How long does it take for muscles to completely heal after Tummy Tuck? (photo)

I had a tummy tuck 6 weeks ago. I was told that I can resume my normal exercise and swimming activities after 6 weeks, but I can't. I can't run, barely can walk fast - my upper abdomen hurts. I can't swim either - I can't stretch backwards to keep my head above the water, and again sharp pain in the upper abdomen muscles. When can I feel normal again?

Doctor Answers 8

How long does it take for muscles to completely heal after Tummy Tuck?

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 Congratulations on having undergone the tummy tuck procedure. I find that many  patients ( and their plastic surgeons) underestimate the actual recovery time associated with extensive operations such as tummy tuck surgery. The operation is associated with a very significant physical, and often "emotional", recovery period.

I ask my tummy tuck patients to refrain from any heavy-lifting or strenuous exercise for 6-8 weeks to prevent any complications and ensure proper healing.  Even at 2 months post op patients will report that they have not reached full strength/stamina. It may be 4-6 months before patients reach full strength.  

Your plastic surgeon will always be your best resource when it comes to returning to specific activities. My best suggestion: start slow,  gradually ease back into activities, and listen to her body as you do so.   Best wishes.  

Healing time

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Hello dear, thanks for your question and provided picture as well. Following surgery, you walk in a bent-over position to keep tension off the newly tightened skin incision site. Although strenuous activity, and lifting more than ten pounds, must be avoided for 6 weeks, some people can return to work and daily activities as soon as 2 weeks after surgery. Softening of the surgical scars, return of sensation, and loosening of the tight sensation may take several months to a year or more.

Abdominoplasty involves a recovery period of 10 to 14 days longer than most plastic surgical procedures. Initial discomfort and decreased mobility is typical. 3-5 days or more of assistance at home is usually indicated. Light activity is comfortable in 10-20 days. No sports or heavy lifting for 6 weeks or more. Excess swelling may indicate too much activity. Do not plan on resuming aerobic or strenuous exercise for about 6 weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will guide you as to the specific time to resume key physical activities and sports.

Good luck :)

Tania Medina de Garcia, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 441 reviews

Exercise limitations after tummy tuck

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Everyone is different and heals at their own pace. The discomfort you are experiencing may be due to the muscle tightening that typically comes with a tummy tuck. Allowing you to resume normal activity at six weeks does not, unfortunately, imply that you will enjoy it. I typically recommend gentle stretching exercises and deep massage to my patients before they get back into their typical exercise routine. Start slow and let pain be your guide. If it hurts, don't do it. Back off a little and approach from a different angle. For example, perhaps you can backstroke comfortably even though the butterfly is still too rigorous. Be patient. You'll get there!

Trenton C. Jones, MD
Orem Plastic Surgeon

Healing after tummy tuck

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Dear Yuliyacat,

In general, the skin incision, belly button reconstruction, tummy muscles need to heal. Complete healing of the tummy muscles is usually apparent at 6-8 weeks. Most patients are allowed back to the chair to perform rectus abdominis muscle exercises at 6 weeks and gradually increase their strength and their core rectus muscles by 3 months or completely unrestricted.

Of course, it’s very important you check with your operative plastic surgeon as to when complete healing will occur and return to activities allowed as they are in the best position to answer you.

I hope this information is of some assistance and best of luck.

To find out more, please visit the link below.

R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D.
Certified Plastic Surgeon
Yorkville, Toronto

R. Stephen Mulholland, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

How long does it take for muscles to completely heal after Tummy Tuck? (photo)

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Hi, thank you for your question and congratulations on your #TummyTuck! In my practice, most patients will be placed in an abdominal binder, which they will wear the first week. There is usually a fair amount of swelling and the binder should be opened several times a day so that there are no pressure points. After the first 7 to 10 days the patient is placed in an elastic garment for #compression over the next six weeks.
#Swelling can persist for several months and will gradually improve and will look better at three months, six months, and even one year.
You can return to full activity without restrictions at 6 weeks. But, you need to listen to your body! Sometimes all you can do are stretches and slowly move into more exercise as your body allows. Be sure to follow your #postop #recommendations from your PS and obtain his release before you begin. Best wishes!

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

Recovery post tummy tuck and exercise

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Hello and thank you for your photos and question. It is safe to exercise after 6 weeks, however that doesn't mean you are ready to resume back into your normal exercise routine. I would suggest you exercise based on what you can handle/tolerate. Everyone's recovery time is different, you will return to your normal exercise regime eventually, take your time. 

Best Regards

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 520 reviews

Tummy tuck recovery

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Hi Yuliyacat

Thank you for your question.  Typically most patients are cleared to return to normal activity after 6 weeks depending on the healing.  Its always best to resume back to normal at a slow pace.  You don't want to do something that is to strenuous on your body when you are cleared.  Ease back into it.  Every surgeons protocol is different so make sure you discuss your concerns with your ps.  Best of luck

Tummy Tuck / Abdominoplasty / Mini Tummy Tuck / Liposuction / Revision Tummy Tuck

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I appreciate your question.

I would recommend that you follow up with your surgeon to discuss this as every surgeon has their own respective post op protocol for their patients.  Your surgeon is your best resource as he/she is most familiar with your medical history and how you are healing at this time.

The best way to assess and give true advice would be an in-person exam.
Please see a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in aesthetic and restorative plastic surgery.

Best of luck!

Dr. Schwartz

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.