If you’ve had a tummy tuck, or you’re planning to have one in the near future, you may be wondering how to maintain your tummy tuck results now and for many years to come.
But first, what is a tummy tuck? The medical term is abdominoplasty and it’s frequently performed as part of a comprehensive body contouring procedure known as a “mommy makeover.”
Dr. Cat is known for her full and extended tummy tucks, the partial or “mini tummy tuck” (done below the belly button), and revision abdominoplasty, a procedure to correct a previous unsatisfactory surgery.
A tummy tuck can be life-changing for a lot of women. Pregnancy, weight loss and even aging can result in excess skin, loss of muscle tone and bulky appearance in the abdomen area. A tummy tuck can restore a flatter, slimmer and more contoured midsection. This is achieved by removing excess skin, fat and stretch marks while tightening the abdominal muscles.
Knowing what to do after a tummy tuck is extremely important. You wouldn’t want to go through the expense of surgery and lengthy recovery only to have your abdominoplasty compromised.
Tummy tuck results can be affected in a number of ways. Fortunately, you have a lot of control over most of them. To better understand what’s involved in the short and long-term aftercare process, we’ve compiled a list of 5 tips to maintain your tummy tuck:
1. Follow Post-Op Advice
Your surgeon will provide you with a comprehensive list of instructions for how to maintain your tummy tuck results. It’s very important that you adhere to them carefully so that your healing process goes according to plan. Below is a brief overview:
Make sure someone is available to drive you home and assist you for the first couple weeks. You’ll need round-the-clock care with basic tasks such as preparing meals, getting on/off the bed and using the bathroom.
Be prepared for your stomach muscles to feel very tight and you may not be able to walk upright. This will gradually improve over the next couple of weeks. Get adequate sleep, take your pain medications as prescribed and attend to any drains (if you have them) in a timely manner.
A word about scars: Caring for your surgical scars in the first few weeks and months is very important. Dr. Cat’s meticulous attention to detail with incision closures is only the first step to ensuring a favorable scar outcome. What you do after will either facilitate or hamper her initial efforts.
Some post-op instructions to minimize scars include: restrict sudden movements and heavy lifting to avoid tearing the incisions, bathe only after you’ve been cleared to do so, wear your compression garments regularly and as instructed. Additionally, check for signs of infection daily and contact your surgeon if you experience excessive pain, redness or swelling.
2. Maintain Your Ideal Weight
A tummy tuck is not a weight loss tool. Although you will lose inches and possibly some pounds as part of your tummy tuck results, the main goal is to improve your body shape, contour and muscle tone.
To qualify for a tummy tuck, you should be in excellent physical health and be within 15 lbs of your ideal body weight (less than BMI 30). After undergoing successful surgery, the quickest way to undo your results is by gaining weight.
A few pounds isn’t a concern; however, excess weight gain can dramatically alter your body shape in unexpected ways. Dr. Cat has artistically restored your abdominal muscles and belly button while removing excess skin and fat. You don’t want to ruin your carefully sculpted new figure and body contours.
3. Eat a Nutritious Diet
With so many diets and dietary recommendations out there, there’s no right or wrong way to eat. One thing doctors and nutrition experts agree on, however, is that consuming more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes is good for your health.
Many women want to know how to maintain a flat stomach after a tummy tuck. What you eat matters. Protein intake from lean meat, or if you are plant-based – tofu and beans – can help keep your body weight down during recovery. Furthermore, ask your doctor if supplementing with a protein shake is beneficial.
On the flip side, maintaining a healthy weight is also about knowing which foods to avoid. Stay away from junk food, overly processed and fast food, refined sugar, oil and excess alcohol. All these contain empty calories and excess fat which adds up over time, contributing to steady weight gain.
4. Exercise the Right Way
You may also be wondering if you’ll have abs after tummy tuck. The answer depends on each individual. Were you physically fit before? What is your BMI and body shape? What were the aesthetic goals that were discussed during your consultation?
If you are a good candidate, Dr. Cat can carefully sculpt the abdominal area with liposuction to create the appearance of abs, commonly known as a “six-pack.” She takes meticulous care to ensure this area doesn’t look pulled or unnatural.
Once you’ve healed, the best way to achieve abs after tummy tuck is with exercise. In fact, one benefit of this procedure is that it makes exercise more enjoyable. Excess fat and skin that used to get in the way before is gone and patients feel free and unencumbered.
Timing wise you’ll be able to perform light exercise such as walking after four weeks and unrestricted exercise after six weeks. If you had your hernia repaired, you won’t be able to perform planks or situps for three months.
If your primary goal is to keep your weight under control and improve muscle tone, then doing cardio with weights and resistance training is the fastest way to accomplish your objectives.
More recently, fitness experts have been recommending HIIT (high intensity interval training) for endurance and fat loss. HIIT consists of alternating 30-60 second intervals between high and low intensity exercise. Studies show that HIIT can burn more fat than cardio and weights.
5. Time Your Pregnancies
Dr. Cat recommends waiting until your last pregnancy to have a tummy tuck. While you’re pregnant your skin and muscles stretch and you may experience weight gain around your stomach. All these changes can impact the tightening effects of your tummy tuck.
Keep in mind that a tummy tuck will not prevent you from getting pregnant again. Even after surgery, your abdominal wall can stretch and become wide enough to carry a child. So if you become pregnant again after a tummy tuck, you won’t experience any complications related to your abdominoplasty.
The best time to have a tummy tuck after pregnancy is no earlier than six months. Until then your body is still healing from giving birth and you may be carrying some baby weight. Plus it takes time for the skin to ‘snap back’ after being stretched. For all these reasons, it’s best to wait at least 6 months after your last and final pregnancy before scheduling tummy tuck surgery.
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