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Tummy tuck surgery removes unwanted excess skin and fat from the abdominal region, tightens the underlying abdominal muscles, and provides a boost of confidence. Since this cosmetic procedure addresses both the skin and muscles, both internal and external healing is required. Therefore, it is important to carefully prepare and have a plan in place before your procedure to ensure that you will soar through your recovery. The following information is a guide to help you prepare before and after your tummy tuck procedure.


1. Eat a Proper Diet

It is essential to maintain a proper diet before and after your procedure. During the healing process, it isn’t wise to adhere to a restrictive diet or attempt to lose weight. Good nutritional habits will aid in wound healing. Vitamin supplementation is not necessary unless your diet is unhealthy.

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Consume foods high in iron, such as:

  • Spinach
  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Quinoa
  • Turkey
  • Broccoli


In addition to a proper diet with iron-rich foods and plenty of protein, be sure that you are staying well-hydrated. Hydration is vital to the health of your internal organs, your skin, and your overall healing. Drinking plenty of water will ease your recovery.

2. Avoid Constipation

Constipation is a common complication after surgery and can cause unwanted strain on the abdominal muscles. Avoiding constipation goes hand in hand with a proper diet. To prevent constipation, add high fiber foods to your diet both before and after the surgery to make it easier for the bowels to empty. Individuals who have a history of constipation or have had previous issues with bowel movements post-surgery may want to consider a laxative/stool softener combination. Although fiber supplements can be beneficial, the best way to get the needed fiber is through your diet.

Consume foods high in fiber, including:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Fruits, especially citrus
  • Vegetables
  • High-fiber cereal

3. Enjoy Plenty of Downtime

Surgery of any kind puts an excessive amount of strain on your body. Tummy tuck surgery is no different. Since your body has been stressed during the procedure, now is your time to sit back and allow your body its much needed and deserved rest. Healing time varies from patient to patient. The first three days are considered to be the hardest. During this time, patients should rest in a stress-free, comfortable space that has easy access to both a bathroom and food. Although the idea of taking it easy might seem unusual and wrong, that is exactly what you need to do. This is the time to focus on you. This isn’t the time to catch up on housework or anything that will put unnecessary strain on your core.

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After the initial days of recovery, you will begin to feel more like yourself again. At this time, it is encouraged that you get up on your feet for leisurely walks around your house to help with bowel activity, lung function, and quicker healing. Even though light movement is recommended, you should avoid moderate to heavy movement, as this will do the exact opposite and slow your recovery. Don’t push your body before it’s ready. Tummy tuck patients should expect to feel slightly fatigued for up to six weeks, and it may take a couple of months before a patient can return to an active lifestyle.

Consider activities such as:

  • Taking naps
  • Reading a novel
  • Binge watching your favorite television show
  • Listening to music

4. Establish a Good Support System

Having a good support system established before your surgery will make all the difference in the world after your surgery. Arrangements will need to be made for transportation leaving the surgery center. In the evening and days following your tummy tuck, you will need someone at home to assist in lying down, sitting, standing, and dressing. Additional help is recommended for activities such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, child care, and any other actions that could cause strain on the abdominal muscles.

5. Follow Aftercare Instructions Carefully

It is exceptionally important to carefully follow the aftercare instructions given by your surgeon and ask any questions before the procedure. Dr. Hiatt is there to help and assist you in any way. Dr. Hiatt may provide you with pain prescriptions and instruct you to fill them beforehand because no one wants to be waiting in a pharmacy when they’re uncomfortable and swollen. You will also be provided with wound care instructions, including how to properly care for the incision sites. This is key to preventing infection.

6. Expect to Experience Discomfort

The vast majority of your body movements stem from your core muscles, and tummy tuck surgery affects those core muscles. This is an invasive procedure that takes weeks to heal from, and during that time, pain is expected. A compression garment may be recommended to help control and reduce the swelling as well as promote blood circulation. This garment should be worn anywhere from a week to several weeks. Oral pain medication will be prescribed by Dr. Hiatt to help make the discomfort manageable. Most patients receive a narcotic compound to be taken as needed for the first few days. After that, over-the-counter medication such as TYLENOL®, ALEVE®, or ibuprofen may be suggested for any lingering discomfort. As always, avoid alcohol, drug use, and smoking during the healing process, as these can cause wound breakdown, infections, and more scarring.

7. Manage Expectations and Results

In the early weeks of healing, the abdomen may be asymmetrical, lopsided, swollen, bruised, tender, firm, and numb. Your skin around the incision site may become irritated from the surgical tape, and symptoms may become worse before they get better. During this time, understand that these side effects are both normal and temporary. Final results may take several months to one year to fully show. Once all healing is complete, you can enjoy your more defined and toned abdominal contour. Your clothes will fit better, exercising will become easier, and you will have increased confidence.

To learn more about tummy tuck surgery or what to expect during your recovery, contact Dr. Karl Hiatt at (480) 844-1410 to set up a consultation.