Preparing for Abdominoplasty Surgery

You've scheduled your appointment for surgery now what!?

Now is the time for you to have second thoughts about tummy tuck surgery, run around attending to details, experience anxiety, and generally have your life in an emotional upheaval. This is a very stressful time, but it doesn't have to be. It is perfectly natural for you to be freaking out now that abdominoplasty surgery is on your calendar. Just following the advice I have here – which was created with the help of real patients – and things will go much more smoothly.

Abdominoplasty Preoperative Appointment
You will probably have a preoperative appointment with your plastic surgeon. This visit may include blood tests. The most common blood test is called a CBC for "complete blood count." It is done to identify any pre-existing problems such as anemia, infections, and can provide early warnings of certain diseases, including some cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma.

A CBC test can also predict those people who may be higher risk to postoperative infections. Usually before tummy tuck surgery, a pregnancy test will be done if you are a woman and have not gone through menopause. Your abdominoplasty surgeon may also ask for a hematocrit, a related blood test that can detect anemia. For a better understanding of just what a CBC and hematocrit tests do, I suggest this link: Lab Tests Online: Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test.

If you smoke, now is the time to quit, please! Quitting smoking greatly reduces your risk of developing necrosis or experiencing poor healing. Smoking can make your tummy tuck incision scars become huge and ugly and not heal well at all. Tissue necrosis can lead to additional operations and loss of skin and other tissue. Is that cigarette worth all this? I know quitting is difficult, but it is possible.

At your preoperative appointment, you will go over all the instructions your plastic surgeon will give you. He or she may tell you to avoid certain medications before your surgery. The medications you should avoid will mostly be any products that contain aspirin or ibuprofen and any drugs or supplements that might interact badly with anesthesia Please visit the Medication and Supplement List for more information.

You may also be given a list of things to buy or have around at home while you heal after abdominoplasty surgery. This list may include cold compresses (or bags of frozen peas or berries that you can use as a cold compress), antibacterial soap such as Hibiclens or Dial, and gauze and other types of dressings for your incision areas. We have provided a list  for your convenience with a printable version to have on hand.

Make Your Home "Postoperative Proof"
You've probably heard of "child proofing" but "postoperative proofing"? We mean preparing your home for your recovery before your tummy tuck surgery so that you can just relax as much as possible after it. Please use the following tummy tuck surgery preparation tips to help prepare you for an unfrazzled and more comfortable recovery.

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  • Clean your house - or have it cleaned
  • Unless you are lucky and have a significant other that can cook, shop for recovery food and treats like pudding, Jell-O, frozen dinners; or cook your own and freeze it.
  • Take out the trash, recyclables, etc. so you don't have to worry about it
  • Have all of your laundry taken care of
  • Make a "Honey Do" list (bills, thermostat settings, errands, whatever). Sometimes our significant others can be quite helpless without us
  • Purchase all of your medications and dressings beforehand, in case your pharmacy is in short supply.
  • Place all medications either in a weekly pill "case" or in labeled containers, by day and time if need be.
  • Have lots of movies, books, magazines or videogames on hand.
  • A laptop is an awesome thing to have during recovery - also have computer batteries/AC adaptors on hand
  • If no laptop, maybe a Gameboy or a Playstation/Nintendo set up near you - you will get bored.
  • Have someone watch your dog, cat, children, pet rock, whatever.
  • If you can't have your pets cared for, tend to their needs beforehand, i.e. put cans of food on the counter with the can opener so you don't have to reach for it. Change the litter box as well. You don't want to expose yourself to these germs and you will have a hard time bending over or kneeling!
  • Have lots of fluffy pillows on hand
  • A comfortable recliner is a good thing, if not the bed is perfectly fine, just keep your upper body well elevated.
  • Have a bucket or pail at your bedside and on the ride home in case you get sick - essential. Make sure it has a lid, you don't want to stare at it or smell it afterwards.
  • A nightstand with all of your medications, ample light, bottled water, a few packages of crackers, remote control (with new batteries!) & the phone (fully charged!)
  • Have a nightlight set up so you don't fall during late night bathroom trips . Medications can make you disoriented.
  • Extra blankets, anesthesia can give you the "chills" after surgery
  • A heating pad, hot water bottle or microwaveable pack is great for a sore back (which you will get for sure!)
  • A "go-fer" - a significant other or an older child will suffice
  • Have some crackers, Cheez-its or Goldfish to help alleviate nausea - especially on the way home - bring a bottle of water to for the ride home. Sipping cool water helps alleviate nausea as well as gets rid of the taste in your mouth if you do vomit.
  • Place anything you may need at hip level so that you have no need to reach or bend down. This means canned and dry goods in the kitchen and toiletries in the bathroom. Bending over is just as bad as trying to stand up straight prematurely!
  • Have your trusty robe and slippers (or several pair of thick socks) nearby
  • Have a few comfortable oversized shirts that open from the front on hand, as well as some loose elastic or drawstring sweat pants or pajama bottoms.
  • Have a hand mirror nearby so you don't have to get up to preen, or to check your teeth and nose, ha ha!
  • If you have long hair a few "scrunchies" are great to put your hair back with to keep it out of your face, unknotted and out of the way.
  • Have a good moisturizer on hand - a must!
  • A box of tissues is great to have on hand, especially if you get all emotional from your medicationss or the anesthesia.
  • Make time for yourself before your surgery; pour a bath, light some candles, listen to some music - relax. Try to gather your thoughts and soothe your mind.
  • The night before (and with some surgeons for 3 days before) you may be asked to wash with Dial Antibacterial or Hibiclens soap to help rid your body of its naturally occurring Staph on the skin's surface - you don't want a Staph infection!
  • Wash your hair the night before surgery - it may be a long time before you get to do that again.
  • Remove any fingernail and toenail polish.
  • Talk to your spouse about any concerns that you may have, they may have some insights or questions you haven't thought of - and they may be experiencing pre-op anxiety as well.
  • Ask your surgeon for Valium or ask if you can take an over the counter sleeping medication. These may help with tense muscles and tense minds. It can be difficult to sleep.
  • "Black out" your windows so that when you do get to sleep - regardless of the hours - you can stay asleep.
  • If you think television, video games and reading are eventually going to bore you or stress your eyes - have a Discman MP3 player on hand with your favorite relaxing music.
  • Have fresh film or a disposable "postoperative photo" camera on hand. Especially if you are considering documenting your procedure with before and afters or day-by-day photos.
  • Have your journal and a few fresh, fully inked pens ready if you are wanting to document your post-operative thoughts in writing. Or type it into that laptop or speak it into a miniature recorder.
  • Just in case the lights go out, have a flash light on your nightstand.
  • Place nightlights to light your way to the bathroom should the need arise during the night.
  • If you don't have a laptop and you have online friends who are dying to hear from you - have your significant other or friend "post" or email them with your recovery news. We worry, okay? Give him/her a list of the addresses and URLs
  • Have an answering machine connected to the phone next to your recovery area. Getting woken up when you just got to sleep is so annoying. Don't forget to turn down the sound and turn off the ringer. You need your sleep.
  • Last but not least, RELAX. If you are super stressed out it can really affect your recovery. Try to remember that you will heal, you will be less sore and that you are going to look great! Just be patient.

Preoperative Shopping
All of the above suggestions and products you should buy may be overwhelming at first so print out our helpful shopping list to help you with your pre-op woes.