Ask a doctor

How Long After Tummy Tuck Does Pain and Soreness Usually Last?

I had a tummy tuck 2 weeks ago. The pain and soreness I feel at the top of my belly just below my chest is the most tender pain in the world. Is this normal?

Doctor Answers (9)

Abdominal pain and nerve recovery after Tummy Tuck

+3

This is not at all uncommon.

When looking at your belly, you see the incision and everbody expects the pain to be down low. Quite the opposite is true due to several factors.

The lower abdomen is actually numb due to the surgical "lifting" of the tissues. However, the nerves of the upper abodmen are relatively more intact making the upper abdomen feel more painful than the lower. The pain in the upper abdomen is usually due to the uppermost repair of the rectus muscles. This will worsen with spasms and may take up to 3 months to ease but is generally worse during the first 10 days.

As the nerves recover, they progress from the outside to the inside (hips toward the belly button) and from the top to the bottom. Sometimes the area immediately below the belly button never recovers completely but that is seldom a problem.

Sensations of " pins and needles" are very common dring the recovery period and tend to be worse if liposuction was performed. This can be most active from 10 days to 3 weeks after surgery. Long term some people report phantom sensations/pain from transposition of the tissues from the upper to lower abdomen. For example you may think your rib cage is itching but you need to scratch your groin area to relieve it.


Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Recovery process after a tummy tuck

+2

Tummy tucks are a very popular and effective method to contour the abdomen. Patients undergoing this procedure should understand that there is a significant recovery process. In our practice, we routinely give patients to separate garments to help them manage the swelling and provide support to increase their comfort. Two weeks after your surgery, it is normal to feel discomfort in this area. Discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon and asked if a supportive garment would help your swelling and discomfort.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

Pat Pazmino, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Tummy tuck pain

+2

Upper abdominal discomfort after a tummy tuck is common during the first few weeks after surgery. This is most likely secondary to the plication of the muscles.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

You might also like...

Pain after a tummy tuck

+2

 The muscle tightening in the upper abdomen is what is causing the pain.  This is because your ribs make the area tighter and because you are less numb there than in the lower abdomen.  This will improve over the next 4 weeks.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Tummy tuck pain can last longer than two weeks

+2

The pain you are feeling is probably normal. Remember that the surgery extended from the low incision all the way up to your ribs. If you had a tightening of your abdominal muscles called a rectus plication, that procedure extended from the breast bone all the way down to your pelvis. The area around your incision is probably more numb than the skin in the upper part of your belly. This to is normal, but may explain why the upper part hurts more; you have more sensation in that area.

While I hope this helps set your mind at ease, I recommend that you share your concerns with your surgeon who can examine you and make sure that there is nothing wrong, just the discomfort of normal healing.

Elizabeth Slass Lee, MD
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Probably normal for a non pain pump case

+2

Hello,

This is the location of the top of your muscular repair. That is the area where things tend to hurt the most after a tummy tuck. It is also the position where a pain pump catheter can really help things. I usually place them at the time of surgery to help control the pain afterward.

The pain gets better slowly, but you should be seeing your doctor who may have specific recommendations for your case.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Healing Process Following Tummy Tuck: What to Expect

+1

                  It’s not unusual for patients to experience pain following tummy tuck surgery.  This pain is usually related to elevation of skin flaps and tightening of the abdominal muscles.  In many cases the pain is more severe in the upper abdomen where the rib cage provides resistance against the pull of the tightened abdominal muscles.  In addition, the sensory nerves in this location haven’t been divided and are therefore functional. 

                  The pain associated with abdominoplasty is severe in the first 24-48 hours following surgery, but rapidly diminishes with time.  We typically use a synthetic codeine derivative called hydrocodone, which has a decreased incidence of nausea compared to Codeine.  We replace narcotic pain relievers with double strength Tylenol as soon as possible following surgery to avoid the potential for drug problems.

                   Pain tolerance varies from patient to patient following abdominoplasty.  It’s important to consult your plastic surgeon if your continuing to have severe pain two weeks after surgery.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

New Extended Pain relief is possible

+1

A new medication, Exparel, can provide for up to 3 days of post op pain relief for tummy tuck patients.  This decreases the need for post op narcotic pain medications and all the possible side effects of these drugs.  Women are returning to normal activity much quicker and with less pain.

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Tummy Tuck soreness can usually last between one and four weeks

+1

Tummy Tuck pain and soreness lasts between one and four weeks.  It depends upon so many factors that generalizations are hard to go on.  I have had patients go out walking the very next day, and other's still walking hunched-over a month later.  The factors include: The patient's individual pain tolerance, The patient's motivation to get better, The extent of the procedure, the age of the patient, the weight of the patient, and how fit the patient was before surgery.  There are probably many other factors as well. At The Plastic Surgery Center in New Jersey, we provide pain medication and in some cases can even provide some additional pain management strategies as well.    Most importantly, the surgery and pain management after the surgery need to be individualized on a case by case basis, which is best addressed at the time of consultation.

Michael Ian Rose, MD
New Jersey Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 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.