What is the Recovery Time for a Tummy Tuck?

April 30, 2014
Posted by

Recovering from any major surgical procedure can take some time and the main concern is always the same: how should rest and movement be balanced in order to promote healing and prevent complications from sitting around in bed for too long? Moving too much or too soon can cause wound separations, infections, and fluid buildup but sitting still for too long can cause a completely different set of problems such as blood clots in the legs and lung problems. The answer, of course, is to take the middle path.

Tummy Tuck

Week 1:

The first few days of recovery should be complete bed rest. Your body will need some quiet time to recover from the immediate effects of surgery such as anesthetic and healing incisions. It is usually recommended to remain in bed for at least the first five days with the head elevated and multiple pillows propped under your bent knees, keeping your torso relaxed. This is the best position for preventing blood clots, fluid buildup, and lung problems. It will also help to relax the skin on your stomach and allow it to heal faster.

You should avoid walking around and only move about when absolutely necessary (such as to go to the bathroom or the fridge). Too much motion as this stage in your recovery can cause the skin to slide against the muscle beneath, preventing them from knitting back together. It can also cause the buildup of fluids (seroma) or blood (hematoma).

You should be able to resume a normal diet provided you do not eat anything too taxing on your system but be sure to drink lots of fluids, especially during the first 72 hours. Stick to juice and water and avoid things like soda which are not actually refreshing for the body.

You will be required to wear a compression garment 24/7 for the first 5 days as well. This will help to diminish swelling, prevent fluid accumulation, and speed healing. You will also have a drain pump inserted into the wound in order to drain fluids that buildup during the healing process. Be sure to empty the bump when full and note the amount of fluid each time.

After 5-7 days you will return to your surgeon for a post-op checkup during which they will remove the drain pump and check on your recovery.

Week 2:

After about 6 days the muscle layer will begin to knot against the skin layer but your healing is not yet complete. It is usually recommended for the patient to begin moving around the home carefully at this point so as to get some exercise and prevent complications. Walking around your room about 3 times a day is recommended but don’t overdo it. Be sure to continue to wear the compression garment when moving about and bend over slightly when moving to keep the skin of your stomach relaxed.

Keep your bed in the elevated position discussed earlier and where your compression garment at all times except while bathing. Do not get the garment wet. While the first five days should be limited to sponge baths, after the first week you can begin to take cool showers. Do not use hot water as it will cause your blood vessels to relax and could cause you to faint.

At this point, most patients begin to taper off their pain medication.

Weeks 3 & 4:

By this time you will no longer be required to wear the compression garment 24/7 but it is still a good idea to wear it at least half of the time. Start moving about the house and let your body guide you: don’t overdo it or you will prolong your recovery time. By week 4 you can leave the house for small trips and return to work provided there are no physical demands to your job. It is not a good idea to drive as reacting suddenly to other drivers can cause you to move in ways which many affect your healing.

Week 5:

At this point you should be able to resume your normal activities after a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to check on your recovery and results. Some swelling at this point is normal and it will continue to fade over the next few weeks.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5109 Steeles Avenue West, Unit 13 Toronto, Ontario, M9L 2Y8
Follow Us On