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Dissecting the Mommy Makeover recovery week by week

One of the most appealing cosmetic surgeries to women after they’re done having kids is the Mommy Makeover. Mommy Makeover surgery includes tummy tuck and a breast surgery. An area or two of liposuction is often added onto the surgery plan as well. At minimum, two areas of your body are in healing mode. The good news is, the additional breast surgery or liposuction most likely won’t add extra healing time to your recovery, as the tummy tuck is the most intense part of this procedure. It is important to pick a surgery date based upon 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- 10 weeks in advance of a big vacation or event. You will want to be fully healed and energized for the event.

Tummy tuck and liposuction healing are the most uncomfortable. The abdominal muscle pain can be intense after 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. 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. 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.

Mommy Makeover patients are given garments to wear post surgery. A three panel, velcro binder is worn around the waist and hips for reducing abdominal swelling for up to four weeks post surgery. Breast support is also needed. A comfortable, stretchy sports bra that fastens in the front is worn for up to three weeks post surgery. These garments are not in the least fashionable, however, you will be glad you have them!

The first week:
Week one 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, get up for bathroom breaks and small jaunts in your home to keep 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 two is much better. Yay, you made it! Phew…By now, most patients have weaned off of narcotic medication. Patients transition 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 can 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 if having surgery out of town. Patients can work from home comfortably and take slow small walks outside. It is safe to resume sedentary work outside of home at two weeks post op. One or two additional weeks will be need if the job is physical. Patients are not allowed to raise their heart rates prior to two weeks. Rest is still very important during this phase.

The third week:
Week three 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. The patient looks normal to the outside world however, they may still feel 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. 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 mind more active.

The fourth week:
Travel for work is resumed. By week four the abdominal binder is worn intermittently if at all. Swelling is reduced. Increased energy alloy you to do more activities. Women buy one or two 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 to back of 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.

Weeks five and six:
Patients begin to enjoy their results. All exercise is resumed by week six. More intense exercise and weight lifting might have to wait until week 8, you will 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. All steri strip tape is off of incisions. Incisions are closed and bright pink.

Keep in mind, each paragraph states 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.

Kari White, Patient Counselor

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