A tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure that flattens the abdominal area by taking away excess fat and skin and tightening up the abdominal muscles; it is also a very popular way to remove stretch marks. Getting restful sleep is a very important part of healing and recovery. Being mindful of how you sleep can help protect your surgical incisions, minimize pressure on your tummy, and minimize swelling. Here are five tips to help you get the healing sleep that you need as you recover.

Keep a Slight Bend at the Waist in All Movement

Following your procedure, keep a slight bend at the waist whenever you are moving around – walking, getting into bed, or sitting down. Your newly-tightened abdomen will feel stretched and strained if you try to straighten completely upright. So as you consider a sleeping position, keep in mind that you will need to maintain a slight bend to encourage healing and to ensure you do not pull on your incision.

Sleep On Your Back, But Not Flat

For a time after your procedure, you will need to sleep on your back. In fact, if you are a side-sleeper or a stomach-sleeper, you may need to start “training” yourself to sleep on your back, beginning a few weeks before your procedure, as you may need to sleep on your back for up to six weeks after your procedure. Most people can resume sleeping on their side within a couple of weeks after the procedure and on their stomach at the six-week mark or so.

Although you need to sleep on your back, don’t try to lie down completely straight. Sleep on your back with the bottom part of your body elevated and your head inclined; use pillows under your knees to help establish the slight bend in your body. An adjustable bed may be the perfect solution for comfortable sleeping after a tummy tuck.

Sleep in a Recliner if You Need To

If you don’t have an adjustable bed, the next-best option may be sleeping in a recliner. This is a way to have a supported, slightly-bent position. It discourages tossing and turning, which you might do if you are uncomfortable in your bed. You can also raise your head and your feet in order to keep the bend in your midsection. Although sleeping in a recliner may not be your idea of comfort, it may be a way to get some restful sleep right after your tummy tuck.

Use Compression Garments

You may think that compression garments are only for grandmothers and athletes. However, after your tummy tuck, you will wake up wearing a compression garment designed to support your abdomen and the sutures. Your surgeon will likely advise that you wear compression garments as much as possible after your procedure – even when you sleep! Be sure to follow this instruction to the letter, as a supportive garment helps minimize swelling and speed the healing process by encouraging blood flow. They also tighten the muscles in the core after surgery.

The best tip for sleeping after a tummy tuck is to listen to your doctor and listen to your body. As your body is recovering, you will be able to tell when you can begin to straighten out your body and sleep flat, on your side, or on your stomach. Sleep is what your body needs most, so try to make your sleeping environment as comfortable as possible so that you can heal up from your tummy tuck.