Tummy tucks can be a great way to shift unwanted excess skin from your abdomen when diets and exercise don’t seem to work. But, as a major surgical intervention, tummy tucks can affect how you sit down, stand up, and most importantly, sleep.
Tummy tucks offer a range of advantages. These include feeling more confident about the way you look, not having to carry around so much excess weight, being more athletic, and removing skin that has lost its elasticity. But because tummy tucks involve removing a significant amount of tissue, it’s vital that you do everything you can to ensure a speedy recovery. Tummy tucks are a significant surgical event that require proper consideration.
After a tummy tuck, you need sleep to recover. During sleep, your body will repair the affected area and finish off the job that the surgeon started, helping you to achieve a beautiful, natural-looking midsection. The way you sleep after a tummy tuck, however, will have a profound effect on the rate and quality of your recovery. Sleeping in the wrong position could compromise your results and prevent you from getting the rest you need.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at how you should sleep after a tummy tuck. The advice is straightforward, but you’ll still need to spend a little time making preparations ahead of the operation.
Use A Recliner To Sleep
Performing a tummy tuck involves making a long, thin incision between the hip bones and just above the pubic mound. The surgeon will make the cut, remove excess fat from the abdomen, and then pull down the skin from above over the incision line. Excess skin is removed, and then the stomach stitched back up, leaving a tight, flat finish.
As you can imagine, laying flat on your back after surgery might not be a good idea. Laying flat stretches out the abdomen, putting a strain on the freshly-stitched skin, leading to pain and potential damage to the sutures. When you go to sleep, therefore, experts recommend that you sleep in a slightly bent position that avoids pulling on the stitching. Instead of sleeping flat on your bed (like you would usually), surgeons suggest using a recliner.
A recliner (a type of chair that folds in the middle) provides you with a comfortable and safe way to sleep while maintaining a bend in the middle of your body. The recliner gives you the ability to get a restful night’s sleep without the risk of tossing and turning or damaging the stitching. A good recliner should allow you to adjust the amount of bend in your body, depending on your needs.
How long do you need to sleep on a recliner (or in a reclined position)? The length of time that you need to sleep on a recliner depends on the type of tummy tuck that you had performed. Recovery from a “miniature tummy tuck” – one in which the incision does not run from hip to hip – takes about one to three weeks. Recovery from a full tummy tuck – where the incision runs from one hip to the other – takes about four weeks. (Exercise should be limited for six weeks). Thus, if you’ve had a full tummy tuck, you’ll want to sleep in a reclined position for a couple of weeks while the tissues heal. Most surgeons recommend maintaining a bent position for at least the first week, whether lying down, standing or doing anything else.
Lying Down On A Bed After A Tummy Tuck
Because the tissues of the lower abdomen are stretched tight after a tummy tuck, it’s critical to maintain a “bent” or “jackknifed” body shape, whether walking, standing or climbing into bed.
When going from a standing to lying down position, pay particular attention to the shape of your body. Ideally, you’ll want to maintain a bent shape throughout the process, ensuring that you do not put any undue strain on the stitching.
Before getting into a lying down position, make sure that the bed or recliner is the right shape to accommodate a bent posture. Next, sit on the side of the bed with your knees facing outward, maintaining the flexion in your core. Next, swivel your legs onto the bed so that they face in front of you. Finally, lower your torso down. You should not have to lower yourself over too far a distance if you are sleeping on a recliner or a bed that raises.
Practice Sleeping On Your Back
If you’re a front or side sleeper, sleeping on your back after a tummy tuck can feel unnatural. It’s a good idea, therefore, to practice sleeping on your back for a few weeks before the surgery so that once you’ve had the operation, you’re better able to get the shut-eye you need. Being able to sleep will help the recovery process, allowing you to get back on your feet sooner.
Sleeping Options After A Tummy Tuck
In general, you’ve got two sleeping options after a tummy tuck. The first is to modify your bed with pillows to provide a raised-up section for your torso so that you can maintain a bent posture during sleep. This has the advantage of being a simple solution – all it requires is a few extra pillows. But there are disadvantages, namely the fact that when you’re sleeping on a bed, you’re free to toss and turn. Moreover, the pillows supporting your torso to maintain a bent posture can slip out from underneath during the night, putting your stitching at risk.
The alternative is to sleep on a recliner. Recliners hold your body in position and discourage turning during the night. Some recliners can be set to raise both your head and feet, maintaining a comfortable V-shape throughout. Of course, if you don’t have a recliner already but want the benefits, then you’ll have to go out and buy one which could be expensive.
Wear Compression Garments While You Sleep
Compression garments are items of clothing that support your midriff and temporarily and offer support to the abdominal muscles after surgery. There are many different kinds of compression garments you can use – everything from binders to girdles. Where possible, follow the advice of your surgeon and wear compression clothing according to their instructions. Compression clothing should be worn at all times of day, including during sleep.
Following surgery, you are likely to experience a degree of inflammation in your abdomen. Compression clothing helps to support your stomach while it is inflamed, assisting the recovery process.
How To Get Out Of Bed
Because of the nature of the incision after a tummy tuck, patients need to be careful when getting out of bed not to over-stretch the skin of the lower abdomen. When getting out of bed, roll onto your side, maintaining flexion at the hips, and then use your hands to push yourself up into a seated position. Once in the seated position, rock forwards and use the muscles in your legs to help you stand.
Maintaining a bent position at all times is essential. Not only will this prevent damage to the incision site, but it will also help to reduce the appearance of the scar once all the stitching is removed.
How To Improve Sleep After A Tummy Tuck
Tummy tucks involve removing a large amount of tissue. The natural reaction of the body is to send inflammatory markers to the site of the operation, which can result in swelling and pain. It can be difficult, therefore, to get quality, restful sleep after a tummy tuck. So what can you do to ensure that you get the rest that you need to recover?
Take Pain Medications
Pain medications can be taken before bed to help ease discomfort as you try to sleep for the first few days after receiving a tummy tuck. Avoid using painkillers which contain stimulants as these may prevent you from sleeping.
Make Getting Into Bed A Ritual
Much of what our brains do is unconscious, including getting ready for sleep. It’s a good idea, therefore, to train your mind to be prepared for rest as soon as you hit the sack. You can do this by turning the process of getting into bed into a ritual. Before you undergo surgery, start sleeping in a recliner, or a reclined position. Train yourself to expect sleep once in this position by turning off the lights and electronic devices.
Talk To Your Surgeon
Your surgeon will likely have a lot of experience helping patients sleep after a tummy tuck. Speak to them about your options and how you can sleep better during the most critical phases of the recovery process.
Tummy Tuck Vs Liposuction
Tummy tucks differ from liposuction. Tummy tucks involve removing skin, while liposuction refers to the removal of fat under the skin.
So, what have we learned? The main takeaway is to sleep in a bent or jackknife position after a tummy tuck, preferably on your back. The best way to achieve this is to use a recliner, although a few extra pillows under your back is a good substitute. To assist your recovery, wear compression clothing, even during sleep, and speak to your a medical professional about pain management after the operation.