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The Complete Guide for Tummy Tuck Recovery

Tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a procedure that removes excess skin and fat from your abdominal area. Pregnancy, age and weight could leave you with a sagging belly. A sagging belly is caused by muscle stretching and separating due to weight gain, it could also increase lower back pain. Standard abdominoplasty could take 2 to 5 hours while a mini-abdominoplasty could take 1 to 2 hours. After the procedure, your abdomen will feel swollen and sore. Below are tips to help you during the recovery process.

Post-operative Instructions

  • Get plenty of rest because it allows the body to heal. You can sleep with wedge pillows behind your back or in a recliner to help take the pressure off your abdomen. You can begin to straighten your posture 5 to 7 days after the procedure
  • Do not wear tight clothing as this could prevent proper healing or cause fine lines to appear
  • Take pain medication as directed by your doctor. Do not take any medicine that contains aspirin until your doctor approves it
  • Eat a balanced diet; start with liquids as you advance to a regular diet. Avoid foods that could make you bloat because it could cause abdominal discomfort. Keep in mind that pain medication causes constipation so make sure you drink plenty of water
  • Do not drink alcohol when taking pain relievers
  • Do not smoke because it slows down the healing process or cause complications


  • Do not drive until you have full control of your arms and have stopped taking pain medication
  • Resume walking as soon as possible, it helps to reduce swelling and decrease chances of developing blood clots
  • Resume sexual activity 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery
  • Avoid any strenuous activity that will strain your abdominal muscle until after 6 weeks
  • Do not lift heavy objects for 6 weeks
  • You can return to work after 4 weeks

Incision Care

  • Do not expose your scars to the sun for at least 12 months. If you cannot avoid the sun, make sure you use a strong sunblock
  • Keep steri-strips on
  • Keep your incision clean and inspect them regularly for signs of infection
  • Make sure you wear compression garment daily for 6 weeks
  • Empty your drains once or twice and record the amount removed. The nurse will show you how to do it before you leave the hospital
  • There may be leaks around the drain site, make sure you place soft, clean dressing over the incision to wick away  moisture and prevent irritation from the garment
  • You can take a shower  48 hours after all the drainage tubes have been removed
  • Do not take a tub bath while sutures and drains are in place

What to expect

  • During the first few day, you will experience maximum discomfort
  • Your abdomen may be bruised and swollen though this will subside after 6 to 8 weeks
  • You will experience pain, numbness, soreness and incision discomfort
  • You may feel tired for several weeks

When to Contact your Doctor

  • If you have increased redness, swelling or bruising after a few days
  • If you have increased pain that is not relieved by medication
  • If the incisions are bleeding and cannot be stopped by slight pressure
  • If your oral temperature is over 100.4 degrees
  • Loss of feeling or motion
  • Side effects to the medication such as nausea, headache, vomiting or rash
  • Foul odor or greenish drainage from the incision

Walking helps with blood circulation of the whole body thus preventing post operation complications. Follow your doctor’s instructions and attend all your appointments to ensure that you recover fully.

Are you interested in getting a tummy tuck?

Each year, thousands of women get a tummy tuck. There is no reason why you can’t get one yourself. At Royal Centre of Plastic Surgery, we offer exceptional patient care in a private setting with surgical expertise from our internationally recognized, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Dickie. Contact us to book a consultation.