How bad does a tummy tuck hurt? When is the pain the worst ?

Doctor Answers 6

Tummy Tuck Pain

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Yes, a tummy tuck hurts.  Patients who have had a c-section have said that the pain is similar with a tummy tuck but the recovery is easier because they don't have a newborn to take care of as well.  The worst of the pain is in the first 3 days after surgery, though it typically improves pretty quickly thereafter.  I recommend the use of a pain pump, which delivers local anesthesia (like novocaine) to the area for about 3 days after surgery, so it's helping to blunt the pain when it's at its worst and makes it more manageable.  Most of my patients will use prescription pain medication for 3-5 days after surgery then non-prescription medication such as ibuprofen for a few days.  The good news is this is happy surgery.  Patients are excited to achieve the improvements for which they've been hoping and that makes a few days of pain well worth it in the end!

Post-op recovery from a tummy tuck

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Patients vary in how much pain they experience after a tummy tuck, with some having significant pain, and others not thinking it was as bad as they expected. Most of the pain from the operation comes from the tightening of the intra-abdominal muscles that is performed with the surgery (the fascial plication). That said, the surgery is most often performed on an outpatient basis, and there have been innovations in surgical technique to lessen post-op pain. One popular option is the use of Exparel, a long-acting local anesthetic that can be injected into the tissues of the abdominal wall at the time of surgery. Our experience has been that patients feel significantly less pain when using this medication, which has a numbing effect for the first few days after surgery, when pain is typically most severe. See a board certified plastic surgeon for more info about tummy tuck surgery and whether or not you are a good candidate. Good luck!

Salem Samra, MD
Middletown Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Tummy tuck recovery postop

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The recovery from tummy tuck is variable. I usually have a my patients go home the day of surgery. They have oral pain medications to control pain. Moving around is important after surgery to prevent DVTs. It is not a spainful as child birth or a csection. See a board certified ASAPS plastic surgeon. Good luck...

Larry Weinstein, MD
Morristown Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Tummy tuck and pain

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Tummy tucks are some of the more uncomfortable surgeries that plastic surgeons perform. Typically the first week is the most uncomfortable, when patients are unable to stand up straight. I employ indwelling pain catheters to help with the pain during the first several days. Although the first week is tough, everyone gets through it and the satisfaction rate for this surgery is high.  I hope this helps!

Anthony Youn, MD, FACS
Detroit Plastic Surgeon

How to minimize pain after tummy tuck

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I highly recommend that you find a surgeon who uses Exparel, a long-acting numbing agent that significantly reduces the discomfort for the first few days after a tummy tuck. A more advanced way to place it is called a TAP block. Since the pain is reduced at the source, you need fewer pain pills, which can have side-effects, and your recovery gets a boost because you feel better.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Tummy tuck

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Hello and thank you for your question. Most patient describe a tummy tuck as less painful than a c-section.  The worst pain is for the first 2-3 days.  There are many different medications which you take to help with the pain.  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.  Make sure you specifically look at before and after pictures of real patients who have had this surgery performed by your surgeon and evaluate their results.  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 173 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.