Many patients ask for a timeline for their tummy tuck recovery. While we generally advise patients that you can go back to work after a tummy tuck (a.k.a. abdominoplasty) in two to six weeks, the amount of recovery time you need depends on several factors of your surgery. You may go home after the surgical procedure, but you will need help at home for a few days, especially if you have young children. You will be asked to wear a compression garment for four to six weeks after the surgery to hold your tummy in place while it is healing and will need to visit the surgeon multiple times during the first few weeks after the procedure.
Returning to Work After Abdominoplasty
When you plan your tummy tuck, you may consider several factors that will affect the time you return to work. You can start with your overall health and fitness. This may have an impact on how long it takes for you to heal. Another factor is your job. If you have a desk job, you may need 10 – 15 days of rest after surgery before returning to work.
If your job requires more physical activity, such as manual labor, dancing or hours on your feet, you may need to wait longer. The general consensus is best practices require two weeks off work. Even if you can go back a few days earlier, you will have every eventuality covered if you plan for two weeks.
Smoking is a key factor in the recovery of your body after major surgery. The chemicals in cigarette smoke interfere with the healing of the blood vessels, which could have serious consequences. To avoid these complications, smokers should quit at least four to six weeks before and after surgery. It may be a good opportunity to quit forever.
A Tummy Tuck is Major Surgery
When you have a consultation with our specialist you will have a detailed examination and need to answer some questions about your medical history, any medications you are taking and dietary supplements. We may take photos of your abdomen and discuss with you your expectations. It is important to have realistic expectations in order to be satisfied with the results. With digital imagery, you may be able to see a picture of how you will look and make adjustments before any actually work is done.
Planning the time for your surgery is important. You will not want to take a long car ride or airplane trips for a few weeks after the procedure. Getting active too early is the main cause of complications. Professionally called an abdominoplasty, you will be admitted to a hospital or an accredited surgery center and require general anesthesia. The procedure takes multiple hours to carry out.
Although the exact details of each procedure vary, the incision is done from hip bone to hip bone low on your tummy so it can be covered by a bikini bottom or underwear. The excess skin is removed and the underlying muscles are tightened. The skin is replaced and the navel is repositioned. Drains are placed and the incision is closed with surgical glue. A compression garment will be put on before you wake up.
In some cases, drains may not be necessary, but if you had liposuction along with the surgery, it is more likely you will need drains for proper healing. Liposuction is often combined with tummy tuck surgery. It may be used on the thighs, hips and between the ribs and the hips.
Are You a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is surgery that changes the shape of your body. It is not a weight loss solution. It is considered wise to undergo a tummy tuck after you have lost weight and toned up as much as possible before surgery. Our professionals may help you lose weight through medical weight loss, nutritional guidance and personal trainers to get you in shape so you have a better chance of a faster recovery after surgery.
A tummy tuck may be recommended for people who:
- Have had several pregnancies or lost a lot of weight and are not able to remove all the hanging skin and fat pockets through exercise and diet alone
- Are ready to maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise after the surgery
- Do not have blood-clotting problems
- Have met all of the above qualifications and would like to improve their appearance
- Do not smoke or take blood-thinning drugs
We recommend that you are finished childbearing when you have a tummy tuck. If you want a complete Mommy Makeover, you should also finish breastfeeding. If you get pregnant after having a tummy tuck, it will stretch out your muscles and skin, and you may need further surgery to get back your pre-pregnancy body.
Types of Tummy Tuck Procedures
It’s good to keep in mind that there are different types of tummy tuck procedures available. The traditional tummy tuck is a full abdominoplasty. An extended tummy tuck is called a belt lipectomy or lower body lift. It reshapes the abdomen, thighs, hip and buttocks. A mini-tummy tuck has a short scar and is a small-incision abdominoplasty.
There are several options that go along with a tummy tuck. For example, many patients get the benefit of liposuction to remove tiny fat pockets that are not removed through exercise or surgery. Non-surgical body contouring using specialized techniques may be useful for women who aren’t ready for major surgery.
Recovery Timeline for Abdominoplasty
Here is a general timeline for the recovery period after a tummy tuck. Individual bodies differ in the healing process, but it is always better to be cautious than risky.
As mentioned above, at the end of the procedure, drains will be inserted, bandages applied and a compression garment or elastic bandage used to reduce swelling and support the abdominal area during healing. It is important to walk a little after surgery and during the early days of recovery. This may help reduce the risk of developing blood clots and help the tissue and muscles from becoming tight and stiff. Walking may also help reduce swelling. Just remember not to overdo it.
During the first week after surgery, you may experience swelling, tightness and bruising. If there is any discomfort, you may be given oral medication. The drains may be removed after a few days, but the compression garment will most likely stay for another day or two. You must avoid exercise, lifting anything, working, smoking and drinking alcohol.
During the second week, there may still be some swelling, but the bruising should fade and the tightness subside. It may be a good idea to continue to wear your compression garment. Of course, our specialist will make sure to evaluate your condition and give instructions.
During week two, you may feel like returning to daily tasks or work. You should ask our specialist before making any decision about returning to work or other activities. It may depend on the type of work you do if it is okay to go back. If your tummy tuck was part of a Mommy Makeover, which means you most likely had breast augmentation, liposuction and other procedures, you may need more time to recover. You should continue to avoid exercising, smoking and drinking alcohol.
Our specialist may ask you to wear the compression garment for a month. After about one month, you may begin to participate in light exercise. You should not do vigorous exercises, lift heavy weights and perform sit-ups for a few more weeks. Most patients are able to do their normal workout in a gym after six weeks. However, it all depends on the unique situation.
If you are at a healthy weight before surgery and are committed to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle including not smoking, you may greatly reduce the risk of complications after a tummy tuck. It is important to get enough rest to allow your body to heal properly. Returning to work is another matter as it will depend on the type of work you do and how well you are recovering from the surgery.
Learn more in a consultation with Dr. Katerina Gallus
To get all the facts, make sure to speak with female board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus at Restore SD Plastic Surgery, located in San Diego, CA. We would be more than happy to address any questions or concerns you may have about this popular procedure. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!