Patients can do their part to prevent or at least minimize their risk of tummy tuck wound breakdown. It all boils down their level of cooperation and commitment to achieve their optimal health and eliminate risk factors such as obesity, smoking, use of aspirin, and over-exertion during the initial healing stage.
Experts at the California Surgical Institute explain how the patients themselves can reduce risk of tummy tuck wound breakdown and ultimately achieve the best results possible from the surgery.
- Stay healthy
Obesity, diabetes, and other chronic medical conditions can impede healing. For this reason, tummy tuck or any other types of elective plastic surgeries are only reserved for patients with no medical issues that can increase the risk of wound separation and infection.
Some patients are required to postpone tummy tuck so they can shed the extra pounds, recover from malnutrition or anemia after massive weight loss, or control medical conditions before their surgery.
Moreover, “staying healthy” means eating more lean meat, healthy “carbs” (as opposed to processed carbs such as white pasta and bread), and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid smoking
Smokers face an increased risk of poor healing, skin necrosis, infection, and pulmonary-related complications, just to name a few. For this reason, the general rule of thumb is to avoid tobacco products for a minimum of three weeks prior to surgery so the body will have sufficient time to flush out the nicotine and other harmful chemicals of smoking.
It is important to note that occasional or social smokers may face the same amount of risk as a chain-smoker. Simply put, even smoking one stick a day could compromise healing or even the entire result of tummy tuck.
- Never rush one’s recovery
As previously stated, patient commitment will also play a critical role in the success of tummy tuck or any type of body contouring.
The general rule of thumb is to avoid heavy lifting, bending from the waist, and strenuous activities for a minimum of three weeks postop. But even after this period, most patients are advised to begin with light exercise first before they gradually progress to a more rigorous regimen. Just to be on the safe side, they should never start any activity without their surgeon’s permission.
- Follow the surgeon’s postop instructions
Postop instructions typically include wound cleaning (it is important to practice good hygiene such as washing one’s hand before and after changing her dressing); use of prophylactic [preventive] antibiotics; diet; and activity limitations.