Tummy Tuck Recovery Care?

What should I be doing as part of post-Tummy Tuck care (like showering, compression garment use, washing the binder, changing wound dressing, etc.)?

Doctor Answers 12

Post Tummy Tuck Care

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Great Question Filly -

As the other surgeons have commented, what's most important is that you and your surgeon are communicating. There are many different post-operative regimens that we all use to maximize our patients' results.

In my practice, we follow some basic guidelines:

  • Take medications as prescribed (antibiotics, pain medication and a muscle relaxer).
  • Keep track of drain output.
  • I have my patients leave the dressing intact until the first post-op visit, usually a few days after surgery.
  • Avoid heavy lifting.
  • No driving or operating machinery while using the pain medication.
  • But most importantly, if they have questions, issues or problems - call me!

I'd recommend you follow that last suggestion to get exactly what your surgeon would like you to do as follow-up.

I hope this helps!

Tummy Tuck Recovery Care

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Immediately after surgery, patients are placed in compression garments that must be worn for six weeks to help support and shape the healing tissues. If drains are placed, they are generally removed in the office in seven to ten days when they are putting out less than 30 ml per day. Recovery times following a tummy tuck vary, but patients are generally able to return to work in one to two weeks, light exercise in three to four weeks, and full exercise in five to six weeks. Antibiotics and pain medicines are prescribed following the surgery.

Jaime Perez, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Post-op tummy tuck care

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Every plastic surgeon has post-op instructions per procedure. It is important to consult with your doctor regarding your particular care since every patient is unique and may require specific instructions. However, for tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery, depending on the severity and complexity of the case, patients are unable to shower for atleast 2 weeks or until the drains are removed to avoid infection. The abdominal binder is to be worn for 4-6 weeks to minimize swelling and support the incision from any tension, you may wash the binder as needed.

The most important part of recovery, is staying hunched over for 4 weeks to avoid superficial openings. I would recommend renting a walker or a cane to remind you to stay hunched to prevent any complications. Learn more about the procedure on my website and check out before and after photos of patients. Good luck!

Time to heal is important, expect some restrictions.

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Abdominoplasty removes excess abdominal skin while simultaneously tightening the abdominal muscles. Patients can anticipate limited physical activity for ten to fourteen days following surgery. I typically tell my patients bathroom and kitchen privileges initially with slow resumption of normal activity over the next two weeks. Patients can usually return to work in two weeks if no strenuous activity or heavy lifting is involved. After six weeks, they can resume all their normal activities including heavy lifting.
Patients typically wear an abdominal binder for three weeks following surgery. This minimizes swelling and increases comfort. Drains are placed at the time of surgery and are usually removed within two weeks of surgery. When the drains are removed, patients are able to shower again.
Pain management is extremely important when the abdominal muscles are tightened. Most patients are initially given narcotic pain relievers and switched to Tylenol five to seven days following surgery.
Patients with small children should have assistance with child care for at least one week and patients should not drive while taking narcotics.
For many patients, abdominoplasty is a life changing experience. After unsuccessful dieting and exercise programs, this procedure results in dramatic changes in self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image.

Have your doctor participate in your care

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Plastic surgery is an elective medical specialty where patients are not sick and physicians should do everything in their power to keep them that way. In my practice, we have many layers of education for each treatment and surgery. Finally, the buck stops with me.
In other words, call your doctor and have him/her help with your care.
Robert Freund, MD, FACS

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

What did your surgeon advise?

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Every surgeon has their own set of guidelines for post-surgery care, and they should have given you specific advice on this. You shouldn't have to "wing it" after surgery or find care instructions online! Whatever the instructions are, do follow them, don't take advice from well-meaning friends or other sources if it conflicts with what your doctor told you.

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

Tummy Tuck Recovery

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Thank you for your question. 

The evening of surgery, you will be encouraged to get out of bed for short walks to promote blood circulation. Although you may not be able to stand up completely straight, it is best if you do not sit for long periods of time during the first several days. Straining, bending and lifting must be avoided, since these activities might cause increased swelling or even bleeding. You may be instructed to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.

Any surgical drains probably will be removed within a week following surgery, at which time your dressings may also be changed or removed. For the most part, doctors do not feel that abdominal binders are beneficial and in many cases may hinder wound healing. The reason for this is that the pressure caused by abdominal binders probably inhibits blood flow to the abdominal skin flap. Generally, stitches will be removed at two weeks after surgery.

You will notice swelling, which is to be expected. Although bruising is uncommon even if concomitant lipoplasty is performed, it occasionally occurs. The bruising and much of the swelling will disappear over a period of weeks. However, it may be months before all swelling subsides and you see the final result of your abdominoplasty. You may also notice some numbness over portions of the abdominal area, and this may persist for several months. Incisions will initially be red or pink in color. They will remain this way for many months following surgery and may even appear to worsen before they finally begin to fade. Best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel 

Double Board Certified 

Plastic Surgeon 

Hoffman Estates 




Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Care After a Tummy Tuck

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You should follow your surgeon's direction with respect to care after surgery of you wounds, binders, scars, exercise and showering.  If you had a no drain tummy tuck with a rapid recovery, we get you in the shower that day and as much as you want after.  We keep the dressing routines simple and have you up and moving from the day of surgery on. I have added a video for you here.

I hope that helps.

Best regards.

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Tummy tuck care, showering, etc

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Tummy Tuck Recovery

The first 2-3 days after surgery there is a good amount of pressure and tightness from repairing the stretched rectus muscles. The feeling is similar to a hard workout. We usually prescribe pain pills such as Norco (Vicodin) or Percocet and a muscle relaxant such as Soma or Flexeril. You will need help from someone the first 2-3 days. A drain is placed which is removed at approximately 1 to 1.5 weeks. Most people usually go on with light normal activities at that time.  Patients can shower 2-3 days after surgery.

No heavy lifting or exercising for 6 weeks. The results will be visible right after the procedure. It takes several months for the swelling to subside. Generally, patients wear the compression garment 6 weeks and longer if necessary.  

Best of luck, Dr. Michael Omidi

An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to assess your needs and provide true medical advice.

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 122 reviews

Tummy tuck recovery care?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! I hope that these answers help! Tummy tuck is an excellent method for shaping the belly and create a flatter and sculpted abdomen after the procedure. Given your desires, I do believe that you would be an excellent candidate for this procedure in order to remove the excess skin/soft tissue of your lower abdomen and contour the areas of your belly. Also, abdominal wall tightening may optimize your result. Stretch marks to the level of your umbilicus will also be excised. I would highly recommend continued diet and exercise prior to any consideration for body contouring as getting down to your ideal weight prior to the procedure will certainly give you the best results. Also, a continued healthy and active lifestyle will be needed in order to maintain the benefits that the procedure has given to you.

I typically recommend a 6 week period of no strenuous activity/vigorous exercise along with an abdominal binder for the same time period. It usually takes 6-12 weeks for full healing and swelling to subside before results final. Discuss after care with your surgeon as it varies among surgeons. Typically, you can shower a couple days after your procedure. Likely, you will not need any further dressing besides the binder and then drain are, if used.  Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 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.