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Is it Wise to Return to Work 10 Days After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

i am a 46 y/o healthy woman, with no history of pregnancies. I want a breast lift/reduction and a tummy tuck. would like to have them done together to minimize time off work. would like to return to work - sedentary social work job - sit in office talking to patients - all day - ASAP - 7-10 days after surgery. Is this realistic? Also, since I haven't had children, would I be able to skip he "muscles" part of the tummy tuck??? thanks

Doctor Answers (10)

Is it Wise to Return to Work 10 Days After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

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Tummy tuck is a major operation associated with major physical and emotional recovery time.  As you can imagine, every patient's experience differs after the procedure. Therefore, return to work times will differ from one patient to another. Ultimately, your plastic surgeon will be your best resource when it comes to guiding you; he/she will see how you are doing and whether or not you have experienced any complications or set backs.  Generally speaking, most patients are able to return to a “desk job” about 2 weeks after surgery; more strenuous activity (such as your job) may require 4 to 6 weeks of time off (or longer).

Since you considering undergoing a major operation which again involves a significant physical and emotional recovery ( often underestimated by surgeons and patients alike), a few words of advice may be helpful:

1. Make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (for yourself) and that you have realistic expectations. Be aware that an improvement in the “problem area” may not translate to an overall improvement in your life situation. You are bound to be disappointed with results of the procedure if your motivation for doing the surgery is not internally driven.
2. Time your surgery carefully; generally, it is not a good idea to have surgery done during or immediately after a stressful period in life (for example divorce or death of a loved one). The additional stress of surgery will undoubtedly be more challenging to deal with if a patient's emotional reserves our already exhausted. Remember, that an improvement in your physical appearance will not translate to an improvement in your life situation.
3. If possible speak to patients who have undergone similar procedures and query them about the toughest times of their recovery period. Any practical hints previous patients can provide may be very helpful.
4. Make sure you are aware of potential complications that may arise how to reach your surgeon if necessary.

5. Make sure you have a strong and patient support system (several people if possible) in place who have time/patience to take care of you. Arrange for professional nursing if any doubt exists regarding the availability and/or stamina of your caretakers.
6. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. It may also take many months/year to see the end results of your surgery.
7. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies.
8. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work, school or chores too early and let others take care of you (for a change).
9. Pick your surgeon carefully (a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon) and trust in his/her advice. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the emotional swings that you may experience.
10. Resume all medications that you were using preoperatively when cleared by your plastic surgeon and stop the use of narcotics and sedatives as soon as feasible after surgery.
11. Keep in mind the end results as you go through the tougher emotional times after your surgery.

I hope this, and the attached link, helps. Best wishes.


San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 755 reviews

Safer To Take 2-3 Weeks Off Work After Tummy Tuck

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Normally, I advise patients to plan to be off work for 2-3 weeks, during which time your physical activity is limited to leisurely walking, as it helps minimize the risk of deep clots in your leg veins. You will be getting a number of procedures performed, which may make this time frame even longer. In addition, since you mention that you'll be sitting at your desk all day, this may actually adversely affect your recovery. Please ask your surgeon for their advice.

As for the tightening of abdominal muscles during your tummy tuck, it may not be necessary. However, if you have experienced dramatic weight loss, this may still be a consideration. Again, please talk to your surgeon for the best advice.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Tummy Tuck Recovery Time

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Recovery time varies from person to person and is largely dependent on the extent of the procedure. If no muscle plication is required, you may be able to return to work in 7-10 days, but you may feel sore and tire more easily. Patients who require muscle tightening (internal corsett) may require longer recovery times. Good Luck!

Scott Farber, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

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Returning to Work After Tummy Tuck

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The key with returning to work is when you will be able to perform your daily activities without risking damage to the underlying procedure. Most patients should be able to return to work 7-10 days after surgery, but they will notice that they are tired much more easily. Patients must also be off pain medication and cleared to drive by their doctor. Communicate with your doctor, but normally a week is sufficient if you  work at a desk.  Start half days to ensure you have enough energy to stay focused on your duties.

Best of luck

Vincent Marin, MD, FACS

San Diego Plastic Surgeon

Vincent P. Marin, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Return to work

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Your recovery and return to work are all dependent upon the nature of your surgery and your individual healing. Patients who do not undergo a muscle plication will have less discomfort than those who do. In our own practice, I would recommend planning on being out 10-14 days but if you feel up to it you could return sooner. We would not want you NOT having enough time to recover and compromising your result.

Marc Schneider, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Pain medications after breast lift and tummy.

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Your situation may differ from another persons.  We usually advise taking a week off work and avoiding strenuous avtivity for 3 weeks.  You may need to be on pain medications which will impare you and your driving abilities. 

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Is returning to a sedentary job 7 - 10 days after a tummy tuck reasonable?

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It is definitely not unreasonable to return to a sedentary job 7 -10 days after a tummy tuck and breast reduction. However, not every one will be able to do this. (Some people can take 3 weeks off for an ingrown toe nail.) Whether you return at 1 week, 2 weeks or even 3 weeks, you probably won't have your usual level of stamina initially and may tire before your normal work day is completed.

When you find a plastic surgeon to perform your procedure, ask and follow their protocol.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Return to work after tummy tuck

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It is conceivable you can return to work 10 days after a tummy tuck though the recovery process varies for each patient. Muscle plication is usually determined by the surgeon bases on how much laxity you have between the muscles.

Lawrence C. Lin, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon

Time Off After Tummy Tuck

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The time required to stay off work following any surgery varies a lot among different patients and with different procedures.  It is reasonable to think that you could return to your work since it is sedantary 10 days or so after your TT, especially if you are particularly keen to do so.

John Whitt, MD
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Time off work for Tummy Tuck

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Although I have seen patients return to work 7-10 days after a tummy tuck and breast reduction, this is not the norm.   I would play it safe and allocate 2-3 weeks of recovery time.    Patients find it much more stressful to ask for additional time off when trying to recover too quickly,  than asking for the appropriate time off from the beginning.   Remember, this is elective cosmetic surgery, you do not want to cut corners and sacrifice a wonderful end result.

Although pregnancy definitely contributes to muscle laxity, so does aging and weight changes.   I would recommend evaluation by your plastic surgeon to determine the necessity of a muscle plication.   In almost all cases, a better contour and shape is going to be achieved with a little muscle tightening.

I wish you a safe and healthy recovery.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.