What is painful about Tummy Tuck? And what is the recovery time for a Tummy Tuck?

Doctor Answers 8

Is tummy tuck painful?

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Thanks for posting.    I continue to be amazed at the stories I hear regarding pain after tummy tuck.  While I can not speak for other doctors,  my patients RARELY take a single narcotic pain pill after tuck.  At the end of your procedure, long acting numbing medicine is injected, and you are give a dose of non narcotic pain medicine--all before you wake up.  The MAJORITY of patients wake up with little or no pain, which I think is key to not ever having significant pain.  If patients comment on any discomfort, they will mention their waist/back being sore from supplemental lipo of the waist--NOT the tuck!!  We have many,many patient references to provide.  Please see attached web reference.  Good luck!

Tummy Tuck Pain and Recovery Time

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General Post-Op Healing information provided to my patients:

Most patients will be placed in an abdominal binder, which they will wear the first week. There is usually a fair amount of swelling and the binder should be opened several times a day so that there are no pressure points. After the first 7 to 10 days the patient is placed in an elastic garment for compression over the next six weeks. You can return to full activity without restrictions at 6 weeks.

Swelling can persist for several months and will gradually improve and will look better at three months, six months, and even one year. Frequently the pubic area and the scrotal and penis area for men can become very swollen and discolored during the first two weeks due to gravity as this is the lowest area for swelling to accumulate.

It may take several months for a tummy tuck patient’s scars to soften, for sensation to return, and for relaxing of the tight sensation in the abdomen. In the case of extensive surgery, abdominoplasty recovery can be uncomfortable and may take longer. Scars may stay red, become thick or widen. It can take 12-18 months for the scars to settle.

These can be improved with topical treatments such as BioCorneum, Scar Guard, Scar Fade and Mederma. Redness can be improved with laser treatments and the scars can be kept narrow with products such as Embrace.  On occasion, keloids or hypertrophic scars can develop and will need treatment including Kenalog, 5FU and laser.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Tummy tuck post op, some advices:

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Thank you very much for sharing your concerns with us.

At the beginning the swelling is normal.
To reduce it, I recommend you perform daily lymphatic drainage massage therapy over the abdomen and wear a postoperative girdle from thigh to the breasts.
Kind regards,
Dr. Emmanuel Mallol Cotes.-

Emmanuel Mallol Cotes, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 372 reviews

Healing after a tummy tuck

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Thank you for your question.With tummy tuck most of the pain after surgery comes from the abdominal wall tightening but is also well controlled with medication. Healing is usually pretty straight forward.  There is a process of swelling and bruising that peaks at 3 days after surgery and then undergoes the first stage of major resolution in the first 2 weeks after surgery.  The lateer phase of healing takes place over the 2-3 months after surgery where everything really settles and softens.  It is after this time that we are getting close to the final result, though this varies patient to patient. 

Tummy tuck

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The pain associated with a TT us typically related to plication of the rectus muscles. If you do not need this maneuver performed during the surgery the pain will be far less. If you do require this, your surgeon can infiltrate long acting local anesthetics to assist with the pain. Typical recovery time is 4-6 weeks until you will be back to full speed again. 


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Tummy tucks that involve plication of the rectus muscle fascia due to diastasis can be more painful.  You typically would need 2 weeks recovery before returning to clerical work duties.  Best wishes, Dr T.

Malibu Tummy Tuck

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Thank you for your question. I invented the Malibu tummy tuck. This gives a very natural looking tummy and belly button. In addition pain and recovery are significantly less versus traditional techniques (i.e which typically are very painful). I invented the FINNESSE technique. The patients typically wake up from surgery in no pain. They walk to the recovery room. It is not uncommon for patients to only take Tylenol for pain after surgery. The oldest patient I performed a Malibu tummy tuck on is 80 years old, and she only took Tylenol for pain. It is not uncommon for patients to be driving 7 days after surgery. I did have a 64 year old woman who drove in 4 days after surgery. For more information please see the enclosed video and I hope you find his helpful. 

Joshua Halpern, MD, PA
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

What is painful about Tummy Tuck? And what is the recovery time for a Tummy Tuck?

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Pain is a subjective personal issue to each patient. Most TT recover in 3 weeks Best to discuss with your previous boarded PS in Miami or seek other opinions.

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.