Tummy Tuck
Tummy Tuck Guide

Tummy Tuck Recovery

What should I expect during tummy tuck recovery?

You will receive instructions from your surgeon or the facility staff to aid your tummy tuck recovery: how to care for the surgical site and drainage; medications to apply or take orally to help healing and reduce infection risks; specific concerns to examine at the surgical site or in your general health; and when to contact your physician for a follow-up.

Expect to take some time away from work and not engaging in exercise while your body heals, as a tummy tuck requires time for recovery. Your abdominal muscles do a lot of work during the course of a normal day, and you can expect that it will take some time to get back to your daily routine when your abs are cut and repositioned. You may be unable to fully stand straight until you have healed internally. You should be able to stand upright within 1-2 weeks. Patients should plan meals in advance and have pain medications on hand before returning home in order to get the rest that they need during their tummy tuck recovery.

There will be pain involved in the recovery process. Don't wait for pain to be unbearable before taking the pain medication; you end up using less pain medication if you take it on time and before it worsens than if you wait for it to become severe. Pain also interferes with healing.

After the surgery, you may be given dressings or bandages to put on the incisions. You might be wrapped in an elastic bandage or compression garment to minimize swelling and support the abdomen as it heals. A small, thin tube might be placed underneath your skin after the procedure to drain surplus blood or fluid to minimize swelling from fluid collection.

Some antibiotics may interfere with birth control pills, so it is recommended that you use a second form of protection when engaging in sexual intercourse. That said, do not have sex until you get approval from your doctor, as it could cause complications with healing including wound opening, suture popping, and infection.

Ask your surgeon specific questions about what to expect during your recovery, including what medication you will be given or prescribed after the procedure; where you will be taken after the surgery; if you will have dressing and/or bandages after the tummy tuck, and whether they will be removed; if stitches are removed and when; when to return for a follow-up appointment; and when you can resume normal activities and exercise. Previous tummy tuck surgery may limit the potential results of the most recent procedure. Women that have undergone a cesarean section surgery might experience the new scar being incorporated into existing scars.


Swelling after tummy tuck surgery is normal and a part of the body's effort to heal itself. Your body won't look or feel the way that you would like immediately following surgery, and final results may be masked initially. Give yourself at least a month before you evaluate the work that has been done. A tummy tuck is a major procedure that takes a reasonable amount of recovery time.

Patients with tummy tuck recovery stories lament the swelling and inflammation that accompanies the recovery period. Most patients want to see the results of the surgery immediately, but inflammation is definitely part of the procedure and the recovery period.

Resist the urge to analyze your reflection in the mirror for at least seven days following your surgery. You will not see the full results until your body is healed enough for you to go about a normal day without pain in your abdominal region which usually takes at least one month of recovery.

Preventing Infection

Though swelling after tummy tuck surgery is normal, it can also be a sign of infection if it is accompanied by redness, fever, or an overall feeling of malaise. Take all of your antibiotics on schedule and do not stop taking them until you have finished the entire prescription. Call your doctor immediately if your suspect infection while you are recovering from surgery.

Take your temperature regularly. An increased temperature may signal an infection. Take your antibiotic prescription on time and use the whole amount, as not taking the medication for the prescribed number of days may result in a drug-resistant infection.

Rest and Movement

It's important that you move around and walk during tummy tuck recovery. Walking and movement that is gentle and not excessive can help your body heal and keep you from developing dangerous blood clots. You will naturally crave rest following the procedure because rest is definitely an important ingredient in the healing process, but a healthy amount of movement will promote blood flow and help your body get stronger while it heals. Balance activity and rest during recovery to achieve the best results and avoid complications following surgery. Doctors will recommend to patients that they prepare in advance for their post-operation downtime including the creation of a special area in the home to sit comfortably and entertain themselves until their body has healed enough to engage in normal daily activities.

You may feel groggy from the anesthetic and/or oral medications the evening after your tummy tuck surgery. You may not remember much of the first day or two.

Sleep with your head and shoulders elevated for the first 7 to 14 days to counter soreness and obtain the most rest to help you heal.

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