Recovering From Abdominoplasty And Gynaecomastia Surgery – First 3 Days

3 days recovery from abdominoplasty chest reduction

I talked about the night before preparing for, and the day of my tummy tuck and my chest reduction surgery. Now I want to talk about the first 3 days of recovery from my abdominoplasty and chest procedure.

Waking Up From Surgery

The procedure finished around 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon. It had been about five to five and a half hours. I have a very vague, hazy memory of being put back into my bed, but that’s it.

It took a couple of hours after that for me to actually fully wake up.

That was around 4 PM.

I was still a bit drugged so feeling a bit groggy and dopey. I wasn’t in pain but I could definitely feel where my fresh wounds from surgery were.

I was too dazed to move to just lay there to gather my thoughts for an hour or so.

Given I was left on my own, I assumed things had gone fine.

I was scared to move. I could look down and see the bandages and support garments covering my wounds and just thought I have no idea what is going on here so I’m not going to touch anything or move at all.

My lunch was next to me and while I was still reluctant to reach my arms out, it was close enough that I could use t-rex arms to be able to grab it and eat it.

I wasn’t that hungry but given I hadn’t had anything to eat that day, I felt like I should have something.

And as my phone was within reach, I video-called my family too. They had called a couple of times during my procedure to check-in and a nurse called them afterwards to let them know I was out and everything went well.

So that was actually the first time I had confirmation (that I can remember) that things went as planned.

A short while later, a nurse came in and talked through the procedure. She confirmed things went well, there were no complications and the surgeon was happy.

The nurse checked my blood pressure, asked if I was in any pain or discomfort, made sure my wounds were still dressed and covered properly, and she helped me go to the toilet for the first time.

That was a terrifying experience.

I couldn’t push myself up with my arms so had to roll on my side and hope to land on my feet, and there was a very definite sting coming from where my wounds were.

And I kept worrying the wounds were just going to come undone while I was hobbling around and I would get stuck standing there with an open skin flap or something.

I was bandaged up so I couldn’t see any of the wounds at this point.

I was dehydrated and didn’t really need to go, but I figured I should make the most of the help that was there for me.

After that, the nurse helped me back into bed, and because of my fresh wounds my chest and legs needed to be elevated – so I was lying in a V-shape.

I started binge-watching Downton Abbey for no apparent reason, I video-called my family once more, my dinner came, and then I was handed over to the night nurse.

She gave me some more painkillers, and let me know she would check on me a couple of times at night and otherwise I was free to do what I wanted.

I was still drugged a bit I guess so I slept pretty well and the only interruptions were from my blood pressure being checked.

The Day After Surgery

I was a bit dopey but was up bright and early.

The first thing I noticed was that the front of my right thigh had been shaved. I didn’t notice that before and yes, I know it is a weird thing to pick up on all of a sudden as soon as you get up the day after surgery.

The surgeon came to see me first thing and started to talk about how the procedure went, and I interrupted him to ask about my thigh.

I didn’t 100% get the answer but it was something about needing to attach a metallic plate to a smooth patch of skin. Apparently, it is a common practice.

Once we cleared that up, the surgeon helped me up and undid my bandages so I could see some of my wounds for the first time.

They were mostly all still covered in tape but it was nice to be able to see where they would be positioned. The waistline and abdomen looked very smooth, and my bellow button had some extra protection as it had been reconstructed so I couldn’t see much there.

male-chest-reduction-surgery-scars

And my abdomen area stayed pretty numb for a good few weeks after too.

The main stitches under the chest were as expected. They ended up being a bit asymmetrical as more tissue needed to be removed from one side than the other, but the contour or shape is the same.

I was very squeamish about my nipples because they were grafted back on and had some extra external stitches around them which freaked me out a bit.

And the only other thing was a row of external stitches below my chest, over my ribs, which were there to help with scar positioning for my main chest wounds.

And that was a bit terrifying. Looking at metal wire threading through your skin is not a nice feeling, to be honest!

Then that was it. The surgeon double-checked everything, got my support garments back on properly, and helped me get back into bed and that was it.

The nurse then brought me some breakfast and said I can leave at whatever time my family can come pick me up. They were going to come in the afternoon so I had a free morning, which was mainly spent watching Downton Abbey.

This was when I also started letting people know I had the procedure done. I didn’t tell anyone before because I didn’t know it was happening until the afternoon prior, so I wasn’t keen to start answering questions about it yet.

But now that it was done, went well, and I was in recovery, I felt ready to talk about it.

waking up after tummy tuck male chesty reduction

The swelling around my wounds was now also starting to pick up. It was very noticeable around my abdomen. I was wearing my support garment and the swelling started to feel like it was trying to burst out of that. It was also asymmetrical and much worse on my right side than on my left.

The middle of the chest was fine, but the sides, leading up to under the arms were worse.

The swelling is still there as I write this, around 6 months post-op. But it isn’t anywhere near as bad and the asymmetry has gone.

As my family were on their way to pick me up, the nurse went through the care required for the next 48 hours:

  • No shower so my fresh wounds could stay completely dry
  • Painkillers for 48-72 hours and then as needed after that
  • Laxatives in case the painkillers caused constipation, which they have been known to do
  • Wearing the support garment day and night
  • Sleeping on my back with my chest and legs elevated
  • And booking my follow-up appointments

My first follow-up would be after 48 hours to remove those extra chest stitches. And then at the 1-wee and 2-week mark after that.

Any follow-ups after the 2-week one would be done with my surgeon directly at his own clinic.

Getting Home

When you have this kind of procedure, if you will be getting in a car you will need an extra cushion for support between your body and your seat belt, so my family brought that for me and I sat in the back seat clinging onto it for dear life.

When we got home, I got myself up the stairs and went to my room. There was no real problem with lower body mobility or tackling stairs. The only issue I really had in walking around was the fact that my body was swollen which meant I was hunched over and walking for more than 30 or 40 seconds would hurt my lower back.

Home Setup

In terms of your home setup, there are some things you will want to make sure are taken care of beforehand.

I am fortunate that I was staying with my family for this so I had extra help and my mum was home so I had someone with me. And I think having someone at least available to help for the first couple of days is important. You might not need them for much but it’s one of those scenarios where you’re better off over-planning.

With the chest procedure, I wasn’t going to be able to reach my arms past shoulder height for a few weeks so I needed to have button-up and zip-up tops within arms reach so that I would be able to dress myself.

male chest reduction surgery recovery 4 weeks

I also needed extra pillows on my bed – under my shoulders and under my thighs. That way I would be lying on my back in a V-shape. This would keep the strain off the wounds and stop them from getting pulled.

I did a lot of my own meal prep beforehand and put those tupperware boxes in the freezer meaning I could just grab them and heat them up when I was ready to eat.

And I had an extra chair in my room so I could sit somewhere that wasn’t my bed.

Sitting and standing from a chair was actually fine throughout – I don’t think I ever had any issues with that. Getting up from and into bed was much more challenging.

First Night At Home

I didn’t sleep at all during the first night at home.

I couldn’t get used to sleeping on my back and I couldn’t find a comfortable sleeping position. If I wanted to adjust my pillows or position I would need to roll myself out of bed, use my restricted arms to try to adjust my pillows and then try to roll myself back into bed.

In terms of pain, the main stitches were actually fine.

It was the extra ones under my chest that were causing me a lot of grief. They felt like little spikes digging into me every time I tried to breathe.

Getting Settled At Home

My first full day at home, so 2 days after my procedure, was completely uneventful. I stayed in my room mainly. My family checked in on me a few times. And I watched more Downton Abbey.

I couldn’t shower so relied on antibacterial wipes to get some sense of feeling clean.

I still didn’t have that much of an appetite but at least it was starting to come back a little bit, so I did eat a bit more.

I also drank a lot of water. I was aiming for over 2 litres of water a day for 3 reasons:

  • It helps with swelling
  • It helps with constipation
  • It gets me up and walking when I need to go to the toilet, which means I don’t sit for too long

You’re not bedbound at any point but it was helpful to have that extra prompt to keep getting up.

It also helped with digestion.

I was still taking painkillers but I didn’t need them much for my main wounds. The ones that were causing me maximum grief were the ones under my chest. The only relief was knowing they would be coming out the next day.

Second Night At Home

I didn’t sleep well during my second night at home either.

I still couldn’t get comfortable and the extra stitches hurt still.

And I am not sure if it is just a normal symptom of going through the recovery process but my body was really feeling temperature extremes. Warm felt really warm and cold felt really cold.

2 Days After Surgery

The next day felt largely the same, but just a little bit more comfortable.

I was more upright and could walk for 2-3 minutes without my back hurting, which meant I was more comfortable getting out of my room and getting my own food and drinks. It was honestly just nice to be able to do that again.

I still had limited reach of my arms, I was still swollen, still taking painkillers, and still no shower.

I had my first follow-up appointment today – to get those extra stitches out. I had to get a taxi because it was short notice and can’t drive myself, but I had a great driver who drove very smoothly and was very chatty.

And of course, the extra cushion came with me too.

My appetite was improving so I ate a bit more and I also let a couple of colleagues know how the surgery went.

48 Hour Follow Up

Normally the first follow-up, except in an emergency or something urgent, would be around 1 week. But because of those external stitches, mine was booked for 48 hours.

I was just glad they would be coming out now.

The nurses were absolutely fantastic. I was still squeamish about the stitches but they were very calming. Removing them did sting a bit, as expected, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.

I guess having metal wire pulled out from your skin is never going to be a nice feeling but it was as fine as it could be I suppose.

They changed the surgical tapes and checked over my wounds too. They were happy with the progress and it was the first time I got to see the actual wounds, not covered in tape.

My nipples did still freak me out because you could still see the external stitches and I didn’t want to look at those.

But the rest was fine.

They confirmed the date and time of my one-week follow up appointment, and off I went.

Sleeping Better

I slept a lot better that night. I did still find it hard to get comfortable and I did still need to get up if I wanted to adjust my position.

But not having those extra stitches made a massive difference, and it was great not to feel like I was being stung every few minutes.

That is a pretty concise recap of the first couple of days after my surgery. We’ll also be covering 1-week, 2-week, 4-week and a few months of recovery so keep an eye out for those.

Nothing in this post should be seen as medical or professional advice. If you have any questions, please speak to your own physician.

If you do have any questions on my own experience though, feel free to get in touch.

3 days recovery from abdominoplasty chest reduction

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