What Should I Know About Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

A tummy tuck is a medical procedure used to give someone a flatter, fit-looking abdominal area. Also called abdominoplasty, this procedure is used to take both extra skin and fat from the abdominal area, focusing on the middle and lower regions. In some cases, a surgeon may tighten a person's abdominal muscles as well. The procedure may even help a person achieve a slimmer waist. However, there are some recovery issues to consider.

Bruising is common during tummy tuck recovery.
Bruising is common during tummy tuck recovery.

After surgery, most patients will need to rest in bed for two to three days. Typically, patients are given pressure garments to support the recovering abdominal areas, and they may be asked to lie with their knees bent up a bit in order to allow the abdominal area to rest as much as possible. Some pain is normal during tummy tuck recovery, and doctors may provide pain medication. Also common are bruising, swelling, bleeding, and side effects of the general anesthesia, such as upset stomach. Sometimes a patient may be instructed to wear elastic stockings to prevent the development of blood clots during tummy tuck recovery.

Tummy tuck procedures are performed under general anesthesia.
Tummy tuck procedures are performed under general anesthesia.

There are some things to watch out for during tummy tuck recovery. These things may indicate a serious problem that is best evaluated by a doctor. A tummy tuck patient should contact her doctor immediately if she experiences severe pain or heavy bleeding. She should also call her doctor if she notices any of the potential signs of infection, such as fever and redness in the abdominal area. Likewise, breathing difficulties should be reported right away.

Certain types of undergarments can be worn to lend a sleek appearance to a flabby stomach in lieu of a tummy tuck.
Certain types of undergarments can be worn to lend a sleek appearance to a flabby stomach in lieu of a tummy tuck.

The amount of time needed for tummy tuck recovery varies a bit from person to person, but most people can expect to have non-dissolving stitches removed by the 10th day following surgery. Most patents can return to light work within just a few weeks. However, it is best to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity, including exercise, for about four weeks after surgery. It is also wise to allow for at least two weeks of tummy tuck recovery time before having sexual intercourse, making sure the wounds have healed first.

Heavy lifting should be avoided while recovering from a tummy tuck.
Heavy lifting should be avoided while recovering from a tummy tuck.

For the first few weeks of tummy tuck recovery, bruises typically linger. The swelling begins to go down in the first week of recovery, but it may take about six months to go away completely. Many people experience a numb sensation below the navel area; it may last through the tummy tuck recovery period and for months after that. Eventually, this should fade somewhat, but some people will have a bit of numbness for a lifetime.

Two weeks should pass following tummy tuck surgery before engaging in sexual intercourse.
Two weeks should pass following tummy tuck surgery before engaging in sexual intercourse.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

anon80088

Antibiotic medication is absolutely necessary in case of a surgical tummy tuck. My doctor thought antibiotics were not necessary. The result was a life-threatening infection.

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