Overview on the recovery process.
We consider the tummy tuck recovery period as occurring in stages or phases. We have categorized the postoperative tummy tuck recovery into 4 phases in order for you to better understand the recovery experience. The 4 major phases of tummy tuck surgery include:
Let's get it started.
The first phase begins as soon as surgery is completed and you enter the anesthesia recovery unit. The nursing staff in the recovery unit will make sure you come out of anesthesia gently and have the appropriate level of pain control before going home.The Breast Lift Recovery phase lasts about 2 to 5 days and focuses on post-op comfort. When you arrive at home, you can begin taking prescription medications such as muscle relaxants and oral pain medications. There is a constant amount of pressure in the breast area after breast implants and muscle relaxants work best. The combination of prescribed pain reliever and muscle relaxant is noteworthy for creating the most relief after surgery. Many patients can stop the pain medication after 2 to 3 days and can typically return to some activity, including light-duty work. Five days after breast surgery the vast majority of patients have resumed limited work activity. We do not recommend vigorous exercise which raises your heart rate above 100 beats per minute until 15 days after surgery. This includes no heavy lifting.
Most important phase.
After 5 days, you begin the Breast Lift Renewal phase. This is the most important phase of the recovery process and requires a great degree of patient participation. The breast renewal phase focuses on breast shape and expansion by allowing the implant to settle appropriately. After the implants are placed, regardless of size and tightness, every patient must create additional space to accommodate their breast implants while making the breasts grow. It is important to begin breast massaging to relax the breast tissue and pectoralis muscle, reduce swelling, and allow the breast implants to settle nicely. Breast massaging starts on about day 5 of the breast renewal phase and is performed at least 5 minutes per side twice a day. Initially, massaging is done gently in the first few days, but by the second week a more vigorous massage technique will be encouraged. These breast massage techniques must continue to be performed by the patient in the comfort of their own home for a minimum of 6 weeks. All of these massage techniques are taught after surgery by our postoperative team of nurses. The Breast Lift Renewal phase last until 3 months after surgery and overlaps with the Return to Activity phase of the recovery process.
Start getting back to a routine.
We allow patients to begin a gentle return to more vigorous activity after 14 days from breast lift surgery. This is when the Return to Activity phase begins. Before this time, we encourage breasts lift massaging and avoidance of vigorous exertion. Once this phase begins patients are allowed to perform limited physical activity like aerobic exercise and limited weights. When performing aerobic exercise, we recommend not to raise your heart rate above 125 beats per minute. In some cases, if a patient wishes to perform a particular strenuous activity it is better to call the office before proceeding.
Oh yeah. We're going out tonight.
Patients are considered healed from their breast lift surgery when the breasts have fully expanded to their desired cup size or when their breast implants have fully settled into place and the patient has been fitted for a regular bra. We tell patients they are cleared to live a completely normal lifestyle, when this occurs. This is called the Clearance Phase. The rate of healing with a breast lift is based on each individual's ability to heal and the size of the breast implants placed. For some patients, especially those with elastic breast skin the ability to expand their breast cup size and the settling of the breast implants occurs at a faster pace. Patients without a history of pregnancy who have tighter skin should expect that implant settling and breast expansion will proceed at a slower pace. In addition, with tighter skin and larger breast implants you can expect to have a longer breast renewal phase and have to perform more breast massaging exercises to obtain full cup expansion. After you are healed, we recommend wearing a strong supportive bra for the first year to avoid the risks of skin overexpansion. This is especially pertinent to those women with elastic skin before breast lift surgery.