Recovery after a Tummy Tuck

Thomas P. Sterry, MD

No matter what the procedure is, all of my patients need to know how to plan for their recovery. A Tummy Tuck operation (or “abdominoplasty”) is a procedure that removes loose skin from the lower belly and tightens the muscles of the abdomen. The muscle tightening is the tough part – I have never heard a complaint about the skin wound.
We don’t actually cut the muscles. In fact, we don’t touch much of the muscle at all because they don’t hold sutures well. It is the covering envelope of each of our muscles called “fascia” that is used to bring them closer together in the midline. This helps to make the tummy tighter and flatter – it also causes some discomfort.
I’m adding a youtube video about tummy tuck recovery to this post (Jan 10, 2013). I hope it’s helpful:

So, when I see patients postoperatively, I typically hear them complain that they are “exhausted”, they say “I feel like I was hit by a truck”, and “I feel tight”, but they don’t typically complain about pain after a tummy tuck. Don’t get me wrong, they all take some kind of pain medication, but the main complaint is not typically the pain level. The worst part seems to be the first three days, after that they truly get better much faster. Most patients are back at work in about 2 weeks. Discomfort might last as much as three weeks, but that is not typical for a standard tummy tuck. I also ask patients not to exercise for six weeks and then to begin aerobic activity only. They can start aggressive weight training by 12 weeks (this is a little conservative, but I don’t like to take any chances).

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