Is 2.5 weeks enough time after tummy tuck to return to work?

I'm a physical therapist who works in a nursing home. I have to help patients out of bed, push wheelchairs, and help them up out of wheelchairs. Is 2.5 weeks enough time to recover before returning to my job?

Doctor Answers 21

Abdominoplasty: post operative recovery.

Dear Ms. Mommyasince2012,

Returning to work after 2.5 weeks is reasonable and as long as activity is pain limited.

 Every one responds a little different and requires a varied recuperation peroid.
Most patients are nearly self sufficient after the 5 th postoperative day.

You may need help with transportion needs for follow up visits and if taking narcotics.
The following are my personal instructions. Specifics, additions or deletions may vary depending on your Plastic Surgeon.

I will break it down into three peri operative time periods:
I. Preoperative
a. Month before
1) start iron pill 325 mgm (over the counter) a day (builds up blood). May turn stools
black and cause constipation.
2) start multivitamin (provides nutrients for healing) no mega E can cause bleeding.
3) stop any hormonal birth control or post menapausal female hormones (increase risk of blood clots).
4) stop any over the counter supplements (can cause unknown problems).
5) if you have had Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) start on 100 grams of protein
per day.
6)stop smoking. No exceptions.
7)if over age 45 or medical issues our surgery center recommends a preoperative
clearance by your primary care phyiscian with basic labatory data.
b. Two weeks before
1) if over age 45 or medical issues provide preoperative clearance letter with labatory
data for your surgeon.
2) visit with your Plastic Surgeon who will provide prescriptions (for before and after
surgery), counseling and educational materials. Discuss what medications are ok to
continue or stop. Bring list of questions.
3) stop shaving around pubic area (razor blade shaving causes small cuts that can
harbor bacteria and increase infection rate).
4) NO aspirin, Alleve, Motrin (can interfere with normal clotting) use only plain
Tylenol (will not interfere with normal clotting) or pain medication prescribed by your
Plastic Surgeon.
5) make arrangements for drop off, pickup and child care.
c. 4 days before
1)start bromelian and arnica as directed (anti brusing and swelling).
2) purchase 2 large bags of frozen peas or corn (Costco size). Can have one in pillow case and place over abdomen and change out with second one (in freezer) when thawed.
3)purchase any needed food, supplies and verify with your postoperative support team
yours/their schedule.
4) no shaving of pubic area (can increase infection rate) Operating Staff will clip pubic hair if needed.
c. Day before
1)have precscriptions filled.
2)bed, recliner, pillows, foam wedges etc ready.
3)make sure you location of surgicenter, see if you can obtain any of Surgicenters
required preoperative paperwork to fill out prior to arriving on the day of surgery.
4)call surgicenter for you expected time of arrival
5) have or purchase bell to ring (if you need assistance after surgery) to notify your support team
d. Night before
1)make out a list of any "last minute" questions, your needs, wants, desires and
expectations of the surgery.
2)I have my patients complete a preoperative ennema (decreases fecal load)
for postoperative constipation (from pain meds) and potentially reduces risk of
blood clots (hard stool pressing on intra abdominal viens during tightening of the
3)take a shower with antiseptic solution and scrub entire body well.
4) no alcohol containing drinks.
5) nothing by mouth after midnight or 8 hours prior to surgery (unless instructed so
by surgicenter).

II Operative day
1)awake and take second shower and scrub the surgical area
2)check your list (bring model photos demonstrating your desires).
3)place anti nausea patch behind ear (prevents nausea).
4)take all necessary medications with sips of water.
5)if anxiety may take 5 mgm of Valium with a sip of water.
6)remove all piercings, jewelry, "booby pins" from hair and body.
7) no make up and remove nail polish (intraoperative monitoring).
8) button down or zipper blouse/shirt, sweat pants or stretchable pants.
9)go over your list with Plastic Surgeon and Anesthesia provider.
10) reaffirm with surgicenter when your postoperative care provider should be at
the surgicenter for postoperative education and instructions.
11) ask to have deep vien precautions (DVT). I personally give 5,000 units heparin,
TED hose, and sequential compression device (before, during and after surgery).

III Postoperative
a) immediate
1) communicate with your recovery room nurse (pain, nausea, etc).
2) do what you are asked to do.
3) I provide a abdominal binder (check with your surgeon for their preference).
b) discharge
1) anti DVT program: leg/foot exercises, TED hose, and (I send home with)
portable SCD device to be used for two weeks after surgery. Get out of bed and
walk around house every 1-2 hours while not sleeping. Leave SCD on while
sleeping or resting for next two weeks.
2)incentive spirometer every hour after surgery (improves breathing after general
3) if drains used measuring cup and chart for recording out put as directed.
4)Foley catheter: I personally send home with and have patient remove 6 hours
after surgery (some patients develop urinary retention while general anesthesia
wears off and will require re-cathederazation.
5) walking in haunched over position. I provide a walker for my patients.
6) bed position "lazy boy" postion (use recliner, hospital bed or pillows/foam
7)diet progressive to prevent nausea: clear liquids (gatoraide, broth, tea) for first
8 hours, liquid diet next 8 hours (soups,pudding,yogurt), soft diet for next 8
hours (well cooked oatmeal or pasta) after 24 hours regular diet.
Start stool softeners and anti constipation program.
8)Pain management: I personally inject long acting local pain reducers into the
surgical area and provide a postoperative non narcotic pain reliever that lasts
several days. It is ok to start using aspirin, Alleve, Motrin after surgery and
alternate with oral narcotics. Do not take pain medications on a empty stomach.
Crackers before and after medications (to prevent nausea and upset stomach).
9)incentive spirometer: helps open up the small breathing units found within the
lungs that collapse during general anesthesia . Use once an hour while awake
until you are abel to obtain preoperative values.
b) first four post operative days.
1) wear SCD's 24 hours a day, anti DVT excercises every hour
2) use incentive spirometer (it opens up small breathing units in your lungs) once a hour until you reach your preoperative values
3) walk hunched over (use walker provided) and sleep in the "fetal position" using recliner or wedges/pillows.
4)if unable to have a bowel movement start over the counter laxatives and stool softeners.
c)5 th day to two weeks
1)no restrictions in sleeping postion or standing up straight. Use walker only as needed.
2)non narcotic pain pump to be be removed
3)may shower but keep incision and drain exit sites dry (let shower spray back side and sponge bath front side.
4)may remove SCD during ambulation but wear at all times when not
5)progressive ambulation and stretching to point of pain and fatigue
6) wean off narcotic pain pills and replace with Tylenol, Motrin or Aspirin like over the counter medications.
7)may drive as tolerated (must be off narcotics)
8) may switch from provided binder to "spanks" like garmet for comfort and support.
9) may return to work as tolerated
d)after two weeks
1) excercise to point of pain or fatique
2)SCD not required (may continue)
3) report to office when individual drainage less than 25 cc in a 24 hour peroid for serial
removal). May shower without restrictions when drains are all removed.
4) start anti scar programs: start Embrace and silicone gel strips.
e) after six weeks
1) no restriction on excercise (use good judgement).
2)cont to wear "spanks" like garmet for support and swelling (only as needed).
3) it will take 2-3 months for the majority of the swelling to be gone.
4) it will take 9 + months for the scars to "mature" (soften and lighten)
5) enjoy your new body.

I trust you have chosen a experienced Plastic Surgeon who is Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and ideally a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (denoting by membership as having met additional criteria and a focus on Cosmetic Plastic Surgery).

My best wishes,
Dr. R. A. Hardesty, MD, FACS
Diplomate and Certified by the Am. Bd. of Plastic Surgery

Post op instructions

Abdominoplasty involves a recovery period of 10 to 14 days longer than most plastic surgical procedures. Initial discomfort and decreased mobility is typical. Light activity is comfortable in 10-20 days. No sports or heavy lifting for 6 weeks or more. If you are helping patients out of wheel chairs, it's possible that you are lifting more than what's recommended post op. You should check with your surgeon to make sure you are healing well!

Recovery after tummy tuck

Thank you for your question. From the sounds of things you have a very labor intensive position. Being 2.5 weeks post tummy tuck may put you in the position of potential complications due to heavy lifting and the physical demands of your position. If possible I would suggest returning to work with modified duties to avoid these physical demands.

Ryan Mitchell, MD, FRCSC
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Time to recovery after tummy tuck?

Over the years, I have had patients return to work much sooner than before due to an improvement in techniques that reduce injury and postoperative pain.   Currently most of my patients at desk jobs return to work within a week, and for patients with a more strenuous job as yours, two weeks should be sufficient.  Because the muscle fascia is plicated, you need to allow 8-10 weeks before doing situps or really straining your core muscles, but exercise, and moderate lifting has not been a problem.  Every surgeon uses different techniques, so it is best to follow your surgeon's recommendations.

Is 2.5 weeks enough time after tummy tuck to return to work?

I recommend my patients not do do heavy activity for, at least, 4 weeks; but, if (based on your recovery improvement) your surgeon advises you to go back to work by that time , you feel capable and your job doesn't require heavy activities, you could do so. But, I honestly think your job may be rough for someone who just had a Tummy Tuck. I think if you really can't be off from work for long, you can at least prepare yourself for 3 weeks of. 

Yily De Los Santos, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 1,609 reviews

Is 2.5 weeks enough time after tummy tuck to return to work?

I think it is best to prepare for a “recovery” of at least 4 weeks after tummy tuck surgery. Descriptions of recovery times shorter than this, in my opinion, is over-promising (especially in your profession).

I do have another word of advice for you. Patients who are about to undergo tummy tuck surgery spend a lot of time thinking about the physical preparation for the procedure (for example weight loss issues) but do not spend a lot of time thinking about the emotional aspects.

It is not uncommon for patients who undergo the procedure to experience severe “mood swings”. These emotions may range from depression ( “why did I do this to myself”) to elation (which may lead to over activity). I think it is helpful to be aware that these emotional swings do occur postoperatively.

Suggestions I have for patients undergoing this procedure:

1. Make sure you have a strong support system in place who have time/patience to take care of you. 2. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. 3. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies. 4. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work too early and let others take care of you (for a change). 5. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the emotional swings that you may experience. 6. Keep in mind the end result!

You may find the attached link and video, dedicated to tummy tuck surgery concerns, helpful to you as you learn more. Best wishes.

Is 2.5 weeks enough time after tummy tuck to return to work?

Thank you for your question.  Because details of your job will need to be known in order to give you the best recommendation I would voice your concerns with your surgeon for the best recommendation.  That said, based on your narrative, I think you will likely need more time before returning to work.  I am keenly aware of the effort needed to be able to get patients out of bed and out of wheelchairs, especially from a "core" point of view.  I would recommend closer to 6 weeks.  Hope this helps.

Nelson Castillo, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Is 2.5 weeks enough time after tummy tuck to return to work?

In general, the answer is yes. But there are several factors that may make the answer no. One of these factors would be an occupation that requires lifting a significant amount, such as a PT. However, there are different types of tummy tucks. If no muscle tightening is performed, then it still may be ample time. I would let your surgeon guide you on this. Good luck!

Time off work after Tummy Tuck

Time off work following a tummy tuck depends on several factors. It depends on the type of tummy tuck done (major versus minor), whether fascial tightening was performed, whether progressive tension suturing, your overall health and size, your tolerance for discomfort, and the requirements of your work.  Obviously this would be a typical question to ask you plastic surgeon.  

In general, most of my patients could get back to a physical therapy job in 2 weeks. That's not to say that you will be completely healed and there will moments of discomfort.  The question of having a drain is often a consideration in returning to work. With the progressive tension suture technique, if a drain is even placed, it can be removed at the first office visit.

Thank you for taking care of nursing home patients.  You are an angel to them.

All my best.


Time off work after tummy tuck

There are probably as many answers to this question, as there are physicians who will answer. I can only tell you what I tell my patients. Most patients who work in jobs that are not physically stressful to easily get back to work in a two week time period. We also tell our patients to wait six weeks before doing any strenuous exercise that involved constant pressure of you abdominal muscles such as "core" exercises. I recommend you ask your plastic surgeon what their recommendations are.  Good luck.

Marc J. Salzman, MD, FACS
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 38 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.