Several factors are involved in a patient’s abdominoplasty recovery, including the patient’s overall state of health and physical fitness at the time of surgery, which type of abdominoplasty surgery was performed, and the patient’s cooperation with the surgeon’s post-operative guidelines. Many patients are anxious to view their final tummy tuck results, and it is not uncommon to be frustrated by the abdominoplasty recovery process. Keep in mind that abdominoplasty surgery involves the removal of a significant amount of skin, the tightening of muscles, and, if liposuction is combined with the abdominoplasty surgery, the extraction of fat. Your body needs time to recover and adjust to these changes.
Tummy Tuck Recovery Time
Healing from tummy tuck cosmetic surgery is an individual matter, but in general you should plan to miss a week or two of work as part of your abdominoplasty recovery period. Some patients will require up to four weeks of tummy tuck recovery time. Although it takes most patients several weeks or more to feel completely "back to normal" and to see their final tummy tuck results, patients who were in good physical condition at the time of the surgery will have a shorter tummy tuck recovery time.
Healing from a Tummy Tuck – The First Week
Depending on the type of tummy tuck surgery performed, a patient may have to stay in a hospital for at least one night. In the first few days while healing from tummy tuck surgery, it’s likely that you’ll experience some discomfort, swelling, and pain, which can be made tolerable with medication. Many surgeons will also provide their patients with tummy tuck drains. It’s common for tummy tuck surgeons to recommend a few days of bed rest.
The stitches from abdominoplasty surgery are usually removed within five to seven days of the surgery, or in stages. Your surgeon will give you guidelines for activities such as changing the surgical dressings, showering/bathing, and walking. It’s usually recommended that tummy tuck patients begin walking as soon as possible after the surgery, as gentle exercise helps the healing process and can prevent the formation of blood clots and other complications.
The First Few Weeks Following Surgery
Many surgeons will provide patients with a compression garment or "abdominal binder" to wear under their clothing for several weeks after the surgery. You may also be required to wear elasticized stockings for a short period while you are healing from tummy tuck surgery to decrease the risk that blood clots will form in the legs.
Many doctors agree that beginning a regular regime of light exercise about a week after surgery can help you heal faster and more completely. Walking is usually the best exercise to engage in after surgery, but other forms of non-aerobic exercise may also be acceptable. A gentle exercise plan that has been pre-approved by your doctor can help reduce swelling, prevent blood clots, and strengthen you immune system. Remember to avoid all strenuous exercise for six weeks after surgery. During your tummy tuck recovery time, you will need to pay special attention to your body’s physical limitations to avoid reopening your wounds and increasing the time needed to fully heal from surgery.
Visit the DocShop gallery to view abdominoplasty before and after photos.
Photo credit: Ramiro Morales, MD
Find an Abdominoplasty Surgeon near You
When you are ready to consult a cosmetic surgeon in your area about tummy tuck surgery and the results you can expect, DocShop makes the process easy and confidential. DocShop provides an online directory of surgeons who have extensive experience performing tummy tucks on patients.