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The 5 Stages of Tummy Tuck Recovery

Tummy Tuck Recovery

The goal of a tummy tuck is to get rid of excess skin on the abdomen and restore a weakened core by tightening the abdominal muscles. Tummy Tuck surgery a great surgery for women after they’re done having children and for men and women who’ve lost a significant amount of weight.

One of the most common questions we receive from our patients concerns stages of tummy tuck recovery time. Patients want to know how long they’ll be in recovery from this procedure and when they’ll be able to return to their normal activities. Below, we’ve distilled tummy tuck recovery time down into five main stages. Let’s take a look at what you can expect at every stage.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Video

Not all patients experience the same tummy tuck recovery time line. Those undergoing other procedures in addition to a tummy tuck, for example, will naturally require a longer recuperation period. 

Overall, however, there are five main Stages of Tummy Tuck Recovery timeline

1. Immediately after tummy tuck surgery

The tummy tuck procedure itself usually takes around two to three hours, but it can take up to three to four hours if the patient has a larger stomach or will be having thigh and hip contouring. The procedure is almost always outpatient, however, so patients can go home on the same day.

Right after your tummy tuck, you will be taken to a recovery room where you will be give pain medication . There, you will be cared for by our highly experienced staff. You’ll spend just a few hours in this room before being able to leave. 

You will be discharged with thorough instructions on how to care for yourself at home. You will also be given a list of signs and symptoms of potential post-surgery complications to look out for. Make sure you fully understand your recovery process instructions before going home.

Of course, it’s important to have someone at the facility who can help you get home as well. This person or someone else should also be nearby to help you get around during your recovery. 

2. Your first 48 hours at home

Tummy tuck recovery timeYou’ll need some prescriptions filled directly after your surgery, including antibiotics and pain medication. You can fill these on your way home or have someone else pick them up. Or, you can also get them filled before your surgery to save you time. 

During the first 48 hours after surgery, you can expect some soreness, swelling, and bruising. Your abdomen will be covered with dressings, and you’ll also have a compression garment over the bandages to reduce swelling and help avoid blood clots. Wearing your compression garment is extremely important as it also helps your abdomen heal smoothly and evenly, optimizing your results. Drains may be left in your incisions as well, which will help remove excess fluid or blood. 

You’ll need to take it especially easy during this time as too much activity can potentially damage internal sutures. This may not only affect your cosmetic results, but it can also cause serious medical complications.

Avoid moving around too much at home, and do not do any lifting, including lifting children. Again, enlist the help of a family member or friend. You’ll need help getting to the bathroom, emptying your drains, making food, and doing other tasks. If you do have children at home, it’s important to have someone there to watch over them. You won’t be able to care for others during these first few days and will instead need someone to care for you.

Most patients can shower 24 to 48 hours after their procedure if they do not have drains. Our staff will provide showering instructions, including how to remove your dressings properly. Patients with drains need to wait until they are removed before showering. This may take up to a week or more, so during this time, you’ll want to take sponge baths to stay clean. 

3. One to two weeks after your tummy tuck procedures

As the days go by, you will notice a progressive reduction in swelling, bruising, and soreness.

Somewhere during this period, you’ll be able to discard your bandages. If you had drains, they will also be removed during this time. This will be at the discretion of Dr. Schulman. You should continue taking your medications as directed by Dr. Schulman and according to your pain levels.

For the first two weeks at least, you should not submerge your abdominal area in water, so no baths, hot tubs, pools, or lake or ocean swimming. During this time, continue to avoid strenuous activities. Dr. Schulman may simply want you to take some gentle walks around the house.

Most patients can go back to work around 10 to 20 days after surgery.

4. Four to six weeks post-surgery

By this point in your tummy tuck recovery time line, you should be standing fully upright, and the internal healing process will be complete. Much of the swelling will have gone down so that you’ll be able to see a firmer, slimmer abdomen. Still, you’ll need to continue to wear your abdominal binder compression garment until around the six to eight-week mark. 

At this time, Dr. Schulman may also okay you to return to vigorous exercise. You may need to modify your usual routine, however, so discuss the activities you’d like to do with Dr. Schulman to be sure they’re safe. 

5. Approaching full results at six months

You will be very close to seeing the full results of your tummy tuck approximately six months after the procedure. In many cases, however, your incision site may not fade completely for a year or more. 

This does not mean it will disappear entirely, but it will fade significantly by the one year-mark and will be lighter in color compared to the pink color it was during the first few stages of swelling after tummy tuck.

Dr. Schulman will provide scar-care instructions during this time to ensure your scar is not stressed and fades as smoothly as possible. 

Questions and Answers

Tummy tuck recovery timeline

How long does it take to recover from tummy tuck?

The recovery time after a tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, can vary depending on the extent of the surgery and individual factors such as age, overall health, and the body’s natural healing process.

In general, the initial recovery period lasts about 2-4 weeks. During this time, it is important to rest and avoid any strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, or exercise.

Most people can return to light activities and work within 2-3 weeks after surgery.

The full recovery period for a tummy tuck results can take up to 6-12 months, during which time the body will continue to heal and the scars will fade.

How long is bed rest after tummy tuck?

The amount of bed rest required after a tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, will depend on the extent of the surgery and the individual’s healing process.

Generally, patients are advised to rest in bed for the first few days after the procedure, and avoid any strenuous activities for several weeks.

What happens 2 weeks after tummy tuck?

At the 2 week mark, swelling in the treated area remains, but there’s a noticeable reduction in pain, bruising, and the sensation of tightness. It’s recommended for the patient to persist in wearing compression garments a few weeks during this stage.

How long after a tummy tuck will the swelling go down?

Most swelling typically diminishes within around two months following surgery. Approximately 80% of the swelling is expected to diminish during this time, though some patients may experience lingering minor swelling that could persist for up to a year post-surgery.

How do you know if you are retaining fluid after a tummy tuck?

Seromas might manifest as a swollen lump resembling a water balloon and may cause tenderness. Additional symptoms of seromas include the discharge of clear or yellow fluid from the incision site. Presence of thick or foul-smelling fluid may suggest a potential infection.

Book Your Consultation

Are you ready to schedule a tummy tuck consultation? Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman utilizes the latest techniques and technologies to perform tummy tucks for patients in New York City.

Contact our office today to book your appointment to learn about the tummy tuck healing stages of recovery.



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