This is How Long it Really Takes to Recover after a Tummy Tuck

Tummy Tuck Recovery Time

Questions about recovery are very common with people considering a tummy tuck procedure. Contrary to common belief, recovery from a tummy tuck is not nearly as long and painful as it once was.  New surgical and treatment techniques allow patients to recover more quickly and with relatively minimal discomfort.

There are a variety of types of tummy tucks; the treatment plan selected is determined by the level of correction needed to meet the desired end results.   Most patients are back to work within 7-10 days and resume strenuous exercise in about 4-6 weeks. Within 3 to 6 month, most patients are enjoying their permanent results.  However, it is important to note that results are only permanent when patients maintain them with regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Of course, every recovery is different and depends upon the extent of the surgical plan. However, most procedures tend to follow a relatively predictable timeline.

tummy tuck recovery


Day of Surgery 

Tummy tucks are performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis.  Therefore, you must have someone to drive you home after surgery and care for you so you can rest for the remainder of the day.  It may take several hours for the anesthesia medication to wear off, so expect to be groggy for a while.

Discomfort is to be expected, which can be managed with medications. During your pre-operative appointment, you will receive prescriptions for oral medications to take prior to surgery to reduce the likelihood of infection as well as prescription pain medications to help you manage your discomfort.

Week 1 After Surgery

  • Bed rest is recommended for the first 2 days. At day 3, limited activity is encouraged, but lifting and carrying, driving, exercise, smoking and drink alcohol should be avoided. Rest and following all the surgeon’s post-operative instructions during the first week will not only help you recover more quickly, it will also help to maximize your tummy tuck results.
  • A drain is a device that directs excess fluid away from the incision and out of the body. Most patients require drains for the first few days after surgery, which are removed about 5 days after surgery.
  • Bandages on the incision site should be replaced, and the area around the incision gently cleaned, every other day after surgery.
  • Wearing a compression garment is critical to minimize swelling, support healing and maximize results.  Patients should wear a compression garment always during the first week after surgery, and as often as possible for the following 6-8 weeks.
  • In most cases, patients can take a shower a day or two after surgery
  • Patients should stay hydrated and maintain a diet that is low in sodium to reduce swelling
  • Discomfort, bruising and swelling is to be expected. Pain medication will mitigate your discomfort.  If you begin to experience fever, nausea, unusual pain, or redness around the incision site, contact your surgeon

Weeks 2 After Surgery

  • Activity: Most patients are ready to return to most aspects of normal daily activities 7 days after surgery.  It is important to take brief walks a few times a day to get your blood flowing
  • Patients may resume their regular diet the second week after surgery, but it is a good idea to continue to limit sodium and drink plenty of water.
  • Side Effects: You will still be swollen in the treatment area. However, the pain, bruising, and feeling of tightness should begin to fade.
  • Massage: we recommend patients lightly massage the treated area to promote healing.
  • Scar minimizing techniques should begin on the incision site, such as the application of vitamin E, silicone sheets, Scar Guard or BioCornium.
  • Compression Garment: To achieve the best possible results, patients should continue to wear a compression garment.
  • Several activities remain off limits, including exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol
  • It is still important to take it easy and follow your surgeon’s instructions. After coming this far, you do not want to undo all the great work you and your surgeons have done.

Week 3 & 4 After Surgery

tummy tuck recovery workout

  • Activity: Patients usually resume exercise once they receive approval from their surgeon. It is important to return to activity gradually.  Listen to your body; if you are tired, it is important to rest.  You will be able to resume your normal exercise routine when you have healed appropriately.
  • Side Effects: your discomfort and bruising should be completely gone, and swelling should be minimal.
  • Care: continue applying scar treatments to your incision and wearing the compression garments.
  • Diet: Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet to stay at your ideal weight range.

Week 5 & 6 After Surgery

  • Activity: Most patients resume strenuous exercise, with approval from their surgeon.
  • Diet: Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet to stay at your ideal weight range.
  • Care: continue applying scar treatments to your incision and wearing the compression garments.

3-6 Months After Surgery

Enjoy your flat, smooth, slim tummy!  Again, it is critical to maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine to stay fit and well.

Tummy tuck surgery can rid people of the pesky skin, fat, and tissue that diet, exercise, or even liposuction alone cannot address.  While the recovery process may sound daunting, the surgeons at Belcara Health strive to provide you with the best results and the least amount of discomfort possible.  To discuss your tummy tuck, contact Belcara Health for your consultation.

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