I am a Paralegal who sits at a desk with almost no heavy work. How much time would I need to take off work?

I am considering a TT with lipo. I am afraid of the recovery time. I am a Paralegal who sits at a desk with almost no heavy work. How much time would I need to take of work? Realistically? Also, I wondered what the difference is with drainless TT vs drains. Lastly, I have seen many before and after pics and wonder why surgeons make such awful cuts!? Many are so high and not even! Is it difficult to make a low incision that is straight and low?

Doctor Answers 21

TT and return to work

Without any need for heavy lifting, you should be ready for work in about two weeks.  Fluid collections are quite common after TT, and drains or other methods including sewing the skin flap to the muscle are both effective ways to keep the rate of collections down.


Fall River Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Time off work after tummy tuck, poor scarring

Most patients who undergo an abominoplasty will take 2-3 weeks off their normal activities and even longer before they resume exercising.  It helps that you are in a job that is not physically strenuous but you will still need time to heal.  Regarding the drain question, the vast majority of surgeons use drains to help avoid seroma formation which is one of the the most common complications after TT.  The "drainless" procedures typically require more suturing (sometimes called quilting sutures) under the skin to take away the large space where the fluid can accumulate.  The drains are painless when removed and should not be a worry. Lastly, as surgeons we start all abdominoplasties with precise linear cuts that will hopefully remain low and inconspicuous, however many factors can affect the final scar appearance.  Keep in mind that there is a significant amount of tension on the wound closure and this can impact the final scar location and width.  Some patients have poor scarring due to keloid formation, while others may have had infections or minor wound separation during the healing.  Sometimes the scar is pulled higher than anticipated or is ends up higher on one side due to differences in skin quality of skin tension.  It is not uncommon for surgeons to make minor revisions to TT scars years after the procedure.  Trust me when I tell you that it can be just as frustrating for the surgeon as it is for the patient!  We want you to be happy.

Erik Miles, MD, FACS
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Recovering from a Mommy Makeover & Returning to Work

The Mommy Makeover is a combination of procedures to bring a woman’s body back to the way she looked prior to pregnancy. Most commonly some variation of a #TummyTuck and #BreastSurgery are performed. Additional procedures can include liposuction, umbilical hernia repair.  The most common #breastprocedures include #mastopexy or #breastlift, #breastaugmentation, or #breastreduction.    

Healing after a  #tummytuck will require time. Some patients are out of bed and walking the night of surgery and every hour while awake. I allow my patients to return to work at one to two weeks with 14 days preferred.  However, no lifting or straining.  At three weeks, increased level of activity and full with no restrictions, at 6 weeks. 
As I advise my patients, if your work keeps you sedentary, you may return whenever you feel up to it. If your work is strenuous, wait until your work activity does not cause any superficial pain. 
Some employers will modify a person’s job duties so they can back sooner, but without physical activity. Our office can provide our patients with a note stating they are not to engage in strenuous activity for a specified period of time. The note will not disclose what procedure they have underwent. Therefore, you may have to request a similar note from your surgeon if you are not independently employed. I recommend avoiding heavy lifting and strenuous #activity for six weeks following your surgery. With that said, it may help you plan your return to work accordingly.

As for heavy lifting and other #strenuous #activities, it should be avoided for until you have clearance from your surgeon. You may, however, do normal activities at any time if they cause no pain or #discomfort. Let your body tell you what you can or cannot do. Aerobic exercise will raise your blood pressure, which could cause late bleeding and harm your result. Once you begin exercising again, start gently and let your body tell you what it can tolerate. Don’t rush!!  If you have concerns about your healing, or pain that you question to be unusual, it is important to call your plastic surgeon to discuss these further asked to be examined.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

Time off work after tummy tuck

Dear Aleishaaziz,

Thank you for your Real Self post. As you are a paralegal with a relatively sedentary work environment, it is true that you can return to work a lot sooner than someone who is more active. The time back to work also depends on your postoperative healing course and the type of tummy tuck and liposuction that may be performed.

In general, in most tummy tucks that are extensive, with muscle repair and transposition of the belly button, you will find certified plastic surgeons will use some type of drainage for several days following the procedure. There are some quilting techniques where the underlying soft tissue can be sutured to the lining of the muscles where drains may be minimized; however, there is still significant risk of fluid collection under the skin or seroma. In general, considering the risk/benefit ratio, modest use of drains plus external compression garmenting helps minimize complications of a seroma, which can be aggravating to patients and delay a relatively normal return to their normal activities of daily living.

Tummy tuck surgery can be quite variable and, in fact, there are many different types of tummy tuck procedures that can be performed. I have been performing cosmetic body contouring surgery for 20 years and have found that many patients can benefit from a mini skin-only of the lower abdomen, keeping the scar extremely low, which facilitates the ability to wear the type of undergarment and bathing suit that can still appear youthful but covers the scar.

The deployment of modern techniques of liposuction such as SmartLipo™, BodyTite™ and VASERLipo™ can facilitate soft tissue contracture of the upper abdomen, lateral abdomen, hips and flanks; not only improving the overall contour, but minimizing the extent of traditional tummy tuck surgery that is required. You will find sometimes that the scars from tummy tuck surgery are quite high, as patients with a high belly button and relatively little skin, when subjected to traditional tummy tuck surgery, result in either floating the previous belly button scar down on to visible parts of the abdomen or keeping the tummy tuck scar high. I generally find most women want to keep their tummy tuck scar very, very low and I offer techniques and alternatives that facilitate this.

At this point, seeking the consultation of a certified plastic surgeon with lots of experience in tummy tuck and liposuction surgery is your best option.

I trust this advice has been of some assistance and best of luck.

Sincerely,
R. Stephen Mulholland, MD
Certified Plastic Surgeon
Yorkville, Toronto

R. Stephen Mulholland, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Incisions, drains and tummy tuck recovery

  • The incision for a tummy tuck cannot be made straight or it ends up on the upper leg. It must be curved.
  • The tummy tuck then cuts out skin- and most patients want a tight tummy tuck.
  • So surgeons cut out as much skin as they can, the skin is tight and the tightness of the skin pulls on the scar. It moves up. It does not necessarily move  evenly. So presto, a high irregular scar. Judging the amount of skin to take takes a lot of time, care and experience and no one is perfect.

  • Re your recovery: How long is your commute? Do you have children? Do you look after anyone else at home? If you have a short commute, no children, and no one else to look after, and you must work, you can probably get back at 10 days (a week plus 2 weekends) but you will be tired and will probably work at 50% efficiency. But if your boss needs you - you can get there.

Most patients can return to a desk job one week after abdominoplasty.

I would permit my patients to return to work were no vigorous activity is required a week after and abdominoplasty provided there are no complications.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Time off work following tummy tuck

I would advise you to allow 7-10 days for recovery following your tummy tuck before returning to a job that is not highly physical.  I place drains in my tummy tuck patients because they alleviate some of the swelling post op.  As for incisions, review the photos of patients done by the plastic surgeon you choose. I allow my patients to bring in a swimsuit so that I can be sure the incisions are not visible after surgery.

Best of luck,

Time off for TT

The amount of time is not fixed for each person feels pain differently. However I tell my patients that 10 day to 2 weeks should be enough. 

Some me surgeons try to avoid the use of drains by using a few technical changes, like leaving fat on the fascia and suturing down the flap. I am not a believer of those techniques, so I always use drains on my patients.

in a TT there are two flaps of tissue. The upper and lower, both flaps are not fixed, so the resulting placement of the scar is dependent on relative tension.

Of course, an experienced surgeon makes an accommodation for these realities. But surgeons are human beings, working on human beings. Skin is not stone. Then, I should remind you about hypertrophic scars, or keloids caused by the ongoing tension.

a good patient does her homework and a great surgeon explains the risks of surgery.

good luck

I am a Paralegal who sits at a desk with almost no heavy work. How much time would I need to take off work?

Return to a sedentary job may take 1 to 2 weeks.   Actually, making a very low, straight cut is much more difficult than you may realize.  There is a differential tension across any incision between the superior flap and the inferior flap.  To get this incision to look symmetric and low requires careful skin removal after initial assessment of closure . Find a tummy tuck expert who performs hundreds each year and has great reviews and great before and after pictures.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Tummy Tuck

If you are healthy and a good candidate for surgery, chances are you should be fine going back to a desk job after a week.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 110 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.