How is the Tummy Tuck Recovery Process?

The cost of surgery, recovery, and what to expect are some of the concerns that come to mind when preparing for abdominoplasty surgery. It is especially important that you familiarize yourself with the recovery process and equip yourself with the supplies you need. Generally, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer as to how long it takes to recover from a tummy tuck. Recovery will vary from one person to another based on a variety of factors, including general health, age, type of abdominoplasty performed, and post-surgery care. This article highlights important things to keep in mind regarding your tummy tuck recovery.

What to expect after surgery?

A tummy tuck is an outpatient procedure that is completed in the plastic surgeon’s in-office operating room or an accredited surgical facility. You’ll need to have someone to drive you home once you are discharged from the hospital. Your helper may also take care of some basic chores over the first few days of recovery. Before you are discharged from the surgical facility, your surgeon or one of their staff will brief you on post-operative care.

You will be instructed on the following:

  • How to care for your drain tubes and incisions.
  • What to watch out for (i.e. complications)
  • When to attend follow-up visits.
  • What to eat and drink.
  • How much rest you should get.
  • How to wear your abdominal compression garment.

Generally, abdominoplasty patients are allowed to take shower about 48 hours after drain tubes are removed. Until then, you should only clean up by taking a sponge bath. Antibiotics are typically prescribed to help ease the discomfort. A topical medication that is applied to the skin is usually provided as well. Your surgeon’s office will make it clear that you should avoid taking alcohol, smoking, or using certain medications (such as aspirin) and herbal supplements.

Tummy tuck recovery timeline

It is important for abdominoplasty patients to have an impression of the tummy tuck recovery timeline so they can make plans ahead of time. You may take a light walk as soon as you are able to after surgery in order to encourage proper blood flow. Drains are typically removed after a few days. It takes about two weeks before you are able to return to your desk job (or other less demanding work). Compression garments will need to stay in place for about six weeks in order to support your abdomen and prevent fluid buildup. Depending on the type of tummy tuck performed, it may take up to eight weeks before you are able to exercise or engage in demanding physical tasks.

Potential side effects

Most patients experience pain over the first few days post-surgery. You should take the prescribed pain medication in order to alleviate the discomfort. You may experience a pulling sensation in your abdomen especially when you stand straight. Swelling and numbness are usually evident and can last for months. While it is normal to have bruises in the treatment area, this usually goes away as your wound heals. Your abdominoplasty scar might be red and raised at first, but usually fades away with time.

Guidelines for at-home recovery

Recovery is a very important phase after any surgical procedure. What you do during this time can have a lasting impact on the outcome of your surgery. Before you even go in for the surgery, you ought to have set up a comfortable space where you can relax and have your needs met. You should also schedule enough time away from work and other engagements. Drinking plenty of water helps reduce swelling and flush out toxins from your body. Maintaining a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables ensures that your body is supplied with the nutrients necessary for a quick recovery.


Choosing the right plastic surgeon is the first step towards a successful cosmetic surgery. Once the treatment has been administered, you’ll need to strictly adhere to the surgeon’s instructions to ensure a smooth recovery. Dr. Ruston’s Baton Rouge office is available at all times to answer any questions you may have and provide the support you need.