Can I Use Ice Packs to Help Reduce Swelling After a Tummy Tuck?

I had a full tummy tuck with lipo 1 wk ago & I have a lot of painful swelling. I'm wearing my compression garment 24/7 like I'm supposed to. I still have the drains in. I'm wondering if using ice will help with swelling. I haven't read anything here about using ice, but other sites say not to. Why

Doctor Answers 7

Ice to reduce swelling

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Because the skin in the treated area may be numb temporarily it's not a good idea to apply ice packs as you could inadvertently give yourself frostbite. To alleviate swelling continue to wear your compression garment, drink plenty of fluids and go to the washroom regularly, cut back on sodium intake and and leisurely walk to keep your circulation going. Talk I your surgeon as well for their advice on how to help with swelling. 

Ice packs to help reduce swelling after a tummy tuck

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If after 1 week the ice will not really help you. But it might make you feel better psychologically. You should check with the surgeon and follow that protocol ONLY.


Swelling After a Tummy Tuck

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Each surgeon has his or her own guidelines regarding postoperative care. Consult with your surgeon as he or she knows the specifics about you and the scope of the surgery.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Can I Use Ice Packs to Help Reduce Swelling After a Tummy Tuck?

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Best to run these types of questions by your plastic surgeon who knows your situation best and is ultimately responsible for your care. Regardless, patients should be very careful about applying cold or heat to recently operated upon areas; these areas will likely be numb and can potentially be damaged by  excessive cold/heat that the patient does not sense . Therefore, in my practice, I ask patients not to apply either cold packs or heating pads  directly upon surgical sites. Again, your plastic surgeon will be your best resource. Best wishes; hopefully, you will be very pleased with the long-term outcome of the procedure performed.

Avoid ice packs to belly after tummy tuck

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Patients who undergo tummy tucks may lose feeling in their lower abdomen. In some instances this may prevent them from knowing when the ice packs are "too cold". This can cause problems and therefore, it is best to avoid application of ice to the area. The swelling will likely take time to resolve.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Ice after surgery

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Be very careful about using ice or cool packs after surgery - make sure it is done only if your surgeon agrees for use of ice.  After many plastic surgical operations (such as tummy tucks, face lifts, and breast lifts) certain regions of skin will be numb.  Applying ice excessively may lead to frostbite and skin death.  Do not make this decision on your own - ask your surgeon!


Not a lot of swelling one week after tummy tuck.

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You should not have a lot of swelling one week after tummy tuck.  You might have a hematoma.  See your surgeon right away.  In any case, I am afraid ice will not do anything.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

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.