How long to return to work after tummy tuck with muscle repair?

Doctor Answers 7

How long to return to work after tummy tuck with muscle repair?

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I think it is best to prepare for a “recovery” of 3-4 weeks (longer if strenuous work) after tummy tuck surgery. Descriptions of recovery times shorter than this,  in my opinion, is over-promising.

I do have another word of advice for you. Patients who are about to undergo tummy tuck surgery spend a lot of time thinking about the physical preparation for the procedure (for example weight loss issues) but do not spend a lot of time thinking about the emotional aspects. It is not uncommon for patients who undergo the procedure to experience severe “mood swings”. These emotions may range from depression ( “why did I do this to myself”) to elation  (which may lead to over activity). I think it is helpful to be aware that these emotional swings do occur postoperatively. 

 It is not unusual for some patients to require several months before they regain preoperative strength/stamina/energy levels.   What I have observed  is that many patients are about 70 to 80% of their energy level at the 4 to 6 weeks post op period and may require 3 to 4 months before they are 100%.  


Suggestions I have for patients undergoing this procedure: 1. Make sure you have a strong support system in place who have time/patience to take care of you. 2. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. 3. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies. 4. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work too early and let others take care of you (for a change). 5. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the emotional swings that you may experience. 6. Keep in mind the end result!

Best wishes.

Recovery time after tummy tuck and muscle repair

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     For most patients, the muscle repair done with the majority of abdominoplasties or 'tummy tucks' is the limiting factor in returning to work or other activities.  Recovery is a gradual process and not a set event so it does go through stages.  Much will depend upon the type of work and whether or not the abdominal muscles are engaged in the work activity.  The muscle repair involves the rectus muscles and these are activated in most movements in the trunk or core of the body.  The answer will also depend upon your pre operative physical condition, the extent of your repair, and the amount of stress or lifting involved at your job.  It would be best to discuss these issues clearly with your surgeon and get specific and personalized advice.  Wearing a support garment or binder is usually helpful during the early stages of recovery.

Return to work

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Return to work varies depending on what type of work you perform. Routinely it a patient can return to work at asedentary occupation in about 10 to 12 days barring complications. 

Return to Work

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Most patients will be placed in an abdominal binder, which they will wear the first week. There is usually a fair amount of swelling and the binder should be opened  several times a day so that there are no pressure points. After the first 7 to 10 days the patient is placed in an elastic garment for compression over the next six weeks.

Swelling can persist for several months and will gradually improve and will look better at three months, six months, and even one year. Frequently the pubic area and the scrotal and penis area for men can become very swollen and discolored during the first two weeks due to gravity as this is the lowest area for swelling to accumulate.

You can return to full activity without restrictions at 6 weeks.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews


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Really depends on what your job entails. I see women in my practice who work on road construction, landscaping and in the steel mills. They generally need 6-8 weeks off before they can return. Patients with more sedentary jobs like working in an office generally need 4-6 weeks. My realtors and others who work from home can go back to part time work once the drains come out - often in 2-3 weeks. Good luck

Robert Frank, MD
Munster Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

When can you return to work after a Tummy Tuck?

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Good question, but one that does not have an exact answer.  Most of my patients will not return to work until after 2-3 weeks.  This depends on how fast a patient is recovering and what type of job they will be returning to.  Patients who follow post op instructions by eating well, drinking a lot of fluids, taking vitamins, ambulating often, taking deep breaths, and taking prescribed medications as ordered seem to recover more quickly.  Best of luck to you.,

Eric Schaffer, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Tummy Tuck - Return To Work?

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Thank you for your question and congratulations on your tummy tuck surgery. Most patients are cleared to return to work four to six weeks following a tummy tuck.  This time frame may vary depending on your occupation.  It is best to have an in-person follow up examination with your plastic surgeon for recommendations regarding what you should and should not be doing at this time. Good luck in your recovery.

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.