What To Expect During Your Tummy Tuck Recovery: Week by Week

A woman wearing a sports bra and work out clothes (model)

You know you want a flatter, firmer midsection, but the recovery process after your tummy tuck might be a question mark. If you’re like most people, you probably have some concerns about what to expect after a tummy tuck. We want to put your worries to rest. Recovery from a tummy tuck is a straightforward process if you prepare for it beforehand.

While experiences vary, here’s a general breakdown of tummy tuck recovery week by week and how you can prepare.

Before Your Tummy Tuck Surgery

At my Toledo practice, my team walks through the entire preparation process with you. We’ll review your medical history and medications or supplements you might be taking so you know exactly what to withhold on the day of surgery.

We usually advise eating a lighter diet for a few days before surgery. In addition, you can take the following steps to ensure a smooth surgical experience:

  • Make sure you go into your procedure with a positive mindset and realistic expectations.
  • Fill your pain medication prescription (if you have one) so it’s ready after surgery.
  • Have a friend or family member scheduled to drive you home from surgery.
  • Prepare a recovery spot at home that has all your post-surgical necessities like medication, electronic devices, pillows, and remotes close by.
  • Enjoy a pre-operative massage at our Bella Via Wellness Spa, which facilitates a smoother recovery process.

Here is a helpful blog post outlining some things to consider before your tummy tuck.

After Tummy Tuck Surgery

Week 1

Immediately after your procedure, you will wake up feeling groggy from the anesthesia. We’ll have you walk with assistance a few hours after surgery and repeat that process several times through the first night.

Throughout this first week, you should continue gently moving your body occasionally to prevent blood clots and promote healing. Walk with your body bent forward slightly to ease any potential strain on your incisions and relax your abdominal muscles.

You will wear a compression garment as often as possible to minimize swelling and soreness. You might feel some discomfort this first week, but I inject a special numbing medication during surgery that should keep you pretty comfortable and reduce your need for pain medication.

Week 2

You will start to feel more like yourself in Week 2 and move about more easily. There is no need for exercise or exertion, but movement at this stage is helpful. You can return to some office or work duties in the second week but may want to plan on shorter-than-usual work days at first.

Pay careful attention to your diet and avoid alcohol, as it can interfere with healing. You will still have swelling and bruising around your midsection, but it should be less pronounced than during Week 1. A great way to minimize swelling and potential scarring is to get a lymphatic drainage massage, offered at our Bella Via Wellness Spa.

Week 3

By the third week, you can return to office work fully and travel to and from work. Continue to refrain from heavy lifting and strenuous activity. This limitation will last 6 to 8 weeks if your abdominal muscles were tightened or strengthened during your tummy tuck surgery.   

Weeks 4 to 5

You are progressing in your recovery and hopefully feeling better every day! Resuming low-intensity, low-impact workouts is usually OK at this time. Continue to wear your compression garment when possible.

If your incisions are fully healed, you may begin a scar care regimen (such as scar massage or silicone scar tape) at this point. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers additional tips for scar care in this blog post.

Week 6 and Beyond

You should be mostly healed and ready to show off your sculpted abdomen. Don’t be discouraged if you are not healing as fast as you would like, however. Tummy tuck recovery is different for everyone. If your abdominal muscles were repaired, you can resume heavy lifting at this point.

With a bit of help from my surgery team, you can navigate your tummy tuck recovery like a pro! We customize treatment and recovery protocols for each patient, starting before surgery and extending into the early postoperative period. As part of these plans, our patients come to our Bella Via therapeutic wellness spa for body treatments such as pre- and post-op massage, manual lymphatic drainage, and ultrasound. In some cases, our patients even come in for camouflage makeup. We find that these treatments make your entire surgical journey easier and better.

We’re here to answer any questions and allay your concerns about the recovery process. To learn more about tummy tuck recovery, request a consultation or call us at (419) 534-6551 to schedule an appointment.

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