Tummy tuck healing complications can be prevented or at least minimized with strict patient selection, preparation, meticulous surgical techniques, patient commitment, and follow-up care, says leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley.
Dr. Smiley shares his core principles to minimize tummy tuck healing complications and ultimately promote the best results possible.
- Identify patients with risk factors for delayed wound healing
Dr. Smiley requires all his patients to pass lab screening and disclose their drug use and medical history to ensure that they can handle the surgery. The idea is to identify risk factors such as bleeding problems, diabetes, weak immune system, and other chronic medical condition; ideally, any elective surgery must be postponed until these are well under control through medication and/or lifestyle changes.
Dr. Smiley says that the success and safety of tummy tuck also boils down to patient candidness during consultation. They must fully disclose their drug and supplement use, previous surgeries, medical condition, results of previous tests, and other health-related information.
By knowing this information, surgeons can help their patients eliminate or at least control risk factors through right preparation.
Furthermore, patients are often instructed to avoid aspirin and other blood-thinners, too much alcohol consumption, and large weight loss a few weeks in advance of their surgery.
- Performing good wound closure
Each doctor has his own preferred wound closure technique, although there are generally agreed upon guidelines such as closing the hip-to-hip tummy tuck incision in multiple rows of sutures, and placing most of the tension on the deepest structures and progressively reducing it as one reaches the superficial layers and skin.
- Taking it slow during recovery
Over-exertion should be avoided for a minimum of three weeks, although most patients can safely return to work within two weeks provided that they are not doing rigorous activities.
Any activity that causes pain, discomfort, and persistent swelling might be a sign of over-exertion or over-straining. Hence, women taking care of small children are typically advised to arrange for childcare for at least 10 days.
- Avoid smoking
A common advice is to stop smoking one month before and after tummy tuck, which typically involves large skin excision. It is important to mention the detrimental effects of nicotine on healing and blood supply, causing it to become constricted and thus increasing the wound complication rate.