Tummy Tuck Recovery and Timeline

Tummy tuck recovery is one of the subjects many patients are interested in learning about prior to undergoing the procedure. If you’re considering tummy tuck surgery, you probably want to know what you can expect post-op and how quickly your recovery will be. Here we’ll explore what a typical tummy tuck recovery looks like and give a general guideline for healing and getting back to your normal routine.

To begin, it’s important to remember that every person’s body is different and no two people recover from cosmetic surgery exactly the same. These are just guidelines to provide a general idea of how tummy tuck recovery progresses. You should always follow your cosmetic surgeon’s advice and listen to your body. If something feels like too much, it’s always best to back off and give your body more time to heal.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline

It’s helpful to understand what a typical tummy tuck recovery timeline will be. You can browse photos to see tummy tuck recovery pictures and even explore tummy tuck recovery week-by-week pictures to give you a general idea of what to expect. Here, we’ll walk you through what to expect in the initial weeks post-surgery, including a tummy tuck swelling timeline.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Week-by-Week

Day One: Tummy Tuck Recovery

Your tummy tuck surgery was completed yesterday. Congrats! Yesterday after peacefully waking up from surgery you took your first post-surgery steps. Now, it’s time for your first post-op visit.

  • Dr. Cat’s team, for example, transports you from the surgery center to the doctor’s office.
  • Here your surgical site will be examined and Dr. Cat will review recovery procedures with you and your caregiver.

Week One: Tummy Tuck Recovery

One week post-op tummy tuck results Expect mild swelling during this time. However, you’ll be wearing your compression garment, so your surgery site will be protected.

  • During your daily walks, you’ll need to walk with a slightly bent-over posture at a 45-degree angle.
  • Expect to require assistance with getting in and out of bed, as you’ll need to avoid using your abdominal muscles.
  • During your first week of tummy tuck recovery, you’ll eat light meals and drink lots of water.

Week Two: Tummy Tuck Recovery

  • Many patients feel their energy come back to normal levels around this stage. It’s still important to take it easy, however, with activity still limited to slow, brief walks.
  • You’ll stand up a bit straighter at this point, but still, protect the area with a slight bend in your posture. Dr. Cat sees patients for a one-week post-op visit where she guides patients through the proper posture at this stage of healing.
  • Since many patients travel from far away to obtain a tummy tuck with Dr. Cat, around the second week you’ll be most likely given medical clearance to safely fly back home. It all depends on once your drains are all removed. This is usually up to two weeks after surgery.
  • Dr. Cat uses a very gentle technique to comfortably remove your drains at this recovery stage.

Week Three: Tummy Tuck Recovery

  • You’re feeling much more like yourself at this point. You’ve reached the milestone where you can stand up straight. Hooray!
  • You will still notice some residual swelling, but at this stage of tummy tuck recovery, you can begin to see your new tummy and how flat it appears. You’ll still need to wear your compression garment however for another week. Don’t be alarmed if you are still swollen at this point, as it takes some patients longer for their swelling to subside.

Week Four: Tummy Tuck Recovery

one month post-op tummy tuck results

  • Daily activities can resume! You’ve reached the recovery stage where you can go back to work, go shopping, and perform light (non-ab focused) exercises.
  • There may be slight residual swelling, but you can help this process along by keeping your day-to-day activities on the light side.
  • Now you can enjoy seeing your flat, tight tummy!
  • You’ll also notice that your incision site has significantly healed and diminished, becoming much lighter with no scabs. This is the time when you’ll begin your scar skin care treatments by applying scar gel several times a day.

Week Six: Tummy Tuck Recovery

  • Unless your surgery included a hernia repair, at this stage you can return to your full exercise routine.

Three Months: Tummy Tuck Recovery

three months post-op tummy tuck

  • You are fully enjoying the results of your tummy tuck, with no more loose skin or belly bulge. This is when many patients really begin appreciating their new flat tummy and how clothes fit them. You’ll begin to notice your core feels much stronger than prior to surgery and your posture has improved, prior back pain may also be non-existent now.
  • Dr. Cat sees patients for a 3-month postoperative visit where you’ll get to see your before and after photos and how much has changed with your midsection.
  • Scar treatment will continue for another few weeks.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Must-Haves

Dr. Cat makes sure all of her patients are fully prepared with everything they need for the smoothest tummy tuck recovery. There are some essentials that you’ll want on hand to make your recovery easier. These include:

Compression Garments

This may be the most essential item in your tummy tuck recovery. Compression garments or binders help prevent fluid from building up under your skin post-surgery. You will be fitted into a compression garment after surgery, and you’ll continue to wear this (changing frequently of course!) for the first six weeks after tummy tuck surgery.

Walker

Don’t worry, you won’t need this for long! However, in our experience, for the first week or so post-surgery, a front-wheeled walker allows you to walk in a safe, slightly bent-over posture while removing pressure from your back muscles.

Wound Care Supplies

It’s a good idea to have on hand a few packs of gauze pads to cover your incision.

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

Most of Dr. Cat’s patients don’t require prescription pain medication and only Tylenol during the first few days post-op.

Scar Gel

Dr. Cat offers her patients highly-effective scar treatments which help to diminish the appearance of scars after incision sites have fully healed.

Recliner

You will need to sleep at a 45-degree angle for at least three weeks, possibly longer depending on your recovery. You can sleep in your bed, but make sure you have enough pillows to properly position yourself. Patients find that it is much more comfortable to sleep in a recliner. Dr. Cat’s office recommends renting a reclining chair for the recovery if you do not have one already.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Tips

Tummy tuck recovery tips before and after

There are many simple steps you can take to ensure you give your body everything it needs during your tummy tuck recovery.

Eat Healthy, Nutrition-Packed Foods: This includes plenty of healthy fats, like avocado, which is good for skin health and healing while providing the protein your body needs to recover.

Get Plenty of Rest: Sleep is very important to your recovery. Post-op, you’ll need to sleep on your back in a reclining position. Aim for at least 8-10 hours of sleep each night.

Walk Everyday: Even if you don’t feel like it, it’s important for your circulation and healing to walk each day after surgery. At first, these should be very short walks, but they can increase as your tummy tuck recovery progresses. Always listen to your body. In the first week, walk with a buddy to ensure you have someone there to assist you in case you need to sit down.

Drink lots of water: Stay away from coffee, sodas, and alcohol during your recovery period. But have fresh water always on hand to sip throughout the day.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Begins with Selecting the Right Surgeon

For a smooth, pain-free recovery, it’s important to choose the right cosmetic surgeon for your tummy tuck. Patients travel great distances to obtain a Dr. Cat signature tummy tuck, because of the dramatic results she can achieve and because Dr. Cat’s gentle technique results in a quick recovery. If you’re interested in taking the first step to a new, flat tummy, reach out to Dr. Cat’s team for a virtual consultation.