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Post-Operative Instructions after an
Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) Procedure

Post-Operative Instructions after an Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) Procedure

It is important to carefully follow all of your doctor’s pre- and post-operative care instructions to achieve the best possible plastic surgery results. Tummy tuck patients at our facility are typically instructed as follows:


1. Please make arrangements for autologous blood donation, if necessary.

2. Begin taking iron tablets as prescribed.


1. Stop taking aspirin and aspirin-containing products. Stop all herbal supplements.

2. Confirm your “pre-op history and physical” appointment with your family doctor / internist.

3. If you develop a cold or any other illness prior to your tummy tuck surgery, please notify the staff at our Maryland office.

4. Vitamins are important in healing. Begin taking multi-vitamins with C, E, minerals and iron. Do not take “extra” Vitamin E.


6. Make certain arrangements have been made for someone to drive you to and pick you up after your surgery and to stay with you for the first 24 hours.


1. At the grocery store: buy light foods such as juice, tea, bread/bagels, jelly, soup, and JELL-O®.

2. Buy two quarts of Gatorade, and Betadine™ Scrub liquid soap.

3. Buy a mild laxative, i.e. Milk of Magnesia, as well as a stool softener, i.e. Colace or Pericolace.

4. All prescriptions should be filled.

5. Prepare bed: you will need several pillows and cushions to help keep your waist flexed / bent.

6. Take only clear liquids one day prior to surgery.

7. May start taking Arnica Montana: three tablets beneath the tongue, three times daily.


1. Shower with Betadine™ Scrub liquid soap for three full minutes. Avoid contact of jewelry with Betadine™; it may stain.

2. Take liquids only.

3. Take the laxative early.

4. Get a good night’s rest.

5. Do not eat or drink anything after 12:00 midnight the night prior to surgery.


1. Do not eat or drink anything prior to tummy tuck surgery. DO NOT SMOKE.

2. Wash with Betadine™ for three full minutes. Do not put on any makeup or deodorant after washing.

3. Do not wear wigs, hairpins, hairpieces, or jewelry. Dress in old, loose comfortable clothes. Do not wear pullover tops or panty hose.

4. Have someone drive you to your surgery and make certain someone will be available to take you home and stay with you for 24 hours.


1. After tummy tuck surgery, it is important for you to go to bed. Place pillows beneath your knees and behind your back. Keep your waist bent. You may lie on your sides or back. While in bed, you are encouraged to move your feet to increase the circulation in your legs.

2. A small amount of bloody drainage through the bandage is normal. Protect your bed sheets from bloody drainage.

3. After surgery, you will be wearing either an elastic Velcro binder or an elastic compression garment. These should be snug but not uncomfortably tight. If they feel too tight you may loosen them periodically.

4. Empty and record the drains three times daily.

5. After the tummy tuck, you may not shower until after your first visit back to our office. Until that time you may sponge bathe only.

6. A liquid diet is best for the day of surgery. Begin by taking liquids slowly and progress to soups or JELL-O®. You can start a regular diet the next day. It is a good idea to begin taking a stool softener beginning the day after surgery. Avoid salt.

7. For the first 48 hours, keep your movements to a quiet level. No lifting. When walking or standing, keep in a bent position. Afterwards, you may start increasing your movements and straighten up gradually, but there should be no strenuous activity for three weeks after your tummy tuck surgery.

8. Any discomfort should be relieved by the pain medication. Take extra strength Tylenol™ or Advil™ regularly to help with general discomfort.


1. Some amount of bruising and swelling is expected. This will disappear with time.

2. Spotty areas of numbness are common and may last several weeks, but will disappear.

3. Feelings of sharpness, burning and other sensations are common during the healing process.

4. You may drive one week after your tummy tuck procedure provided you are comfortable enough to stop in an emergency situation. You may begin to take brisk walks after two weeks. You may resume exercise in four weeks. You must wear an abdominal binder for six weeks. No heavy lifting or straining for six weeks.

5. Continue taking your vitamins. You may also take iron supplements if you feel fatigued.

6. Avoid salt as it will keep you swollen.

7. It is important to EXERCISE and DIET after your procedure to have a long-lasting results. Without proper diet and exercise, you may gain weight after surgery and may loose the wonderful results of your cosmetic surgery


  • Have someone drive you home after surgery and help you at home for 1-2 days.

  • Get plenty of rest.

  • Follow balanced diet.

  • Decreased activity may promote constipation, so you may want to add more raw fruit to your diet, and be sure to increase fluid intake.

  • Take pain medication as prescribed. Do not take aspirin or any products containing aspirin until approved by your physician.

  • Do not drink alcohol when taking pain medications.

  • If you are taking vitamins with iron, resume these as tolerated.

  • Do not smoke, as smoking delays healing and increases the risk of complications.

  • Activities

  • Start walking as soon as possible, as this helps to reduce swelling and lowers the chance of blood clots.

  • Do not drive until you are no longer taking any pain medications (narcotics).

  • Do not drive until you have full range of motion with your arms.

  • No lifting greater than 5 lbs. for 6 weeks. This can be modified by your physician.

  • Resume sexual activity as comfort permits, usually 2-3 weeks postoperatively.

  • Avoid straining of abdominal muscles. Strenuous exercise and activities are restricted for 6 weeks.

  • Return to work in 2-4 weeks.

Incision Care

  • You may shower 48-72  hours after removal of all drainage tubes.

  • Avoid exposing scars to sun for at least 12 months.

  • Always use a strong sunblock, if sun exposure is unavoidable (SPF 30 or greater).

  • Keep steri-strips on.

  • Keep incisions clean and inspect daily for signs of infection (redness, pus drainage and fever).

  • No tub soaking while sutures or drains are in place.

  • Wear you compression garment 24/7 for 3 months post op. If the compression garment is too tight or if you start developing blisters, stop wearing the garment and inform Dr. De La Cruz about this ASAP.

  • Place daily soft dressing over incisions and around drain sites to wick away moisture and to prevent irritation by garment along the incision line

  • Sleep with head slightly elevated and pillows under your knees to decrease tension on your incision.

  • Place antibiotic ointment over the belly button for 1-2 weeks


What to Expect


  • You may experience temporary pain, soreness, numbness of abdominal skin, incision discomfort.

  • Maximum discomfort will occur the first few days.

  • You will have bruising and swelling of the abdomen.

  • The majority of bruising and swelling will subside in 6-8 weeks and may last up to 5 months.

  • You may feel tired for several weeks or months.



  • Flatter, firmer abdomen with narrower waistline.

  • You will walk slightly bent forward and gradually return to normal posture over next 3 weeks.

  • Scars will be reddened for 6 months. After that, they will fade and soften.

  • The scar will extend from near one hipbone to the other, low on the abdomen.

  • Follow-Up Care

  • Abdominal drains removed when less than 30 ml for 24-48 hours. (This will vary depending on your physician).

  • Surface stitches removed in 7-10 days if present.

When To Call


  • If you have increased swelling or bruising.

  • If swelling and redness persist after a few days.

  • If you have increased redness along the incision.

  • If you have severe or increased pain not relieved by medication.

  • If you have any side effects to medications; such as, rash, nausea, headache, vomiting.

  • If you have an oral temperature over 100.4 degrees.

  • If you have any yellowish or greenish drainage from the incisions or notice a foul odor.

  • If you have bleeding from the incisions that is difficult to control with light pressure.

  • If you have loss of feeling or motion.

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