Eating Soon after a Tummy Tuck Could Get Patients Out of Hospital Faster

Early feeding not associated with increase in nausea and vomiting

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) states that withholding oral intake of food in patients after abdominoplasty (“tummy tuck”) may not be necessary, and that feeding patients earlier could allow for quicker discharge after surgery.  Findings from a study investigating the impact of early feeding after abdominoplasty on the occurrence of postoperative nausea and vomiting is published in the May/June 2007 issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the Society’s official peer-reviewed journal.  These findings are important because abdominoplasty is a popular cosmetic surgical procedure. 

Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is among the most disagreeable experiences associated with surgery, causing dehydration and retching, which can lead to poor wound healing, among other adverse effects.  While postoperative management of patients undergoing abdominoplasty has traditionally involved withholding food until patients demonstrate evidence of bowel activity, this practice requires patients to remain in the hospital for the administration of intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.  However, no literature exists to support this practice.

“This study demonstrates that early feeding of tummy tuck patients may prevent the need for postoperative hospital admission for intravenous hydration—at least in those patients who can maintain adequate hydration with oral intake alone—and allow for faster hospital discharge,” said Alan Matarasso, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York, NY, lead author of the study.  “While there may be other reasons for admission, routine postoperative admission to prevent dehydration may not be necessary. These findings could change the way we care for our postoperative abdominoplasty patients, improving their comfort and safety, and saving on health care costs.”

Although the findings are promising, physicians remain cautiously optimistic about a full transition to ambulatory abdominoplasty. It does not diminish some of the benefits of postoperative hospital admission.  Adequate pain control, maintenance of a semi-flexed position, and patient and surgeon preference are important variables to consider when choosing between admission and discharge.

About ASJ

The Aesthetic Surgery Journal is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and is the most widely read clinical journal in the field of cosmetic surgery, with subscribers in more than 60 countries.


The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the leading organization of board-certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic plastic surgery.  ASAPS active-member plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

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