There’s one plastic surgery procedure that has a particular reputation for being uncomfortable, and that’s the tummy tuck. But just how painful is a tummy tuck? The answer is largely going to depend on your needs and your surgeon’s techniques. But, simply put, a tummy tuck is going to involve some discomfort on the part of the patient.
Just How Painful is a Tummy Tuck Compared to Other Procedures?
Surgeons have developed some ways to minimize and diminish that discomfort, so the procedure certainly isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as it used to be. The pain associated with a tummy tuck comes from two sources:
- The incision itself, which for the purposes of this procedure cannot really be shortened. So far as current technologies and techniques are concerned, the size of the incision is directly linked to how much excess skin can be removed.
- The structure added to the abdominal muscles. This is a common part of a tummy tuck, done in order to firm up the abdomen. Some of the discomfort associated with tummy tuck surgery stems from this part of the procedure.
The pain involved with a tummy tuck is going to vary from person to person. The duration of that discomfort will vary depending on the patient–and how quickly your body heals. How painful is a tummy tuck might not be the right question in this circumstance. The right question might be something more like: is a tummy tuck worth the discomfort.
What Can You Expect From Your Tummy Tuck Recovery?
When you have your tummy tuck consultation with your surgeon, you should spend some time talking about what you can expect during your recovery. Sure, every procedure is going to be different and every patient will respond in their own unique ways. But you can definitely have a set of general expectations before your surgery proceeds.
That said, you should always have this conversation with your surgeon. This article is in no way intended to be a replacement for a professional and personalized medical opinion.
Okay, disclaimer out of the way. Let’s carry on! You can generally expect your tummy tuck recovery to be uncomfortable. And the primary discomfort will generally last a couple of weeks. During these first two weeks, your movement will be limited, so no working out! You can probably walk to the kitchen and back (and you should move about your house–you should just avoid heavy exercise).
You’ll also be wearing a compression garment for a while. It may take anywhere from several weeks to a couple of months for swelling to completely subside.
A Solution for the Worst of the Discomfort
There are two basic solutions that surgeons will offer immediately after surgery to help patients control pain.
- Pain pump: In some cases, surgeons will leave what’s known as a “pain pump” in place after your surgery. This pump will regularly deliver doses of a numbing agent in order to help your body deal with the discomfort immediately following surgery. This pain pump will need to be removed during an office visit (sometimes involving very quick surgery to do so).
- Pain shot: In some cases, surgeons will be able to deliver a very powerful and long lasting pain relief shot into the abdomen during surgery. The newest of these pain shots can last upwards of several days, meaning it could be enough to get some patients through the worst of the recovery discomfort. The benefit of these pain shots is that patients do not then have to have a pain pump surgically removed later.
You and your surgeon will discuss the best way to proceed when it comes to managing your pain and discomfort. Towards that end, your surgeon might prescribe various medications for you to take during your recovery.
It should go without saying that it will be very, very important that patients follow their surgeons instructions during their recovery period. How painful is a tummy tuck? It depends on the individual and the surgeon–but it’s important to note that there are ways to minimize postoperative discomfort as much as possible.
Talk to your surgeon about your tummy tuck recovery period. And keep in mind that the vast majority of patients consider this procedure to be “worth it,” in the end, at least according to plastic surgery social media website RealSelf.com That’s something worth thinking about as well.