How quick will tummy tuck recovery be? 5'3", 120lbs (Photo)

Hello, I've had three c-sections to large babies- I now have a herniated belly button, a good tummy pooch, and a 3 inch diastasis recti. I'm scheduled for a TT in August and I'm wondering what the recovery will be like and how long I'll realistically need help with my kids (6, 3, 18m) and when I can expect to be moving again? I'm extremely active, exercise about 5 days/wk, 5'3" and 120lbs. Very nervous about the procedure and I don't want to be an inconvenience to my family! Thank you in advance.

Doctor Answers 10

Tummy tuck recovery

Most are able to be back to driving and desk jobs by 10-14 days. I suggest limiting heavy lifting, excessive bending, etc for 6 weeks. Most activities are resumed at six weeks, however abdominal centered activities might require up to 3 months. 

Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Quick tummy tuck recovery

How quick your recovery after diastasis and hernia repair might depend on how your procedure is performed. Will you have a mini tummy tuck or a full transverse incision, will you have a drain, what experience does your surgeon have with a "typical" recovery. If you are nervous about what to expect, see your surgeon and have him lay out his program for you.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Quick Recovery After Tummy Tuck

TT recovery is based on many factors not just height and weight. Following surgery, you will be walking 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.
You will be encouraged to move and walk regularly starting the day of surgery. Wearing your TED stockings at all times, except while washing, to prevent venous clots (deep vein thrombosis) is mandatory. Light activity is comfortable in 10-20 days. No sports or heavy lifting for 6 weeks or more – please discuss with your doctor for specific questions.

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

How quick will tummy tuck recovery be? 5'3", 120lbs

Recovery and healing time will vary from individual to individual.  At my clinic, we ask our patients to take 1 full week off of work and get plenty of bed rest. We also advise our patients no driving for 1 week, no lifting and no exercising for 6 weeks.  Child care arrangements would need to be made accordingly. You are able to return to work and most of your normal daily activities following the 2nd week. The healing process is the most important process of the procedure. Remember less is more!  Be sure to follow your surgeon's post-operative instruction carefully.

Frank Lista, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 111 reviews

How quick will tummy tuck recovery be? 5'3", 120lbs

     Most people can go back to work within 2 weeks and return to strenuous activity in 6 weeks.  You will definitely need help those first 2 weeks.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Everyone Recovers Differently

In general, patients undergoing an abdominoplasty will be able to resume most daily activities between 2-3 weeks.  Some may recover a little sooner and other may take longer.  I strongly recommend having a close friend or family member staying with you to assist with your children for the first 3 weeks following surgery.  You will likely not be able to care for you children at least for the first week, and possibly two.  You will also not be able to lift even your 18 month old for 4-6 weeks.  This is all something that your surgeon should have gone over with you in detail.  If not, you should speak with your surgeon again to get his/her exact recommendation and postoperative instruction.

Nicholas Tarola, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

How much more can I expect my implants to drop and project?

Everyone heals differently but the average is 3 weeks recovery. But only detailed in person examination and discussion allows a better understanding... 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 174 reviews

Recovery after tummy tuck

Thank you for your picture. Your plastic surgeon should detail his or her recovery plan. In general recovery takes 4 to 6 weeks. You will have some restriction most likely (heavy lifting) which may affect your small children. Please try to employ your family to be supportive as I know they will during your recovery period.

Tummy tuck recovery time

Recovery time for a tummy tuck is realistically at least 3-4 weeks.  The first few days are the toughest, especially getting in and out of bed/chair.  Most patients prefer to sleep in a recliner or lazyboy for almost the first month.  If you can walk around the house at least 2-3 times a day right from the beginning, you will do better, but it is not easy.  Make sure you have help for at least 3 days, if not a week or more.

Most people take off 3-4 weeks from work and may not be safe to drive for almost 3 weeks due to guarding themselves.  Driving safely includes the ability to react quickly to things occurring around you.

I have had some patients that have done extremely well and have minimal pain by 2 weeks, but this is more the exception than the rule.  Much of this depends on your pain tolerance.  

Also, no heavy lifting, or strenuous exercise for 6 weeks afterwards.  Most people do not feel ready for exercise at 6 weeks anyways.  Heavy lifting is more than 10 lbs.  Since you are active, plan to do a lot of walking.  Keep in mind that when you do activity you will swell more, so be sure to wear your compression, and start slowly.  You may not realize you overdid it until that evening or as much as 35 hours later.

Roxanne Sylora, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

How quick will tummy tuck recovery be? 5'3", 120lbs

Thank you for the question. Your concerns about “inconveniencing” your family are understandable but you will be best off having as much help as possible ( for yourself and your children)  for the first 2 to 4 weeks after tummy tuck surgery.  Remember that you are scheduled for a major operation which often involves a significant physical AND emotional recovery (often underestimated by surgeons and patients alike): a few  additional words of advice may be 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, and the attached link, helps.  Best wishes.

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