Post-Operative Instructions – Abdominoplasty

General Post-Operative Instructions

It is important to read the general post-operative instruction sheet also. These plastic surgery post-operative instructions or cosmetic surgery postoperative instructions are meant to be as thorough and complete as possible. However please don’t hesitate to call for any questions or concerns!

1.) Call for any problems, concerns, or issues.

2.) Call for fevers over 101.5°, excessive bleeding, or excessive pain.


Slowly advance diet as tolerated. Begin with liquids and light foods before progressing to a normal diet. Advancing too quickly can lead to nausea and vomiting. It is also good to have food in your stomach as this often helps with minimizing nausea with medications.


You have been given prescriptions by Dr. Saunders and they should be taken as described on the bottles. In general, the antibiotic is a mandatory medication, and the other medications are as needed. The as needed medications are usually taken for pain, nausea, anxiety, and muscle spasms. Please take them as described on the bottle.

You can begin the antibiotic when you get home. If your stomach is upset it is okay to start this the next morning.

Bandages and dressings:

It is normal to have some bloody drainage. This is typical after surgery. In general slightly wet bandages do not have to be changed and are best left alone. Dr. Saunders will address the appropriate care of the bandages on your postoperative visit. If you decide to change your bandage, please wash your hands thoroughly. Do not touch the incision or drain tube where it goes in the skin. Please use sterile gauze.


Rest and relaxation are important after most operations. Dr. Saunders likes the mottos “slow and steady wins the race” and “the turtle wins the race.” Too much activity after surgery can be inappropriate. Shopping, cooking, laundry, and cleaning should be avoided until Dr. Saunders approves these activities. Most patients should rest on the couch or in bed. It is okay and good to get up and walk around your home or apartment. This is called early ambulation and minimizes risks of blood clots.


Please no heating pads, electric blankets, or hot water bottles to any surgical site. Refrain from sexual activity until further notice.

Follow up care:

Dr. Saunders sees most patients the day after surgery for a postoperative visit. Liposuction and rhinoplasty patients might be seen the Monday after surgery instead of the next day. Patients, however, are always allowed to come in for a visit if desired. If Dr. Saunders is operating the day after your surgery you will be instructed to call or text his cell phone. He or the nurses will answer the phone and set up a visit time. Plastic surgery is an art and exactly predicting a visit is not possible. By calling or texting back and forth we strive to minimize any wait in the office for a postoperative visit.


Postoperative Instructions: Abdominoplasty


It is important to read the general post-operative instruction sheet also. These plastic surgery post-operative instructions or cosmetic surgery postoperative instructions are meant to be as thorough and complete as possible. However please don’t hesitate to call for any questions or concerns!

“Simple Yet Strict”

Recovering from abdominoplasty surgery can be surprisingly easy. Follow the simple post-operative instructions provided by Dr. Saunders.  These instructions are strict. They should be followed closely. These instructions are based on decades of experience. Please follow the instructions carefully and maximize your chance of healing uneventfully!

No smoking, nicotine patches or nicotine gum until further notice! This is extremely important!


It is normal to have some bloody drainage. It is frequently on the sides and should be expected. The bandages are placed still at the time of surgery and do not need to be replaced until your first shower. If they are excessively wet they can be changed. Use clean hands and do not touch the incision or where the drainage tubes go into the skin.


Expect drainage around the tubes. This can be messy but is normal! The drains are very important and you will be taught how to take care of them. Initially they will be bloodier and will require emptying 3 to 5 times a day and as the output diminishes you can empty them two times a day. This is best done between 8 to 9 o’clock in the morning and 8 to 9 o’clock in the evening. Record on a piece of paper the amount in each drain. The metric system is printed on the side of the bulb to help with recording the amount. After dumping the fluid make sure you squeeze it before putting the valve back on. It needs to be compressed to provide suction. If you have drainage around the tubes, this is normal and gauze or clean washcloths can be applied for the drainage.

Pain pump:

The pain pump delivers lidocaine continuously for three days (or 72 hours). Please do not try to adjust it, as this is not possible. If you accidentally pull out one of the tubes there is a white clip in the bag which controls the delivery of medication. Please call or text Dr. Saunders in the morning if this occurs.

Blood clot or DVT prevention:

Early ambulation is an important instruction to minimize blood clots in the legs. Early ambulation means getting up and walking around the house for approximately 10 min. at least six times a day. If surgery included any thigh liposuction, make sure the garment or girdle is not tight and constrictive in any area, particularly above or below the knees. The garment should be smooth to avoid bunching up and constricting in one location. Dr. Saunders recommends “the invisible bicycle” to minimize blood clots in the legs. Pump your legs like you are riding a bicycle to minimize blood clots. This can be done extremely frequently. Leg elevation is also important to minimize blood clots and to promote healing.


Your first shower is 72 hours or three days after the completion of surgery. If your surgery was on a Wednesday, then your shower is typically Saturday. If your surgery was Thursday, the shower is typically Sunday. By this time the incision has sealed and it is safe to shower. No bathing or soaking is allowed. At the shower all of the bandages are discarded along with the pain pump and the urinary catheter. You should be left with just the two drainage tubes. For the shower use mild soap and water. Do not remove any steri strips that were applied. It is common to feel lightheaded at this first shower and it is recommended to have a sitting stool in the shower and someone to assist you. Should you feel lightheaded sitting down, resting is usually appropriate for five or 10 min. until you regain your balance. After the shower, bandages are no longer necessary for the incision. A white cotton T-shirt is recommended to provide padding and comfort beneath the binder or girdle. Gauze can be reapplied if a person desires this but the padding of the T-shirt is all that is recommended. The binder then is reapplied on top of the T-shirt. We fasten the drains to make sure they are secure by safety pinning them to the outside of the binder.


Please see DVT prevention above. Please keep slightly bent at the waist to take tension of the incision. Although early ambulation is recommended avoid overdoing it. Twisting or turning from side to side causes a shearing motion of the skin on top of the muscles, and can  increase drainage and delay healing. Dr. Saunders will advise you on when activity can be increased.


The antibiotics are mandatory. If you are having significant nausea and vomiting it is usually from the pain medicine. Often Tylenol or Motrin can be used if pain is mild. This is recommended and will significantly help patients who are suffering from nausea and vomiting. The pain pump usually works extremely well and provides great comfort.

Be sure to follow these along with all previous post-operative instructions closely to maximize your recovery and its efficacy.

Dr. Saunders’ cell phone 302-584-8407 (texting preferred)