How long is the recovery for a tummy tuck?
Most people plan for around two weeks of downtime away from work, ideally with help from another capable adult during that time.
After around six weeks, most people are cleared to resume exercise and daily activities – but, keep in mind this is really different for everyone.
It’s important to check in with your surgeon before changing, adding, or removing anything from your recovery plan.
Don’t be shy to connect with your board-certified plastic surgeon and patient care coordinator about your history with anesthesia, surgery, childbirth, and what home life looks like for you. They'll be able to guide and help you plan for your personal recovery.
How bad is tummy tuck recovery?
No one likes to hear this (us included), but everyone’s tummy tuck recovery experience is totally different.
We hear tummy tuck recovery stories that cover the full spectrum in the Bustmob Community, a private space for women to connect and learn about plastic surgery.
Some women buy a recliner, walker, toilet seat support, the whole nine yards, while other women get by just fine without any of those tools. It really just depends on the person, your body, and your experience.
However, hearing from other women, asking questions, and seeing their tummy tuck recovery week-by-week pictures are invaluable in helping you navigate the process, whether you’re in the planning stage or in the midst of your own recovery.
With over 50,000 members and counting, there is no shortage of tummy tuck recovery tips, tummy tuck recovery must-haves, and personal advice from women who get it.
The type of tummy tuck you have may also play a role in your recovery.
There are four common types of tummy tucks, and depending on which one you have, it may change the intensity of your recovery:
- Fleur de lis tummy tuck
- Extended tummy tuck
- Full tummy tuck
- Mini tummy tuck
A tummy tuck with muscle repair recovery (most tummy tuck patients will have muscle repair) is going to leave you hunched over and pretty sore in the beginning.
However, muscle repair is a big reason people opt for a tummy tuck in the first place since those separated abdominal muscles can’t be brought back together with diet and exercise.
Recovery doesn’t last forever, but those tummy tuck results can!
Larger incisions that remove more excess skin and fat, like the fleur de lis tummy tuck recovery, could be more intense and longer than say, a mini tummy tuck recovery time.
How do you know what kind of tummy tuck you’ll need? Don’t worry.
Your plastic surgeon will determine what is best for you during your consultation based on your physical exam and the amount of excess fat and damaged skin that will be removed to achieve your aesthetic goals.
Want to learn more about the different types of tummy tucks and what they include? Download the free Bustmob Academy app to watch the entire Tummy Tuck series.
Modern Tummy Tuck Recovery vs. Traditional Tummy Tuck Recovery
Depending on whether you have a modern or traditional tummy tuck, your recovery could go one of two ways.
A drainless tummy tuck recovery is a modern tummy tuck recovery, while a traditional tummy tuck recovery will have drains to remove excess fluid typically for the first five days post-op.
The post-surgical drains can be both a mental and physical hurdle and, to be completely honest can be pretty gnarly to empty out throughout the day.
By eliminating the drains and the pressure they add to the incision site, your scars tend to have a better time healing and in many cases lead to lower scar visibility in the future.
For a lot of people, the drain-free recovery alone is enough to make the switch, but that isn’t the only perk of the modern tummy tuck.
This new technique also includes a long-lasting numbing medication that is injected during the procedure, providing a ton of additional comfort and independence for the first three days of recovery.
If that wasn't enough, most patients can take a shower as soon as a day or two after surgery, making the modern a pretty rapid tummy tuck recovery compared to the days of yore.
Week by Week Tummy Tuck Recovery
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So let’s talk a bit about what you can expect from your tummy tuck recovery timeline.
In the initial days and first two weeks of your recovery, plan for limited mobility, additional support from a capable adult, and relaxed days binging re-runs of your favorite show.
Typically, most people return to work after two weeks, and around the six-week mark, most patients are cleared to remove the garments, get back to the gym, and resume daily life.
Your final results are a bit of a long game, and you can expect to see those between 9 and 12 months after surgery. Patience is key here, but well worth the wait for those permanent, life-changing results.
You can learn more about tummy tuck final results in the free Bustmob Academy app.
Tummy Tuck Recovery: Week 1
Your first week after tummy tuck surgery is going to be a bit of a "Groundhog's Day" – you'll mostly be resting, keeping up with your prescription pain medications, sprinkling in a slow walk around the house to wash your face or make a snack. Rinse and repeat.
For some, this is the staycation they've been dreaming of; for others, it's the definition of boredom.
Whatever side you lean towards, it's really important to take it easy, especially in the beginning. Chances are, you're not going to feel up for a dance party in those first few days anyway.
But taking it easy doesn't mean zero movement. In fact, the plastic surgeons of Amelia Aesthetics will encourage you to walk around to reduce the risk of blood clots.
In the first several weeks, you can also expect bruising and swelling, which is where the garment comes in.
When you wake up from surgery, you'll likely be rocking a compression garment. And yes, a compression garment should be worn in the initial weeks of recovery for most people.
The garment you wake up in will be bulky, almost "industrial" with Velcro straps. It varies from surgeon to surgeon, but you can expect in most cases to wear that garment for the first week or so before being cleared to wear a looser, "Spanx-like" garment.
Typically, after two weeks, people are ready to return to work and regain some of their normal routine and independence.
But we've said it once, and we'll say it again, always check with your surgeon before changing up your recovery plan.
Tummy Tuck Recovery: Weeks 2-6
Ready to drop that bulky garment? Good news! Most patients are cleared to lose their first (more industrial) garment after a week or so and will transition to something like a Spanx or Faja.
Truth be told, those garments not only help reduce swelling and bruising, but they also make a nice barrier between your sensitive skin and your clothing. Most people find the garment actually feels nice, keeping everything together and tight, like a little hug.
Right around 6 weeks, you will also likely remove the scar tape from your incision and can begin massaging scar salve twice daily for up to a year.
Tummy Tuck Recovery: 6 Weeks & Beyond
You can expect to see your final results around the 9-12 month mark. However, you'll continuously see improvements and changes in the weeks leading up to those final months.
We highly recommend taking tummy tuck recovery photos week by week in the same bathing suit or underwear so you can track all of your body’s progress.
The recovery is just as emotional as it is physical, which is one of the main reasons we created the Bustmob Community.
But don’t worry–with a little preparation and support, you’ll get through it!
Don’t believe us? Ask the members of Bustmob. You’ll find no shortage of women sharing their own tummy tuck recovery stories, pre-op to years post-op.
Found this helpful, but want more?
Good news! This is just one of hundreds of fun, factual videos on the Bustmob Academy app to make your plastic surgery research easy.
From commonly told myths and FAQs, to recovery time and costs, Jenny Eden, founder of Bustmob, and Gretta Nance, lead educator at Amelia Aesthetics, break down your plastic surgery research into bite-size, binge-able pieces.
Pair the Bustmob Academy app with Bustmob Community, a safe space to connect and learn wherever you are on your plastic surgery journey, and you are well on your way to being empowered and educated before you even set foot in your consultation.