How long is the recovery period?
One must consider what surgical procedure will be done in order to estimate the time of recovery, granted the body takes about a year or so to fully recover. After any surgery, the immediate post- operative stage takes place in the first two weeks, and it is when we present the most evident signs of the inflammatory response and there may be bruising, tenderness or pain, and important swelling; most cosmetic surgeries will go through this response, and will have resolution of this appearance by the 15th to 21st day of recovery. Usually at the one-month mark, results are far more aesthetically pleasing, nonetheless we will take a look at one specific example of surgical recovery that takes longer, and has the most evident limitations while recovering.
Recovery Period for Full Tummy Tuck:
Stage 1: This is the immediate post-surgical stage, which tends to last about 2 weeks, and should receive the most delicate of care due to the fact that abdominal drains will be in place, and it would assess for complications such as: bleeding and hematomas, infection, and skin loss due to necrosis. Emphasis on bed rest, limitation in posture, and maintaining a diet to avoid constipation and loose stools. There may be a numbing feeling at abdominal skin so the sensation of pain will be unlikely, and there will be the presence of the surgical wound and sutures for the new umbilicus. Consider there will be the use of body girdle 24hrs a day to avoid drastic inflammation.
Stage 2: 2 weeks to 6 weeks after surgery will encompass the possibility to remove abdominal drains, and umbilical sutures; there can be possible fluid collections (seroma) and would be taken care of by needle drainage, as well as the appearance of fibrosis which would be managed by lymphatic massages. Postural changes would be minimal, and should be considered conservative to avoid damaging surgical wound which is still quite delicate and fresh looking or may have the presence of a dark scab; patient will continue to use body girdle as swelling is still quite evident, this tends to have resolution with the lymphatic massages previously mentioned.
Stage 3: From the 6th week to the 6th month is the intermediate recovery period, the incision is in full healing process, there will be a darkening and thickening of this due to the scarring process, along with itching or tingling. We will also notice the change in sensibility of the abdominal skin, it begins to feel like your own rather than numb. Increased energy permits increase in mobility and exercise.
Stage 4: Beyond the 6-month period of recovery, the scar becomes softer, thinner and lighter while the results are in full evidence, the presence of flaccid skin is something of the past entirely. There may be periods of intermittent swelling, and the sensation of taut and stiff abdomen, which will make for changes in back posture, confidence and form fitting clothes.
As can be seen, tummy tucks are just an example of a recovery period, and tends to be the most difficult; nonetheless, consider that the first month will always be the most acute in signs and symptoms, along with higher risk of developing a complication.
Are there special treatments I should consider while in recovery?
Although there may seem to be a lot of information about cosmetic surgery recovery online, ranging from special girdles to even special surgical wound covers, in reality the most important aspect is to follow thoroughly the medical indications provided to you by your surgeon and the medical team attending you. The caregiver may assess themselves with nursing staff to learn how to help with bed posture.
- Low Sodium intake will greatly limit and reduce fluid retention which results in swelling.
- Avoid dairy and its derivatives, these products produce gases and augmented intestinal movement which may cause significant discomfort while recovering, and may produce the need for constant use of the restroom which can and will be quite uncomfortable during the first weeks of recovery.
- Maintaining a rich fibrous diet is optimal, while making sure to not overdo it since this too can create excessive intestinal movement resulting in discomfort.
- Greens provide a great source of folates (vitamin B) which will help in cellular regeneration after the surgical trauma, as well will provide a great source of energy!
Most liposuction procedures, or cosmetic surgical procedures require the use of specialized compression garments, which help reduce the effect of swelling, and help shape and contour to provide wanted results. It should be mentioned these are made with 4 way stretch fabric, and must be washed daily to avoid contamination of surgical wound, as well as to make sure the body is not exposed to the debris left by the bodies sweat, natural oils from a 24 hours period.
How am I supposed to sleep?
Well, sleeping is probably one of the more difficult aspects of recovery since we are supposed to undergo recuperation of energy and be able to rest, in the beginning of the recovery period this is probably the least likely scenario. One must consider the area of body that was operated on, when not considering multiple surgeries, obviously. With that said, we can imagine that rhinoplasty and a tummy tuck require sleeping upright, preferably in a 60-degree angle. If a patient only underwent liposuction without fat transfer to glutes, there is no limitation of what position is best.
As we have discussed, there are quite a few limitations when discussing recovery periods, we will go into further specificity of surgeries in future blogs. For now, we hope you have had enough insight into the basic principles of recovery periods. Always consider that anything can and may cause the recovery period to become longer, and there is no law that dictates it will happen as it appears in text.
Until next time!