Select Page

Tummy Tuck Recovery

Dr. Cook explains the recovery process from Tummy Tuck surgery.





John Q. Cook, M.D.

Chicago 312-751-2112
Winnetka 847-446-7562

We will Help You Optimize your Recovery

A smooth and pleasant recovery from abdominoplasty and other body contour surgeries is directly related to the preparation that you make in the weeks leading up to your surgery.

Our team prides itself in the quality and depth of our preoperative teaching. We will provide you with many helpful suggestions that will make your recovery an optimum experience.

For most of our abdominoplasty and other body contour surgery patients we make use of a device known as the pain pump. This device delivers a controlled amount of local anesthetic to the area of surgery so that your need for pain pills is significantly reduced. This allows you to achieve normal activity levels more quickly.

Above all other procedures in plastic surgery, the abdominoplasty procedure allows the patient to enhance the quality of the long-term result of the surgery.

A patient who develops and maintains optimum patterns of nutrition and exercise will have a better recovery from surgery and a better long-term result than a patient who ignores these important factors.

One of the most gratifying aspects of our work at the Whole Beauty® Institute is our ability to leverage the power of the surgical procedure by motivating our patients to make changes in personal habits that will lead to long-term improvement in health and well-being.

In general the patient who adopts improved habits of nutrition and exercise in order to prepare for the surgery will maintain these habits for the long-term. One reason for this is the positive visual feedback that the abdominoplasty provides. Many patients report that they have repeatedly “fallen off the wagon” when they have tried diet and exercise programs because they can’t do much to improve the shape of the abdomen. After the surgery is completed, the beautiful contour will initiate a renewed commitment, since there is now a beautiful shape to maintain. We see this positive feedback cycle at work in many of the surgeries that we perform, but it is perhaps the abdominoplasty procedure that is the very best example.

Due to our extensive experience with the abdominoplasty procedure we have many practical suggestions that will help you and your caregivers in the recovery phase.

A “Typical” Abdominoplasty Recovery

The reason for the quotation marks around the word “typical” is that there is a significant variation in the speed of recovery from a full high lateral tension abdominoplasty from patient to patient.

Patients who are trim, athletic, and in optimum health will recover quicker than those who are not.

Phase 1 of Recovery

The first phase of the recovery is in the private recovery room at the surgery center where Dr. Cook performs your surgery.  A nurse will help you during this phase and if necessary provide you with medication to supplement the relief provided by the pain pump and the long-acting local anesthetic that was placed during your surgery.

Most patients begin the recovery process feeling sleepy and become more clear headed as the recovery continues.

There will be sequential compression devices on your legs that give you a calf massage and reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs.

At the end of the first phase of recovery, one of our nurses will transport you in a wheelchair to the luxury hotel where you will spend the first night of your recovery.  This hotel is in the same building as the surgery center, so that there is no need to go outside.

Phase 2 of Recovery

This phase includes the time you spend at the hotel.  All of our full abdominoplasty patients spend the first night in the hotel with a nurse caring for them.  Patients from out of town or those with small children may want to spend several days.  Our team will make the arrangements for you with the hotel and nursing care.

You will walk in your hotel room several times in the afternoon and evening after surgery.  This is the best way to minimize the chance of blood clots in the legs after surgery.

When you are in bed the nurse will help you find the optimum position for comfort.  We have our own sequential compression devices which massage your legs while you are in bed.  The nurse will apply these and help you select food from room service.  The hotel is well-known for the quality of its food.  The nurse will guide you as to proper timing of your medications.  She will also assist you in getting out of bed.

Phase 3 of Recovery

The third phase is the remainder of the first week after surgery.  For most patients a friend or family member will pick you up at the hotel one or two days after surgery.  The nurse will provide instructions for your care at home and review this with you and your caregiver.

It is important to have a friend, family member, or other caregiver available for the first few days after surgery.  They will help you to get up from bed, encourage you to walk about the house, and help with meals.

Your first postoperative visit to our office is usually the third or fourth day after surgery.   You will need a friend or family member to drive you to this visit.  During this visit we will assess your recovery and give further guidance.

We usually remove the tiny catheters from the pain pump device at this time.  If Dr. Cook has placed a drain at the time of your surgery, it will be removed at this visit or at the next visit based on our clinical assessment.  If we remove the drain we usually help you into a support girdle, which you will wear for several weeks.

Phase 4 of Recovery

During the second week after surgery you will be much more mobile.  Many patients are off all medications except for tylenol and a muscle relaxant.  You are encouraged to move about.  You will probably be able to run short errands and are encouraged to take short walks outside, weather permitting.

It is wise to pace yourself and not overdo things during this week.

We will see you in our office at least once during this week to monitor your progress.  If you have children who need to be driven to school and after-school activities it is wise to arrange for a friend to do this.

Phase 5 of Recovery

This phase involves the third week after recovery and beyond.  During this period you will be much more mobile and comfortable.  We encourage mild exercise and discourage heavy exercise during this period.  We will give you specific guidance based on the extent of your surgery and the progress of your recovery.

Most patients return to work at this time, but is is prudent to maintain a light schedule.  If you drive children to school and after-school events you will be able to do so,

We will see you several times during the weeks that make up this phase of your recovery, so that we can provide guidance and optimize your recovery process.