How Long After a Tummy Tuck is It Normal to Have a Bowel Movement?

I went through my tummy tuck feb 4th and have a lot of gurgling in my tummy but i have not been able to have a bowel movement. I've been eating a lot of fiber and been drinking Prune juice as well as "fiber wise" How long should i go without being worried about having a bowel movement? I was really regular before surgery!

Doctor Answers 11

Constipation after surgery is common

You ask a very common question.  Constipation after surgery is very commong.  First, you likely underwent general anesthesia and have been using narcotic pain medications.  These medications can slow your bowels down and "put them to sleep."  This is just temporary and will resolve with time.   Second, you likely ate nothing for 24 hrs and are likely eating less during your immediate postoperative phase.   Third, you may be slightly dehydrated.  And fourth, you are likely walking a little less than usual (ambulation helps get the bowels moving).  All of these things can be easily address.  Many times, patients can take colace or other gentle stool softeners to aid the process.   I would advise you not to strain or push as it could damage your tummy tuck.  Talk to you plastic surgeon about your concerns. 

Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 209 reviews

Fighting constipation after tummy tuck

After three to four days with no 'activity' tummy tuck patients begin to get anxious. The bowl will naturally slow down to the response of surgery, inactivity, and narcotic pain medication. Your solution is three fold. Walk as much as you can as you will feel better and things get moving. Next, keep track of the pain medication and use it wisely when needed, for every action there is a reaction. Finally, start milk of magnesia, two tablespoons morning and night (yuk) and things will correct themselves naturally. Avoid laxatives as these can just make you downright uncomfortable.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews


Ten days of constipation can seem like a lifetime so keep working on it as you have been.  Dietary supplementation will help, keep active and walking regularly and make sure you don't take too much pain medication unnecessarily (despite the normal discomfort from this operation).  If you develop fevers, abdominal distention or bad cramping you will need to visit your physician for help, otherwise this happens not uncommonly.

Ricardo A. Meade, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

Bowel Function after Tummy Tuck

It is not unusual to have a period of difficulty with bowel movements following tummy tucks.  I agree that your pain medication may be a significant cause of this.  In addition to the corrective measures which you have already undertaken, you might also consider a stool softener and a suppository such as Dulcolax.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Tummy tuck

The difficulty with bowel movement is most likely due to the post-operative pain medications (opiates).  Gradually, you will improve.

Shahin Javaheri, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Bowel Troubles after a Tummy Tuck

After surgery developing bowel troubles such as bloating and constipation is very common. This is because you have just had abdominal surgery, you are less mobile, and you are taking narcotic pain medication which causes the slowing of the bowels.

This can be very unpleasant experience given that you should avoid straining after this type of surgery.  Whilst in hospital my patients are prescribed a number of medications to minimise any bowel problems. I also encourage drinking plenty of fluids, maintaining a high fibre diet and taking supplements such as Metamucil. This will hopefully make going to the bathroom more frequent and therefore be less traumatic on the wounds and abominal muscles.  The potential for bloating, along with the surgical swelling will make you appear a lot fuller in the beginning but it is temporary and will settle.

Eddy Dona, MBBS, FRACS
Sydney Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Constipation following tummy tuck...

Constipation can cause significant problems in the post-operative period.When patients undergo abdominal surgery, constipation can lead to severe discomfort and pain. If not addressed, it can lead to bowel obstruction and severe secondary complications.
In the immediate post-operative period, narcotics and dehydration can contribute to the development of constipation. In someone with baseline constipation, it’s important that every effort be made to optimize their condition pre-operatively. Stool softeners should be continued in the post-operative period. Every effort should be made to maintain hydration and activity levels. Narcotics should be tapered as quickly as possible following surgery as well.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

How Long After a Tummy Tuck is It Normal to Have a Bowel Movement?

Thank you for the question.
Unfortunately constipation is very common after plastic surgical procedures. I usually suggest high-fiber food and weaning off narcotic medications soon as feasible. Medications may also be useful depending on the specific situation, patient allergy, and surgeon preference.
Generally, it is advisable for patients seek assistance from their operating plastic surgeon if the constipation persists past 4 to 5 days. Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,484 reviews

How Long After a Tummy Tuck is It Normal to Have a Bowel Movement?

On average 1 week. Best to notify your chosen surgeon to advise you. From MIAMI Dr. Darryl j. Blinski

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Constipation after elective cosmetic aesthetic plastic surgery: Champagne bottle and the cork!

Cosntipation after elective surgery is quite common and associated with "dehydration" and narcotic analgesics. Just like you don't want to shake up a champagne bottle before loosening the cork, we recommend that you loosen the stool first prior to using a lzitive which can be quite painful. We recommend a few doses of mineral oil prior to gentle laxitives such as MOM then to dulcolax or enemas.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 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.