Tummy Tuck Recovery:
Tips on Diet and Exercise
Serving Chicago, Illinois
A tummy tuck is not a way to lose weight, although it will reduce your weight a bit. Weight must be lost first, until it's evident that the abdomen is going to retain its extra fatty tissue in spite of your best exercise and nutritious diet. Many people who have a tummy tuck have already had some success with keeping to a nutritious diet and exercising to lose weight.
The initial recovery period
When you have a tummy tuck at Associated Plastic Surgeons, you will have a series of follow-up visits so Dr. Placik can monitor your recovery and answer any questions. He will want you to start moving around a little quite early in your recovery, to help prevent blood clots, and to enhance blood circulation, which helps with healing. As you recover, he will give advice about increasing your activity and exercise.
You may be recovering at home, or at Manor Care, an alternative we offer for this initial recovery time. It is a supportive facility which works with our team to provide excellent recovery care. It is not a hospital, but a temporary home, or a kind of bed-and-breakfast with superior amenities.
After full recovery
After the initial tummy tuck recovery phase is completed, and you are home with your usual activities and routines, the questions arise as to how much exercise to do and what type of exercise, and what diet will be most effective for preventing any future weight gain.
Although many people make the assumption that exercise is not necessary after a tummy tuck, this is not true. It's important to keep the abdominal muscles well toned. Even if you were a regular at the gym prior to cosmetic surgery, the muscle placation performed during the tummy tuck will relocate the muscles in a new orientation allowing you to achieve greater results than prior to surgery. There may be an initial period of soreness typical of beginning a new and different exercise routine. Any gym will have equipment and personnel who can give good advice on exercising, and you might even want to consider retaining a personal trainer for a while. I have found that patients can enhance the surgical results by instituting a core strengthening regimen such as practiced in pilates or yoga. Traditional weight training routines with "crunches" to achieve a "six pack" or "washboard" abdomen produce shortened muscles with a bulky appearance that may be considered undesirable.
By keeping the abdominal muscles strong, you can maintain your new body shape. But that needs to be part of an overall exercise regimen, and for best results should be done in conjunction with sticking to a healthy diet.
Some abdominal exercises
The goal after surgery is to improve the outcome by promoting toned and lengthened muscles. Too often patients embark on a regimen that creates a bulging stomach appearance. Concentrating on drawing in the umbilicus to the spine while stretching or contracting the muscles will produce a more aesthetic abdomen. You should keep this in mind while performing the following exercises:
- Sit ups — lie on your back with your knees bent. Raise your shoulders up from the floor, thinking about your ribs moving towards your hips. Keep your head still and don't rush. Keep your breathing regular. You can place your hands on your chest, at the sides of your head, or extended above your head.
- The reverse curl — lie on your back and bend your knees towards your chest without lifting your hips. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your hips up and move the knees closer to your chest. Move slowly and keep your breathing regular.
- Leg raises — lie on your back with your knees a little bent. Lift them up in an arc till they're above your head. Slowly lower them to the floor.
When doing these exercises, or others like them, be careful not to strain the lower back.
For many decades, physical therapists have used the exercise ball to help people strengthen and retrain muscles in the abdomen and lower back. When you lie across an exercise ball, the hips curve downwards, whereas lying on the floor, they are flat. The ball position gives you more of a workout.
The basic healthy diet
Balance is the keyword and the best motto is: Eat only when you're hungry.
In recent decades, there has been much discussion of what constitutes a healthy diet, and there are different ways of looking at it. But foods can be divided into groups, some of which are important on a daily basis, and some of which should be eaten sparingly.
- Whole grain foods (bread, crackers, cereals etc.) at most meals
- A protein food (meats, fish, poultry, eggs) once or twice a day
- Plant oils in moderation (corn oil, sesame, peanut, olive, etc.) at some meals
- Vegetables in unlimited amounts
- Fruits several times a day
- Nuts or legumes (peas and beans) at least once a day
- Dairy products for calcium, or a calcium supplement
- Products made from refined flours (e.g. white bread, donuts, rice)
- Sugary products (e.g. cake, candy, chocolate, ice cream)
- Fatty products (e.g. meat fat, creamy sweets)
If you are moderate in your diet and don't eat when you're not hungry, it will be easier to avoid weight gain.
Please feel free to contact our plastic surgery office if you would like to know more about tummy tucks or other cosmetic surgery options. We will be glad to schedule a personal consultation for you. Our office serves the entire Chicago, Illinois area.