Sneezing or Coughing After Tummy Tuck

I am six weeks post Tummy Tuck. I have been sneezing a little more than usual due to allergies. It burns and hurts so bad. How long before a sneeze or cough will no longer be so painful?

Doctor Answers 7

Pain with sneezing and coughing after tummy tuck (abdominoplasty): How long?

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The pain after a tummy tuck can vary due to many factors depending on the extent of the procedure. In many instances it can take up to 3-6 months before the vast majority of the tenderness or pain resolves. At six weeks the proliferative phase of wound healing is complete and you are now entering the maturation phase which is associated with relaxation of the scar tissue and generally diminished discomfort.

Sneezing or coughing after abdominoplasty

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Sneezing and coughing are normal functions. But, after abdominoplasty they can cause discomfort to patients. This may be fore several months after surgery. The best way to handle this is by "splinting." Either hold the stomach with your hands or a pillow and push down while you cough or sneeze this will help minimize the "stretch" you feel with the sneeze or cough.

A splint may help!

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A large percentage of the pressure that’s necessary for a forceful cough or sneeze comes from contraction of the abdominal muscles. Unfortunately, in the post-operative period coughing and sneezing are often associated with significant pain.
In the post-operative period the abdominal muscle closure has regained most of its pre-operative strength in about six weeks. Despite this coughing can still result in significant pain because scarring, swelling and inflammation from the healing process.
It would be unusual for coughing and sneezing to disrupt the abdominal muscle closure six weeks following surgery. However, pain associated with coughing and sneezing may last for three to six months following surgery.
For this reason, we generally recommend that patients splint their abdominal muscles whenever they’re sneezing or coughing. When this approach is utilized, pain is minimized and patients are more comfortable in the post-operative period.

Usually 3-6 months...

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Hi there-

After 6 weeks, your wounds (both on the surface and at the level of your muscle repair) should be very strong, and the risk of inadvertently tearing your stitches and damaging your outcome should be very low. This accounts for the safety of releasing patients from most activity restrictions at 6 weeks.

The pain you feel when you cough or sneeze (as well as with certain bending or twisting movements) is most likely due to stretching of the scar tissue your body has formed under the skin that occurs with these movements.

Unlike healthy skin and tissues, scar tissue is firm and inflexible, so any movement that requires it to "give" a little will cause you a bit of pain until the scar has reached a level of maturity, which takes months...

You can help this along by performing slow stretching exercises, as in yoga. In any case, the sensations usually resolve on their own after about 6 months, so it shouldn't be a long term problem for you.

Sneezing or Coughing After Tummy Tuck

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With any chest or abdominal surgery, any straining will cause significant pain. Anything that causes you to strain your abdomen such as coughing and sneezing will be uncomfortable, potenitally for several months.  You want to avoid these as much as possible.  The best way to handle this is by firmly holding the belly with your hands or pillow and push down when you cough or sneeze.

Sneezing or Coughing After Tummy Tuck

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Early out of tummy tuck surgery, the concern with your description would be, the potential for disruption of sutures that are holding the abdominal wall muscles together in the midline.  
In general, it would take a significant amount of pressure to “tear" the muscle repair after tummy tuck surgery. This event would likely be associated with significant discomfort. A change in your physical examination, such as increased swelling, bleeding, a new onset "bulge" would also be likely.
Generally speaking, abdominal wall muscle plication performed during tummy tuck surgery is quite secure; disruption is very unusual. You will be best off following up with your plastic surgeon who will be your best resource when it comes to accurate assessment, advice, and/or meaningful reassurance.
Best wishes.

Sneezing and coughing after a tummy tuck

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Tummy tucks are very popular and effective technique to contour the abdomen. Patients undergoing this procedure should understand that there is a significant recovery process. During the procedure, your plastic surgeon will use multiple suture techniques to tighten the abdominal muscles. In our practice, we asked our patients refrain from heavy exercise or lifting more than 5 pounds for up to 4 to 6 weeks after their surgery. This is to avoid any undue pressure or stress on the abdominal wall. It is possible that aggressive sneezing and coughing can put pressure on the abdominal wall and can disrupt the muscle repair. If at all possible try to minimize your sneezing and coughing and generally clear your throat or gargle. The more the EU to avoid pressure to your abdominal wall the better chance you will have of maintaining your great tummy tuck results.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

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.