Tummy Tuck Post-Op Tips and Must Haves for the First Couple Weeks

1) Renting a medical electric recliner will help the first 1-2 weeks post tummy tuck. It will stand you all the way up and is much more comfortable than a bed. A lot of people simply use a million pillows to get comfortable, but for me a bed was difficult. Being short (around 5’1) it was very hard for me to get into the bed all together, let alone to find a comfortable position. I am so thankful that I had the electric recliner the first week and not sure what I would do without it. It cost me around $150 a week (plus delivery and pick up) to rent the recliner which was TOTALLY WORTH IT. If you are having your surgery in Chicago, the only place I found that would deliver to the city was:
Medical Equipment Inc.
1804 Glenview Road, Glenview IL 60025
(847) 724-8380 or (866) 668-5775

2) Stool Softeners! If your doctor doesn’t prescribe any, make sure you get them over the counter at your local pharmacy. The directions say to take 1-3 a day, so I would take one in the evening and one at night. I made the mistake of taking one on the 8th day post – op…around day 10 I had the worst pain in my life. The pain medications make you extremely constipated and I needed to use an enema, by far the worst experience of my life. I have never felt a pain like that, I was so worried that I might have popped stitches. I started taking 3 stool softeners a day (morning mid-day and evening) after that night, and it barely helped. I added prunes to my diet (around 7 per day) and my stools are finally feeling normal. Do not forget to take stool softeners – you WILL regret it if you forget.

3) For the first week post – op, having the following items will make your recovery much easier and more comfortable:

  • Baby powder and lotion: you cannot shower for the first couple of days and you will sweat. I don’t use baby powder at all in my everyday life- but it did come in handy the first week post – op. Because you are indoors all day post op, your skin can get dry and crackly. I made the mistake of not using lotion and my skin did crack. When you are finally able to shower, make sure you lotion up afterwards!
  • Back scratcher: I recommend a wooden one. It’s these types of little things that make the first week of recovery more comfortable.
  • PJ gown that buttons down the front: I was more comfortable wearing nothing at all (except for my compression garment). But having something long to that doesn’t pull over your head is much more convenient.
  • Cortozone cream: Since you can’t shower initially, you may get a rash (I did). The pain medication also can make you itchy.
  • Neck Pillow: Sitting upright all day and night can make your neck sore and I found that having a neck pillow helps.
  • Dry Shampoo: I honestly didn’t use this (I had my mother around who helped me wash my hair), but I heard a lot of people found it helpful since they could not shower.
  • Neosporin and Q-tips: In the first couple weeks post op – you can have some seeping of fluids. I had a little spot that leaked on the left hand side. I didn’t want to touch it with my hands so I used q-tips.
  • Lip Balm: I’m not sure if it was a side effect of the pain medication, but my lips were constantly dry.
  • Grip, no slip socks: The one thing I didn’t want to imagine was slipping and falling on the floor. If you are going to walk anywhere where there isn’t carpeting, I recommend taking the precaution and wearing no-slip socks.

4) Pain medication: It is so important to stay on top of taking your pain medication post op. When I got back to the hotel (I traveled for my surgery), I took my pain medication and set my alarm for every 4 hours. I would make sure that I woke up in the middle of the night and never missed taking one. I think this is a main reason why I had such an easy recovery and barley felt any pain. When you miss taking your medication and wait until you feel pain or the pain is out of control, it takes a lot and is very difficult to get it back under control. If you are on top of taking your medication, you will have a much easier recovery. The pain medication does make you itch, constipated, and have crazy dreams. I also recommend asking your doctor for the prescription before surgery so you can get it filled and it will be ready post-op – can you imagine waiting in line for your pain medication at the pharmacy post op?

5) Hydration: I made sure that I drank a bottle of water every 2 hours after my surgery. It is so important to keep your muscles hydrated so they can heal. Being dehydrated can cause nausea and vomiting. I made the huge mistake of having one glass of wine with dinner the night before my surgery. Not only did it get me thirsty in the middle of the night (when you should not be eating or drinking anything before going under anesthesia), but after waking up from my surgery, I immediately threw up twice since I was so dehydrated. I personally am not going to drink for 2 months minimum after surgery – why risk it?

6) Laughing, Coughing and Sneezing: This can be very painful post tummy tuck. The best solution: grab a pillow (the harder the better, you don’t want anything too soft) or a folded towel and press it against your abdomen when you feel the urge coming. This will counteract the pressure and it won’t hurt. I always made sure there was something by me to grab if I needed to sneeze or cough.

7) Traveling for your surgery?: When booking your hotel room, make sure you request a handicap room. The only main difference is the bathroom. There are bars around the toilet for you to hold on to when using the bathroom (helpful) and it also comes with a handicap shower with a seat and removable shower head (very helpful). There is no way I would have been able to shower without it.

8) I weighed and measured myself immediately before going into surgery, and every day after as well. The only reason I did was to see what the fluid was doing in my body. Most people recommend not to weigh or measure yourself post – op because they don’t want you to get discouraged. You will weigh more and be larger for a while post – op, this is completely normal. I just preferred to know what the fluid was doing – if it was going down or going up. 2 days post-op , I was 8 pounds heavier. By day 8 post-op, I was the same weight as when I went in. At 3 weeks post up I weight 3 pounds less than when I went in for surgery, but I was 2-3 inches larger. At 3.5 weeks I gained 4 pounds and another 1-2 inches. The fluid will fluctuate, so keep that in mind.

9) New Injuries Post-Op: I guess it is common for old injuries to come up after having surgery. I didn’t have much pain from surgery, but after surgery I got a left frozen shoulder – this pain was unbearable. My doctor had to prescribe me heavier pain medication for my shoulder. I now have to start physical therapy. If you have had any previous injuries, it is not uncommon for them to become inflamed after any type of surgery.

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