Follow these helpful pre-surgery tips provided by DocShop to help decrease the risk of abdominoplasty complications. Taking care to properly prepare for surgery is the best way to ensure that you achieve the full benefits from your tummy tuck cosmetic surgery and have a smooth tummy tuck recovery.
Your preparations before tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery will help to optimize your tummy tuck results and minimize your recovery time. There are several matters to consider:
- Your diet
- Your exercise level
- Whether you’re a smoker
- Any medical problems
- Any use of medications or nutritional supplements
- Arrangements for a companion/caretaker after your surgery
A Well-Balanced Diet
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is central to preparing for any type of surgery. Providing your body with the proper nutrients helps to strengthen your immune system, which will result in a faster recovery. Taking a multivitamin may be helpful in some cases, but be sure to discuss this with your doctor first. Some vitamins that are normally good for the body may increase the likelihood of deep scarring or produce an otherwise inhibited healing process. It is important that you avoid vitamin E intake for about two weeks prior to undergoing surgery, as vitamin E can interfere with blood clotting. Under normal circumstances this helps decrease an individual’s likelihood of contracting heart disease, but in the context of surgery it can lead to hemorrhaging. Wheat germ, nuts, and some vegetable oils contain the largest amounts of vitamin E.
Candidates for abdominoplasty should be as close to their ideal weight as possible before the tummy tuck is performed. Obese patients are generally poor candidates for abdominoplasty as they are at higher risk for suffering complications during the post-surgical healing process. Eat a well-balanced diet and safeguard your health by losing the weight prior to getting a tummy tuck.
Smoking increases the risk of surgical complications, whatever the surgery. Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen that is circulated to your skin cells by constricting your skin’s blood vessels. Less oxygenated skin cells have a slower healing response. If you smoke, your surgeon will probably recommend that you stop smoking at least two weeks before your tummy tuck is scheduled. Even then, smokers are at increased risk compared to non-smokers. Nicotine patches or gum should not be used to take the place of cigarettes or cigars as they also are associated with increased complications.
Regular exercise is helpful in preparing for abdominoplasty surgery. By exercising, you increase your metabolic rate and build muscle mass, which helps you to avoid gaining weight during the sedentary tummy tuck recovery time. A strong heart promotes a faster immune response, thus speeding up your abdominoplasty recovery, so be sure to include plenty of aerobic exercise in your fitness regime.
One risk faced by tummy tuck patients is the formation of blood clots in the legs. Your doctor will usually recommend that you take gentle walks during your recovery process to decrease the likelihood of experiencing this complication. However, having strong, well-toned leg muscles prior to surgery will help your body combat the formation of blood clots during the initial day or two after surgery, when you are unable to move or will be moving with difficulty.
Another reason to exercise before undergoing tummy tuck surgery is that the best abdominoplasty candidates are within 15 percent of their ideal weight. Abdominoplasty can lead to dramatic improvements in the appearance of people with small, but stubborn, fat deposits and loose, sagging skin around the abdomen. It is not, however, necessarily the best choice for seriously overweight patients. Patients who are obese are significantly more likely to suffer complications after tummy tuck surgery. Losing a lot of weight after an abdominoplasty can also undermine tummy tuck results, leading to the need for further surgery to reshape the abdominal skin. Those whose weight prevents them from being good candidates for abdominoplasty may wish to consider the possibility of liposuction instead.
Other Medical Problems
It’s a good idea to discuss your plan to undergo tummy tuck surgery with your personal physician or family doctor if you haven’t already. Any medical problems that you have should be taken into careful account by your family physician and your cosmetic surgeon before abdominoplasty surgery. Your cosmetic surgeon will also take your complete medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination as a part of your pre-operative preparation. Because of the risk of infection, should you develop a cold, flu, or other temporary illness, your surgery will most likely be postponed.
Be sure to tell your surgeon about any and all medications or herbal supplements that you’re taking. Many medicines and even vitamins that are normally good for your body may be unhealthy for a person who is about to undergo surgery. Your doctor will tell you to discontinue the use of any substances that may decrease your body’s ability to recover from surgery two weeks before your tummy tuck. Vitamin E can interfere with the body’s blood clotting response, causing increased bleeding during surgery. The same is true of aspirin and some NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The use of birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and some forms of post-cancer treatment medication may also involve an increased risk of complications during or after surgery. Use of these types of medications may, by contrast, produce an increased risk of developing dangerous internal blood clots that can in rare cases lead to embolism. Many cosmetic surgeons recommend a daily vitamin C supplement in the weeks leading up to your surgery while some recommend the use of a multivitamin that does not contain vitamin E. Consult your surgeon about the use of nutrition supplements prior to surgery.
Remember to fill any pain medication prescriptions and bring them with you on the day of your surgery to avoid any unnecessary post-operative side effects.
How You Will Be Returning Home
Abdominoplasty surgery is sometimes performed on an outpatient basis. Whether your tummy tuck surgery is an outpatient procedure or not, you’ll need to consider how you’ll be getting home. This is major surgery, and you won’t be able to get up and walk out the door soon after your tummy tuck is completed. Some surgeons require that you have a friend or family member available to escort you home following your surgery. It’s also advisable to arrange for someone to stay with you during the first day or two of your tummy tuck recovery at home.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view abdominoplasty before and after photos.
Photo credit: Kovanda Plastic Surgery
Consult an Abdominoplasty Surgeon for More Information
If you prepare well for your tummy tuck, you help to ensure optimal abdominoplasty results, with fewer complications and the most rapid recovery from surgery possible. Consult an experienced abdominoplasty surgeon today to discuss your preparation plan in detail.