What to Expect – Recovering From a Tummy Tuck


Abdominoplasty, better known as a tummy tuck, is one of the most popular plastic surgeries performed in the world. It’s no wonder – given what an effective procedure it is for body contouring.

Even so, recovering from a tummy tuck requires patience, diligence, and the ability to deal with some discomfort. There are many factors that affect each person’s tummy tuck recovery. A mini tummy tuck, for example, will require less recovery than an extended tummy tuck.

Whatever the case, the best way to minimize postoperative complications is to follow the recovery instructions exactly as prescribed by your surgeon.

Recovering From a Tummy Tuck Overview

Generally speaking, most patients take 1-3 weeks off from work after a tummy tuck – though some will do less. Depending on the scope of the surgery, you’ll be able to return to regular activities such as cooking and driving within a week or two.

If your job is physically demanding, you’ll need to plan plenty of time off for your recovery. In addition, if you’re a fitness fanatic, you’ll be advised to ease back into your workout routine slowly and mindfully.

There are other factors that will significantly slow your recovery, such as smoking and drinking alcohol. So those will need to be avoided for optimal recovery. If you are prescribed narcotics, you will be able to drive once you stop taking them.

We’ll break it down into a more detailed timeline:

  1. First Week

The first week of recovery is usually the most uncomfortable. While rest is important for healing, you’ll also need to walk around for about five minutes every two hours to help prevent blood clots and promote the return of bowel function.

Along with having to wear compression garments, you’ll experience swelling, bruising, and soreness in the abdomen. You can also expect to experience exhaustion during the first one to three days post-op.

Pain medication will be prescribed and you can use ice packs outside of compression garments to further reduce swelling. Following the medication schedule as prescribed at the beginning will result in having to take significantly less medication for pain in the long run. During surgery, Exparel – a long-acting local anesthetic block – will be injected before you wake up to provide additional pain control.

  1. Second Week

The pain begins to subside and bruising continues to fade by the second week of recovery. While swelling decreases at this time, it is still present. Thus, you’ll need to continue wearing your compression garment.

Some patients feel well enough to return to work in seven to ten days, provided they don’t have a strenuous job. Any activity during this time should be slow and gentle though. Taking light walks is recommended during this time to increase blood circulation and prevent blood clots. If pain medication is still required, you’ll want to continue to follow the instructions as written.

Even if you’re feeling a lot better, you should continue to avoid lifting anything over 15-20 pounds or partaking in vigorous cardio.

Toward the end of that second week, you’ll be able to resume your normal diet and, should you wish, return to drinking alcohol in moderation. Because smoking is counter-indicated to proper healing, many patients choose their recovery time as an opportunity to quit smoking altogether.

  1. First Month

Around the third or fourth week, the pain, swelling, and bruising are greatly reduced. For some patients, they’re nearly or completely gone. Once you’re at that point, you’ll no longer need your compression garment.

  1. Second Month

For the vast majority of patients, life returns to normal and you’ll be able to resume more rigorous physical activity during the second month. Some patients are cleared around six weeks to do this, while others may have to wait until the end of the second month.

The Long View

Although the two-month point is when most patients are ready to get back out into the world, it’s not uncommon to experience some numbness for months afterward. There may also be occasional swelling as well as twinges of abdominal pain. All of this is normal and no need for concern. Different sorts of shapewear (such as Spanx) can assist with these.

Change Your Life With Body Contouring

While recovering from a tummy tuck can be a little challenging, the payoff is so worth it.

So if you’re ready to explore how a tummy tuck could improve your confidence and boost your self-esteem, contact us today.

We’ll guide you through the procedure, as well as the recovery, so you know exactly what to expect.