How Soon Can I Return to my Office After Tummy Tuck?

Hi everyone. I have lost weight and have some loose skin on my belly. The only thing holding me back from getting a Tummy Tuck is the recovery time. I know that it can take weeks to months for swelling to go down and that is OK. What I am concerned about is returning to work.

1) On average, when are Tummy Tuck patients mobile enough to return to the office?

2) Is it possible to get a procedure that is still effective, but requires less recovery time?

Thanks a lot for your advice.

Doctor Answers 18

Two weeks more or less

Depending on your job it might take up to two to three weeks before you can return to work safely, I always recomment a checkup with your doctor to make sure everything is proceeding correcly before returning to work.

Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 1,120 reviews

Tummy tuck recovery?

Thank you for your question.

I would advise at least 3 weeks before returning to the most sedentary types of jobs after undergoing tummy tuck surgery.  Returning to work too soon is one of the reasons patients suffer physical and/or emotional setbacks after this major surgery. Some general words of advice  you may find helpful:

1. Make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (for yourself)  and that you have realistic expectations.  Be aware that an improvement in the “problem area” may not translate to an overall improvement in your life   situation.  You are bound to be disappointed with results of the procedure if your motivation for doing the surgery is not internally driven.

2. Time your surgery carefully; generally, it is not a good idea to have surgery done during or immediately after a stressful period in life (for example divorce or death of a loved one). The additional stress of surgery will undoubtedly be  more challenging to deal with if a patient's emotional reserves our already exhausted. Remember, that an improvement in your physical appearance will not translate to an improvement in your life situation.

3. If possible speak to patients who have undergone similar procedures and query them about the toughest times of their recovery period. Any practical hints previous patients can provide may be very helpful. 

4. Make sure you are aware of potential complications that may arise how to reach your surgeon if necessary.

5. Make sure you have a strong and patient support system (several people if possible) in place who have time/patience to take care of you. Arrange for professional nursing if any doubt exists regarding the availability and/or stamina  of your caretakers.

6. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. It may also take many months/year to see the end results of your surgery.

7. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies.

8. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work, school or chores too early and let others take care of you (for a change).

9. Pick your surgeon carefully (a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon) and trust in his/her advice. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the   emotional swings that you may experience.

10. Resume all medications that you were using preoperatively when cleared by your plastic surgeon and stop the use of narcotics and sedatives as soon as feasible after surgery.

11. Keep in mind the end results as you go through the tougher emotional times after your surgery.


I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

How Long after a Tummy Tuck can I return to the office?

Hi there-

As long as your job doesn't require strenuous physical activity such as lifting heavy books, charts, files, boxes, etc, and you don't need to do a lot of walking at work, you should be able to return after 2 weeks.

I have had some patients return to administrative jobs after 10 days (having surgery on Friday, taking the next work week off, and returning on the following Monday), and for the most part they do fine, but they do seem to have more nuisance problems- nothing time doesn't take care of, but still a minor problem you'd rather avoid.

I hope that helps you- you'll love your new body!

Armando Soto, MD, FACS
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 159 reviews

Tummy Tuck Downtime

You should plan to be off work for 2-3 weeks. This is the average, but it can be longer if your recovery rate is longer. Loose skin can be tightened with nonsurgical treatments however results are not as predictable and they may take longer to achieve. 

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 179 reviews

2 weeks recovery required after tummy tuck for sedentary job

Thank you for your question. A personal exam and consultation is always best.

That said for patients who have a sedentary office job 2 weeks recovery is usually adequate after tummy tuck.

Be sure to consult a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, experienced in your procedure, and who has an excellent reputation in your community.

Return to work after Tummy tuck

I tell my patient 2 weeks off, then light duty at work for 2 more weeks (esp if you have to lift heavy objects at work). Swelling can last longer than 2-3 weeks but it wont stop you for living your life normally.

Raj S. Ambay, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Return to Office After Tummy Tuck

Patients generally can return to light activities 2 - 4 weeks after tummy tuck surgery. The surgery can be tailored to better meet a patient's needs; however, an in person consultation and exam is needed to ensure that your objectives can be met.  

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Return to Work Date after Tummy Tuck

Strenuous activity and the lifting of more than ten pounds must be avoided.  Many patients are able to return to work and daily activities within 2-3 weeks of surgery if there is no strenuous activities (for example lifting more than 20 pounds).  If that is the case then waiting 6 weeks may be more reasonable.  Remember that there is great variability of healing times between patients, which will be prolonged if there are any complications. Softening of the surgical scars, return of sensation, and loosening of the tight sensation may take several months. Abdominoplasty recovery can be in some cases slow and uncomfortable requiring more time for a full recovery. 

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

Returning to work after tummy tuck

When patients can return to work after tummy tuck depends on their 1) pain threshold, 2) type of work, and 3) extent of tummy tuck.   Some patients require more pain medications than others.  Some work require more physical work.  Mini tummy tuck requires less recovery time than full tummy tuck.  In general, my patients go back to work within 10 to 14 days as long as they have non-physical desk jobs.  In regards to your second question, if you have excess skin and/or stretched out muscle, you will need tummy tuck.  Unfortunately, any procedure has down time.  If you are a good candidate for tummy tuck, you should get the tummy tuck even with the down time.  Try to save up your vacation time/personal time off; I think it will be worth it. Good luck to you.

Sugene Kim, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Returning to work after Tummy Tuck

Many patient who are not required to lift heavy objects often return to work after 10-14 days depending on their comfort level. We ask our patients to begin walking the night of surgery. The recovery time can vary from patient to patient and depends on the type of surgery you have. Some patients can benefit from removing the excess skin and fat, but not having your muscles tightened. This can significantly reduce your recovery time after a tummy tuck. 

Ankit Desai, MD
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 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.