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What is the Recovery Time with a Tummy Tuck and a Repair for an Incisional Hernia?

i am a 56 year old woman, good health

Doctor Answers (7)

What is the Recovery Time with a Tummy Tuck and a Repair for an Incisional Hernia?

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The 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 781 reviews

What is the Recovery Time with a Tummy Tuck and a Repair for an Incisional Hernia?

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Much depends on what you mean by recovery time.

Many patients whose employment is not physically exertional are back to work in 10 days or so. Those who do heavy physical work may be out for 6 weeks if their employer has no "light duty." 

As to being able to function at home without help, usually a couple of days, unless there are children to care for.

For results, 3 months or so for most swelling to resolve, a year for the scars to mature.

 When you ready for an in person consultation, RealSelf has listings of surgeons in your area. You should consider cross referencing the listings from the The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (plasticsurgery dot org). A listing in the ASPS website assures you that your surgeon is not only board certified,  but also is a member in good standing of the major plastic surgery organization in the U. S.

Thank you for your question, best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Recovery Time for a Tummy Tuck is Very Dependent on the Individual Patient

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Recovery time is very dependent on the individual patient (and in your case the type of incisional hernia repair). 

In addition, different aspects of the recovery take different amounts of time.  I tell my patients that they will be pretty sore for the first 10-14 days following the surgery and will likely not return to work until after that time. 

During that time period most patients with walk with a hunched over posture due to the tension on the abdominal wall following the hernia repair/tightening of the abdominal wall. 

After the first 10-14 days the pain usually improves rapidly, but there are often pain setbacks when patients have increased pain on or after days where they do too much. 

I restrict my patients from lifting anything heavier than a jug of milk for the first 6 weeks following surgery (this is especially important with incisional hernia repair). 

For the first 2-4 weeks I advise my patients that if an activity hurts they should not be doing it.  For weeks 4-6 I advise them if it hurts to do it slowly.  After 6 weeks I give most of my patients clearance to slowly ramp up to full activity. 

I encourage my patients to wear their post-operative compression garment for the full 6 weeks after surgery.  Post-operative swelling will usually resolve between 6 weeks and 3 months.  Sensation to the abdominal skin may take greater than 3 months to return to normal.  Scars will not mature until 1 year after surgery.

David P. Stapenhorst, MD
Sugar Land Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

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Recovery Generally Quick...

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Patient's experiences vary but physically fit, motivated people will push themselves and tend to recover faster.  The first few days can be challenging but most patients are ambulating well and off of pain medication in less than one week.  Most patients return to work within 10 to 14 days.  Exercise and other strenuous activities can be initiated two to three weeks after surgery and gradually increased...by six weeks after surgery, most patients can do everything they did before the surgery.

P.S.  Repair of an  incisional hernia at the time of your tummy tuck should not affect the course of your recovery...good luck.

Eric Sadeh, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Tummy Tuck w/ Hernia Repair Recovery Time

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Abdominoplasty w/ Ab Hernia Repair, will take the same recovery time as a regular Tummy Tuck. And it is different in each patient but, average time 2-3 weeks, to returns to light physical activities.

Good Luck ,  Dr. Vega - Tijuana

Ricardo Vega, MD
Mexico Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Recovery from tummy tuck with hernia repair

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I divide recovery into stages.  In the first stage, which is about two weeks, you will not be able to work and will be on restrictions, initially walking bent over until, gradually, you can become erect.  Then, recovery progresses into the second stage, during which you will be able to slowly resume physical activities, including lifting.  It takes about six months for the result to be appreciated and then scar healing continues for an entire year.  This is why active followup with your plastic surgeon is so important as you go through the healing process.

Robert L. Kraft, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Tummy Tuck recovery

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Of course every person is different, but in general most patients are back to normal activity at 4 weeks and vigorous activity at 6 weeks.  The first 2 weeks are the roughest, no heavy lifting over 15 lbs for the first week and 30 lbs for the second week.  There are typically drain tubes to care for that remain in place from 1-3 weeks on the average.  If a significant complication develops then the recovery time may be longer.  The recovery is similar to a C-section or hysterectomy.

Good Luck!

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 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.