Tummy tuck surgery day is here and if you’re anything like me you’re experiencing a wide range of emotions, from excitement to nervousness, and maybe even a little anxiety. You’re about to embark on major surgery and trust me when I say you’re in good hands when you’re at the South Coast Outpatient Surgery Center and with the doctors of CosmetiCare. I’m a complete mess before any surgery I have, yet I have never felt more comfortable or comforted than I did with Dr. Reagan and his staff. Read below to learn more about my experience and what you can expect on your tummy tuck surgery day.
Tummy Tuck Surgery Day | What to Expect
Before you get to the surgery center, you should have already showered with the antibacterial soap and dressed in the appropriate loose clothing without makeup, hair products, or jewelry. If prescribed Emend and Zofran to combat post-operative nausea and vomiting, you’ll need to bring this with you the morning of surgery. You should have also refrained from eating and drinking after midnight the night before surgery. If you’ve followed all these instructions, as well as any additional instruction from your physician, you have successfully prepared for your tummy tuck surgery.
After you walk in and register for surgery, you’ll be led to a room where you’ll disrobe and place all your belongings in a plastic bag before dressing in a hospital gown. If you’re like me and have long hair, you’ll need to secure it up before wearing your disposable scrub hair net cap and booties.
Once you have changed, you’ll go to the pre-op room to go over the pre-surgery checklist one last time. You’ll also receive an IV which will keep you hydrated, and the anesthesiologist will use to administer anesthesia medications and any additional medications you may need during surgery.
Next, your physician will come in and take one last look at what is to become his masterpiece. He will most likely take any additional notes, make some sketches on your body, and if you’re stressed like me, reassure you that everything will be fine.
After that, you’ll be wheeled into the operating room where you’ll meet the anesthesiologist and be moved to the operating table. Within minutes, you’ll begin to receive your general anesthesia and be comfortably off to sleep. The rest is up to your CosmetiCare surgeon and the surgical center staff who will do everything possible to assure you have the best cosmetic surgery experience possible.
MY THOUGHTS AFTER SURGERY…
Now, for some brutal truth. My first thoughts after I woke up from surgery was ‘What in the heck did I do to myself?’ promptly followed by, ‘Was this really worth it?’ Granted, surgery doesn’t come without pain, but my pain was 11 on a scale of 1-10 and I couldn’t believe it. Ouch! But, what I loved the most about my surgery was the fact that Dr. Reagan, if possible, does not use drains making recovery less painful and easier.
One thing you want to be sure to do after surgery, or more truthfully have your caretaker do is to keep ahead of the pain with your medication schedule. If you’re sleeping, have your caretaker wake you to take your medication. At night, set alarms so you don’t miss a dose of pain medication. Trust me when you say, you’ll easily fall back asleep. The last thing you want to do though it to miss a scheduled medication dose and have your pain creep back up on you.
You will need a wheelchair to comfortably go from car to home/hospital because your abdomen will be tight and you will be walking hunched over. If you’re staying at a hotel, call the hotel in advance to prearrange a wheelchair for when you return from surgery. Most hotels have a wheelchair for various medical emergencies.
If you cannot prearrange a wheelchair, or if a hotel front desk says they don’t have a wheelchair, ask for a hotel manager. After my surgery, we learned EVERY hotel has a wheelchair but they tend to ‘hide ‘ it for liability issues. Yet, when the hotel manager saw me painfully trying to walk through the lobby, he gladly found me a wheelchair to prevent other hotel guests from watching me walk in pain.
Depending on your doctor you may, like myself, come home with a catheter. As pretty as this is not, you’ll appreciate not having to get out of bed for the first 24 hours for bathroom breaks. While it is advised to walk every hour for the first 24 hours to avoid blood clots, squatting on a low toilet would be unbearable, especially with all the fluids you will need to drink to combat constipation from the medications you are taking. Appreciate the catheter, embrace the liquids, and drink away as you celebrate not having to get up and go to the restroom.
As your appetite begins to returns that first night and you decide to try eating, be sure to take it slow and start with simple foods. Some of my favorite foods the first night were applesauce, nut thins, Ritz crackers, and lemon-lime Gatorade. Simple, yet a wide variety of nutritional food groups including fruits, nuts, carbs, and liquids.
The next day you’ll return to CosmetiCare for a one-day post-op visit. At the appointment, you’ll need to remove the banging with the help of the nurses to see how things are progressing, and more importantly, that there is no unwanted swelling or hematomas. You will also answer questions about your pain levels and have the opportunity to ask any additional questions that have come up since surgery day.
I will warn you, though. When you first remove the bandages you may begin to feel warm with chills, nausea, and sweating. These are all signs that you may pass out. If you experience any of these feelings, together or alone, you need to let your nurse know right away so she can get you some crackers and water. It’s common to feel like you’re going to pass out when the bandages are first removed and you get a sudden flow of blood to the area.
If you’re like me and not local to the area, you’ll want to plan your drive around your medication. While driving home was not painful thanks to being on top of my pain medication, the worst part of the drive was feeling nauseous and car sick from taking a Valium before we left. We had to make many stops along the way to keep my head from spinning. My suggestion to you, if possible, is to wait until you get home to take a Valium to avoid being car sick.
It was amazing how much better I felt the day after surgery. My pain level was down to a 2 or 3 level, and my appetite was returning. My favorite foods this day included avocado and sprouts on toast sprinkled with Cotai cheese and my favorite Wholesome Goodness Organic Blue-Pom Crunch cereal.
The only thing I strongly do not recommend after surgery, so much so that I will say under no circumstances should you weigh yourself. As I mentioned before, an Orange County tummy tuck procedure is not a weight loss surgery, but instead is a surgery to correct unwanted cosmetic conditions including diastasis recti, postpartum belly, and c-section shelf. After surgery, you’ll be swollen, retaining water, and, if you’re like me, you’ll weigh the exact same weight as you did before surgery. THE EXACT SAME WEIGHT! As much as you’ll want to weigh yourself to see how much weight you lose after all that excess skin is removed, just don’t do it.