How much pain is involved with a Tummy Tuck as compared to a C-section?
How Painful is a Tummy Tuck?
Doctor Answers 12
Tummy tuck and C section are very different procedures
Both surgeries involve cutting through the abdomen skin, fat. The C-section involves cutting through the muscle, entering the abdomen, cutting through the uterus, to then deliver the baby.
A tummy-tuck involves suturing the muscles of the abdomen together to form a tighter abdomen. Recovery for a C-section is different since the patient is also recovering from pregnancy and now has a new child to take care of. It is a little like "apples and oranges." The only real similarity is that both procedures involve the abdomen.
Having said that, most patients seem to indicate that a C-section was tougher to go through, but it is likely due to all the other factors mentioned above.
New Pain relief for Tummy Tucks
There is a new and revolutionary break through in the management of post op pain relief in tummy tuck patients. A new delivery system for a long acting local anesthetic provides pain relief for 3-4 days after surgery! The medication is placed at the time of surgery and last for at least 72 hours. This reduction in pain is leading to faster recovery times for our tummy tuck patients.
Pain tolerance varies from patient to patient.
Although it’s not unusual for patients to experience pain following tummy tuck surgery, the vast majority of patients tolerate this pain without difficulty. This pain is usually related to elevation of skin flaps and tightening of the abdominal muscles. In many cases the pain is more severe in the upper abdomen where the rib cage provides resistance against the pull of the tightened abdominal muscles. In addition, the sensory nerves in this location haven’t been divided and are therefore functional.
The pain associated with abdominoplasty is severe in the first 24-48 hours following surgery, but rapidly diminishes with time. We typically use a synthetic Codeine derivative called hydrocodone, which has a decreased incidence of nausea compared to Codeine. We replace narcotic pain relievers with double strength Tylenol as soon as possible following surgery to avoid the potential for drug problems.
Pain tolerance varies from patient to patient following abdominoplasty, but when these steps are taken, most patients do well and tolerate their pain without difficulty.
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Post Op Pain
The perception and/or tolerance to post operative discomfort is patient dependent and therefore, it differs from patient to patient. For the vast majority of patients, oral medication plus with or without muscle relaxants, is sufficient. Nearly every patient is discharged with local anesthetic injected into the abdominal muscle for post operative relief. Frequently, our patients choose to up the ante with a medication called Exparel which extends to relief to three days of so. However, none of the medications effectively rid the patient of the sensation of tightness that is felt when the internal corset is completed to narrow the waistline and flatten the tummy. Lastly, if teh muscle repair isn't needed, it simply isn't performed (which, in many cases, limits both the downtime and discomfort).
Managing Tummy Tuck's Discomfort
Pain with Tummy Tucks
Tummy tuck pain: The first week is the worse
There will be some discomfort after a tummy tuck. Regardless of pain medication or pain tolerance there will be some discomfort after a tummy tuck. The first week will be the hardest. Most patients state pain is about 6-7 the first few days to a week and goes down to about 3-4 the second week. The abdominal binder and good pain meds do seem to help as does the amount of numbing medication that your surgeon places.
All the best,
Dr. Remus Repta
Almost all of our patients in Manhattan who have had both a C section and a tummy tuck tell us afterwards that the abdominoplasty was less painful. But it certainly is uncomfortable.
Pain / discomfort is experienced differently by different people
In general, there is more dissection involved with a tummy tuck than a c-section. However, people experience pain and discomfort differently. In c-section, there is an intraabdominal component to the operation and the fascia is cut. In abdominoplasty, the fascia is plicated leading to tightness. For the first few days after surgery you are going to feel like you had a big operation. However, by the next week, most people are doing just fine. Most patient do not even finish the first prescription of pain medication that I give them. Good luck with your surgery.
Tummy tuck is tighter and more uncomfortable
A full tummy tuck involves tightening or plicating the abdominal wall fascia from the ribs to the pelvis. This maneuver causes most of the discomfort that is not associated with a c-section. The plication can be done in differing degrees but to get a nice flat abdomen it should be fairly snug. Some surgeons will use a pain pump to help decrease the amount of pain that a tummy tuck causes.
I try to get a fairly tight abdomen and use a pain pump for three days after the procedure. The procedure is done on an ambulatory out-patient status and It has been my experience that patients say the tummy tuck is more painful.