Planning Your Post-Abdominoplasty Surgery (Tummy Tuck) Hospital Stay

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Dr Bernard Beldholm

A post-abdominoplasty overnight hospital stay gives the patient ample time to rest while giving the body the best chance for a successful recovery. With the help of nurses, medical personnel, and medication only available while in the hospital, patients can get all the professional help they need before heading home.

The intensity of a tummy tuck qualifies it as a major surgery, making it difficult and dangerous for patients to go home immediately after the procedure. At times, however, mini tummy tuck patients can go home the same day. Either way, the abdominoplasty journey does not end after the surgery.

Recovering from abdominoplasty surgery | beldholm.com.au
Recovering from abdominoplasty surgery | beldholm.com.au

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In my practice, I require my abdominoplasty patients to stay a minimum of one night in the hospital. Depending on the extent of the tummy tuck surgery, your hospital stay can be anywhere from one night to seven days. In this article, I will share my expert tips and advice that will help you prepare for your overnight hospital stay.

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Preparing for Abdominoplasty

Abdominoplasty is a major surgery that requires pre-operative and post-operative care. Before proceeding with your tummy tuck procedure, I’ll ensure that you’re fully prepared, and know what to expect. It’s crucial that we have a consultation session and discuss the measures you can take to avoid complications during or after surgery.

For a successful surgery, I advise patients to undergo an abdominoplasty only if they have achieved stable body weight, are maintaining a proper diet, and are making healthy lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol and nicotine. Additionally, substance abuse before or immediately after your surgery slows down the healing process or leads to further complications.

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Anticipated Outcomes Following Abdominoplasty 

After your abdominoplasty, it is essential to remain vigilant and watch out for any signs of complications, particularly around your incisional wound from your abdominal surgery. You should monitor your pain levels, the degree of swelling, and the drainage tubes (if placed) and be prepared to report any excessive pain, swelling, or other concerns to me immediately.

You should expect some discomfort for the first few days after surgery, including:

  • Swelling and bruising in the belly area

  • Pain at the incision site

  • Numbness in the treated area

  • Limited mobility

  • Stretching sensation from tightened excess skin

  • Tugging sensation in the lower abdomen

In rare cases, complications arise following abdominoplasty.

Hospital stay to reduce the risk of complications following tummy tuck surgery

Post-Abdominoplasty Complications

When preparing for your abdominoplasty surgery, it is vital to be aware of any potential complications and how to handle them. A study by PubMed states that “[t]he complications resulting from a tummy tuck could range from minor to serious and can affect the final appearance of the tummy.”

Abdominoplasty is a low-risk surgery, but the following complications are possible.

Wound Infection

Wound infections occur when the incision site is contaminated. Infection can manifest through swelling, redness, or the appearance of discharge. Wound infection is treated with antibiotics to prevent the development of related issues and speed up the tummy tuck recovery. Soft massage will also help reduce swelling around the abdominal muscles during your hospital stay.

Haematomas

A haematoma is the collection of blood outside the blood vessels. During major surgeries like abdominoplasty, blood vessels may be damaged when addressing the fatty tissue, causing blood to leak and collect in the surrounding tissues. Small haematomas can go away on their own, but larger ones have to be drained by a professional.

Seromas

Seromas are fluid buildup that forms two to four weeks after surgery. They can be caused by tissue dissection, which destroys the normal drainage system on the surgical site. Accumulation of this fluid (seroma) causes discomfort and pain. If not addressed in the early stages, seroma can disrupt the normal healing process.

Indications of Postoperative Complications 

It’s imperative to note changes that occur around the incision site after the abdominoplasty surgery and to inform me of these changes immediately so I can make a timely assessment and get you the help you need to avoid further complications. The most common signs of complications are excessive swelling, increased pain that doesn’t go away with prescribed medication, and changes in drainage colour.

Doctor Beldholm taking a medical history
Doctor Beldholm taking a medical history

Download our short guide: “Preparing for your Abdominoplasty Surgery Checklist”

Preparing for your Tummy Tuck Surgery

Preparing for Your Hospital Stay

If you are fearful or apprehensive about the hospital stay, you’re certainly not alone. Many of my patients admit to being scared of sleeping in the hospital overnight.  However, it is risky to go home immediately after your surgery as complications like a reopening of the wound or site infection could arise. In the hospital, you have a whole team of medical personnel, including myself,  available 24/7 to attend to your needs. We are available to answer all of your post-operative questions and address concerns while offering maximum comfort and care in a relaxing environment. 

While there is no specific amount of time that my patients are required to stay in the hospital, the duration of your hospital stay will depend on several factors, such as the complexity of your abdominoplasty, complications, and any side effects noted during surgery. 

Close monitoring is most important on the first day after surgery as the effects of the anaesthesia wear off.

While the length of the stay varies, I advise my patients to plan to spend a minimum of 2 days in the hospital.

30 Belmore Rd, Lorn NSW AUSTRALIA | Dr Beldholm's office
30 Belmore Rd, Lorn NSW AUSTRALIA | Dr Beldholm’s office

Carving Out Time to Recover After Abdominoplasty Surgery

The hospital offers a comfortable place for patients to recover and rest. Many patients, however, are in such a hurry to go home because they are worried about work, kids, pets, and chores that they can’t relax and focus on their recovery. 

Because it’s so important to take this brief time off from the every day, I advise patients for whom the pressures and responsibilities of home or work would cause undue stress and anxiety to wait until things are more settled before contemplating such major surgery. 

Remember, even after you are released from the hospital, you still won’t be able to return to your normal routine for some time, so it’s critical to be able to carve out a recovery period before scheduling your abdominoplasty. 

According to PubMed, “[i]ncreasing the duration of postoperative immobilisation up to 45 hours after abdominoplasty significantly decreases the re-operation rate in our practice.”

“The risk for a surgical revision is nearly four times higher if the patient leaves bed earlier.”

Benefits of Staying in the Hospital After Abdominoplasty

24/7 Assistance by Medical Staff

A significant surgery like abdominoplasty leaves patients vulnerable and unable to do simple tasks like walking or using the toilet properly. Instead of relying on family or friends to help you with mundane tasks, a team of hospital medical professionals, trained to ensure maximum comfort, are available around the clock, ready to help.

Dealing With Pain  After an Abdominoplasty

Significant pain is unavoidable due to the invasive nature of the tummy tuck procedure. At the hospital, equipment and medication are readily available to provide you with pain relief. Managing post-operative pain and discomfort is much easier and more effective when you stay overnight in the hospital.

Professional Monitoring by A Medical Team

Post-operative complications can happen in the early days of recovery. During your hospital stay, I’ll regularly monitor your health, and in case complications develop, I will address them immediately.

Timely Emergency Response

During early recovery, it is essential to deal with emergent complications in a timely manner. Even if you have made arrangements for friends and family to take care of you, they may not be with you around the clock. This is why I stress the importance of a post-abdominoplasty hospital stay. If blood clots goes unnoticed, for example, it can cause deep vein thrombosis in a bed-rest patient.  

Recuperating at Home

Most people find the hospital environment to be frightening, boring, and depressing. And because of the constant monitoring of vitals, most patients have a tough time getting a good night’s rest. 

After the first few nights, I will do a final assessment and, as long as it is no longer medically necessary, will discharge you so you can recover in the comfort of your own home.

Recommendations For Optimal Recovery

During our pre-surgery consultation sessions, I will give you guidelines and instructions to follow when you get home. The success during this stage of recovery depends entirely on your efforts and dedication to following all the tips and advice given.

Though the team and I are available over the phone, because you will be basically in charge of your own recovery once you return home, there are several instructions to follow carefully. 

Light Exercise to Increase Blood Flow

Exercise is the best way to increase blood flow in the body. After your abdominoplasty surgery, you should do mild exercises like walking. Exercise improves blood circulation, which speeds up the healing process, but I advise you to avoid strenuous exercise until you’re stable. Gradually adapt to your exercise routine and avoid vigorous exercise until you’re ready.

Ample Rest is Vital

It is essential for a successful recovery to get plenty of rest during your recovery at home. Before your tummy tuck, you should arrange to have help with child and pet care, chores, and schedule an adequate amount of time off from work.   Additionally, you should avoid strenuous activities like sexual intercourse, exercising, and driving.

Follow  Wound Care Guidelines

Caring for the incision site is the most challenging part of the at-home post-operative journey. You should observe the surgical site keenly and watch out for changes in the remaining skin colour around that area. Any concerning changes should be brought to my immediate attention for prompt treatment.

Your wound dressing should always be dry and clean to prevent infection of the surgical site. Wound infection can alter the aesthetic appearance of a scar, leading to less satisfying results.   

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Dr. Bernard’s Final Thoughts

After surgery, I will assess your incision and overall condition before recommending the length of your hospital stay. An overnight hospital stay after abdominoplasty surgery offers round-the-clock professional assistance and emergency medical response. With close monitoring, the likelihood  of complications is reduced. 

A post-abdominoplasty overnight hospital stay will give you ample time to rest and relax, away from the day-to-day responsibilities of home and work life. With the help of nurses, myself, and medication, only available while in the hospital, you’ll be able to get all the professional help you need before heading home.

While cost considerations are an important aspect of your surgery journey, it’s highly important not to skimp when it comes to your hospital stay. It’s simply not worth risking your life or aesthetic appearance trying to save a few bucks. 

Every patient has their own personal preferences and specific needs after their abdominoplasty surgery, and some patients need more monitoring than others.

But the one thing all patients have in common is that resting in a monitored environment is the best way to get a head start on your recovery journey.

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FAQs

The following are some of the frequently asked questions by my patients.

Is Bed Rest Necessary After an Abdominoplasty Surgery?

Bed rest is healthy for postoperative patients. You should ease yourself back into your old routine slowly and without pressure. Remember that your body will heal itself if you follow my advice and do the appropriate exercises. Keep in mind that you will start feeling better within the first 1-2 weeks post surgery.

Resources

  1. Vernier-Mosca, M., Pluvy, I., Bayti, T., Louvrier, A., & Andreoletti, J. B. (2021). Abdominoplasties : faut-il encore les drainer en 2021 ? [Abdominoplasties: Do we still need to drain in 2021?]. Annales de chirurgie plastique et esthétique, 66(4), 305–313. 

  2. Vidal, P., Berner, J. E., & Will, P. A. (2017). Managing Complications in Abdominoplasty: A Literature Review. Archives of plastic surgery, 44(5), 457–468. 

  3. Schwaiger, K., Tiede, S., Hitzl, W., Kaplan, R., DeMeyer, F., Heinrich, K., Hladik, M., Wechselberger, G., & Russe, E. (2018). Minimising the Short-term Reoperation Rate in Abdominoplasty Procedures by Prolonged Postoperative Immobilization. Obesity surgery, 28(10), 3253–3258.

  4. Chattar-Cora, D., Okoro, S. A., & Barone, C. M. (2008). Abdominoplasty can be performed successfully as an outpatient procedure with minimal morbidity. Annals of plastic surgery, 60(4), 349–352. 

  5. Dina Jarjis, R., Thomas Crewe, B., & Henrik Matzen, S. (2016). Post-bariatric abdominoplasty resulting in wound infection and dehiscence-Conservative treatment with medical grade honey: A case report and review of the literature. International journal of surgery case reports, 20, 1–3. 

  6. Omar, A., Medhat., Dalal Al., Anoud Al Q., Aysha Al N., Ibrahim Al M., Dalia Medhat H., Shamsa A., (2023) “Clinical Outcome of Abdominoplasty Cases—A Five-Year Retrospective Study” Modern Plastic Surgery, Vol.13 No.1, January 2023 Jamie I Spiegelman; Ronald H Levine (2006) “Abdominoplasty: a comparison of outpatient and inpatient procedures shows that it is a safe and effective procedure for outpatients in an office-based surgery clinic” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2006 Aug

  7. Sarah K N., (2022) “Factors Affecting Patient Satisfaction Following Abdominoplasty” [Thesis] [University of Nairobi, Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS)]

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This website contains adult content. You must be 18 years or over to read. All surgery carries risks. You should seek a second opinion before proceeding. Results vary from patient to patient. See our disclaimer.
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