Should I be Able to Walk Straight 3 Days After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

I had the full tummy tuck w/ muscle repair and lipo on upper hips. My pain has been tolerable since day 1 post op and it's day 3 and I am hardly on any pain meds. My drain seems to be leaking less? Am I on the road to recovery or does this seem like it's too early? On a side note, I've been laughing lately and have been trying hard not to (how do I know if i ripped anything inside? like the muscle repair? If that makes any sense?

Doctor Answers 22

Expect at least a week of discomfort after a tummy tuck

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A tummy tuck is a major operation.  You can expect some discomfort during the first few days, up to a week.

Swelling associated with any surgery tends to peak at postoperative day three (POD3).  During this time you will likely need to take oral pain medication.

After the first week, you may need only Tylenol for discomfort, with stronger pain meds in the late afternoon or at night.  If you are very athletic and your body is used to being stressed physicallyl with regular strenuous exercise, your recovery might be even more rapid!

It is entirely normal to feel like you are unable to stand up straight for up to 10 days after a tummy tuck.  This is because of swelling and the feeling of tightness and numbness after surgery.  However, if you were to stand up straight, you would not do yourself any harm!

The repair of the muscles towards each other (correction of the "rectus diastasis") on the inside is secured by a double layer of sutures and is performed twice, in my practice.  On top of that, the abdominal incision is closed in three distinct layers, so it is quite secure.

My advice to all of my patients is always "listen to your body".  If it hurts, don't do it!  Remember that you have had surgery and you need to allow your body to rest as much as possible.

Karen M. Horton, M.D., M.Sc., F.R.C.S.C.

San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

Ambulation in a flexed position not uncommon...

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Most patients experience tightness and difficulty standing straight following abdominoplasty surgery. This typically lasts for about a week, but in some cases can last longer. Initially patients are encouraged to walk in a slightly flexed position to keep tension off the wound closure. This also makes the immediate post-operative period more comfortable. With the passage of time, patients are allowed to gradually resume an erect position and perform light activities. Strenuous activities and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least six weeks.
Tightness occurs because of the skin closure, and the plication of the underlying abdominal muscles. The degree of tightness that results varies from patient to patient. It depends upon how aggressively the surgeon has tightened both the skin and underlying muscles. When there is aggressive tightening of the abdominal muscles, there is more post-operative discomfort. Under these circumstances, patients may need to walk in a flexed position for longer periods of time. When more significant skin resections are performed, ambulation in a flexed position will be necessary for longer periods of time.
On a side note your history isn’t consistent with damage to your muscle repair. If you have questions about these topics consultation with your plastic surgeon is appropriate. Your surgeon should be able to answer your questions and alleviate your anxiety.

Walking and Recovery after Tummy Tuck is Variable

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Every body responds differently, both in terms of pain and general recovery after Tummy Tuck.

We encourage walking after Tummy Tuck to prevent complications like pneumonia and blood clots.  Standing straight is guided by how your body feels: don't "push" it.

Sounds like you're doing well! Be careful: Most complications come from doing too much too soon. Let comfort be your guide and remember you just had a big operation.  Closely follow the activity guidelines provided you by your surgeon.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Rapid recuperation after a tummy tuck. A good sign?

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Recuperation from a tummy tuck is so variable among patients. Fortunately, it sounds like yours has progressed quite well - so don't be alarmed. Many patients take a few days or more to be able to ambulate standing up straight.

Make sure that you follow the recommendations of your plastic surgeon including avoiding certain activities for a given period of time. Some patients may feel so well that they can engage in activities that may be detrimental to their healing such as placing too great a strain on their muscle repair. Moderation right now is good.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Tummy Tuck

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It is important not to try to stand straight up in the fist 7-14 days following a tummy tuck.  Tension on the suture line can cause widening of the scar.  Excessive tension can cause a wound disruption.  Even though you are feeling well, try not to overdo it.

Michael Orseck, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 141 reviews

Recovery from Tummy Tuck

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Everyone recovers at a different pace.  You seem to be lucky that you are having a very smooth and quick recovery.  There is nothing wrong with recovering quickly.  However, you may have good days and bad days during your recovery, so don't push yourself too much at first or you may regret it.


Good Luck.

Expectations after Tummy Tuck

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In my practice i have never had a patient regret having done this
procedure. But a great outcome requires the patient to follow
directions, and the doctor to give patients a realistic expectation
rather than "sell" the procedure. Not everyone is a great candidate for
every procedure like fancy adds may claim. Also, every doctor has a
different approach that works for him/her. In my office, I tell patents,
back to work in 10 days (take off the weekend on either side of a work
weeks). I tell them
you will walk and shower the next day and there is no restrictions on
walking. I prefer to keep people walking a bit hunched for the first
three days to keep the incision as low as possible. Drains are out about
5-7 days. Increase cardio after two weeks and full workouts after 8
weeks. They may have intercourse (let your body dictate your comfort level) after 3 weeks. In my practice I also give free personal training intro sessions
and dietetics counseling to get you started on the right path during your
healing. I want the tummy tuck to be just the start of the journey and I
want my patients to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle. Hope this

Should I be Able to Walk Straight 3 Days After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

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It has been my experience that operating on well motivated patients who are well educated on what to expect and what to do after their surgery COMBINED with numbing the tightened abdominal wall with a long lasting anesthetic commonly results in rapid recovery. I have not seen people bent over ("L's") in my practice in years.

Nice going!

Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Walking straight after tummy tuck

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It really depends on your skin and how thight the tuck was. Some patients are able to walk up straight within a couple of days and some take over a week, so it depends on a lot of factors and what you are experiencing is certainly within the norm.

Tummy Tuck Recovery

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Great to hear that you are on your way to a speedy recovery.  But don't get overconfident.  Follow your surgeon's postoperative instructions.  I generally advise patients to walk flexed at their waist and gradually straighten up more and more each day.   Most patients requires 5 to 9 days to walk straight without any discomfort.  Ambulating is great.  But no heavy lifting or strenuous activity for about 5 weeks.  Hope this helps.

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.