One of the most appealing cosmetic surgeries to women after they’re done having kids is the Mommy Makeover. While our Denver plastic surgeons personalize this combined surgery for each patient, it typically includes a tummy tuck and a breast procedure. Liposuction on an area or 2 is often included in the surgical plan as well. It’s important to know what to expect during recovery from this procedure to plan and have realistic expectations.
Schedule Your Surgery With Recovery In Mind
At a minimum, 2 areas of your body will be in healing mode after Mommy Makeover surgery. The good news is, breast surgery and liposuction most likely won’t add extra time to your recovery, as the tummy tuck is the most intense part of this procedure. With recovery in mind, it is important to pick a surgery date that accounts for your lifestyle, work, travel, and family needs. Think about which activities you cherish. If you enjoy skiing, do not pick a winter surgery time. Choose a date at least 8 to 10 weeks in advance of a big vacation or event. You will want to be fully healed and energized for the event.
Expect Some Discomfort
Tummy tuck and liposuction healing are the most uncomfortable parts of the procedure. Here’s an idea of what to expect:
- Tummy tuck: Abdominal muscle pain can be intense after a tummy tuck as the surgeon tightens those muscles with surgical sutures from top to bottom. It feels like the aftermath of a strenuous abdominal workout mixed with fatigue from anesthesia.
- Liposuction: Pain from liposuction is more of a tender soreness. The liposuction cannula enters in and out of the targeted area several hundred times causing trauma to the underlying skin and fat tissue. The the body’s natural healing response is to swell and bruise, which causes more tenderness.
Help for Pain
Patients are armed with tried and true oral medications to ease the discomfort after surgery. EXPAREL®, a non-narcotic pain medication that is injected into the muscles and tissue during surgery, is often added to the tummy tuck procedure prevent severe muscle soreness. Patients who add EXPAREL to their plan report a 50% reduction in the need for narcotic pain medication. Our surgeons can use a drainless tummy tuck technique, which also reduces discomfort during recovery. Read more in this blog post.
Mommy Makeover patients are given garments to wear post surgery. A 3-panel, Velcro binder is worn around the waist and hips to minimize abdominal swelling for up to 4 weeks post surgery. Breast support is also needed. A comfortable, stretchy sports bra that fastens in the front is worn for up to 3 weeks post surgery. These garments are not in the least bit fashionable, however, you will be glad you have them!
Mommy Makeover Recovery Timeline
While experiences vary with procedures chosen and individual factors, Mommy Makeover recovery generally proceeds as follows:
The first week:
Week 1 is the most extreme part of recovery as your body is in shock from all of the changes that have suddenly occurred. Do not expect to do anything except sleep, eat, and get up for bathroom breaks and small jaunts in your home to keep your blood moving. Walking slightly hunched over is normal during the first week. It is important to have all responsibilities handled before surgery as you won’t remember or have any drive to complete tasks. Have your partner, friends, and kids handle grocery shopping, meals, household chores, etc.
The second week:
Week 2 is much better. Yay, you made it! By now, most patients have weaned off of narcotic medication and transitioned over to Tylenol or ibuprofen for comfort. An occasional Valium is taken at night for muscle soreness and to help with sleep. Once the patient is off of all narcotic pain meds, she may be cleared to drive. Fatigue is normal, as well as residual tenderness and soreness. Small intermittent naps or resting points are needed throughout the second week. It is safe to travel back home for patients having surgery out of town. Patients can work from home comfortably and take slow short walks outside. It is safe to resume sedentary work outside of home at 2 weeks post-op; patients with physical jobs will need 1 or 2 additional weeks. Avoid raising your heart rate for the first 2 weeks. Rest is still very important during this phase.
The third week:
Week 3 can be a mixed bag. Some patients experience added energy and reduced swelling, while others may be healing more slowly. Mental frustration can occur during this stage. You may look normal to the outside world while still feeling tired and slow. Highly active patients can feel frustrated with wanting to get back to “normal” when they can see the horizon; however, the body still needs to take it easy and heal. Some patients can feel emotional or weepy. You may feel exhausted by the end of your work day. It is still important to ask for help around the home. Lean on friends and family, don’t be afraid to ask for support. Expressing your feelings to a good friend is important during this time while your body is less active and your mind is more active.
The fourth week:
By week 4 the abdominal binder is worn intermittently if at all. Swelling is reduced. Increased energy allows you to do more activities. Women buy 1 or 2 new bras and toss the old post surgery sports bra. Bruising from liposuction should be gone by now. Light cardio exercise is safe while paying attention to anything that may feel off; we suggest backing off if pain occurs. Slight swelling at the incision line, especially, the tummy tuck incision is still normal. Patients are fitting back into tighter, pre-surgery clothing. Brain fog is lifted. Travel for work may be resumed.
Weeks 5 and 6:
Patients begin to enjoy their results. All exercise is resumed by week 6. More intense exercise and weight lifting might have to wait until week 8, let discomfort be your guide on this. Most patients feel back to normal emotionally and physically. Swelling is mostly gone. Patients report looking good and buying new clothes to fit their newer, sleek physiques. Incisions are closed, bright pink, and free from steri-strip tape.
Keep in mind, we have described the average healing time and milestones for most Mommy Makeover patients. Pre-existing conditions can cause prolonged healing. Every experience will be slightly different from another. Always check with your surgeon before resuming physical activity. Remind yourself to be patient during the healing process; while it can seem long, healing is always temporary.
To talk about your procedure options and Mommy Makeover recovery, schedule a consultation with one of our plastic surgeons using our online form or give us a call at (720) 279-1926. For inspiration, visit our online photo gallery of Mommy Makeover patients.
Kari White, Patient Counselor