Anxiety regarding Tummy tuck surgery. Any suggestions?

Im 37 years old with distastis recti & a hernia. I am sched for a full tummy tuck with hernia repair on October 7th. I am having severe anxiety over this proc. Im nervous about the recovery. I'm not sleeping well or eating much. I have had two cesareans about 13 months apart. I recovered fine from those. I remember pain & soreness but nothing some pain meds couldn't handle. This seems much more intense. How should I deal with this anxiety waiting for this surgery & is the recovery bad?

Doctor Answers 9

Anxiety over tummy tuck

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It is normal to have anxiety regarding surgery. I would recommend that you consider taking a medication like Valium to calm your nerves. We also prescribe this for after surgery as it will make your pain less as it relaxes the muscles that have been repaired.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 107 reviews

Anxiety regarding Tummy tuck surgery. Any suggestions?

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First of all, understand your feelings are quite common. Call your surgeon's office to see if they can give you something for a few days to control the anxiety. Most patients equate their post op recovery to the C-section you mentioned. A few days of pain controlled by meds and then years of happiness with the results.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Anxiety over tummy tuck surgery.

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It's natural to have anxiety before surgery but excess anxiety is counterproductive and unhelpful.  You might be more comfortable knowing that your pain will be quite manageable by asking your surgeon to place a pain pump.  I find this makes my patients much more comfortable and probably reduces the discomfort by about 70%.  Think about the results that you seek and this should help provide some incentive and comfort.Good luck and enjoy your results.Jon A Perlman MD FACS  Certified, American Board of Plastic Surgery  Extreme Makeover Surgeon ABC TV Best of Los Angeles Award 2015, 2016  Beverly Hills, Ca 

Jon A. Perlman, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Surgery and anxiety

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Thank you for the question and the pain from an abdominoplasty is very similar to that from a C-section.  Furthermore ask your surgeon about a pain pump placed at the time of surgery to lesson the pain if you have concerns and Good Luck
Dr. Corbin

Frederic H. Corbin, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Anxiety regarding Tummy tuck surgery. Any suggestions?

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Anxiety prior to surgery is very normal; its complete elimination is usually not possible. Assuming you have chosen your plastic surgeon carefully, other important "variables" such as anesthesia provider and surgery facility will be selected based on everyone's first priority: safety. This careful selection should give you some peace of mind that you will be safe around the time of surgery. Discuss your specific areas of concerns with your plastic surgeon who will be in the best position to help you calm your nerves.  Keep in mind, the most patients I talk to, feel that there C-section recovery was more challenging than their tummy tuck surgery.

I ask my patients to try to be as calm as possible prior to surgery; this “calmness" tends to translate to a smoother postoperative course. You may be able to alleviate some pre operative anxiety with music, exercise, meditation, a glass of wine (if ok with your surgeon),   and positive/objective focus on the long term outcome/benefits etc. prior to your procedure. Generally, patients find that they did “get worked up for nothing” after their recovery is completed.
A few words of advice  I provide to my patients undergoing mommy makeover surgery may be helpful to you:

1. Make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (for yourself) and that you have realistic expectations. Be aware that an improvement in the “problem area” may not translate to an overall improvement in your life situation. You are bound to be disappointed with results of the procedure if your motivation for doing the surgery is not internally driven.

2. Time your surgery carefully; generally, it is not a good idea to have surgery done during or immediately after a stressful period in life (for example divorce or death of a loved one). The additional stress of surgery will undoubtedly be more challenging to deal with if a patient's emotional reserves our already exhausted. Remember, that an improvement in your physical appearance will not translate to an improvement in your life situation.

3. If possible speak to patients who have undergone similar procedures and query them about the toughest times of their recovery period. Any practical hints previous patients can provide may be very helpful. 

4. Make sure you are aware of potential complications that may arise how to reach your surgeon if necessary.

5. Make sure you have a strong and patient support system (several people if possible) in place who have time/patience to take care of you. Arrange for professional nursing if any doubt exists regarding the availability and/or stamina of your caretakers.

6. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. It may also take many months/year to see the end results of your surgery.

7. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies.

8. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work, school or chores too early and let others take care of you (for a change).

9. Pick your surgeon carefully (a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon) and trust in his/her advice. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the emotional swings that you may experience.

10. Resume all medications that you were using preoperatively when cleared by your plastic surgeon and stop the use of narcotics and sedatives as soon as feasible after surgery.

11. Keep in mind the end results as you go through the tougher emotional times after your surgery.
I hope this,  and the attached link, helps.  Best wishes.

There are a number of things you can do to calm your nerves and stabilize your mood before surgery.

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It’s normal to have some pre-tummy tuck jitters, but it’s important to get your anxiety under control before your surgery. Your plastic surgeon can help prepare you for what to expect from your tummy tuck recovery. Discomfort can be controlled with medication, and you should enlist help and support from friends or family members during your first week of healing. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people have tummy tucks, and the recovery is certainly manageable. Discuss your anxiety and concerns with your plastic surgeon, who should be able to help calm your nerves. Having a good frame of mind and solid mental health in an important part of a successful tummy tuck procedure. 

Lee B. Daniel, MD
Eugene Plastic Surgeon

Overwhelming anxiety

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should be discussed with your surgeon.  And if this cannot be controlled, you should postpone your procedure until it feels right for you.  Contact your surgeon for advice and recommendations on how best to manage your emotions as you should be in a good place before having surgery.

Curtis Wong, MD
Redding Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews


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Hello and thank you for sharing your concerns. Having anxiety before surgery is natural and common, but if you feel your anxiety is too much, you should express this concern with your doctor prior to surgery to see if there are any medications or pain pump he can add to your procedure. Hopefully this will lessen your anxiety. I wish you the best of luck!

Peter Newen, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Does a tummy tuck hurt?

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 Yes, a tummy tuck does hurt because I tighten the muscles but the recovery is very similar to a recovery from a C-section. You should be able to drive within several days and go back to full activity usually in about three weeks. 

Edward J. Domanskis, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.