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Post-Pregnancy Body Contouring Recovery: Timeline after Breast and Tummy Surgery

Post-pregnancy body contouring surgery, also known as post-pregnancy reconstruction surgery, is a group of procedures that aims to address body areas affected by pregnancy and childbirth. This can include breast augmentation, breast lift (mastopexy), liposuction, and/or abdominoplasty. If you are considering a post-pregnancy body contouring surgery, there are some important things you need to know to help you in your recovery process.

URGENT UPDATE – The Australian Government has reinstated a Medicare Item Number for abdominoplasty for some post-pregnancy patients suffering from Diastasis Recti (Split Tummy Muscles) if you are eligible and meet the new criteria. This new 30175 Medicare Item Number is effective 1st July 2022. Read the 30175 Medicare Item Number factsheet.

If you qualify for the 30175 Medicare item number, you may also get a subsidy from your Health Fund. There will still be out-of-pocket expenses as abdominoplasty surgery is NOT FREE.

Why is Post-pregnancy Body Contouring Surgery done?

A post-pregnancy body contouring surgery is done to address body changes after childbirth or significant weight fluctuations. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can lead to changes in the size, shape, and firmness of the breasts. Moreover, they can cause excess skin and fat in your abdomen. Significant weight loss after childbirth can also cause stretch marks and sagging skin.

To be a good candidate for the surgery, you must have:

  • Good overall health
  • Realistic expectations
  • A positive outlook
  • A stable body weight

In addition, you should only undergo post-pregnancy body contouring surgery once you are done having children. This is due to the fact that future pregnancy can affect your results. Furthermore, it’s important that you commit to a healthy lifestyle after the surgery, as significant weight gain can also have a negative impact on your results.

Popular Post-pregnancy Body Contouring Surgeries

Having a baby can take a toll on your body – from sagging deflated breasts to a building tummy, and this is where a series of surgical procedures called post-pregnancy body contouring surgery could help.

Body Contouring Surgery

One of the most common and popular post-pregnancy body contouring surgeries is abdominoplasty. This surgery removes the excess skin of the lower abdomen that stretches and sags after childbirth. Since other parts of the body can be affected by this as well, there are additional body lifting and body contouring options that will target the torso as well as the extremities.

Breast Augmentation Surgery

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can lead to changes in the size, shape, and firmness of the breasts. A breast augmentation surgery can increase the size, fullness, and projection of the breasts. This is performed by using implants that are inserted into the breast tissue or chest muscle. Depending on your goals, your post-pregnancy body contouring surgery may include a breast augmentation and breast lift surgery.

Facial Rejuvenation and Non-Surgical Enhancement

The torso and the extremities aren’t the only parts of the body affected by pregnancy. The face can also go through some changes after childbirth. If you want to address these changes,  a facelift (rhytidectomy) and other facial lifting options may reduce loose skin and wrinkle visibility. A neck lift (platysmaplasty) may help address sagging skin and excess fat in your neck. An eyelid surgery can also help remove excess skin, muscle, and fat from the upper and/or lower eyelids. Non-surgical treatments such as dermal fillers and muscle relaxers are also available.

Customised Treatment for Each Patient

Post-pregnancy body contouring surgery can help address the body changes after childbirth or significant weight fluctuations. During your consultation, we’ll discuss all of your options in great detail for you to make informed decisions about the procedure.

Follow your Post-pregnancy Body Contouring Surgery Instructions

To achieve the results, you must adhere to the post-operative instructions provided by your surgeon before you go home. Strictly following these instructions can lower your risk of developing complications like infection, seroma, hematoma, or wound breakdown (See Risks of Surgery).

Post-pregnancy Body Contouring Surgery Recovery Timeline

First 24 Hours

In the first 24 hours, you will likely experience bruising, swelling, and pain around the surgical site. You will feel physical discomfort once the effect of the anaesthesia wears off. However, you can manage these by taking the prescribed oral pain medications and anti-inflammatories. To reduce swelling, you will need to wear a compression garment 23 hours a day. You will likely stay in the hospital overnight for observation.

First Week

Getting plenty of rest during the first week is vital. However, that does not mean you should remain stationary 24/7. In fact, we encourage you to do some light walking around your home to help prevent blood clot formation. We also recommend that someone assist you with wound dressing changes and house chores.

Second Week

By week two post-surgery, you will notice a significant reduction in physical discomfort. The surgical sites may still feel a little sore and tender, but you will be able to perform some house chores and light activities. During this time, it’s important that you listen to your body. You may tire more easily doing such activities, so rest as necessary.

First Month

During this period, you should see and feel a noticeable reduction in post-operative swelling. You’ll start to feel more comfortable, and your energy levels will start to get back to normal.

At this point, your surgeon will allow you to resume moderate exercises since the surgical incisions are fully closed. However, the swelling can take up to a year to fully subside, so you need to be patient.

Post-pregnancy Body Contouring Recovery FAQs

How long does post-pregnancy body contouring recovery take?

  • Generally, the procedure can take between 4-6 hours. That being said, the time depends on what procedures you have, the number of procedures you have, and the condition of your skin.

What is the fastest way to recover from post-pregnancy body contouring surgery?

  • Some tips for faster recovery after post-pregnancy body contouring surgery include:
    • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
    • Don’t lift heavy weights.
    • Have someone drive you home after surgery.
    • Get help around the house for the first week or so.
    • Listen to your body.
    • Make sure you get plenty of rest.
    • Take your medications as directed by your surgeon.
    • Wear your compression garments religiously.
    • And finally, listen to your surgeon.

How long does it take to heal from post-pregnancy body contouring surgery?

  • In most cases, recovery time can range from several weeks to months.
  • This depends on:
    • The extent of your surgery
    • The number of surgical procedures you underwent.
    • How you care for your body after the surgery.

How long before the swelling goes down after an abdominoplasty?

  • Almost 80% of the swelling will disappear during the first 2 months. However, you may experience some residual swelling for several months.
  • To reduce swelling, you will need to wear your compression garments religiously.

How long does it take to recover from an abdominoplasty?

  • The recovery from this procedure commonly takes around eight weeks. Of course, this will depend on the degree of skin sagging, the type of abdominoplasty you had, and how well you adhere to the postoperative instructions.

What are the restrictions after post-pregnancy body contouring surgery?

To achieve optimal results and prevent complications after the procedure:

  • Avoid heavy workout routines for six weeks.
  • Don’t swim for three weeks.
  • Don’t smoke and drink alcohol for at least two weeks after the surgery.

When can I return to work after post-pregnancy body contouring surgery?

  • This will depend on the nature of your job. If you have an office job, you will likely return to work after resting for two weeks.
  • For jobs that are more tiring or physically demanding, you will need to take a few more weeks off to recover.

How do you sleep after post-pregnancy body contouring surgery?

  • Both breast augmentation and abdominoplasty will require you to sleep with your upper half elevated.
  • In the first few days, you will need to sleep in a recliner with your compression garments on.

How do you prepare for post-pregnancy body contouring surgery?

  • To prepare for the surgery;
    • Organise your home. If your home is tidy, you will feel more relaxed during your recovery.
    • Doing some meal prep before your surgery can help take the pressure off and ensure you eat healthy during the initial days at home.
    • Arrange for someone to stay with you during your first week at home.
    • Have someone to drive you home after the surgery.
    • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation.
    • Inform your surgeon about any medications you are taking (aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal supplements can increase your risk of bleeding).
    • Set up a recovery area at home.
    • Stop smoking.

How long does post-surgery fatigue last?

  • Post-surgery fatigue will normally subside after a few days.
  • As you recover, you will notice that you can engage in some light activities.

Will I develop scars after post-pregnancy body contouring surgery?

  • Scarring is part of any surgery.
  • However, surgical scars associated with the procedure lighten over time.
  • To reduce the visibility of the scars, your surgeon will ensure that the incisions are in the natural folds of your skin, where possible.
  • In addition, you will also receive specific postoperative instructions from your surgeon regarding proper wound care and how to manage scarring.

Can you combine post-pregnancy body contouring surgery with other surgical procedures?

  • In most cases, post-pregnancy body contouring surgery is performed along with other surgical procedures to achieve better and long-lasting results.
  • During your initial consultation with your surgeon, you will receive recommendations regarding which procedures will best suit your body type, lifestyle, and cosmetic goals.

Medical Benefits of Post-pregnancy Body Contouring Surgery

Improves Quality of Life

A post-pregnancy body contouring surgery can include different cosmetic procedures such as breast augmentation, breast lift, liposuction, and/or abdominoplasty. An overwhelming body of clinical evidence suggests that post-pregnancy body contouring surgery can significantly improve your quality of life.

A study assessed the magnitude of the effect of cosmetic breast augmentation on patient satisfaction and health-related quality of life. [1] A total of 41 patients were included, and they were instructed to answer the BREAST-Q Augmentation module both before and after augmentation. Results showed significant improvements in breast satisfaction, psychosocial well-being, and sexual functioning after the surgery.

Different studies assessing the effect of breast lift on quality of life were evaluated. [2] This included 13 patient satisfaction surveys on the effect of the procedure on the degree of breast sagging, breast symmetry, scar quality, and nipple/areola size. Significant improvements in the overall breast appearance and quality of life were found.

A study evaluated the effects of aesthetic liposuction among 64 patients. [3] The subjects answered a set of questionnaires assessing life satisfaction and self-esteem before and after the surgery. Significant improvements in health, body image, and life, in general, were found.

A study assessed the quality of life, self-esteem, and emotional stability of patients who had an abdominoplasty. [4] In this study, the subjects were instructed to answer a questionnaire and standardised self-assessment test on satisfaction and quality of life. Researchers observed significantly increased values in the area of quality of life as well as patient satisfaction.

Improves Body Posture

Studies also suggest that surgical procedures involved in post-pregnancy body contouring surgery can help improve body posture.

A group of patients with small breast size who underwent breast augmentation were enrolled in a study. [5] The posture of the subjects was evaluated before and 1, 4, and 12 months after surgery. Researchers observed that one year after surgery, the positioning of the head and pelvis of the subjects had significantly improved.

A study evaluated the effects of abdominoplasty on vertebral-column angles and the psychological status of a group of women. [6] Preoperatively and six months postoperatively, the subjects underwent a radiographic test to assess the thoracic and lumbar regions. They also answered questionnaires assessing physical, psychological, and quality-of-life changes following surgery. Researchers reported that the subjects had improvements in vertebral-column angles following the surgery.

Medical References about Post-pregnancy Body Contouring Surgery Recovery:

  • McCarthy CM, Cano SJ, Klassen AF, Scott A, Van Laeken N, Lennox PA, Cordeiro PG, Pusic AL. The magnitude of effect of cosmetic breast augmentation on patient satisfaction and health-related quality of life. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012 Jul;130(1):218-223. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e318254b3bc. PMID: 22743886. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Spear SL, Pelletiere CV, Menon N. One-stage augmentation combined with mastopexy: aesthetic results and patient satisfaction. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2004 Sep-Oct;28(5):259-67. doi: 10.1007/s00266-004-0032-6. Epub 2004 Nov 5. PMID: 15529204. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Papadopulos NA, Kolassa MJ, Henrich G, Herschbach P, Kovacs L, Machens HG, Klöppel M. Quality of life following aesthetic liposuction: A prospective outcome study. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2019 Aug;72(8):1363-1372. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2019.04.008. Epub 2019 Apr 19. PMID: 31079946. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Papadopulos NA, Staffler V, Mirceva V, Henrich G, Papadopoulos ON, Kovacs L, Herschbach P, Machens HG, Biemer E. Does abdominoplasty have a positive influence on quality of life, self-esteem, and emotional stability? Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012 Jun;129(6):957e-962e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31824ecc2b. PMID: 22634693. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.
  • Mazzocchi M, Dessy LA, Iodice P, Saggini R, Scuderi N. A study of postural changes after breast augmentation. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2012 Jun;36(3):570-7. doi: 10.1007/s00266-011-9841-6. Epub 2011 Nov 16. PMID: 22083412. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.

Temel M, Türkmen A, Berberoğlu Ö. Improvements in Vertebral-Column Angles and Psychological Metrics After Abdominoplasty With Rectus Plication. AesthetSurg J. 2016 May;36(5):577-87. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjv257. Epub 2016 Jan 12. PMID: 26764262. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine PubMed.

Specialist Plastic Surgeons and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Broughton Snell
Dr Stephen Kleid
Dr Gary Kode

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001124843

Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Hawthorn East, Melbourne. With over 20 years of surgical experience especially in all areas of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, but particularly in breast surgery. These include Breast Augmentation and Breast Reduction as well as Breast Surgery Revision.

Furthermore, he believes that surgical customisation, precision planning and technical expertise help him to provide optimal surgical outcomes for his patients.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001190266

Dr Broughton Snell

Dr Broughton Snell is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His training in Plastic Surgery took place in Australia and the United States of America (USA).

Dr Snell is a fully qualified specialist plastic surgeon having completed his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon MED0001052799

Dr Stephen Kleid

Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Septo-rhinoplasty, Septoplasty, as well as, a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.

Dr Kleid trained at Melbourne University, then completed surgical training at various hospitals including Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, The Eye and Ear and St Vincents. He worked as a surgeon at the University of Florida Medical school for further experience.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001405964

Dr Gary Kode

Dr Gary Kode is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, with experience in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as non-surgical treatments.

Dr Kode is a member of several organisations, including the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), The International Confederation for Plastic and Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, and he holds a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday - Friday.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.

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