Lifting my Baby After Tummy Tuck and Plastic Surgery

I am going in for a tummy tuck, breast lift, and inner thigh lipo on Feb 12. I have a 5-month-old who, at the time of surgery, will be 7 mos. My doctor told me that I will be able to pick him up 1 week after surgery.

Does this sound OK to you?

Doctor Answers 12

Don't lift big babies after surgery

Ten pound babies can be lifted after one week. Heavier ones have to wait for 4 to 6 weeks. No need to push it and risk breaking deep sutures. Your husband can lift them for a while!


Boston Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

It may be asking too much, too soon, from your body

Dear Leiav,

My first reaction is that with the planned surgery you're limiting both your arms and your abdomen and to a slight degree your legs from behaving normally. Add lifting a 7 month old in and out of a crib and you're adding significant strain to your incisions and run a higher risk of complications, like wound dehiscence, hematoma or fluid buildup while prolonging your overall recovery.

I used to do a lot of multiple procedures like you describe and have since become more conservative, limiting the number of procedures performed at the same time to one or two depending on the patient's recovery environment and job circumstances.

Remember this. The human body heals at a specific rate (6 weeks normally, longer in diabetics) which science has not been able to alter much, except when we add too many procedures at once, at which point, we're slowing the healing rate overall - like sending troops to fight in Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea at the same time...

The problem is the natural 'stress' reaction within the body - which slows healing overall. The more areas, the greater the internal stress. The more external stress (caring for a baby), the slower the healing. Combine the two and you have a recipe for problems, which can prolong your recovery and return to normalcy.

Consider discussing this further with your surgeon as to why s/he is suggesting to do all the procedures at the same time, and is it possible that the procedures be staggered 6 - 12 weeks apart?

Dr. C

Antonio M. Carbonell, MD (retired)
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon

Trust your doctor

The main thing you want to avoid is heavy, vigorous, or too quick/violent movements. In the early weeks, it can lead to hemorrhage, and in the long term, it could cause the sutures to rip through your tissues, leading to an unhappy result.

I tell my patient > 10# for 6 weeks. Your doctor may have a different regiment, and I would follow it. Don't want to mess up the investment in you!

Activity after abdominoplasty tummy tuck liposuction and breast surgery

While a plastic surgeon advises a patient to refrain from heavy lifting after surgery, it is also prudent to regain normal function as soon as possible. Lifting a twenty pound object after surgery may be difficult as the added strain may cause you to lose balance, or even drop something that you are lifting. Moreover, you may pull a muscle or a suture line that is vital to outcome.

Lifting a twenty pound child is even more difficult because it is a sustained strenuous task. Although your surgeon is best capable of advising you on his surgery, in my practice, I advise patients to refrain from lifting anything heavier than a yellow pages book for 4 to 6 weeks.

If you are contemplating surgery, plan a a requiem where you will be resting. If this is not feasible, find a suitable period of time when you can before embarking on such a procedure.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Lifting Children Post-op

Combining those three operations may extend your recovery time. This may make it more difficult for you to safely lift your child after one week. Lifting objects heavier than 20 lbs can compromise the rectus repair in the first few weeks post-operatively.

At two weeks this repair is actually at its weakest and gains strength thereafter.

In addition, in my San Francisco area practice we remind patients that children are just weight - they can wiggle and squirm causing you to need to adjust in unexpected ways. This can you to have to use more muscle force than you might anticipate.

Discuss these concerns carefully with your surgeon. If you and the surgeon still wish to perform all of these procedures at the same time it may make some sense to make sure you have some help at home.

I hope this helps.

Treat it like a hernia

Generally most tummy tucks involve muscle repairs (similar to a hernia) that require a minimum of 6 weeks to gain sufficient scar tissue to reinforce the repair. Most general surgeons advise patients to wait at least 3-4 weeks before resuming activities. I suggest similar guidelines to my patients. However, it really depends on your tummy tuck ; if you don't have a muscle repair, this restriction is not as important.

  • If you do have to lift avoid bending over and straining. Have your partner hand your child to you. Bend your knees and lift more with your legs than your back and stomach muscles. Have a partner do the lifitng for you.

Patients also have two periods of potential bleeding that occurs after any surgery. T

  1. This is the initial 24 hour period when helpful clots form on the vessels that are transected during surgery and vasospasm (clamping down of the vessels) relax and open up.
  2. And then a small time frame between 7-10 days aftTer surgery when the clots breakdown (fibrinolysis) and blood vessels can potentially open up and bleed.

Other than good control of bleeding during surgery, we like to keep patients calm, pain controlled, and gently compressed (like a nose bleed) in the first 24 hours.

During that second period we advise limited activity and straining (that includes lifting your 7 mos old).

Hope this helps.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Personally, I would wait on the liposuction

I ask patients to treat their abdomens post-abdominoplasty as if they had a hernia repair recognizing they won't gain full healing strength for 8 weeks. By being careful and judicious in their lifting of children, I have never had a patient harm their repair in 20+ years. But this requires being very careful!

I often do breast lifts and tummy tucks together and the breast lift recovery is always the lesser of the two and isn't really a factor when it comes to lifting. I will not ever do below the waist surgery ie liposuction at the same time as a tummy tuck.

The most dangerous complication of a tummy tuck are blood clots (DVT) which can dislodge and travel to the lungs and can be fatal. In my opinion, any surgery below the waist added to a tummy tuck will decrease your ability to get up and walk regularly and therefore could increase the risk of DVT.

Lifting children after a tummy tuck

A tummy tuck is a very popular and effective technique to recontour the abdomen. Patients undergoing this procedure should consider the significant recovery process. In our practice, we routinely tell our patients that they should live no more than 5 pounds for the first 4 to 6 weeks after their surgery. This includes children. Lifting a large weight, such as a child, can put undue tension and stress on your abdominal repair. This can have the effect of loosening the muscle or widening your scar.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

Pat Pazmino, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 71 reviews

Lifting after plastic surgery

I usually have patients wait about 3 -6 weeks until they can perform heavy lifting.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Lifting little ones after breast augmentation and tummy tuck

Thank you for your question. You definitely want to follow your own surgeon's post-op activity instructions. This is a general guide I give to my patients as to the recovery after mommy makeover
Week 1) Discomfort and tightness level progressively decreases with each day. Swelling decreases a great deal after one week.
Week 2) Unlikely to need any narcotic support except maybe at night. Swelling and tightness continues to improve compared to week 1
Weeks 3-6) May need tylenol or ibuprofen for intermittent discomfort. Swelling completely resolved. Tightness may continue as the implants over an additional few months into their final position.
Most people return to work in some capacity during this phase.

As far as activity, here is a safe guide:
1) No heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 6 weeks (a gallon of milk as a guide).
2) Resume walking at a leisurely pace right after surgery (e.g. 2 mph)
3) At 2 weeks, you can walk 2 miles at 2mph
4) At 3 weeks, you can walk 3 miles at 3mph
5) At 4 weeks, you can walk 4 miles at 4mph
6) At 5 weeks, you can jog 5 miles at 5mph
7) At 6 weeks, you can resume all activities, but listen to your body and use discomfort or tightness as a guide so you don't over do it.

So as far as the little ones, I would recommend having help for basic needs like lifting into the car seat. You can cuddle with them while you are sitting down, but you should avoid the tendency to multitask with one child in your arms while you are busy doing other tasks.

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.