What is Recovery for a Full Tummy Tuck if Muscle Wall Tightening is Not Needed?

I am considering a full tummy tuck. Due to the fact that I am athletic, no children with low body fat, except in the abdominal area, I do not feel I need muscle tightening. My main concern is skin tightening and removing excess hereditary fat. Laxity in the skin is caused from weight fluxuation because if weight is gained it tends to gravitate in the abs and I am 43. What would the difference in recovery and cost be for the tuck without muscle repair?

Doctor Answers 13

Tummy tuck without muscle tightening vs liposuction

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The recovery from a skin only abdominoplasty is much less compared to the abdominoplasty with muscle tightening. The recovery is centered around the necessary skin tightness created by the surgery. This takes a while to lessen and for you to get used to it. Patients have to be bent over in most cases  in order to tighten the abdominal skin appropriately. It usually takes a few days for the patient to be able to become upright. There are exceptions to every rule, but I quote recovery based on what 95% of my patients experience. (2 standard deviations from the norm) With that in mind, most of my patients are doing well in 10 days although they are probably not back to full energy for 4 to 6 weeks. That is true for regular tummy tucks with muscle tightening as well except with muscle tightening the pain is much more intense the first 3 days and return to work is more like 3 weeks on average instead of 10 days to 2 weeks with skin only surgery. 

Finally, you may find that if you are athletic and your only issue is fat removal then liposuction may be a good option for you. Tummy tucks are indicated for skin excess and looseness primarily. It usually takes liposuction in addition or primarily to address the fat excess. 

A consult with a board certified Plastic Surgeon should answer these questions for you. 

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

The pain is in the muscle with tummy tucks

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Most of the pain with tummy tuck surgery is due to the muscle plication.  Patients who have  not had children and are diligent about working out their abdominal muscles can get great results from tummy tuck surgery without having the muscle repaired.  Those who have muscle stretching from multiple pregnancies and patients who do not exercise their abdominal muscles get a significant benefit from the muscle sutures.

You should have significantly less pain without the muscle repair and you will probably also do better than most patients as those who work out tend to do better than couch potatoes.  One other thing that can be done by your surgeon at the time of surgery to reduce you pain is to inject tumescent fluid into the area. This contains dilute local anesthetic which numbs the area and can dramatically reduce you pain when you wake up from surgery.

You cost should be a few  hundred dollars cheaper.

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

Recovery without muscle tightening might be about one week

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The primary role of a tummy tuck is to remove excess skin and soft tissue laxity.  Muscle tightening and liposuction performed at the same time as a tummy tuck have been shown to improve the overall results fro most patients since most patients also need abdominal wall tightening and thinning of the fat layer.  If you do not need muscle tightening than just the tummy tuck portion of the procedure alone with removal of excess laxity will require about 1 week of recovery time especially if you are not closed particularly tight.  Upload some photos since I have sinking suspicion that you may not need a full tummy tuck.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

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Tummy tuck recovery without muscle tightening

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There are a few fortunate individuals such as yourself who do not need muscle tightening during tummy tuck. Without, the recovery certainly is much easier with a quicker return to exercise and lifting. Still you will need to let the abdomen heal well enough to protect the incision line and prevent a fluid collection, about two weeks should do, though return to work after one with support may be possible.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Tummy tuck recovery

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If no muscle work is done then a 2 to 3 week recovery may be sufficient, as this is where more discomfort is created with surgery.

Steven S. Carp, MD
Akron Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Tummy Tuck Recovery?

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Thank you for the question.  Recovery after tummy tuck without muscle plication  should be quicker with less discomfort expected.  I still recommend staying flexed at the waist for the first 3 to 4 weeks  to keep attention off the incision line.

Best wishes.

Tummy Tuck Recovery: with and without muscle repair

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Without muscle repair, the ability to do resistance and core exercises will shorten

somewhat but will depend on activity. In my practice you can start these activities

after a month vs 6 weeks with muscle repair. Here are some general guidelines of

what to expect:

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. In the case of

extensive surgery, abdominoplasty recovery can be uncomfortable and may take

longer. Our expert surgeons can tell you specifically how long your recovery will take.

for specific exercises and activities you have in mind

Healing after abdominoplasty

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healing is similar for the incision:   

strong at 2-3 weeks

well healed at 6 wks


the healing period is much easier with early return to work and activitites, possibly within days rather than weeks

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

Tummy Tuck Recovery without muscle tightening

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Recovery after tummy tuck without muscle tightening is much shorter. The average recovery for my patients after this procedure is about 1 to 2 weeks. This options is not for everyone. If your muscle is separated (rectus distasis), it is worth tightening to improve your shape. You and your Plastic surgeon should make that decision prior to surgery.

Good luck

Stanley Okoro, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

Recovery from tummy tuck without muscle tightening

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Having just had a patient like you, the recovery is much less uncomfortable without the muscle repair.  The rest is the same ie the drain, the scar, and the cost.

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.