting into and out of, and be close, while you’re taking a shower. Once you get through that initial lightheadedness of taking the garment off, adding warm water to that can cause your vessels to kind of expand, cause that blood to head towards your feet, and can make you lightheaded. So, have some help around and don’t feel like there is something terribly wrong if you get a little bit lightheaded in the shower.
When you’re in the shower use soap. It sounds kind of silly to have to say that, but you can get your incisions wet. If you have a drain, you can get the drain wet. Pat those, let the soap run over those, clean yourself off, pat them dry. The only thing that I ask is that you do not submerge those drains in water, so don’t sit in the bathtub. They can get wet but they can’t go underwater.
The next day-one tip is to get up and move. You really want to start walking around a little bit during the day on that first day if you hadn’t started that on that day of surgery. That is going to help get your blood flowing, it’s going to help loosen up some tight muscles, especially your core. It’s also going to help prevent the development of blood clots. So, get up and move around to kind of help get yourself on that road to recovery.
The other thing that’s really going to help prevent complications is to cough and take deep breaths. And this sounds terrible if you’ve just had an abdominoplasty if you don’t know how to do it right. When you’re doing that, if you have any family that has ever had a heart bypass or any other major abdominal surgery, they teach patients in the hospital to splint themselves. And what that means is get a pillow, get something you can press against your stomach muscles, squeeze and then cough, then take a deep breath. If you’re watching a movie, that’s what’s going to keep laughing from hurting is really squeezing in to help splint those muscles so your actually pressing, you know, your coughing and sneezing and laughing against your hands and your pillow, not using those muscles to kind of keep everything in.
That’s just a little tip to help make that recovery process — you probably want to do that for the next week or so — but that’ll help make that recovery process that much easier. Those are some tips for, kind of, day one and beyond after a tummy tuck. As always, if you’ve got any questions, if you’re concerned about anything, or need us, please call, but we are here for you. If there is anything that we can do at all to make your recovery easier, let us know.
Dr. Hall: Thanks for listening to The Trillium Show. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at jhallmd.com. Be sure to follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you want to connect with us on social media, you can find us at @jhallmd on Instagram and Twitter and @DrHallPlasticSurgery on Facebook. Remember, be the change you wish to see in the world.