Summary: For many people, the midsection is the place on the body that’s most likely to be the cause for cosmetic concern. Excess abdominal skin, weakened stomach muscles and rogue pockets of fat can really do a number on the stomach’s appearance, and can also impact self-confidence. That’s why every year, hundreds of thousands of men and women choose to have a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, to improve their abdominal contours.

If the most important factor for a successful tummy tuck is choosing the best board-certified plastic surgeon for the job, the second most important factor that contributes is a smooth recovery. If you’re planning to have an abdominoplasty, here are several tummy tuck recovery tips to follow to ensure you experience an optimal experience.

A Healthy Diet Helps You Heal

Having a clear idea of your timeline for tummy tuck recovery can help you be prepared. You’ll likely experience swelling, bruising and tenderness. Although swelling is a normal postoperative result, what you eat and drink can help to reduce your swelling. A low-salt diet keeps you from retaining fluids and prevents the swelling from worsening.

Focus on a protein-rich diet that’s packed with fruits and vegetables so you can give your body the nutritional support it needs to heal.

After a tummy tuck, many people are eager to see their final results. Some people even consider dieting, as a means to perfect their outcome. However, it’s a bad idea to restrict calories or diet during your tummy tuck recovery, because you could be depriving your body of vital nutrients that it requires as it heals. Eat nutritiously to help support an easier tummy tuck recovery.

Don’t Get Backed Up

The combination of anesthesia and prescription pain medication can slow things down in the digestive system and lead to constipation. The more water you drink, the more you help to flush out your system. It’s also a good idea to invest in some stool softener to help encourage bowel movements and keep you comfortable and regular.

Wear Your Compression Garment

It may not be your normal style, but wearing a compression garment can go a long way in helping to alleviate your discomfort. Your plastic surgeon will offer you guidelines about how many hours each day you should wear your supportive garment. A compression garment can also help to manage your swelling.

Enlist Help on the Home Front

It may be cosmetic in nature, but an abdominoplasty is still a fairly extensive surgery. In the initial days following your tummy tuck, your mobility will be a bit challenged. This is when it’s best to enlist the help of loved ones. You can ask friends or family to assist with household tasks, meal preparation and child care. Although your plastic surgeon will tell you that you need to get up and move around the house every few hours in order to promote blood circulation, you’ll need to take it really easy at this point in your recovery.

Easy Does It on the Activities

The amount of time you’ll need off from work can range from 1 to 2 weeks or more, depending upon how physically demanding your job is. Exercise enthusiasts may be chomping at the bit to get back into their workout groove, but it’s important to avoid any activity that strains the abdominal area. Your plastic surgeon will recommend a gradual return to exercise, beginning with gentle walks and then slowly ramping up your activity level so that you’re doing light cardio a month or so after your tummy tuck.