What Expectations Should One Have for the Recovery Process for an Extended Tummy Tuck?

Just curious on what the recovery and pain will be like for an extended tummy tuck? Is it much different than a regular tummy tuck?

Doctor Answers 5

Standard versus Extended Tummy Tuck Recovery?

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Thank you for the question.

I do not find a significant difference in the recovery between standard and extended tummy tuck procedures.

I do however have a word of advice for you. Patients who are about to undergo tummy tuck surgery spend a lot of time thinking about the physical preparation for the procedure (for example weight loss issues) but do not spend a lot of time thinking about the emotional aspects.
It is not uncommon for patients who undergo the procedure to experience severe “mood swings”. These emotions may range from depression ( “why did I do this to myself”) to elation  (which may lead to over activity). I think it is helpful to be aware that these emotional swings do occur postoperatively. 
Suggestions I have for patients undergoing this procedure: 1. Make sure you have a strong support system in place who have time/patience to take care of you. 2. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. 3. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies. 4. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work too early and let others take care of you (for a change). 5. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the emotional swings that you may experience. 6. Keep in mind the end result!

I hope this helps.

Extended Abdominoplasty/Tummy Tuck Recovery

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The short answer is that the recovery is the same for a typical full abdominoplasty

and an extended tummy tuck. Surgeons often like to say that incisions heal from

north to south not east to west. In other words an incision will heal in the same time

period regardless of the length. The only difference is that the drains will probably in

a bit longer depending on how much they drain afterwards.

Here are some general guidelines:

Within a few hours following surgery, abdominoplasty patients will walk in a slightly bent-

over position. Strenuous activity and lifting of more than 10 pounds should be

avoided for six weeks after surgery. Most patients are able to return to work and

daily activities within two weeks of surgery.

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.

Tummy tuck recovery

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Because a tummy tuck tightens loose or stretched abdominal muscles and a lot of excess skin is removed, the recovery for this surgery is notably long, but you can generally return to work in 2 weeks. This surgery takes about 3 hours and can often can be performed as an outpatient procedure under twilight sedation, instead of general anesthesia, and you will be able to go home shortly thereafter. After surgery, you may walk and sit a little hunched over for a few days and should not even try to stand up straight during this time because you risk separating the incision. You will have drains in place that will be removed 3 days to a week after surgery. During your healing, you should minimize the strenuousness or suddenness of exertions such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, and bowel movements. There is a special technique--a pain pump-- that speeds up the recovery and minimizes postoperative discomfort by releasing pain medication in the abdomen during the first few days after surgery. You should ask your doctor if they use this because it can make a big difference in the speed and ease of recovery. 


Michelle Copeland, MD, DMD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

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Recovery of tummy tuck and extended tummy tuck

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An extended tummy tuck simply involves an incision which is slightly longer than a traditional tummy tuck incision. This allows removal of more skin and tissue laterally (toward the sides). The recovery and pain is essentially the same as a traditional tummy tuck with most patients taking one week off of work with no heavy lifting for 4-6 weeks.

Consult with a board certified plastic surgeon to determine which procedure you are the best candidate for.

Best wishes,


William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 410 reviews

Extended and regulary tummy tuck recoveries similar

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The recovery from a regular tummy tuck and an extended tummy tuck where more skin is removed are very similar. Most of the pain from a tummy tuck comes from the muscle repair which is usually done in both procedures, therefore, there isn't that much difference in the discomfort.  It is possible that your drains may stay in a little longer but these typically do not cause any discomfort.

One thing that can be done to reduce your pain with surgery is to have tumescent fluid injected into the abdominal area before the start of surgery. This contains a dilute concentration of local anesthetic which can dramatically reduce your pain when you wake up and can significantly decrease the amount of pain medication that you need in the long run.

James McMahan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 40 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.