How Long Is Tummy Tuck Recovery Time? Photos, Pain & More

Thomas P. Sterry, MD
tummy tuck before & after

Tummy tuck recovery can be challenging but very rewarding

A lot of people are interested in tummy tuck surgery, but they think they don’t have the time or they fear tummy tuck recovery. They hesitate and may never improve parts of their body that the gym simply can’t work out for them, and that’s a shame.

As the tummy tuck patients at my NYC practice have learned, in the long run, the procedure’s benefits usually far outweigh its recovery discomfort and time. And you can see why in my patients’ tummy tuck photos featured below.

In this blog post, I’ll answer some of the most common questions tummy tuck patients ask about the recovery process.

What is the average recovery time for a tummy tuck?

Oblique close-up of man's midsection before and after a tummy tuck.


That’s a little difficult for me to offer a generic answer to this concern because I don’t necessarily know what each person considers to be “recovered” after abdominoplasty. For some folks it’s a matter of when they can get back to their regular daily routine; for others, it’s when they will be out of discomfort of any sort; and for some, it means getting back to the gym and performing at their peak exercise ability.

My patient pictured at right is a 32-year-old man who had a tummy tuck to eliminate loose skin after weight loss. He returned to work 10 days after the procedure and was back in the gym by 6 weeks post-op. Also, he was concerned about how visible his surgical scars would be once his incision healed, so we were careful to place the incision where it would be hidden when he was shirtless. You can learn more about how we conceal tummy tuck surgery incisions in our related blog post.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Stages

During the postoperative period, there is a lot of swelling – especially in the lower tummy. This can take several weeks or months to completely resolve. I even made a YouTube video to help patients understand the phases that a tummy tuck patient goes through when they are recovering from the operation.

How painful is a tummy tuck recovery?

Few patients actually complain about the pain after a tummy tuck. They tell me that they are “exhausted.” They tell me that they feel “tight” and have difficulty finding a comfortable position sleeping at night. But the one thing I rarely hear during tummy tuck recovery is that a patient has “pain” or that the operation “hurts.”

Don’t get me wrong, they certainly do use their pain medication, so I know that there is some level of discomfort, but this is not their primary concern.

On those occasions when I do hear a tummy tuck complain about pain, it is typically either the center of the tummy because of the muscle tightening, or in the groin area because of the way I close the wound. Interestingly, the skin wound from tummy tucks is almost never a source of discomfort.

Is it worth getting a tummy tuck?

It’s really uncanny how patients are happy at first, then complain about bloating in the lower belly at the 2- to 3-week mark. Then, by 6 weeks or so, they start to get happy again … And by 3 months after their surgery, they are typically very happy with their results.  You can see some of my patients’ tummy tuck before and after pictures in our online photo gallery. A tummy tuck truly offers a beautiful transformation for the right patient.

If you are bothered by a belly bulge or loose, excess tummy skin, I hope that you’ll explore your options. In some cases, we can also enhance your results by performing liposuction along with a tummy tuck or combining them with a breast enhancement procedure as part of a mommy makeover.

I’m happy to discuss your body contouring and tummy tuck goals with you at my New York plastic surgery practice, and I invite you to request a consultation using our online form or by calling us at (212) 249-4020.

2 Responses to How Long Is Tummy Tuck Recovery Time? Photos, Pain & More

  • Alex Rentschler says:

    I was wondering how much a tummy tuck is on average and do any insurances help pay ? And do you set up payment plans ? I am out of state and have had two babies. My first baby was almost 10lbs and I have a lot of loose skin.

    • Please feel free to call my office and ask what we charge – I don’t like to discuss those things – ever.
      I’m sure you can get a nice outcome.
      Good Luck!

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