How Does Moving Around Help During Tummy Tuck with Lipo Recovery?

I'm having a Tummy Tuck next month along with some Liposuction in the flank area I am 55 years old, in good health and in a normal weight range. I am told when I have the surgery, I should move about as soon as I am able to get out of bed, that it encourages healing of the wound and assist in a quicker tummy tuck recovery time. Could you please explain in what way this helps? It seems rest would be better.

Doctor Answers 5

Limited ambulation after tummy tuck prevents against serious pulmonary complications

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The post operative instructions following tummy tuck and liposuction are correct. In general, limited activity is good such as walking and moving around as it prevents against serious pulmonary complications such a pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, etc. Be sure that you fully understand your post operative orders and have discussed them with your care givers.

Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck and early ambulation

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I also encourage my patients to get up and walk the day of surgery. There are actually a few reasons why 1. during surgery, we place massage boots on so that blood circulates from the legs, after surgey, the best way to get blood pumping is simply by walking. The muscles in your legs contract and push blood back to your heart. It decrease the chances of forming clots that can break off and go to the lungs. 2. we encourage our patients to drink clear liquids that night and often this makes them get up to go the bathroom (another form of walking). 3. also the sooner one gets back to doing normal activities the less sick they will feel.

The night after surgery, I encourage them to walk a few minutes (5 mins or as tolerated) every 2-3 hours. Then the next day, we encourage them to get dressed (sweat suits) and try to walk around the house and even outside (weather permitting). By being as active post tummy tuck as you are prior to the tummy tuck, you decrease the chance of pneumonia, blood clots, etc. Also, most of my patients do not have the time to lay around. Usually, they are working or have responsibilites that require their attention. Also, be careful of taking pain medication. I encourage my patients not to take too many pain pills because of the side effects.

Hope this helps and Good luck!

Andrew Y. Kleinman, MD
Westchester Plastic Surgeon

Ambulation after tummy tuck

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Most surgeons want their patients to walk soon after tummy tuck to prevent the development of serious complications. One of the most feared complications after tummy tuck is deep venous thrombosis (DVT or blood clots). Not only can this impede circulation in the extremities, but if the clot breaks off, it can migrate to the lungs, which has the potential to be fatal. One of the most effective methods for prevention of this is having patients walk; this triggers the body's natural anti-clotting mechanisms, thereby preventing blood clots from forming.

Another common post-surgical complication is respiratory problems. If a patient takes only shallow breaths, which she or he is more prone to doing when lying down, some of the segments of the lungs have a tendency to partially collapse (atelectasis). These collapsed segments don't fill with air and are more prone to developing pneumonia.

Finally, as counterintuitive as it may seem, most patients seem to feel much better after they get out of bed. They report having more stamina and energy, which aids their overall recovery process.

Hope this helps. Best of luck.

Moving around helps during Tummy Tuck with Lipo recovery

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Dear Deb,

Immobility and limited mobility are associated with some of the most serious complications seen with cosmetic surgery; pneumonia and potentially fatal blood clots to the lungs (pulmonary embolus).

Despite our best efforts at avoiding such events they are seen MORE in women (than in men), in any surgery under general anesthesia lasting more than an hour, in obese patients, in those who do not walk after surgery and ESPECIALLY in smokers or women taking birth control pills.

I tell all my patients that their bed is for sleeping - not for resting. I advise them to walk around their sofa or Lazy Boy chair EACH time a commercial comes on their TV. Whenever you are upright, the intestines fall to the lowest point in the abdomen, helping the lungs expand easier (the reverse of what happens when you lay back). This fully expands the lungs preventing compression and collapse of lung units (alveoli) and resulting bacterial growth in them (ie pneumonia). The walking, helps circulate blood, preventing its stagnation and creation of clots which may then travel to the lungs, which potentially could be fatal.

The best "rest" after surgery is getting you ASAP to heal without complications. This involves deep breathing, walking around every 15-20 minutes while awake, normal nutrition and resuming regular activities as fast as you can.

Good Luck.

I hope this was helpful.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Early Ambulation after Tummy Tuck

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Your surgeon was correct in advising you to "get up and move around" after your surgery. In fact I encourage my patients to get up the evening of surgery. This is important to decrease the chances of blood clots forming in your legs which can become dislodged and travel to your lungs. It also seems that patients simply get well faster with early mobilization. A third benefit is that this serves to expand the lungs which can develop atelectasis following a long anesthetic. On the other hand, it is important to avoid heavy lifting and straining for a few wekks following tummy tuck surgery.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville 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.