How long does it take to recover from a tummy tuck procedure? Contrary to common belief, tummy tuck recovery time 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.
How Long Does It Take to Heal from a Tummy Tuck?
There are a variety of abdominoplasty and tummy tuck procedures available, and each one has a slightly different recovery time. Your treatment plan is determined by the level of correction needed to meet the desired end results.
Most patients return to work after a tummy tuck within 7-10 days and resume strenuous exercise in about 4-6 weeks. By 3 to 6 months post-op, most patients are enjoying their permanent results.
However, it is also important to note that results are only permanent when patients maintain them with regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Your Week by Week Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline
As you read the tummy tuck recovery week by week details below, understand that the healing time for every tummy tuck is different and depends upon the extent of your surgical plan. However, in most cases, there is a relatively predictable tummy tuck recovery timeline.
Day 1 of the Surgery
Tummy tuck procedures are performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Therefore, you must have someone to drive you home after surgery and take care of you afterward 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 also 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
Week one of tummy tuck recovery involves getting plenty of rest and following all of the surgeon’s post-operative instructions. This will not only help heal your incision heal and reduce swelling more quickly, but it will also help to maximize your tummy tuck results.
What does a tummy tuck recovery day by day timeline look like in the first week? Here’s what to keep in mind:
- Bed rest is recommended for the first 2 days after your tummy tuck procedure. On day 3, activity is encouraged but should be limited. Any activity involving lifting and carrying, driving, exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol should be avoided.
- 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 following surgery.
- A post tummy tuck compression garment should be worn at all times during the first week following the surgery, and as often as possible for the following 6-8 weeks. It is critical to minimize swelling, support healing, and maximize results.
- 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.
Remember, discomfort, bruising, and swelling are to be expected, but if you begin to experience fever, nausea, unusual pain, or redness around the incision site, contact your surgeon.
Tummy Tuck Guide
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Week 2 After Surgery
While some restrictions are lifted after week 1, 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 surgeon have done.
Ensure you make note of the following during week 2 of your tummy tuck recovery:
- Activity: Most patients are ready to return to most aspects of normal daily activities 7 days following surgery. It is important to take brief walks a few times a day to get your blood flowing and your body used to moving again. Several activities still remain off-limits, including vigorous exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol.
- Diet: 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.
- Care: We recommend patients lightly massage the treated area to promote healing. To help heal the incision site, scar minimizing techniques should be used, such as the application of vitamin E, silicone sheets, Scar Guard or BioCornium. Patients should also continue to wear compression garments to achieve the best possible results.
- Side Effects: Generally with the tummy tuck swelling timeline, at week 2, you will still be swollen in the treatment area. However, the pain, bruising, and feeling of tightness from your tummy tuck should begin to fade during week 2 of your recovery.
Weeks 3 & 4 After Surgery
By weeks 3 and 4 you’ll be about halfway through your initial tummy tuck healing timeline. Take into account the guidelines below to continue your quick recovery:
- Activity: Patients usually resume exercise during week 3 or 4 after a tummy tuck, 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.
- Diet: Begin maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet to stay within your ideal weight range.
- Care: Continue applying scar treatments to your incision and wearing the compression garments.
- Side Effects: Your discomfort and bruising should be completely gone, and swelling should be minimal.
Week 5 & 6 After Surgery
During week 5 and 6 of your tummy tuck recovery you should do the following:
- Activity: Most patients resume strenuous exercise, with approval from their surgeon.
- Diet: Continue maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet to stay at your ideal weight range.
- Care: Continue applying scar treatments to your incision to promote healing. The compression garments should continue to be worn.
Tummy Tuck 3-6 Months Post-Op Results
Time to enjoy your flat, smooth, slim tummy! As we mentioned, each person’s tummy tuck recovery time varies, but most patients are ready to return to normal activities within 3-6 months after their initial procedure. While everyone’s tummy tuck results timeline is slightly different, it is critical for every patient to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine to stay fit and well.
An abdominoplasty can rid people of the extra skin, fat, and tissue that diet, exercise, or even liposuction alone cannot address. While the tummy tuck recovery process may sound daunting, the highly skilled surgeons at Belcara Health strive to provide you with the best results and the least amount of discomfort possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about tummy tuck procedures at Belcara Health or want to discuss your options, contact us here or call 410-442-6617 to speak to a representative.