How Long is the Recovery Period for Full Tummy Tuck?

I'm 43 years old and had Full Tummy Tuck around seven weeks ago. I could not stand upright for 5 weeks post-op. When do you stop feeling tugs, pulling and tightness?

Doctor Answers 92

How Long is the Recovery Period for Full Tummy Tuck? #tummy tuck #recovery

Thank you for your question!  The tummy tuck recovery in my practice is divided into stages. 

Stage 1 - The immediate post-operative stage which lasts up to two weeks after surgery.  This is the time the drains are in place and I would assess for possible complications such as bleeding, infection, skin loss, etc.

Stage 2 - 2 weeks post-op to 6 weeks after surgery.  This is the time I would be looking for possible fluid collections and taking care of these if needed.

Stage 3 - Beyond 6 weeks to 6 months where the incision is healing, the tummy feels more like your own rather than numb, and your energy increases back to normal. 

Stage 4 - Beyond 6 months where the incisions lighten, soften, and the tummy tuck is now in the past and life goes on.  The incisions may take up to a total of two years to completely heal and lighten as much as they can. 

Hope this helps!!


Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

You should be better a few weeks after Tummy Tuck

Myfatbelly,

I assume you have already discussed this and much more with your surgeon. He or she will be the best source of information.

I typically tell my patients that they will be able to stop narcotics in about a week, stand straight 1-2 weeks, begin driving 2 weeks, begin exercises in 4 weeks, be back to most all activities 2 months, and 12-18 months for numbness to resolve and scars fade. Those general guidelines do not tell you exactly how you'll recover.

You may notice, for several months, that certain things you do cause twinges, tugs, etc. You may notice new areas becoming tingly, sensitive or sore as nerves heal and recover. Most of this is a minor annoyance and does not stop you from doing simple activities. It all tends to get better over time. Best wishes.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Full recovery after Tummy Tuck takes time

Myfatbelly,

After seven weeks of healing, you are pretty far along and it sounds like you are making progress. Standing full and upright is something we expect to see in most patients after the first week, and some actuallly return to work and gentle activities after two weeks though the pace of recovery can vary. You are on the slow side but don't worry.

Full tummy tuck is not a single operation and the methods used in correction will depend on the degree of skin and muscle laxity. Of course, those who have a strong foundation which did not require any muscle repair will recover the fastest. Some may have had a true area of hernia and healing can take eight weeks or longer.

With any tummy tuck procedure, there will be a stiffness and tightness to the stomach, and sometimes a numb feeling that takes many weeks to resolve. If your doctor thinks that you are ready and soundly healed, you can begin with relaxation exercise such as yoga to gently improve flexibility and motion in the abdomen. This will take some time. After you have restored flexibility, then resume aerobic activities such as stationary bike or treadmill. The progress of your return to an exercise program will give you a good idea as to when you will be back to activity as usual.

Best of luck.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Full Tummy Tuck Recovery period

Although many patients feel some tightness most of my patients stand comfortably upright within a few weeks at most. Recovery times of course vary from patient to patient.

Here are the general recommendations and healing time course for full tummy tuck procedures:

Following the tummy tuck procedure, you should be in a flexed position to minimize tension on the incision sites by to bending at the hips (waist) in order to reduce tension on the newly tightened skin. A recliner chair is perfect for this purpose but a pillow beneath your knees and several at the head of the bed will work well also.  Immediately after surgery, within the first few hours, the patients will walk in a slightly bent-over position. Start walking flexed at the waist (in a stooped position) for a few minutes every 1-2 hours the evening of surgery and continuing daily except when sleeping. This will minimize your risk for blood clots. Wear your TED stockings
In about one week you can gradually stand up straight.
Gradually increase activity as tolerated.
No sexual activity for 6 weeks after surgery.
Wiggle your toes and move your ankles in circles in bed every hour.
No heavy exercise, bending, lifting, baths, swimming, sun exposure, smoking, alcohol or sports
for 6 weeks following surgery after your surgeon has given you clearance to do so.
Limit napping to one short nap (less than an hour) per day to prevent sleep disturbance at night.
P O S I T I O N
Sleeping in a recliner chair with your legs elevated is helpful for the first several days. In bed
elevate head and back on 2-3 pillows and keep 2 pillows under your knees.
A 'reclined' or sitting position relieves tension on the incision. During the 6 weeks after surgery, 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 weeks of surgery.  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. Light activity is comfortable in 10-20 days. Sports will be more comfortable after 6 weeks.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 147 reviews

Tummy Tuck recovery is variable

Since all abdominoplasties are not alike, recovery times are different. The amount of dissection, the tightness of the closure, the need to tighten the muscles and to what degree may all influence post-op pain, sense of tightness, and recovery time. However, most patients should be able to resume most activities by 4-6 weeks and should be able to stand erect within a few days. Most tugging and tight feeling should be gone by the time you resume all activities within 4-6 weeks although an occasional twinge of pain is not uncommon even after a few months. This pain should usually not be disabling, but more annoying.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Tummy Tuck recovery

I encourage patients to stand upright after 3 to 4  days. In my experience, anything beyond that can result  in one heck of a back ache. Sitting in a straight-backed chair is a good way to "relax " the incision.

Barry H. Dolich, MD (Retired)
Bronx Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Tummy Tuck Recovery

In my practice, a tummy tuck +/- lipo of waist/flanks is usually an outpatient procedure. The surgery takes between 2-3 hours. I love performing nerve blocks with long acting numbing medicine (Exparel). These nerve blocks have revolutionized the recovery for my tummy tuck and mommy makeover patient for the past several years. My patients ambulating immediately after surgery. However, immediately after surgery, you will be walking flexed at your waist (in the skier's position). Each day, you will be gradually able to straighten. It generally takes 5-10 days (on average 7 days) for my patients to walk straight. I do instruct my patients to sleep in a recliner or sleep in their bed propped up with pillows to mimic a the recliner or lawnchair position. In about 7-10 days after surgery, you should be getting close to your baseline ( able to drive, walk straight etc). Most patients are able to get back to a desk job in about 10 days. However, no heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 5-6 weeks after your surgery. You need to give time for all your incisions to heal. During this 5-6 week period, most surgeons will recommend some form of compression garments to help minimize your postop swelling. You should see your results right away. What I tell my patients is that if they are happy a few days after surgery, they will be ecstatic with their results in 6-8 weeks (as the swelling goes away). Talk to your plastic surgeon to learn more about his/her specific postoperative care protocol. Hope this helps.

Dr. Basu
Houston, TX

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 205 reviews

Tummy Tuck Recovery

Thank you for your question.  Tightness, tugs and pulling after seven weeks is not abnormal. You want to have tightness, that is the purpose of your tummy tuck. The muscle tightening in the upper abdomen is what is causing the tugs and pulling.  This will improve over the next several weeks and months. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

John A. Kotis, DO, FACS, FACOS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

What you should expect recovering from your tummy-tuck with liposuction

Hello, and thank-you for your question.

At 7 weeks post-op following a tummy tuck with liposuction, I would anticipate that you should be feeling back to normal relativly soon.  Most of my patients are able to stand upright at 2 to weeks. It is normal to still feel tired and not quite yourself 3 weeks after a tummy tuck with liposuction. My patient report that they typically start to feel better 2 to 3 weeks after the procedure and report feeling "normal" 6 weeks post-operatively. Your recovery may be delayed by a week or two due to the unforeseen circumstances of your recovery, but I would anticipate that you will be back on track in no time. It is especially important when there are complications during the recovery period to see your Plastic Surgeon frequently. Although this is extra effort on your part, it will ensure the best results. With my own patients, I do my best to keep the lines of communication open and do everything possible to speed their recovery.

Best of luck,
Andrew Lyos, MD, FACS

Andrew T. Lyos, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Tummy Tuck Recovery

That is a great question. A tummy tuck not only requires the excision and suturing of extra skin, but also the internal suturing of the abdominal muscles which will lengthen the recovery period. It is imperative to allow six weeks for the abdominal wall and skin to close over and fully heal before returning back to regular movement. Patients may experience temporary pain, soreness, numbness and swelling for several months which will eventually subside. Hope this has helped.

Rady Rahban, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 109 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.