I live 2 hours away from Denver and want to do a Tummy Tuck there. What are the follow-up appoinments like? Will I have to keep driving back and forth?
Two-hour Driving for Tummy Tuck
Doctor Answers 10
The recovery after a tummy tuck
Our patients should be fully aware of the fact that an abdominoplasty is one of the greatest operations that we do... and they require some recovery. At first the pain is controlled with narcotics (pain pills). At Dallas Day Surgery Center, we have a facility (The Cloister) that allows for our patients to stay the night and a nurse assists with your care from scheduled medications to drain and wound care.
There are typically two drains placed on full abdominoplasties. On ocassion, I won't place a drain if I've used enough internal tension sutures and the patient is an ideal candidate. If there are drains, you call my office every day and report your 24 hour total drain output. This collected fluid must be under about 30cc total for each drain. Since two drains are in one pocket you should add them up before expecting them both to be out. Once they're ready you come in to the office for your first postop appointment. This usually happens in about 7 days.
There's no sutures to be removed, I use absorbable sutures and then skin glue (for your convenience!).
The next appointments are in 3, 6 and 12 months. Typically, I'll have you on a low salt diet for about 90 days and no exercising for 6 weeks. You'll have your 6 month photos taken then review them at a year. That's always a rewarding thing to do since this is such a great operation. For out of town patients we'll routinely adjust these dates to your convenience.
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Follow-up after tummy tuck
Most of our patients travel in from far away. We usually recommend they spend 7-10 days in the area, depending on the type of tummy tuck being performed. If they live relatively close (i.e. 2 hours), they often travel home between their 1st day and 5th day appointments.
We usually see patients the day after surgery (Day1) they spend the night of surgery in an aftercare facility with a registered nurse (RN).
The next appointments are on Day 1, Day 5 or Day 7, but this changes from patient to patient depending on their circumstances and the type of tummy tuck they had (less for Hybrids, more for full TT's)
It is possible that patients would have accumulation of fluid or other matters requiring aftercare.
As other doctors have pointed out, it is very important that patients follow instructions from their doctors closely.
2 hours away for a tummy tuck
I perform a substantial number of tummy tucks on patients who come to me from more than 2 hours away. What we do is have them check into a hotel the day before surgery so their room is all set. The next day they have their surgery and go back to the hotel for the night. I call them that night and see them the next day. Since all sutures are dissolvable, the next visit is to remove the drain which is usually in 7-10 days depending on when it gets down to a low volume of output. For those far away, I especially want the drainage low so as to minimize the risk of a seroma. Occasionally, I have them or their local doctor remove the drain. Another visit at 6-8 weeks after surgery is required. I have never had any problems with this plan over hundreds of long distance tummy tucks.
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Long distance drive following tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
There are many issues to address for follow up care and not all of these are predictable. Typically drains are placed and once removed, there is a potential for fluid accumulation which may need repeated treatment. AT the very minimum, it is likely that the surgeon will want to see you early in the few days after surgery and you may want to consider staying for 1 or 2 days locally. Subsequent to this you will need to have the drain removed. Arrangements can be made by you for this removal if permitted by your surgeon. It is likely the surgeon would want to see you in the week following the drain removal. So in my opinion it is likely you will need a minimum of two postoperative visits but more likely more.
Should at stay for at least one night after Tummy Tuck
As you can see the expert panel all feel you should stay at least one post operative night to as much as 10 days. I would plan a minimum of 2 nights to 7 nights after surgery. See how your recovery is progressing to make a final determination on the length of stay. Regards.
Long drives after BIG Surgery
A tummy tuck is one of the most painful and debilitating procedures we do. It requires a large commitment on both the part of the patient and doctor.
My protocol is that the patient will be on serious medications for 10 days to two weeks. Still, the patient will be stiff and sore, so driving even for short distances is difficult.
If you are absolutely set on this doctor, be sure you have a driver to help you with the trips for the first several weeks at least.
The link below will give you additional information about what to expect.
Post-op care for tummy tucks
First of all, all tummy tucks are not created equal so the recovery is naturally different. Most, if not all, of the tummy tucks I do will require the patient to stay in a post-op care facility. This is for safety as well as for comfort. The stay is on average about two nights. Long drives may be uncomfortable for the first week. In addition, if a patient is slow to move, she might have difficulty exiting a car in an accident. Usually, a patient will go home for a week after the post-opcare facility stay and then be seen once a week for the first three weeks. Patients from out of town or out of the country usually stay for about two weeks, sometime three weeks, post-op.
Two hour drive for tummy tuck
When I have patients from out of town, I always tell them to prepare for the worst case scenario, so if it happens that you need frequent follow up, your entire life will not be disrupted. I would want you to arrive the day prior to your surgery.
If the car ride was longer, I would want you to have an ultrasound of your legs to make sure you have no blood clots prior to surgery. After surgery, I would want you stay in town for at least 72 hours. I would see you in the office on a weekly basis for the first 2 weeks after surgery. If you need extra care, you might have to come in more often.
Different doctors handle out of town patients differently, so you need to discuss this with your board certified plastic surgeon. If someone minimizes the number of visits or how it could possibly be inconvenient, I would be cautious.
Long distance Tummy Tuck not uncommon
It is not uncommon for me to see patients who live two or more hours away. I encourage even my patients from Louisville to spend at least one night in the hospital. I am fortunate to practice at a hospital which discounts rooms to a degree that the costs are comparable to a hotel. It is necessary in my practice to be seen 2-3 times in the first 3-4 weeks post-op. Since I do not allow patients having TTs to drive for 10-14 days, someone is required to drive them to the office once or twice.
Following Up with your Surgeon After a Tummy Tuck
The success of an operation does not only depend on picking the right surgeon and having the right operation but ALSO on your following ALL of your doctor's instruction, including showing up for all the scheduled post-operative visits.
Post-operative visits are scheduled to make sure your healing goes on schedule. If you do not plan on following up with your surgeon, be honest and tell your surgeon your concerns and plans BEFORE he / she operates and you. Both you and him then need to decide if such plans are acceptable to you both.
Dr. P. Aldea