A Complete Guide to Tummy Tuck Recovery

For any cosmetic surgery patient, the surgery itself is the easy part – you just snooze away and let the surgeon do their magic. The hard part comes afterward as you heal.

A tummy tuck recovery may seem daunting, but millions of patients have come through it to enjoy their results, and you can, too. Here’s a helpful guide of what you need to know:

Factors That Affect Your Tummy Tuck Recovery

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, over 140,000 Americans received tummy tucks last year. That makes for 140,000 different tummy tuck healing experiences. Everyone’s recovery is unique, and it varies based on the following factors:

The Details of Your Procedure

There are many types of tummy tucks, including a traditional abdominoplasty, a mini tummy tuck, and an extended tummy tuck.

Those options each have different recovery times, and each surgery is also customized to the patient’s precise needs. If your procedure also includes liposuction, a breast augmentation, or another surgery, that will change the recovery period as well.

Your Healing Rate

Everyone’s body heals at its own pace. It’s not necessarily bad if your paper cuts tend to heal more slowly than others, but it may mean that it’ll take you longer to recover from a tummy tuck, too.

Your Health Before Surgery

The healthier you are before your abdominoplasty, the easier it’ll be for your body to handle it. Before surgery, you’ll receive a full physical to check for any conditions that may complicate your surgery, but it’s best to get your health in check before this point.

Following Post-Surgical Instructions

One of the biggest factors in your recovery is whether you follow the surgeon’s instructions for wound care, activity and mobility restrictions, etc.

What to Expect During Tummy Tuck Recovery

Keeping in mind that all the factors above (and more) will impact your healing experience, but here are some basic ideas of what to expect:

  • Expect to take at least two weeks off work after surgery. This depends on your procedure and what your job entails, so we may recommend more when we discuss all this during your consultation.
  • You should start lightly walking around the house on the day of surgery, but it will take about four weeks before you can do any strenuous exercise or heavy lifting. This timeline could change based on how you’re healing, so we’ll discuss it at each follow-up visit.
  • After surgery, you’ll have bandages on your incision(s), an attached drain for any excess fluids, and a compression garment. I’ll give you detailed instructions about how to care for your incisions. The stitches and drains are usually removed one week after surgery, but you’ll wear the compression garment for several weeks.
  • You’ll be uncomfortable during your recovery but you shouldn’t have intense pain. If you do, call your surgeon. You’ll probably be on prescription pain medications for the first two to four days, but then you should only need over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Be patient. While most of your healing will take place in the first month, it can take three to six months for all the swelling to resolve and for your final tummy tuck results to be evident.
  • Don’t hesitate to call your surgeon with any questions. You’ll receive a list of complications to look out for, and if you have any concerns about your healing, you can call at any time.

Having a Successful Tummy Tuck

One of the most important steps toward a successful tummy tuck (and a manageable tummy tuck recovery) is choosing the right surgeon, and Dr. Mark Fetter has the experience and training to give you a beautiful result. To learn more about how a tummy tuck could help you, schedule a plastic surgery consultation.