Marking stomach with marker

One of the most frustrating things after a tummy tuck is the “swelly belly”.  If you are struggling, you need to know how to reduce swelling after surgery safely and easily.  From simply resting to the right supplements, swelling doesn’t have to rule your life.  Below you’ll find some tried and true methods for helping relieve the discomfort of swelling after you have abdominal surgery.

How to Reduce Swelling After Surgery

One thing that is a given after abdominal surgery is that you will have some swelling.  With any tummy tuck surgery, you will find that this is rather significant.  It can last for a considerable amount of time.  While this may add discomfort, there are a few ways to reduce swelling after surgery that are safe, even after a tummy tuck.

Remember, that no matter what is suggested, it is important that you follow your doctor’s orders.  Not every suggestion works for every body type, so be prepared to try multiple methods to reduce inflammation and swelling.

What Causes Swelling After Surgery? 

With an abdominoplasty surgery, the swelling is primarily caused by the invasive procedure itself.  Cutting your muscles apart and separating them from the fat and skin of your abdomen causes significant trauma.  If you add in the process of liposuction or even excess skin removal, you will find even more swelling happens.

Excessive trauma to your body will cause it to swell.  Swelling is your body’s reaction to the trauma and while it is uncomfortable, it is part of the healing process.  In most cases, it can be referred to as something similar to an internal bruise.  It looks and feels bad, but isn’t a concerning part of your recovery.

Note:  Depending on the type of surgery you have, there are some instances when swelling is also related to the air they use to help open your body up to make exploration easier.  This is usually the case with more invasive procedures that go inside the abdominal cavity and deal with more than the exterior superficial fat and skin.

Make Sure You Get Plenty of Rest

This is one of the best ways to help speed up the healing process. Not only does your body need more rest, but you shouldn’t be on your feet as often as you normally would be. Listen to the doctor’s orders, and get off your feet.

What does it mean to rest?  Well, it’s more than just sitting in the recliner all day.  Resting is a combination of sleep, mental relaxation, and not doing too much physical activity.  After a tummy tuck, you’ll need to be careful about moving around and lifting much.  Most surgeons will tell you it is important to lift no more than 5 pounds and to be careful to not pull or tug on incisions.  All of that is part of the rest you will be told to make a priority.

Water pouring into a tall glass

Stay Well Hydrated to Reduce Swelling After Surgery

Drinking plenty of liquids will also help with reducing the swelling and keep you from becoming constipated after surgery, but that’s not all.  In surgery, especially this one that removes a large portion of your body, you lose a lot of fluids.  Your body will be struggling for a few days to rehydrate and get back to the new normal.  The combination of this, along with the dehydrating properties of most anesthesia as well as pain medication can cause a lot of discomfort in your body.

Hydration isn’t just any fluids.  It is focused on water.  Sure, you can enjoy some juice, coffee, or tea, but the bulk of your daily intake should be water.  I also recommend that you include some water-dense fruits and vegetables on your menu.  Things like watermelon, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and celery are all excellent choices for eating or having as snacks while you recover.

Tip:  100% pineapple juice is a great choice for the healing benefits of bromelain that is natural in the pineapple.  Also, when drinking tea, choose the Smove Move Tea brand as it promotes regular bowel movements and can combat constipation caused by pain medications.

Avoid Added Salt in Your Foods

Salty foods and other food that contains sodium will only be counterproductive in your desire to reduce the swelling. It sounds like bad news whichever way you look at it. Exercise some restraint and lay off the potato chips and preparing sandwiches that contain your favorite salty lunch meats.

Even though they are convenient when you aren’t feeling up to cooking, processed foods and prepared meals from the freezer section aren’t a good choice.  Stick with fresh fruits and vegetables for snacking, and if you reach for anything processed, let it be something like peanut butter, almond butter, or a protein shake.  These items help your body to stay strong during healing, without packing in too much-added sodium.

You may also want to read about the other side effects of anesthesia after surgery to be aware of what to expect and what foods are best for healing.

Carefully Apply Cold Compression

This can be controversial, so make sure you check with your surgeon on their preferences as well as follow their directions.  Some say a bit of ice during healing is fine.  Others will tell you to avoid ice as it can prevent you from feeling the wound and issues and miss something that needs attention. After having multiple surgeries, I find that listening to your doctor is truly the best.

If, your physician is okay with ice packs, apply the ice to the region of your body that is swollen, and leave in place for 10-15 minutes at a time.  Do this no more than 3-4 times per day, or as directed by your surgeon.

Tip: I recommend investing in the TeliKold Gold Ice Pack for tummy tuck post-operative care.  It is larger and covers more space, as you will likely require post-surgery.

Marking stomach with marker

Follow Doctors Suggestions About Wearing Your Binder

Whether your doctor requires you to wear a full compression garment for complete binding or simply has you pull on heavy-duty Spanx after your surgery doesn’t matter.  Wear the binding suggested as prescribed.  Most surgeons will put you into your binder immediately after surgery while you are still under anesthetic.  Depending upon the type of binder, you may wear this for 23 hours a day, or some will be worn non-stop for up to a week when removed by your doctor.

Most successful post-surgery candidates find that wearing some time of binder or compression garment is important at least for the first 12 weeks after surgery.  Follow the suggestions of your doctor and you will experience the best results.  You may also want to consult this list of supplies for after tummy tuck surgery for other first aid times that assist in healing.

Exercise and Engagement

Yes, you should be resting significantly post-surgery, but exercise is also important.  This is especially important for circulation, and the prevention of blood clots.  Alongside this, it will help reduce swelling.  Limited exercise is important during the first few days of healing, as well as throughout your surgery recovery.

Most doctors recommend light slow and steady walking in 10-15 minute intervals.  The first week this may only be done once or twice daily, but as your strength returns, you will continue to exercise more until you are released for full and regular exercise.

Anti-Inflammatory Medicine

As part of the healing process, you will be prescribed many medications.  Typically these include an antibiotic and pain medication for the first week or so after surgery.  Your surgeon may also recommend you take something like ibuprofen intermittently.  Follow physician orders, but know that an anti-inflammatory may be a good choice.

Surgical team over draped body

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