How long is the Recovery Process of a Tummy Tuck?


If you are considering a tummy tuck to get rid of that flabby stomach, then it is crucial to consider the recovery process too. Healing from a tummy tuck procedure differs based on the age, health conditions, body maintenance and body weight.

You would require complete rest for a considerable period before getting back to your normal routine. The recovery process may take anywhere between four to eight weeks or sometimes even more, based on the tummy tuck procedure and several other body conditions.


Here is an insight about how the next few weeks will look like, after your tummy tuck surgery.


What Happens Immediately After the Tummy Tuck?

The surgeon will discharge only the limited or minor tuck patients on the same day a few hours after the procedure, but most of the major tucks the surgeon will recommend keeping the patient a day or twot for observation. Before leaving the facility after the tummy tuck, the surgeon will provide precautionary measures and detailed descriptions about how to take care of the operated area.
Getting the Help

When discharged, you will need someone to take care of you, at least for the few days. This person will monitor you for the next 24 hours and will assist you by providing the things you want.

The surgeon will advise you about how you need to travel in the car to your home. Mostly, the surgeon will ask you to lie on the backseat of the car throughout the drive home.
Preparing the Home for your Arrival

Make sure to prepare your home before you leave for the surgery:
• Keep the things you frequently use at a reachable mid-level.
• Keep the medications and other dressings at an easily accessible place.
• Buy sufficient groceries for the next week and some quick prepping food.
• Place enough cushions on your bed and sofa.
• Keep some books or movies ready, as you will have a lot of free time to kill.
Keeping your home ready for your discharge will help to ease your recovery process.


The First Week of Recovery

The first week is the most challenging phase of the recovery as your movements will be heavily restricted. In addition, you will also experience discomfort and the healing process may start a little slow for some patients in the first week.

Easing the Pain


There is not much pain after surgery, except on movement and pressure. You will have pain in the operated area whenever you move, and the operated area may look swollen and bruised. The surgeon will recommend pain medications to reduce the pain and regular intake of these medications will help you in being comfortable. The need for this pain medication reduces with time on its own.

Keeping Away from Infections

Since the tummy tuck procedure requires the surgeon to make a big horizontal incision across the abdomen, it could open up the chances for infections. Hence, the surgeon will prescribe antibiotics and it is crucial to stick to it religiously. The antibiotics will also help in revitalizing your body’s immune system, which will help in speed recovery.

Wearing a Compression Garment

The surgeon will usually complete the surgery by fitting you with a compression garment. This compression garment will reduce the swelling, prevent the formation of blood clots and work against fluid retention. Further, this will help to speed up the healing process and in shaping the tummy.

The patient should not remove this compression garment for the first four or five days. The surgeon will usually advise to wear it for four to five weeks until the abdomen has shaped into the required contour.

Managing Drain Tubes

Tummy tuck recovering patient may have drain tubes fitted to him. This tube is essential to prevent the accumulation of fluids in the abdomen. The surgeon will advise you to empty the drain tubes twice or thrice a day and record the volume of fluids removed. The surgeon will provide you with instructions and demonstrate how to work with the drain tubes before discharging you.

Taking Care of the Dressings

During the first five days, the surgeon will instruct you to keep the incisions clean and intact. Based on the instructions provided by the surgeon, you should take proper care of the dressings.

Make sure not to take shower for at least three days after the surgery. It depends on the recovery process and the status of the incisions. It would be even better if you take a shower only after the surgeon allows you to do so. Even if the surgeon permits, the ideal way is to sit down and have a quick shower. Refrain from taking long showers or using a hot tub for bathing.

Limited Physical Movements

In the first week, your movements will remain entirely restricted. You shouldn’t indulge in any household chores, however necessary or simple it is. The surgeon will ask you to take complete physical rest for the first week with a few walks in between with someone’s support just for the blood circulation. You should refrain from smoking, alcohol consumption or taking any kind of drugs without the permission of the surgeon.


The Second Week of Recovery

The second week is the time where you will start to observe improvements in your abdomen.

Reduction in Swelling and Bruising

You can notice a significant reduction in swelling and any kind of bruising you have will begin to fade. At the end of the second week, you can observe the red or pink colors of the bruising returning to your skin color.

Removal of Stitches

If the surgeon has used temporary stitches, then he may remove it possibly removed during the second week. You will still have to follow the schedule of cleaning and dressing as instructed by the surgeon earlier despite removing the stitches

Continuous Medications

You will still be taking the pain medications, as you may have some pain in the abdominal area. Some surgeons may reduce the dosage of the pain medications based on your healing. The surgeon will also ask you to stick to the previous schedule of antibiotics until the swelling and pain completely vanish.

Wearing Compression Garment

You should wear the compression garment throughout this week too, although you may take if off for some time. However, keep in mind that the longer you wear the compression garment, the sooner your abdomen will sculpt into the required shape.

Light Physical Movements

During the second week, the surgeon will ask you to walk around for like thrice a day for a few minutes. This helps in preventing the formation of blood clots and improves blood circulation. Besides, you will still need to take rest during the remaining period like the first week.


Third Week of Recovery

The third week is the time when the healing process starts to kick in fast. The surgeon will inspect the operated area and will suggest you ways to speed your recovery.

Based on the wounds, the surgeon will further cut down the pain medications or in some cases, he will ask you to take the pain medication only when you feel the pain. Mostly, you will have to continue the antibiotic medications till the third week.
On and Off with Compression Garment

IF the tenderness over the operated areas has disappeared, during the third week, it is not necessary to wear the compression garment throughout the day. You can take it off for a while but ensure that you should wear it for at least half the time. However, if it is still tender, then that tissues are still swollen and you need to wear a compression to prevent tissues from swelling up too much.
Encouraging Physical Activities

You can start doing the little chores around the house like cooking simple food, picking up your things and so on. Make sure not to overdo any kind of activity or exert yourself more all of a sudden. Start doing few works on the first day of the third week and increase your workload gradually. In any case, do not lift heavy objects or engage in activities that require bending down or stretching up. If you feel any kind of pain, stop the activity immediately and consult with the surgeon.

Fourth Week and Beyond

After the fourth week, the surgeon will most probably stop all your medications and you won’t be feeling much pain. There will also be a complete reduction in the swelling and you can start to observe the results of the tummy tuck. You can now stop wearing the compression garment after the completion of the third or fourth week.
Engaging in Physical Activities

After the fourth week, you can go out a little bit although engaging in running, speed walking or taking long ways is a strictly no. Ease into your routine gently. On the advice of the surgeon, you can also return to your work if it doesn’t require heavy physical activities. You may even start driving for a short distance from the fourth week onwards.
Make sure not to engage in swimming, running or jogging at least six to eight weeks. You can try exercising but not the heavy load kind. Try wearing cotton undergarments for a few weeks to ensure that the operated area remains breathable. It is common to experience numbness for a few months after the surgery, which will soon fade off.

The recovery process and the results of the tummy tuck majorly depend on how well you adhere with the surgeon’s instructions. After complete recovery, make sure to go for a check-up with the surgeon at least once a year.

The information is being provided by and have no intention to replace the medical advice of your doctor. Please consult your doctor directly for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed by Dr. ashish-davalbhakta, Plastic Surgeon on: 12-JUN-2020