C section vs Tummy tuck; How different is the pain ?

How different is the pain between a c section and tummy tuck? I had two c sections, I have a 2 1/2 year old and 11 month old.

Doctor Answers 7

C section vs Tummy tuck; How different is the pain ?

Thank you for the question. As you can imagine, every patient will have a different experience when it comes to discomfort (and overall healing process) after tummy tuck surgery. Generally, most patients will report that the recovery process is similar to recovering after C-section. Anecdotally, when I have asked patients to compare, all have reported that the tummy tuck recovery is less painful than C-section recovery.  
The pain experienced after any given operation will vary significantly from one patient to another; for example, some patients need two to three days of postoperative pain medications;  some patients require several weeks of pain medications.  Much may depend on exactly what procedures performed, pain control measures taken, patients' pain threshold/personality characteristics… 

Since you considering undergoing a major operation which again involves a significant physical AND emotional recovery ( often underestimated by surgeons and patients alike), a few words of advice may be helpful: 1. Make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (for yourself) and that you have realistic expectations. Be aware that an improvement in the “problem area” may not translate to an overall improvement in your life situation. You are bound to be disappointed with results of the procedure if your motivation for doing the surgery is not internally driven. 2. Time your surgery carefully; generally, it is not a good idea to have surgery done during or immediately after a stressful period in life (for example divorce or death of a loved one). The additional stress of surgery will undoubtedly be more challenging to deal with if a patient's emotional reserves our already exhausted. Remember, that an improvement in your physical appearance will not translate to an improvement in your life situation. 3. If possible speak to patients who have undergone similar procedures and query them about the toughest times of their recovery period. Any practical hints previous patients can provide may be very helpful. 4. Make sure you are aware of potential complications that may arise how to reach your surgeon if necessary. 5. Make sure you have a strong and patient support system (several people if possible) in place who have time/patience to take care of you. Arrange for professional nursing if any doubt exists regarding the availability and/or stamina of your caretakers. 6. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. It may also take many months/year to see the end results of your surgery. 7. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies. 8. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work, school or chores too early and let others take care of you (for a change). 9. Pick your surgeon carefully (a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon) and trust in his/her advice. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the emotional swings that you may experience. 10. Resume all medications that you were using preoperatively when cleared by your plastic surgeon and stop the use of narcotics and sedatives as soon as feasible after surgery. 11. Keep in mind the end results as you go through the tougher emotional times after your surgery. I hope this, and the attached link, helps. Best wishes.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,498 reviews

Dr Derby

Many of my patients say the tummy tuck was easier to recover from after. When you have a C section you need to ,no only recover, but also right away take care of a baby and the hormones are also a bit out of wack still :-) 

Derby Sang Caputo, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

Tummy tuck vs C section

Most of our patients say the tummy tuck was easier to recover from. Having had a C section, most know what to expect after s tummy tuck- no lifting, discomfort, etc.

Harry T. Haramis, MD, FACS
Montclair Plastic Surgeon
3.7 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Tummy tuck

Hello and thank you for your question.  Most patients say that C-section recovery is more painful than recovery from a tummy tuck.  If you are an appropriate candidate, a tummy tuck can be done through a low and short incision, all completely below the bikini line.  Your muscles can also be plicated resulting in a flat abdomen. The most important aspect is to find a surgeon you are comfortable with. I recommend that you seek consultation with a qualified board-certified plastic surgeon who can evaluate you in person.

Best wishes and good luck.

Richard G. Reish, M.D.
Harvard-trained plastic surgeon

Richard G. Reish, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 131 reviews


Pain is a subjective entity. Some say that the pain after a full TT is comparable to a C-Section. Others claim that the TT is less painful. Many surgeons inject long -acting analgesics to assist with pain management with body countering procedures   DrBurnett#realself100

Carlos Burnett, MD, FACS
Westfield Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Which pain is worse?

Great question. It is often helpful to get a perspective of what to expect after surgery. Almost universally, my patients who have had a C-section and a tummy tuck say that recovery from the C-Section was much more difficult. Now this is likely due to the fact that one is recovering from a major surgery (c-section) and caring for a new baby. Not easy.I recommend holding off on body contouring procedures such as tummy tuck until you have completed your family.
Consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in your are and discuss all your options.Best Wishes,Michael Morrissey, MD

J. Michael Morrissey, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Tummy tuck pain - is it like a C-section?

Thank you for asking about your tummy tuck.
  • It varies a lot -
  • Some  of my patients say the tummy tuck pain is the same as their C-section pain.
  • But many say it is much worse.
  • I recommend that my patients have Exparel injecctions at surgery, if they can afford it.
  • It truly reduces the pain and speeds your recovery.
Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 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.