Extensive Abdominoplasty - Recovery More Than 3 Months?

I had surgery 3 1/2 months ago. I thought recovery would be after several weeks, not months. Drainage tubes in for 3 weeks. My abdomen feels like a cinder block, and my best exercise is trying to get out a recliner and stand up. My stomach is very tight, and I cannot stand up completely straight yet. My movements are limited. why so long? I do plan to ask my surgeon also, but any extra opinions would be helpful. I have another week before I see him again.

Doctor Answers 16

Prolonged Tummy Tuck Recovery

Every patient's recovery is different.  In my experience it is a bit unusual to have some of the issues you are having at 3 months.  I really do not think you can get a solid answer  in this forum.  The best answer will only come from your plastic surgeon.

Dr. ES

Tummy Tuck and Recovery

If you are having this amount of trouble after an abdominoplasty this most likely cause is not moving enough. Most surgeons use standard post-operative protocol that suggests that you not move and be active. New science shows that the more you move, the better and faster your recovery will be. I would suggest you see your surgeon and then, if it is okay with hem or her, get back to the gym, yoga, or Pilates and you will see a tremendous change in just days.

I hope that helps.

Best regards

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

4 months post tummy tuck

The simple answer is - no this is not entirely normal.  While I have not examined you so a complete answer is not possible, I do have some helpful information.  This does happen 1-5% after extensive tummy tuck surgeries.   If you had massive weight loss like gastric bypass surgery, than you are more likely to have longer standing drains and slower recovery.  If you smoke or are around second hand smoke than this is very common, and you should quit.  Lastly, underlying conditions like diabetes will lead to this slow healing.  Hope that helps. Good Luck

Neil Gottlieb, MD
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Changes after an abdominoplasty

Most likely you will see some significant change in the softness of your abdomen over the next 3 months.   Continue with massage of abdomen as well as stretching exercises to speed your recovery.  Everyone is different and you will eventually recovery and get back to normal.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Recovery from abdominoplasty

Not  being able to stand up straight and feeling like a "cinder block" is not normal.  Unfortunately an exam in person would be helpful.  Best for you to ask these questions to your surgeon.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Tummy Tuck Recovery

Thank you for your question.  I'm sorry to hear of your difficulties after your surgery.  Without knowing all the details of your surgery and postoperative recovery, I cannot determine the reason for your prolonged recovery.  However, it is likely that your body has become deconditioned from the decrease in activity and your back muscles are stiff from bending over for so long.  Your surgeon should be able to help you with your recovery.  A certified massage therapist may also be able to help with any back muscle stiffness with a chair massage.  I hope this helps.  Best wishes!

William J. Vinyard, MD, FACS
Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Road To Recovery

I am sorry to hear that you have had such a difficult recovery.  The experience you are describing is out of the ordinary for this procedure. You should discuss your concerns further with your physician to determine if there are no other confounding variables affecting your recovery. All the best.

George Bitar, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Recovery after a tummy tuck


Most patients recover well by 4-6 weeks. It takes longer if a lot of skin was removed, the muscles were particularly weak and needed extensive repair, or if there was any complication (infection, bleeding etc.). Drains do not usually need to stayn in for 3 weeks, I normally take them out after a day or two.

However your surgeon is the best one to advice you as he knows how big the procedure was and what is to be expected.

Anindya Lahiri, FRCS (Plast)
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Recovery after Extended tummy tuck

Thanks for the question . I think like others to go quickly to your PS rather then to wait. Its not normal to be in this situation unless there is hematoma of extensive nature  which is getting organized and making all the tummy very hard to palpation and may be some trauma to muscles. Having said all this your PS is the best jugged and the answers is this forum should not confront you with your PS. You still must present with respect and honor to take out his best. Wishing you good luck.

Ashok Govila, FRCS, MCh, MS
Dubai Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Long Recovery after Tummy Tuck

Sorry to hear about your long recovery. You should discuss this with your surgeon  and see if some physical therapy may be helpful. 

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 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.