Tummy Tuck a.k.a. Abdominoplasty » Tummy tuck. It’s after hours. Should I have the doctor paged?

Questions after a tummy tuck.  When to have the doctor paged.

This is probably your first time with tummy tuck and you may have a few concerns. Here are some common concerns after surgery. In most cases, these concerns can wait until regular office hours but sometimes it’s best to call the office and have the doctor paged.

Pain:  Tummy tuck is big operation and the first few days after surgery can be pretty tough.  It’s a lot like a C-section recovery but without the screaming newborn baby.  Keep on top of the pain with the pain meds and remember to take the muscle relaxant.  It can help a lot.  Also, ice packs to your tummy can help with break through pain.  Make sure you have a pillow handy to brace your abdomen if you need to sneeze or cough.  Make sure you aren’t doing too much.  Don’t push it and let others take care of you for a change.  Sometimes pain meds need to be adjusted.  This almost always requires an office visit due to new laws regarding controlled substances.  Give the office a call clinic hours to talk with the doctor.  (206) 467-1101.

Swelling: It is normal to have swelling for a couple of weeks after surgery. Swelling often peaks at about 2 days after surgery and then starts getting better. If your swelling has been gradual, it is likely not a serious problem. Have you been over active? If so, get some rest. Cold packs will also likely help. Do your abdominal muscles feel really, really tight? If so, take some of your muscle relaxant and get some rest.

If you have the sudden onset of swelling or if you have the feeling of fluid sloshing round under the skin, this may indicate a build up of blood or fluid. Give the office a call at (206) 467-1101.

Incision issues: It’s normal for incisions to be tender and red for a couple of weeks after surgery. It is also normal for there to be a ridge among the incision. This is called a “healing ridge” and is caused by collagen accumulating as the incision heals. It’s also normal for there to be a little seepage from incisions for the first few days after surgery.

If your incisions are getting more tender and more red as the days pass or if there is persistent drainage, it may indicate a problem. The most causes would be a “spitting stitch” or an allergic reaction to tape or ointment. If there is a rash or blisters around the incision, take off any tape or ointment, wash the area with mild soap and water. If the rash or blisters don’t get better within 24 hours, give the office a call. If there is a tiny opening in the incision and some drainage, it is likely a spitting stitch. Some warm, moist compresses may help. This will likely require an office visit. Call to schedule an appointment during clinic hours. If the tenderness and redness is accompanied by fever or chills, you should have the doctor paged. Call (206) 467-1101.

Problems with drains:  Nobody loves their drains but they are there for a reason.  They help the abdominal skin and fat pad seal down to the deeper muscle layer and also help prevent fluid build up under the skin.  Usually there are two drains.  If one drain does not seem to be working (or if it falls out) but the other one is working, no worries.  They go to the same area and one can take over for the other.  If the drain entrance is really sore, try padding it up with some gauze or apply an ice pad.  I usually remove drains when the output is less than 25 cc per day per drain.  If you are still concerned about your drains, have the doctor paged.  Call (206) 467-1101.

Concerns about your garment:  If the garment is causing a lot of discomfort, try to adjust it.   It’s important for the garment to be nice and smooth.  This may require you unzipping it and adjusting it.  You will likely need some help with this.  Sometimes the skin is really sensitive after surgery. A light cotton t-shirt or camisole under the garment may help. If you just cannot make peace with the garment, it’s probably okay to remove it and switch to something a little more comfortable like a Spanx.  Usually you can kiss that garment good-bye about three weeks after surgery.

Constipation and/or difficulty with urination: please see this page: http://www.sowdermd.com/your-procedure/postoperative-information/

Swelling in your legs:  Generalized swelling is really common after surgery.  You may feel “puffy” all over for a few days.  If it’s just your legs that are swelling and especially is it’s just one leg, you may have a blood clot.  You should have the doctor paged.  Call (206) 467-1101.

Difficulty breathing:  This is a call to 911.  You may have a blood clot in your lungs.  You need to be seen in the Emergency Room immediately.  Once you are in the Emergency Room, have the ER doctor or nurse give me a call.

I hope this helps!