Abdominoplasty / Mini-abdominoplasty – Post-operative period

Post-operative recuperation is considered to be an integral part of surgery as the achievement of the expected results, as well as the success of the operation, depend on it. Therefore, post-operative visits play a pivotal role in the healing process, as they allow the early detection and treatment of complications. They are usually held at 7, 14, 28 days, 3, 6 and 12 months post-op.

Upon discharge, a letter with post-operative instructions will be provided; medication prescribed (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, pain-killers); and any necessary precautions will be clearly described.

In the days following the operation it is preferable to follow a light diet, until normal bowel function is resumed.

Good personal hygiene is crucial for proper healing and to avoid wound infection. In light of this, the surgeon will provide clear instructions for wound management. For example, two weeks after the surgery wounds must not be wetted. Dissolvable sutures are usually used, so there is no need for stitch removal.

After surgery, especially if liposuction was performed, bruises may appear which may take around two weeks to recede. Swelling is more or less evident according to personal predisposition and the extent of the procedure. Swelling subsides significantly in the first two weeks post-op, but may persist for months afterwards. It may be more apparent on one side. It is normal to experience some numbness on the abdominal wall for a few months after the surgery.

In order to prevent swelling and accelerate resorption, it is essential to wear a compression garment, day and night for two months. Attention must be paid to the correct application of this garment, as it must be adjusted and adequately fitted in order to provide even and homogeneous pressure, without causing grooves or indentations. Additionally, the abdominal compression garment has the important function of containing the musculature, which is reinforced and tightened in most abdominoplasties. In this way sutures in the muscle are not stretched or torn.

In the first month post-operation, patients must sleep on their backs and not on their sides, with the back slightly elevated to prevent any twists. The outer compression will offer protection from involuntary stress, such as coughing or sneezing.

In the following months, post-operation swelling is expected above the scar – this will gradually be resorbed. From the second month, once site tenderness has completely gone, lymphatic drainage massage and LPG endermologie (a technique for massage and tissue stimulation) help to eliminate swelling and dissolve subcutaneous lumps, which can form after liposculpture.

Post-operation, patients are unfit for work for three weeks.  If prolonged or considerable physical exertion is required, a longer rest period is necessary.  Normal activities such as driving, house-work, sexual intercourse and socialising can be resumed after two weeks. Mild exercise may be resumed after three weeks, but for more intense exercise, it is preferable to wait at least three months.

Abdominal contouring procedures result in extended scars. In order to achieve the best results in terms of scar quality and hence visibility, it is advisable to apply paper tape to scars for three months, replacing them every 10 days. In this way, tension on scars, which may cause scar widening, is reduced.  Afterwards, silicone gel should be applied for a few months, to facilitate optimal scarring. Sunscreens must be applied to the scars for at least three months and elasticising creams are prescribed for application on the abdomen.

During post-op visits, starting from the first month, photographs are taken to monitor progress.