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Tummy Tuck Survival: A Real Life Guide

  • 3 years ago

Everything You Need to Know About Surviving a Tummy Tuck

Tummy Tuck Survival Guide - Recovery

I wanted to put together a list of tips, experiences and humor regarding the “Tummy Tuck” process. And believe me you will need plenty of humor to get through this one. So with that said here we go…. This entire process started for me after I had lost over 60 pounds and was left with a hanging, bread dough, and play dough looking tummy. It was horrible and all I wanted to do was have the tummy removed/lifted from the hooch! Or as my sister calls it; the “Who Who”.

Research and interview doctors until you are blue in the face

You want the best for a procedure such as this one. Make sure that you really click with the doctor, that he comes highly recommended, has all of the necessary certifications and credentials, and that he shows you pictures of previous patients and the full results.

And please do not pick a surgeon because he is the lowest price in town. You get what you pay for and you do not want to go cheap with a surgical procedure. I personally researched and met with a few doctors before I found Dr. King. I would leave each office feeling let down and frustrated. But I always operate by my heart and gut. If they are not both screaming YES then it is a no go. I had already done the research on Dr. King before I met with him and was totally impressed. So when I finally had the first consult with him I knew within the first two minutes that he was the doctor for me.

Here is where I go back to saying make sure you click with the doctor. You need to be both comfortable and confident in your choice. They could be the best doctor in the world…but if they do not have a good bed side manner or warm personality what’s the point? Maybe you don’t care about having the warm and fuzzy, but I do. That was the icing on the cake for me.

I also have to mention that I searched through the internet for before and after pictures on a ton of web sites. It almost became an obsession which was totally nuts. I was always on the hunt to find pictures of women who were my same height and weight etc. I am a visual person so needed to see. Oh yes and I also watched videos of the actual surgical procedure on YouTube. If you get faint at the sight of blood please don’t watch. It is totally graphic and will make you cringe. It was a little like a car wreck….YOU KEEP WATCHING!

That first visit for the consult was a bit humiliating for me

I didn’t want my husband to see my hanging, bulging, sagging nasty looking tummy and here I was bearing all to a strange man. Granted he was a doctor….it still felt horrible. There is something not so sexy about standing in a hospital gown half naked with your business hanging out. Oh and I do mean hanging!! And then it happened...he had to grab onto the tummy to lift it up as he was doing the exam. Not one of the better moments of womanhood. Seriously I wanted to die on the spot. Once I got over that hot flash moment of opening the gown and bearing all I calmed down quickly. He put me at ease and didn’t make me feel disgusting. God bless him!

Then came picture time…oh ladies you know what I mean here. The nurse handed me this cute little thongy thing to wear for the pictures. Seriously it covered a very small portion of my crotch; my buns were hanging out, tummy sagging over the top, hip rolls over the sides. This was not a Kodak moment. I made it through that trauma and hoped and prayed nobody ever set eyes on those pictures. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see them myself.

During the consult, also make sure to ask all of your questions. Incision placement, belly button questions, pre-op and post op questions, binder information etc. Write down your questions as they come to mind. This way you won’t forget anything when you arrive for the appointment.

So I decided that I was going to do this procedure and quickly!

I was so excited that I could hardly stand it. I was going to count the days down on the calendar and anxiously wait. Time seemed to go so slow and it made me crazy. It came to pre-op physical time and then I knew I was almost there!! Yahoo..

Ok so I went through this nesting period the week before surgery. I decided that I needed to clean my house like I had never cleaned it before. I did windows, carpet cleaning, closet cleaning, garage organizing, painting, fixture cleaning. The list goes on and on. I turned into the energizer bunny for about five days. Why the heck I needed to clean the garage I have no idea; it’s not like I was going to recover out there for two weeks. Oh lord help my family!

Now I come to my lists….easy reading!

NEXT: 12 Things I WISH I knew Before Getting a Tummy Tuck>>

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Yesterday was my TT and lippo. I slept on our sofa since it was easier to get on and off. It became a camp out with my family last night. I was able to walk straighter than I expected. Pain was bearable. I came home with their gown and a cathera, which it helped tremendously! On the way home I hated the cathera and wanted to pull it out. It felt like I couldn't go, but I'm thankful I didn't remove it, because boy did I have a lot. Especially from all the ivs they injected in you. After the anesthesia wore off, I couldn't sleep and lucky I still had some sleeping pills. I took stool softener immediately in case when I came home. Having a back scratcher also help if you have one. My tummy feels like I've been doing 100 sit ups. It's that tight feeling. First real meal in a bit. I've asked my husband to cook taplia and steam broccoli.
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Hello Boo_mn
You seem to be doing very well so quickly.  Thank you for joining the forum and sharing your details.  I would love to have you create your very own review:)
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All your stories are inspirational. After 4 years of joking about getting a TT, contemplating about it and researching about it (2 consultations) my husband finally just said, "Just get it done well you." I'm finally scheduled for my surgery this Tuesday, 4/8. Am i nervous? Absolutely!! I'm so nervous about the pain, swelling, and everything else. I'm now wondering if three weeks off of work is doable? I'm reading up on what to purchase to have in a basket next to my bed along with my nook such as meds, baby wipes, etc. to have ready. Also what healthy food I should consider eating after the surgery for a healthier and speedier recovery, such as pineapple, but what else? I'm treating this as ME (painful) time (with amazing result) and just lay low, but I have two kids. I've had 2 c-sections and shoulder surgery, I think sometimes it's all in my mind, but in have to be real and get ready for the worse. My husband is a great care taker' but I like to be some what in control and be prepared with what I need emotional, physically and internally! Please share any suggestions you may have for me. Thanks again for sharing your realistic experience and humorous stories. I'm glad I read these post before my recovery otherwise I would be in pain from laughing!
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Well today was my big day TT and loop. As I'm typing I'm currently in the hospital in a nice private room and will be d/c tomorrow afternoon. My overall experience was not what I was expecting. I was expecting horrible excruciating pain but all I have thus far is discomfort in my belly area and some major dry mouth. Sipping on some ginger ale and Graham crackers is really helping with the nausea and lightheadedness that I felt when I got up to walk around. Overall I can't wait to get home to my clean and comfy recliner and begin my recovery process. So happy that I decided to put me and my needs first. Happy healing!!!!
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How are you feeling??
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Hello Boo_mn:)

You are going to do just fine so breath.  Three weeks off work is wonderful and you will be glad to have that time.  Two weeks simply isn't enough time for recovery.

You will have to let things go for a while at home.  Just let your hubby take over and know you will get everything back in order later.  I know this is a hard thing to do but it's all temporary.  Focus on your recovery and ignore everything else.  Just give up the control for a while:)

For the diet keep it clean and eat plenty of lean protein.  This will help you heal well.  Eat small portions every 2-3 hours.

 Stick to the following for foods: whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, low fat dairy (string cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, skim milk or vanilla soy milk), only lean protein (chicken, fish, turkey, love salmon, only eat red meat once a week, olive oil is the only oil I use on anything, peanut butter and almond butter in moderation, whey protein shakes are also really good. I make these with frozen fruit, vanilla soy milk and whey protein powder which I purchase at the health food store.

Keep me up to date on how you are doing.  
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Well, I had breast reduction and tt on Sept. 30. My breasts look great! My tt did not go as planned. Where there was just flab before my belly is now bloated and very hard. I look 4-5 months pregnant. My doc wants to redo the procedure. His fee would be waived, but I would gave to pay hospital and anesthesia charges. Bummer.
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I'm actually feeling pretty good, I think. I may have "pushed it" this week, so I had a lot of crashes at the ends of days. I got my drains out on Monday, and that made the world of difference in mobility and a feeling of independence. My doc said I could shower and start driving by the 10 day mark, but to still take it very easy. I did both that day and they were both VERY liberating. (althogh driving was uncomfortable (at turns). I even went on an appt for work yesterday....which - was probably too much. Just getting "work-dressed", and standing/walking with people who didn't know I've had surgery - I kept getting out of breath. That was too soon. I would say I'm doing pretty great overall given I'm at the 12 mark, but I've noticed the following: as mentioned - I really crash around dinner - my body, my mood, my pain. Probably from sitting up, trying to be a bit normal/mobile during the day. I also haven't been sleeping well - at all. Not sure the deal there. I am still wearing a corset - my doc says 3-4 weeks - and honestly, that's painful. Its drive-me-crazy confining, and the darts in it hurt my rib cage. I have the expected other pain - everything is still sore when I cough, laugh, sneeze, etc....but, I'm used to that. if I could take the pain pills, that might be better. And then food - too much solid food keeps giving me issues (but that could be because of my history). But - I get why I have to wear it, so I keep thinking about the end in sight. I have a follow up appt on Monday.....but, I'm getting curious about when I should start taking care of my scars with more than just Neosporin and surgical bandages. Like - when do you start using creams, or silicone, or whatever? When the corset comes off? Do you know? I don't want to wait too long. I will also try to post pics right now. They're early on - still have marker on my tummy that I'm too afraid to scrub too hard in the shower. :)
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Happy Saturday Kimmers25....Today makes 4 days post op TT and lipo. I'm feeling really tired. It really drains me when I have to go to the bathroom,sponge bathe and brush my teeth. After all that is done I'm worn out. I'm currently not taking any pain meds because quite frankly I'm not in pain just discomfort. I have been drinking green drinks 2x a dayand then steamed veggies for dinner. My digestive system is doing great no problems going to the bathroom at all. My post op appt is this Thursday with PS I can't wait to get drains removed they are so annoying and not pleasant to look at. Overall very happy that my double belly is gone and I can actually see my waistline. Still pretty swollen and bruised but in time it will all be worth it.
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Great to hear kjay! I think I need to switch to steamed veggies. Glad you're doing well. You'll love when the drains come out!
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I am sorry you are needing a re-do:(   When are you having this done?  
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Girl you are going to have to slow the bus down for a while.  You definitely did too much and that is why you are feeling this way.   Kick those feel up, rest and keep the diet light.  Try eating smaller portions and softer foods for a while.  

This is such a long healing process and all you need to do is listen to that body.   Once your incisions are totally closed you will be able to start the scar care with the oils.  I never wore a binder or kept my incision closed.  I am guessing that's why mine healed and closed up so quickly.  My doctor wanted it exposed to the air as much as possible.  

You won't hurt your tummy by washing it good.  Just use a  firm circular motion with your fingers and the marker will come off.  Mine was off in a couple of showers.  

Hang in there and try resting a little more.  If you are up too long you will hit the wall and crash.  Not to mention the swelling...Argh!
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Hurray!  Glad to hear you are doing so well.  I know, this is a tired that you can't even explain.  It will pass between 4-6 weeks.  Are you getting any protein in your diet?   You need that for proper healing as well as the vegetables.   

I think it's wonderful that your pain level is low.  It's helpful if you don't need the heavy pain medications.  However, if you do hit a point where you are suddenly hurting don't be afraid to take a dose.  

Thank you for checking in with me:)
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Yes in my green smoothies i put in a scoop of brown rice protein powder. For some reason i really don't have an appetite to eat but i know good healthy nutrition is also a part of the healing process. Yesterday my hubby made some steamed veggies and added some chicken in it and i ate it all. Today makes 6 days post op and i've lost 9lbs since my surgery. I'm sure most of it was all the fat that was removed and sucked out. No complaining here though because i know the best is yet to come.
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Oh you are doing good then:)   Keep up the good work and everything will turn around quickly.  
Way to go on the weight loss, that's fantastic. 
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Yesterday was my TT and lippo. I slept on our sofa since it was easier to get on and off. It became a camp out with my family last night. I was able to walk straighter than I expected. Pain was bearable. I came home with their gown and a cathera, which it helped tremendously! On the way home I hated the cathera and wanted to pull it out. It felt like I couldn't go, but I'm thankful I didn't remove it, because boy did I have a lot. Especially from all the ivs they injected in you. After the anesthesia wore off, I couldn't sleep and lucky I still had some sleeping pills. I took stool softener immediately in case when I came home. Having a back scratcher also help if you have one. My tummy feels like I've been doing 100 sit ups. It's that tight feeling. First real meal in a bit. I've asked my husband to cook taplia and steam broccoli.
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That's awesome! Today is day 2 post op for me. I'm up and walking. Like you eating small portion and it was fulfilling already. And I've taken your smoothie suggestions too.
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Thank you for your lists, your humor, your realistic, yet upbeat viewpoint on all this. And thank you everyone else for sharing your stories. My TT is Monday morning 3/24. I'm very, very nervous. I'm expecting the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life based on everything I've read, but I'm glad I've read all the "potentials" of what I could feel, just so I know that if it happens to me - I know it's not unheard of. The reason I'm getting TT is to get rid of scars from multiple sugeries all over my lower stomach related to ulcerative colitis, (colon removed, and an illiostomy scar), a bowel obstruction surgery, a c-section and a ovarian cyst removal. I've also had lower back surgery (I add that, because of the pain level of certain surgeries - THAT was a doozy). So, I feel like I-know-surgery/post-surgery-pain very well, and I handle pain well. I feel like I know I'll be/feel gassy, that it'll be hard to "go", that it'll be hard to breathe, much less cough, laugh or sit up straight. I was recovering from the scars themselves though - and in most - my intestinal system was recovering too and that brought a whole different set of food/recovery issues than this TT will. I guess what scares me is that, with ALL those surgeries - they've never touched (tightened) the stomach muscles nor have I ever had drains. I guess what also scares me is that all those other surgeries (besides the back one), were emergencies, and life saving to a certain extent. So - I never had the "luxury" of anticipating pain and being the one to choose to put myself into this pain. I also don't like not knowing when I will be able to get back to life. My other surgeries had the same "don't even plan on doing this or that for weeks and weeks" kinds of instructions, but I'm a good recoverer with a decent level of pain tolerance. We all don't have the time to take away to do this - but for our personal reasons, we do it. For me - it was 20 years ago next month that I was first cut open with side-to-side tummy scar (just below the belly button) and I didn't have a choice. Now, I'm CHOOSING to get cut open and have a hip-to-hip scar....not to save my life, but to make myself feel better. It's VERY emotional for me. When I look in the mirror every day, I'm reminded of what I went through back then; of the toll the disease took on my health and marriage; I'm reminded of the bankruptcy the 1st surgery caused me to go into. In addition to those reminders that eat at me every day - every time I want to wear a tucked-in shirt, a sweater dress, a fitted anything - I look like I have too-tight pantyhose on underneath that my stomach is spilling over. believe it or not my main scar even shows through when I wear spanx! Ugh. So, I'm 100% healed from all that intestinal stuff and I have a great life - and now I'm CHOOSING to get cut open?? As my ID says - "what am I thinking?" It's odd for me. Thanks for listening. I'm not telling a lot of people I'm doing this, so - this forum has been helpful to read as I anticipate Monday.
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Your story has me In tears , but good tears! Good luck on Monday ! My TT is scheduled for April 2nd, thank you so much for sharing your story. I will be following your journey, so please keep us updated on your recovery! God bless
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Can you post a before pic :)
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Thank you so much. I'll keep you posted. Eek!
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Sure...will have to figure out how to post it. Haha.
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Wow! As I read your story I felt like I was reading a story about my life! I've had several surgeries that have left my tummy looking very scary and like you, I know all about the surgery/post-surgery pain, feeling gassy, that it'll be hard to "go", be hard to breathe, etc... but all of those surgeries before were to save my life and this one I'm actually paying for to better my life but at the same time I keep asking myself, "why are you paying to put yourself in so much pain?" Because like you, I have been reading what everyone is talking about how painful their tummy tuck recovery is. My consult is April 14th and I'm having a "Mommy Makeover". I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. I wish I could just have the surgery tomorrow so I could just have it over with (Patience is something I don't have a lot of). Good luck with your surgery! I'm excited for you! To put all of those old scars behind you! What a blessing! For you and for me :)
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You are a brave woman and will do well:)   I am thinking about you tonight and sending happy thoughts your way for tomorrow. xoxo
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Thank you sooo much. That means a lot. I can't sleep. I'm nervous about the pain, the drains, the unknown recovery time. I'm very independent. This anticipation is stinky. :-( Ok, going to try to go back to sleep now. Thank you again.
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