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The Facts About Tummy Tuck Recovery

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Published in Recovery

Getting a tummy tuck is an incredible way to get rid of unwanted excess fat and skin, creating a totally new look for your body. But lots of patients are worried that a tummy tuck will leave them bedridden for months, unable to enjoy life as they recover.

Luckily, tummy tucks aren’t nearly that bad. Like any surgical procedure, tummy tucks require a recovery period while your body heals—let’s take a look at just what that means for you.

How long does it take to recover from a tummy tuck?

That depends. Your body is unique, and so are your needs as a patient. Tummy tuck recovery depends on how extensive your surgery is (mini tummy tuck, standard tummy tuck or extended tummy tuck), the skill of your doctor, and your general health.

Your surgeon will help make this decision-making process as simple as possible.

In general, your recovery period from a mini tummy tuck is much smaller than that of a standard or extended tummy tuck—while you’ll need to minimize your activity for about a week for the mini version, expect several weeks of scaled-back activity for the latter.

How do you manage pain from a tummy tuck?

Pain after a tummy tuck can range from moderate to high, and patients usually manage it with a painkiller prescribed by their surgeon. Your tolerance for pain will vary, so you may want to use the medication anywhere from a few days to a week.

You’ll also be given a compression garment to wear for several days after your procedure. The compression garment helps reduce swelling and prevent fluid buildup, and is critical to your recovery—if you’re given one by your doctor, wear it!

One other thing to note—while not directly related to pain, it’s important to manage constipation after your tummy tuck. Straining can cause damage to your abdomen and delay or reverse results from you surgery, which is why you may be required to take laxatives for several days after your procedure.

What’s a typical recovery like for tummy tucks?

Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this type of question. However, let’s look at what an average person could expect after a standard tummy tuck:

  • Days 3-6: Drainage tubes removed, compression garment no longer needed 24/7. You should be able to walk around and perform very light activities around the house at the end of this period.
  • Day 7: Begin tapering off your pain medication to smaller doses.
  • Day 14: By now, your incisions should be fully healed. Up until this point, you should avoid placing any strain on your incisions.
  • Day 21: You should still be wearing your compression garment at least half the time, but it’s no longer needed as much. After 3 weeks, patients who don’t have physically demanding jobs can return to work.
  • Day 28: By now, most patients can return to work.
  • Day 35: During your fifth week of recovery, you can finally get back to most normal activities.

Recovering from a tummy tuck is a process. Your procedure removed a lot of excess tissue and caused stress on your body, which needs time to recover. Fortunately, most patients say the results are well worth the wait.

When should you seek medical attention after a tummy tuck?

Complications during your tummy tuck recovery are rare, but potentially dangerous. Look out for:

  • Fever or other signs of infection, such as pus draining from your incisions.
  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Incisions re-opening before they’re healed
  • Pus or foul-smelling discharge from your incisions

Your doctor will tell you exactly what to expect and watch out for after your procedure so there won’t be any nasty surprises. Don’t worry—if tummy tucks weren’t safe, so many people wouldn’t be getting the procedure every year.

What’s next?

Stressed about getting a tummy tuck? 3-5 weeks probably seems like a long time to wait, but there’s a reason for the caution. Abdominoplasty is an extensive surgical procedure that produces equally extensive, long-lasting results.

When you’re searching for the right doctor for your procedure, remember; a good doctor will make you look good, but a great doctor sticks with you every step of the way until you’re fully recovered and happy with your new body.

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