Ask a doctor

Easier to Recover from a Tummy Tuck if Had 2 Previous C-sections?

I am a mother of two (via c-sections) and i have heard people say that this recovery is identical to c-section. So i wonder if it is easier on people that have had abdominal surgery. Since you have the same incision area and the muscles are cut during c-section, which is probably worse than the tightening done in tummy tuck.

How does the recovery from tummy tuck compare to recovery from c-section?

Doctor Answers 16

Having experienced abdominal surgery does not make recovery from future ones more benign

Many of my Tummy Tuck patients who have also undergone a previous  C-section  often times compare the two operations recovery wise. They usually feel their Tummy Tuck recovery was similar but  somewhat less uncomfortable then the C-section.

However, there is no cause and effect relationship here. Having had the C-section first does not somehow make the recovery from the Tummy Tuck any easier. The Tummy Tuck involves less trauma to the abdominal  musculature then the C- section and this perhaps is why it is associated with a  less painful recovery. 

Do not assume that having experienced one  abdominal surgery somehow makes the recovery from future abdominal surgeries more benign. It does not.

Have a question? Ask a doctor

Comparing Recovery from C- Section VS. Tummy Tuck

The operations are quite different in scope and depth.

A C-section involves a shorter incision, rectus muscle separation and an operation inside the abdomen while the Tummy Tuck involves a longer scar, repositioning of the muscles in the midline and tightening them without entry into the abdomen. In most women, a Tummy Tuck is associated with tightness but not as much pain as a C-section allowing it to be an out patient operation and the vast majority do very well in a few days.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Recovery from tummy tuck surgery may be easier or harder than recovery from c-section

I have not had either a tummy tuck or a c-section, but in my experience, my patients are split down the middle; half say the tummy tuck was more difficult and uncomfortable, half say the c=section was worse. Although most of my patients ask me the day after surgery how I could have let them do this to themselves, by 4 days postop, they are usually off narcotic and feeling alot better. Remember, with a tummy tuck, you will not have a newborn to care for and will not have the additional strain of nursing. All your energy and nutrition can go into healing yourself.

Elizabeth Slass Lee, MD
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Tummy Tuck Recovery After C-Section

First, a clarification. The abdominal muscles, rectus muscles, are NOT cut during a C-Section. Although the skin incision is transvers, the muscles are divided in the midline, vertically, where there isn't muscle.

With that said the recovery is very similar but most of my patients fell that the pain is worse with the tummy tuck. The reason is that the muscles are sutured together with a very large stitich all the way up to the sternum (breast bone). Therefore, the pain in in the entire abdominal wall not just at the incision site.

However, moms ALWAYS do better because their bodies have been conditioned to significant pain, ie childbirth. You'll do great.

C-Section pain vs. Tummy Tuck pain

Most of my patients say it is about the same as their c-section or a little worse. However, I usually use a "pain pump" for tummy tuck patients. Those patients with the pain pump have little to no pain.

Tummy Tuck pain relative to C-section

Hi there-

While I agree that a tummy tuck and a c-section are very different operations, and that individual patients will experience recovery very differently, I also think it is true that my patients who have had c-sections generally tolerate the recovery after tummy tuck better than those who have not had a c-section.

I hope that helps you.

No way of knowing if pain tolerance is higher after c-sections

No one has ever studied pain perception in tummy tuck patients that have previously undergone c-sections versus those that have not undergone c-sections. The operative word there is perception. Pain is a perception, therefore different to each individual and very difficult to quantify in a standard fashion.

The hypothesis that your pain tolerance after having undergone two previous c-sections is now higher, may be valid, but there is no way of knowing. At any rate, I personally offer pain pumps to all of my abdominoplasty patients. Their use has significantly improved the recovery pain that patients used to experience. Good luck!

Tummy Tuck vs C-section

Every individual has a different appreciation of pain.  For the "same" operation, I see patients experience pain in a bell shaped distribution.  The majority (>90%) feel moderate discomfort that is easily managed with usual dosing of pain medications for a short period of time.  Rarely one finds an individual on the outside of the curve.  Some people take almost no medication or stop taking it very early, while others experience significant discomfort, requiring higher dosing of medications for longer periods of time.  Luckily, the extremes are rare (<2% or so).  All that being said, there is no sure way to know how an individual will react to surgery if it is the first procedure they are undergoing.  If you have had some equivalent procedure before, it serves as a good reference point to predict where you will fall on the "pain curve".  Most of my patients feel that the tummy tuck is less painful than a c-section.  (So if you did OK with the c-section, don't be scared of the tummy tuck.)

Best regards,


Recovery from a tummy tuck is easier than a C-section

Considering pain and time back to work, tummy tuck is much easier than a C-section. Our patients are all cared for in our office facility and go home the same day, and are up and about right after the procedure. With tummy tuck techniques today, there is no need for overnight care, and the stresses and changes within your body don't begin to compare with healing after a C-section. A C-section is a procedure inside your abdomen, the tummy tuck is one on the outside, and the difference in recovery is tremendous. Courage, you should do well.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

C-section versus tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

That is an excellent question and one that is freqeuntly asked by patients during consultations but infrequently online. The pain is relatively comparable with the exception that there is one primary difference. In a C-section, your abdomen goes from tight to loose. However, in a tummy tuck your abdomen goes from loose to tight. I have found that motivation to have surgery is probably one of the most major determinants of post operative pain and ease of recovery.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 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.