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How Long is the Recovery Period for Full Tummy Tuck?

I'm 43 years old and had Full Tummy Tuck around seven weeks ago. I could not stand upright for 5 weeks post-op. When do you stop feeling tugs, pulling and tightness?

Doctor Answers (33)

Full recovery after Tummy Tuck takes time

+10

Myfatbelly,

After seven weeks of healing, you are pretty far along and it sounds like you are making progress. Standing full and upright is something we expect to see in most patients after the first week, and some actuallly return to work and gentle activities after two weeks though the pace of recovery can vary. You are on the slow side but don't worry.

Full tummy tuck is not a single operation and the methods used in correction will depend on the degree of skin and muscle laxity. Of course, those who have a strong foundation which did not require any muscle repair will recover the fastest. Some may have had a true area of hernia and healing can take eight weeks or longer.

With any tummy tuck procedure, there will be a stiffness and tightness to the stomach, and sometimes a numb feeling that takes many weeks to resolve. If your doctor thinks that you are ready and soundly healed, you can begin with relaxation exercise such as yoga to gently improve flexibility and motion in the abdomen. This will take some time. After you have restored flexibility, then resume aerobic activities such as stationary bike or treadmill. The progress of your return to an exercise program will give you a good idea as to when you will be back to activity as usual.

Best of luck.


Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Tummy Tuck recovery is variable

+9

Since all abdominoplasties are not alike, recovery times are different. The amount of dissection, the tightness of the closure, the need to tighten the muscles and to what degree may all influence post-op pain, sense of tightness, and recovery time. However, most patients should be able to resume most activities by 4-6 weeks and should be able to stand erect within a few days. Most tugging and tight feeling should be gone by the time you resume all activities within 4-6 weeks although an occasional twinge of pain is not uncommon even after a few months. This pain should usually not be disabling, but more annoying.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

You should be better a few weeks after Tummy Tuck

+8

Myfatbelly,

I assume you have already discussed this and much more with your surgeon. He or she will be the best source of information.

I typically tell my patients that they will be able to stop narcotics in about a week, stand straight 1-2 weeks, begin driving 2 weeks, begin exercises in 4 weeks, be back to most all activities 2 months, and 12-18 months for numbness to resolve and scars fade. Those general guidelines do not tell you exactly how you'll recover.

You may notice, for several months, that certain things you do cause twinges, tugs, etc. You may notice new areas becoming tingly, sensitive or sore as nerves heal and recover. Most of this is a minor annoyance and does not stop you from doing simple activities. It all tends to get better over time. Best wishes.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

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Tummy Tuck recovery

+7

I encourage patients to stand upright after 3 to 4  days. In my experience, anything beyond that can result  in one heck of a back ache. Sitting in a straight-backed chair is a good way to "relax " the incision.

Barry H. Dolich, MD
Bronx Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Full Tummy Tuck Recovery period

+4

Although many patients feel some tightness most of my patients stand comfortably upright within a few weeks at most. Recovery times of course vary from patient to patient.

Here are the general recommendations and healing time course for full tummy tuck procedures:

Following the tummy tuck procedure, you should be in a flexed position to minimize tension on the incision sites by to bending at the hips (waist) in order to reduce tension on the newly tightened skin. A recliner chair is perfect for this purpose but a pillow beneath your knees and several at the head of the bed will work well also.  Immediately after surgery, within the first few hours, the patients will walk in a slightly bent-over position. Start walking flexed at the waist (in a stooped position) for a few minutes every 1-2 hours the evening of surgery and continuing daily except when sleeping. This will minimize your risk for blood clots. Wear your TED stockings
In about one week you can gradually stand up straight.
Gradually increase activity as tolerated.
No sexual activity for 6 weeks after surgery.
Wiggle your toes and move your ankles in circles in bed every hour.
No heavy exercise, bending, lifting, baths, swimming, sun exposure, smoking, alcohol or sports
for 6 weeks following surgery after your surgeon has given you clearance to do so.
Limit napping to one short nap (less than an hour) per day to prevent sleep disturbance at night.
P O S I T I O N
Sleeping in a recliner chair with your legs elevated is helpful for the first several days. In bed
elevate head and back on 2-3 pillows and keep 2 pillows under your knees.
A 'reclined' or sitting position relieves tension on the incision. During the 6 weeks after surgery, strenuous activity and the lifting of more than ten pounds must be avoided.  Many patients are able to return to work and daily activities within 2 weeks of surgery.  Softening of the surgical scars, return of sensation, and loosening of the tight sensation may take several months. Abdominoplasty recovery can be in some cases slow and uncomfortable requiring more time for a full recovery. Light activity is comfortable in 10-20 days. Sports will be more comfortable after 6 weeks.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Tummy Tuck Recovery

+3

In general it takes a few weeks for most patients to recover from a tummy tuck. Some will heal more quickly, some will take longer. The variable that affect recovery the most is the amount of muscle repair required. The more muscle tightening necessary, the long the expected recovery.

Some activities are restricted short term, showering for example. Some activities are restricted for weeks, like heavy lifting. It is important to discuss these details with your plastic surgeon before surgery so that there are no surprises. 

From my own experience the recovery can vary widely. I have some patients feel great in a few days and other take a few months, and it is not always who I would predict. Tight sensations down the middle of the abdomen. especially with reaching overhead, can last for days, weeks or months. As long as you are improving, it is considered normal.

If questions arise, your plastic surgeon should be there to answer them and help relieve the anxiety. If you can't get questions answered before surgery, you probably won't be able to get them answered after surgery, so choose someone you can talk to. It is a professional relationship, but it is still a relationship built on mutual trust.

Joseph Mele, MD
Walnut Creek Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

How Long is the Recovery Period for Full Tummy Tuck?

+3

Recovery period after a tummy tuck can be from two to 4 weeks. It is not unusual to still feel tug and tight around the incisions and flanks for a long time( months). This is due to scar and wound healing. When liposuction is perform with a tummy tuck  (as I usually do it for better contour) you may fill tightness around the areas of liposuction for months.

Jaime Perez, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Abdominal extension limitation can persist for 6-8 weeks after full abdominoplasty

+3

A successful abdominoplasty can tighten the abdomen sufficiently to make it difficult to fully extend your abdomen so that you can stand up straight.

You should be getting better every week and I would expect that you will be able to stand fully uprigt without difficulty in the next few weeks.

If not you should see your doctor and consider physical therapy to help you get full motion back.

Brooke R. Seckel, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Recovery for a full tummy tuck

+2
The recovery from a tummy tuck will depend upon the extent of a tummy tuck. Recovery will come in stages. Many of my patients who do not have very physically demanding jobs can go back to work in a week. Complete recovery, including strenuous workouts can take many weeks. Follow your doctor's orders carefully and go slowly.  

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Six months is the usual amount of time to expect for healing

+2

Six months is the usual amount of recovery after a tummy tuck. Patients are advised to walk a bit hunched for the first week to prevent pulling on the swollen and tightened muscles. This usually passes after about a week to ten days. I tell my patients after the first six weeks you can do everything including exercising. That is also when the tugging, pulling and tightness stop. At six months your body has healed and you should have a flatter abdomen. Some scars take up to one year to heal after a full tummy tuck. Eventually those scars should turn into fine white lines. When having a tummy tuck it is important to seek a board certified plastic surgeon that can manage you post operative care.

Z. Paul Lorenc, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 23 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.