How to Sleep After Abdominoplasty

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How to Sleep After Abdominoplasty – Tips for Sleeping After Tummy Surgery

Abdominoplasty, or as its more commonly known a “tummy tuck”, is an aesthetic cosmetic surgical procedure that’s been increasing in popularity for both women and men, especially after massive weight loss or pregnancy. A tummy tuck aims to get rid of that excess skin and pesky belly fat, for a flat and firm midsection. This will make you feel more comfortable and confident with your body image, as well as dramatically change the way you look and fit in clothing.

Abdominoplasty, like many other cosmetic procedures, is a major surgical intervention. It involves wide-ranging corrections done to your abdominal area and requires a long period of recovery to ensure the best possible outcome. Having enough sleep is a crucial part of faster healing after tummy tuck and should be taken seriously. Unfortunately, many women and men find trouble sleeping after abdominoplasty, especially in the first few weeks. This article sheds light on abdominoplasty, its recovery process, and how having proper sleep in the right position is an integral part of any tummy tuck procedure.

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery- Sleeping Better After surgery

What Is Abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure done to tone, tighten and reshape your abdomen. It gives you a slimmer more aesthetically pleasing appearance. There are many variations to the standard tummy tuck procedure, including; mini-abdominoplasty, extended tummy tuck (fleur-de-lis tummy tuck), and lipo-abdominoplasty. Your plastic surgeon will help you choose the type of tummy tuck that fits your body and desires best. Any variation of abdominoplasty can create a natural-appearing look with minimal scarring when done by a skilled surgeon. You should consider undergoing an  abdominoplasty if you:

  • Diet and exercise consistently, but your abdomen still lacks tone.
  • Are not planning on having more children, and your abdominal muscles and skin feel stretched and saggy.
  • Have lost a lot of weight, and your excess skin now pools around your abdomen (fat apron)
  • Find that your ageing or genetics have given you a bulging belly, despite being in good shape and form

During a tummy tuck procedure, your abdominal muscles are tightened, and any excess skin and fat are removed. This leaves you with a flatter and better-toned abdomen and an overall harmonious body contour. However, this transformative procedure involves heavy manipulation of your abdominal muscles and tissue, requiring an extensive recovery process for your body to fully heal.

Download Our Tummy Tuck Guide

Tummy Tuck Guide Download

What to Expect During Recovery After Abdominoplasty?

Most tummy tucks are performed as outpatient procedures. In other words, you can be discharged by your care team a few hours after your surgery. Your plastic surgeon may keep you in hospital overnight for monitoring if you have a more extensive abdominoplasty.

In the first week, you will experience moderate pain, but nothing that can’t be controlled by pain medication. You may also notice some bruising and swelling at your abdominoplasty surgical site, this is quite normal as well. Drains can be left for several days in your incision sites to help prevent fluid accumulation. Your plastic surgeon will show you how to empty them and prescribe you antibiotics to prevent possible infection. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled to remove any drains or remaining tummy tuck sutures approximately one week after your surgery.

The first two weeks to a month after your tummy tuck, you can expect to feel sore and a little uncomfortable. Make sure to take some time off from work and daily activities to rest quietly at home. Recovery after an abdominoplasty can be difficult. You will need to avoid any position that might cause strain on your incision lines, even during your sleep. It’s important you follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions on how to sleep comfortably and properly after your abdominoplasty.

Download Our Recovery After Plastic Surgery Guide

Recovering After Plastic Surgery Download

Why Is Sleep Important After Abdominoplasty?

get good sleep after surgery

Sleep is a key element in any cosmetic surgery success. You need to be able to sleep well to fully recover from your tummy tuck procedure. One night of poor sleep is unlikely to have any negative impact on your ability to heal. However, when it becomes a habit, problems can start to creep in and this can delay your recovery. You should aim to sleep seven to nine hours a night to replenish lost energy and be able to bounce back from your injuries.

During these hours of sleep, your abdominal muscles and tissues blow flow increases, this, in turn, increases oxygen and nutrients. This helps you recover and repair any damaged tissue post tummy tuck, as well as regenerate new cells. Moreover, as you enter deeper stages of sleep, your brain will release growth hormones that stimulate the growth and repair of your fragile abdominal muscles. Other released hormones can regulate inflammation. A decrease in inflammation can help reduce both pain and swelling that are typically at their peak in the days following your abdominoplasty.

Having enough sleep can help achieve a beautiful and natural-looking midsection, finishing off the job your plastic surgeon started. But the position you sleep in after your tummy tuck is no less important and has a remarkable effect on the quality of your final result as well as the rate of your recovery.

How to Sleep Better Recovery After Abdominoplasty? general anesthesia recovery after surgery

Tummy tucks can affect the way you stand, sit, and most importantly sleep. Not being able to sleep comfortably is one of the main challenges that patients face after abdominoplasty. Sleeping in the wrong position can compromise your tummy tuck results and prevent you from getting well-needed rest to heal. Follow these recommendations and tips to sleep better after your tummy tuck;

Get a head start

If you tend to sleep on your side or sleep flat on your tummy, sleeping on your back may feel unnatural to you. We advise you to practice sleeping on your back a week or so before your surgery. This helps you transition easier to your new sleeping position after your tummy tuck surgery, ensuring you get enough sleep.

Use a Recliner

During your tummy tuck surgery, your plastic surgeon will perform a long horizontal incision between your hip bone and pubic area to remove excess fat and skin. They will then stitch your abdomen back up in a tight thin line. As a result, it is recommended that during the first two to four weeks following your abdominoplasty that you sleep in a slightly bent and elevated position to prevent any unnecessary strain on your taught stitches.

If you don’t have a recliner, buying one can be an expensive, however, worthwhile investment. It provides you with a comfortable and safe way to keep your body in the ideal bent and elevated position without the risk of tossing and turning, which can damage your stitches.

Use extra pillows

For a more affordable option, you can always modify your bed with extra pillows. Make a raised-up section that can support your upper body. It’s a simple solution to sleep comfortably after abdominoplasty, but it’s not without its disadvantages. You can still toss and turn when only propped on pillows, which can also easily slip from your back, ruining your bent posture. This can cause your tummy tuck incisions to stretch and reopen.

Getting in and out of bed/chairs

Due to the nature and location of your stitches after abdominoplasty, you should always try to remain in a bent position in the weeks following the procedure. This will not only alleviate the pressure off your incisional lines but also help reduce scarring. To get into a recliner or bed, sit on the edge with your knees facing outward, and try to maintain a flexed core before swinging your legs in front of you and onto the recliner/bed. You can then finally lower your torso down gently.

To get out of bed, you should still maintain a flexed position while rolling on your side. Use your hands to push yourself lightly back into a seated position then rock forward and use your leg muscles to finally stand up.

Wear Compression Garments

After your abdominoplasty, your plastic surgeon will ask you to wear a supportive abdominal garment for about six weeks. There are many types of compression garments, from binders to girdles, all to be worn during both day and night. Wearing your compression clothing, while may prevent you from sleeping well, will help prevent fluid from building up inside your tissues. The compression garments also help reduce swelling and provide support to your abdomen while you heal. Find out more about the Benefits of Wearing a Compression Garment.

Establish a sleeping routine

Having a consistent sleeping schedule is a great way to enjoy a goodnight’s sleep during recovery after abdominoplasty. Fatigue, bruising, swelling, and heightened emotions following a tummy tuck can make sleeping difficult. Having a fixed sleeping schedule as part of your routine can help train your mind and body to ease into sleep mode. Other things like warm showers in the evening, diffusing essential oils, setting your electronic screens aside, and avoiding sleep disruptors like caffeine can also help you sleep better.

Take your pain medication

In the first week or so, you should expect significant levels of inflammation. Unfortunately, inflammation increases pain levels. This can be particularly felt at night when your mind is idle. Your plastic surgeon will prescribe you pain medication to relieve your discomfort and help you sleep better.

Consult your doctor or plastic surgeon

Never hesitate to contact your plastic surgeon anytime following your abdominoplasty. They have experience helping patients sleep comfortably after a tummy tuck and can give you other options to improve your sleep during your recovery period. If all else fails, sleeping pills can sometimes be prescribed.

What to Expect During Your First Consultation with a Plastic Surgeon

Other FAQs about sleeping after Abdominoplasty:

Is it normal to have trouble sleeping after abdominoplasty?

  • Yes, it is. Poor sleep is a common complaint after a tummy tuck surgery. Many factors causing this come to play, like anaesthesia, narcotic use, pain, heightened emotions, and changing of preferred sleeping position.

How long should you sleep in a recliner after a tummy tuck?

  • This depends on the type of abdominoplasty procedure done. Mini abdominoplasty requires 1 to 3 weeks of sleeping in a reclined position. While extended tummy tuck takes about 4 to 6 weeks.

How many days after a tummy tuck can I stand up straight?

  • Your body will instinctively adopt a slightly bent-over position when walking for the first time after abdominoplasty. It takes a week or so to be able to fully stand up straight without causing strain on your incision lines.

How do you get out of bed after an abdominoplasty?

  • While maintaining a semi-flexed position, roll over on your side so that your legs are on the edge of your bed.
  • Then, use your hands to gently prop yourself into a seated position.
  • Rock your body forward, and use your leg muscles to help you stand.

Can I take sleeping pills after a tummy tuck?

  • If all else fails, your plastic surgeon may prescribe you a sleeping aid to help you sleep better in the first two weeks following your abdominoplasty surgery.
  • Always consult your plastic surgeon before taking any medication.

Further Reading and Medical Sources:

Last updated: 12/04/2021
Author profile image
Dr Craig Rubinstein - MBBS, FRACS (Plast)
Dr Craig Rubinstein MBBS, FRACS (Plast), a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, is one of Australia's most respected Melbourne Surgeons for Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift (Mastopexy), Breast Reduction surgery and Abdominoplasty procedures. Using advanced surgical techniques to gain better body contouring and natural-looking surgical results, Dr Rubinstein is highly regarded by peers and patients for best-practice Clinic Patient-care and patient education strategies. He published a chapter on corrective surgery for Breast Asymmetry. Qualifications/Training Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The Australian Medical Association (AMA) American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS) Founder: Cosmetic Surgery for Women and Men - Plastic Surgeons Group Bio Page: https://cocorubyplasticsurgery.com.au/dr-craig-rubinstein-plastic-surgeon/