According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, Tummy Tuck Procedures, medically termed abdominoplasty, were one of the top 8 most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedures for women in the USA in 2020 and have a 96% worth it rating on RealSelf. This blog answers some of the most frequently asked questions about recovering from the procedure.
What the recovery period after abdominoplasty surgery is like is one of the most frequently asked questions at consultations as the surgery takes longer to recover from compared to many other cosmetic procedures. It is therefore important to ensure you follow your surgeon’s instructions and make sure to follow all advice for aftercare from the procedure.
- What is a Tummy Tuck?
- Tummy Tuck Recovery Time
- What Happens Immediately After the Procedure?
- Tummy Tuck Recovery Week by Week
- Tummy Tuck Drains
- Swelling After a Tummy Tuck
- Aftercare Questions
What is a Tummy Tuck?
A Tummy Tuck is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin and tightens the abdominal muscles, usually after pregnancy or weight gain. There are many different types of abdominoplasty procedures and the most suitable one will depend on your specific needs and which areas you desire to be altered. For a Full or Mini Tummy Tuck Procedure, an incision is made across the bottom of the abdomen and the excess skin is removed and the muscles of the abdomen are tightened. These results can permanently help patients to achieve a flatter, smaller and tighter stomach.
Tummy Tuck Recovery Time
The recovery time will significantly vary depending on the patient, so it is essential to follow your surgeon’s post-surgery instructions.
Factors that Impact Recovery
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, your recovery will depend on many factors including:
- The type of surgical technique used
- How much skin or fat was removed
- Your age
- Your physical health
- Your body weight
- Personal recovery times
- How well you follow post-surgery care instructions
What Happens Immediately After the Procedure?
Immediately after the procedure, you will remain in the hospital if a general anesthetic was administered and will need to stay overnight or longer depending on your individual situation and the procedure. If your surgery was performed under a local anesthetic then you can often go home the day of your surgery.
Your surgeon will inform you on what to expect and how to treat your body after the surgery and it is essential that someone drives you home after the procedure and looks after you for the first few days of your recovery period.
Tummy Tuck Recovery Week by Week
1 week- Will likely have drains in place that could be removed after a couple of days or after a week or two. When drains are in place you must be careful to look after them. For the first few days, Mayo Clinic explain that someone should help look after you as you are likely to have swelling and feel sore. Medication will be prescribed for pain management and potentially you will be given antibiotics for the first week or so to prevent infections. You may also struggle to stand well, lift things or move easily at this point. Generally, patients can shower a day or two after their surgery but this depends on what your surgeon has said.
2 weeks- At this point, you should be able to return to many of your regular activities eg driving and all daily activities which you feel able to do. After two weeks you are likely to be able to have a bath if your surgeon has said this is possible.
4 weeks- From 2 weeks to a month people tend to return to work and resume all normal activities such as shopping and light exercise. You may be able to stop wearing your garments at this point but your surgeon will explain whether you can stop wearing this soon after surgery or whether you should wear them for a month or longer.
8 weeks- Medical News Today explain that after 8 weeks after your procedure you are likely to feel yourself and be back to all normal activities.
Tummy Tuck Drains
Drains are inserted so that the excess fluid, which builds up after the surgery, can be easily removed from the body. Whether or not you will need drains inserted depends on the type of abdominoplasty procedure performed. Some drainage tubes might need to be emptied and the amount of fluid may need to be recorded. If this is the case your surgeon will explain this to you as it is not necessary for everyone. The time that the drains are left in for will depend on the type of surgical technique that was performed as some drains will be left in for only a few days, while others may need to stay in for up to two weeks.
For those with concerns over having drains in place, you should discuss these worries with a Board-Certified Surgeon or you could consider undergoing a drainless abdominoplasty procedure. In your consultation, your surgeon should explain how the drains work, how long you will need them for, how to care for them and what medication you may need while the drains are in place, such as antibiotics and painkillers.
Swelling After a Tummy Tuck
Swelling after your procedure is a normal side effect of the surgery as the body will naturally send white blood cells and fluid to the area to help it heal. The swelling will reduce over time but a post-surgery garment can be worn after the procedure to help reduce this build-up of fluid.
According to RealSelf lymphatic massages can be helpful after your surgery to reduce swelling and help the fluid be absorbed by the body. However, they explain these are not necessary and it is essential to let your abdomen heal before having any massage techniques performed.
Your surgeon will explain the various steps for aftercare. These will tend to include being told how to care for the drains and how to keep the incision clean and well looked after to optimize healing. You will also have been told the potential risks or complications and so should pay attention to how your abdomen and the incisions are healing.
How Long Should You Wear Your Garment for After a Tummy Tuck?
The amount of time you will be told to wear your garment/ binder for after surgery will vary depending on your surgeon’s specific recommendations and the type of surgery that was performed. Your surgeon may explain that you do not need to wear any garments, or they may recommend wearing one for up to a couple of months to help stop excessive fluid building up and to support the area after surgery. You should follow what your surgeon recommends and address any worries with them prior to the procedure.
How Long Should I Leave My Dissolvable Stitch Alone?
Healthline explain that dissolvable stitches tend to take a week or two to be dissolved by the body but this does depend on the type of dissolvable stitches used. You will likely need to leave your dissolvable stitches alone as your body will naturally absorb them, so they do not need to be physically removed. However, it is important to keep the area clean to help prevent infections.
Some surgeons will instead use regular stitches that will need to be removed around a week or two after your surgery. These stitches are not dissolvable and you will need an appointment with your surgeon to have them removed. The type of stitches used will depend on the type of surgery you are having and your surgeon’s chosen method.
How to Sleep After a Tummy Tuck
Your body needs time to heal and recover from the surgery so you should make sure that you take time to rest and sleep well. Healthline explains that you may need to sleep on an incline (where your upper body is raised) after the procedure. They explain that bending your knees can also help with swelling and excessive pressure on the stomach.
What to Eat After a Tummy Tuck
Scottsdale Tummy Tuck recommends taking vitamin A and C supplements or eating lots of foods containing these vitamins. They further recommend taking probiotics and drinking green tea to help with antioxidant levels and immunity. To help with any bloating and inflammation they recommend eating pineapple and papaya.
Can I Wear a Bikini One Year After a Tummy Tuck?
Yes, you will be able to wear a bikini a year after your surgery. The bloating and swelling should have stopped and your stomach should be completely healed a year after your surgery. You will have a scar from the incision but this may be covered by some bikini bottoms. You need to ensure you wear a high factor of SPF to keep the scar protected from the sun.
Understanding the recovery process and aftercare recommendations for your procedure is an essential step in researching and preparing for your surgery. For various information on the average cost of undergoing the procedure you can read our blog ‘How Much Does A Tummy Tuck Cost In Dallas And How Can I Finance The Procedure?‘ If you are considering having an abdominoplasty procedure you should see a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon, who has significant expertise in body surgeries so that they can provide more information on the recovery, risks, and recovery.
Please note: All materials on the Site, such as text, treatments, outcomes, photographs and images and any other material provided on the Site are for information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding treatments. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Site.
Though the content of this blog has been carefully prepared, the author of this content is not a medical doctor and the content has not been reviewed by a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Unless specifically stated, patients referred to in this blog have not received a tummy tuck from Dr. Liland. This blog does not endorse the work of any doctors or surgeons mentioned. Stories relating to patients’ personal experiences of tummy tuck procedures should be treated as anecdotal only.
Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and his, her, or their responsibility.