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Recovery tummy tuck: Timeline and tips

It is important to consider, when deciding whether to have a tummy tuck, how long it will take to recover and how to take care of the scar.

A person may choose to have a tummy-tuck procedure, or abdominoplasty, for many reasons. Those who might consider tummy tucking include:

  • women who have loose skin or abdominal sagging after pregnancy
  • people who have excess skin after weight loss
  • individuals with a protruding abdomen despite losing weight

No matter the reason, a person must follow all post-operative instructions to avoid infection or other complications.

We provide tips on recovering from a tummy tuck in this article. We also examine how long it takes to recover, and what to expect after a tummy tuck procedure.

How long does recovery take?

It can take around 8 weeks to recover from tummy tuck surgery.
It can take around 8 weeks to recover from tummy tuck surgery.

A person should typically expect to be feeling again about 8 weeks after surgery.

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS), for most people, tummy tucks are an outpatient procedure which means they can go home the same day.

Depending on factors such as: recovery time from a tummy tuck procedure can vary.

  • the type of tummy tuck
  • the age of the recipient
  • postsurgical care
  • general health of the person

Individuals will discuss their timetable of recovery with their physician, who can provide an estimation that they will be based on the situation of the patient.

Stages of recovery

A person should be talking about recovery time before the procedure. A person should ask his / her surgeon, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons:

  • how to bathe after the procedure
  • when to remove their bandages
  • when to return to normal activities
  • when to return for follow-up care
  • what drugs they must take after the procedure

Asking these questions will help a person plan for the smoothest possible recovery, and take the right measures.

Recovery timeline

A individual should expect to go to a recuperation room immediately after the procedure. We will be supervised by a health care professional and tested for incision.

They’ll receive instructions during hospital treatment on:

  • recovery time
  • how to care for the incision
  • when to expect to resume normal activity

When a person leaves the hospital safe, they’ll need someone there to take them home. Doctors aren’t recommending driving home after surgery.

There may be drainage tubes requiring emptying, and each day the individual will have to record the amount of fluid draining from their wound.

A person at home should make sure they have someone to help them for the first couple of days, as their mobility is limited. They may experience tightness around their tummy and can only walk hunched over for one or two weeks.

Initially they can expect to feel sore from the incision. They’ll probably need to lie at an angle in bed and may have trouble with:

  • standing
  • lifting objects
  • general movement

Many people take up to a month off work, particularly if their jobs are physically demanding.

After a tummy tuck, an adult may need a few weeks to months of support caring for young children. Children should also stop exercising for the first few weeks, until they are given the all-clear by a doctor.

A person may, however, usually return to activities such as driving within 1 to 2 weeks and slowly perform more daily tasks as time goes by.

Eventually, for several weeks to months after the surgery a tummy tuck scar will probably feel sore or close. The scar’s strength slowly fads.

Factors affecting recovery time

Recovery time after a tummy tuck can vary. Some common factors that impact this include:

  • type of tummy tuck
  • age
  • postsurgery care
  • general health

The types of tummy tuck include:

  • Mini tummy tuck. This procedure has the shortest recovery time and minimal scarring.
  • Classic or full tummy tuck. The scar will stretch from hip to hip, and recovery will take longer, but a person should be able to hide the scar under their bathing suit.
  • Extended tummy tuck. This tummy tuck creates the largest scar. The scar may be visible under bathing suits and takes the longest time to heal.

Taking steps to avoid constipation after surgery can be helpful, as some pain medications may slow down the intestines. Straining to have a movement in the intestines will cause discomfort.

Tips for recovery

People need plenty of rest during recovery from a tummy tuck, and must follow all instructions for recovery from their doctor.

They will need to have their incision and drainage tubes maintained daily. Everyday maintenance typically includes:

  • keeping the incision site clean and dry
  • changing the bandage daily
  • taking any prescribed antibiotics
  • applying topical creams at the incision site

A person’s abdomen will likely have a supportive wrap, binder, or compression garment to prevent swelling and decrease discomfort.

We will stop smoking and drinking alcohol for a minimum of 3 months after a tummy tuck. Tobacco and alcohol can have an adverse effect on cure.

They should also:

  • avoid lifting heavy objects, including small children
  • temporarily stop exercising until told otherwise
  • take time off from physically demanding work

Side effects of surgery

A person may have limited mobility after surgery, and feel any pain. The surgeon can typically prescribe pain relief medication.

Typically, the incision will also feel tight, causing a sensation of pulling on standing or moving.

A person will finally find that they can no longer do some of their normal activities immediately after the operation. However, as they begin to recover they can slowly return to the activities.


It can take several months to get full recovery from a tummy tuck — also called abdominoplasty. A person should follow all postoperative instructions and advice during recovery including:

  • avoiding lifting anything heavy
  • keeping the incision clean
  • taking time to return to normal activities

Before the procedure they should talk to their surgeon about what to expect in their particular case.

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.

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