Recovery After a Tummy Tuck: What to Know
May 20th, 2023 by David Martin
Like any other surgery, a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a major operation that you may need weeks or months to recover from. It is important to talk to your doctor or surgeon to know what to expect in the weeks after the surgery so that recovery goes as smoothly as possible.
While the rates of complication from tummy tucks are higher than other plastic surgery operations at 4%, you can avoid many of these problems with a bit of planning.
Read on to learn what the recovery process for a tummy tuck looks like, and get some answers to frequently asked questions about recovery.
Tummy Tuck Post-Operation Timeline
After surgery, your doctor or surgeon will be able to tell you how to recover at home. Here’s what to expect at different times after your surgery.
First Week After Surgery
For the first 2 or 3 days after surgery, you’ll need to stay mostly in bed. It can be hard to stand up for long periods of time these first few days, so be sure to have a friend or family member around to help you throughout the day. You’ll also need to stay well-hydrated and eat a low-sodium diet to reduce inflammation.
For the first 5 days, you will also keep drains in your tummy to remove fluid away from the incision. Your surgeon will brief you on how to keep these clean and functioning. Most people can remove these after about 5 days, but be sure to follow your nurse or surgeon’s advice.
For the rest of the first week, it is important to stay moving as much as you can. Avoid any sort of strenuous exercise, and instead stick to light exercise like walking.
Weeks 2 to 4 After Surgery
After the first week, you should be able to resume most daily activities around the home. During the second week, you should focus on continuing to get light exercise by walking around a few times a day. Additionally, keep your diet clean and stay hydrated, and avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.
Beginning with the third week, you may be able to start resuming normal exercise such as jogging or lifting light weights. It is important to add these activities gradually and listen to your body. You may still get tired much quicker than before your surgery, so don’t push yourself. You also may still notice some slight swelling at this stage of recovery, which can be reduced with continued rest, hydration, and a healthy diet.
Weeks 5 to 6 After Surgery
At this point, you should be ready to resume all normal activities around the house and can incorporate more strenuous exercise with your doctor’s approval. You’ll still want to keep doing any post-surgery remedies, such as scar treatment and wearing compression garments, during this time. Otherwise, continue maintaining a healthy diet to keep yourself at the ideal weight.
After week 6, you should continue at-home treatments just as before. Many patients are fully recovered anywhere from 3 to 6 months after surgery, but this will vary for each person. As you work towards a full recovery, keep working with your doctor to discuss your progress and get personalized advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to recover from a tummy tuck?
A full tummy tuck recovery usually takes about 3 to 6 months. However, most patients are able to resume daily activities and work about a week after surgery, and many feel comfortable enough to resume exercise after 3 or 4 weeks.
How long is bed rest after tummy tuck?
Bed rest will mainly be in the first few days after surgery, but this can last up to a week. After a few days, you should be able to get out of bed more and more to walk around the house, but otherwise you’ll want to stay lying down to recover best.
When can I walk straight after tummy tuck?
For most patients, it will take about a week to be able to walk fully upright. This time can vary, so it is important to listen to your body and not push it too hard.
How long do drains stay in after tummy tuck?
Drains are typically able to be removed by the end of the first week, but this could vary from person to person. Follow your surgeon’s advice to know how long you can expect to have your drains in.