What To Expect for Tummy Tuck Recovery: Photos Show Progression of Results

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 the muscles closer together in the midline. This helps to make the tummy tighter and flatter—it also causes some discomfort.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Photos

My video below shows pictures of one of my patients at various stages of recovery. You can see how she looked before surgery and then 5 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after surgery. I hope it’s helpful in understanding the progression of recovery as the swelling recedes.

What Does Tummy Tuck Recovery Feel Like?

So, when I see patients postoperatively, I typically hear them say that they are “exhausted.” They say they feel like they were hit by a truck and they 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 3 days. After that, they truly get better much faster.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline

Time After SurgeryMilestone
4 to 5 daysSurgical drains removed
2 to 3 weeksReturn to school and nonstrenuous work
3 weeksStop wearing compression garment
6 weeksResume aerobic exercise (e.g., walking, stationary biking)
3 monthsResume strenuous exercise (e.g., weight lifting, running, yoga)
3 months80% healed
6 months90% healed

These limitations may be a little conservative, but I don’t like to take any chances. The Aesthetic Society explains more about what to expect during your tummy tuck recovery.

Learn More

You can see more of my patients’ tummy tuck before and after pictures in my photo gallery to get an idea of the type of results we achieve. please request a consultation or call us at (212) 249-4020 to schedule an appointment.

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