A tummy tuck surgery—otherwise known as abdominoplasty—is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures. While the surgery is generally quick, recovery can take up to several months, especially when it comes to scar prevention and management. It can be frustrating not being able to get back on your feet right away, but it's important to give your body enough time to heal properly. If you're considering having a tummy tuck or if you've just begun the recovery journey, we've gathered the best advice for post-op tummy tuck care to help you see your way to a smoother and sleeker you.
In this post, we'll provide a week-by-week look at the tummy tuck recovery process so you know what to expect. From possible side effects to post-op care and scar prevention tips, you'll be able to bounce back to normal looking better than ever. Avoid post tummy tuck scars and achieve the firm, attractive abdomen you deserve by following this guide for a speedy recovery.
While the results can be spectacular, a tummy tuck is a major surgery that requires time off to heal. In general, most individuals are ready to return to work and begin exercising again six to eight weeks after their tummy tuck. However, there are some factors that may impact your recovery, including timeline and tummy tuck procedure. Let's take a close look at a few considerations to keep in mind as you enter the tummy tuck post-recovery phase.
All bodies are different, so recovery times will vary from person to person. Ultimately, how long it takes for your body to heal after a tummy tuck depends on your age, overall health, post-op care routine, and type of tummy tuck.
Regardless if you get a full tummy tuck or mini abdominoplasty, you'll need to rest and heal for a few weeks. However, the time frame depends on the type of tummy tuck you receive. This is because different procedures will remove more skin, resulting in a larger incision, or affect the abdominal muscles in the area. For example, a full abdominoplasty requires the belly button to be repositioned, while a mini tummy tuck does not. As a result, there's often a difference in recovery time.
There are numerous symptoms that'll arise from your tummy tuck surgery. However, most of them are nothing to be alarmed about. This includes:
Experiencing tightness and stiffness in the abdomen after a tummy tuck is normal. As the skin and tissue in the area begins to heal, this feeling will gradually decrease. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication if it's too uncomfortable or painful.
It's expected that your abdomen will bruise, swell, and become red where incisions were made. This can become more noticeable if you have drainage tubes to decrease the accumulation of fluid. While your skin may not look the best during this time, have patience since your abdomen will typically look worse before it can get better.
During the recovery process, you may experience skin firmness, hypersensitivity, or a lack of sensitivity in the abdomen. This is because the tummy tuck procedure will reposition various abdominal nerves and muscles in order to contour the area and reach your desired results. In rare cases, this may also cause a loss of sensation in your upper thighs.
When a scab begins to form on the incision, you may start to feel itchy, ranging from mild to severe discomfort. Despite the incision site being itchy, avoid scratching the area. Scratching the scab that's forming can open the wound and delay the healing process, resulting in a much more visible scar and even infection. As these areas swell, the skin may also appear shiny.
One side of your abdomen may look and even feel different than the other as it heals. Rest assured that this is normal.
As with any surgery, there's a risk of infection, which is why it's so important to follow the post-surgical guidelines outlined by your doctor. Below is a list of post-op symptoms that are not normal and should be examined by a doctor right away. Use it to identity signs of infection as you recover from your tummy tuck at home:
If you're worried about any tummy tuck complications, including infection and improper healing, speak to your doctor about ways to minimize these risks.
Post-surgery, many patients can go home so that they can rest more comfortably. Remember to plan ahead and arrange for a friend or relative to drive you home, as movements will be limited during this time.
After the anesthesia wears off, you'll likely feel drowsy since this process can take a few hours. You may also experience the following side effects:
Here are a few tips to help you rest and take care of yourself the first night at your home post-surgery:
Be sure to follow your drain pump instructions diligently, especially during the first days after surgery. Fluid accumulates rapidly within the beginning phase of your post-op tummy tuck recovery, so empty your drain pump whenever it's full, and be sure to record the amount of fluid each time.
In the first few days, your incision will remain red while the body works to close the wound. During this time, keep pressure off the area and clean it as directed by your surgeon.
The first couple days after your abdominoplasty are typically the most uncomfortable, as your movements will still be very limited. However, following the doctor's post-op instructions closely can help heal the incisions more quickly and prevent deep scarring.
Once you've made it through your first day, expect the following symptoms during your tummy tuck one week post-op:
A few tips to keep in mind during the first week of healing are:
Be sure to avoid any reaching, bending, or extraneous activities within the first three weeks of healing to prevent the incision wounds from reopening.
The second week following your surgery, your wound will continue to heal, so be patient with your recovery time. You should also be able to see noticeable progress on your incision healing.
Two weeks after your surgery, you may find that:
As you enter week 2 of your abdominoplasty recovery, use the tips below to keep your healing on track:
Start your tummy tuck scar removal before the scar forms, widens, or thickens. embrace® Active Scar Defense can be applied as soon as the incision is closed and dry, which is typically between two to four weeks after surgery—the earlier you treat, the better the results.
At three weeks post-op, many patients have already returned to work and stopped taking their prescribed medication. However, don't feel rushed if you're not ready yet. Continue speaking with your doctor about what's best for you.
You should begin to feel improvement by three weeks post-op tummy tuck. During this time:
While you may feel almost normal, continue to follow your doctor's recommendations and the tips below to not derail your healing.
If you began using embrace® Active Scar Defense, it should be replaced every ten days with new dressings. When removing embrace®, use baby oil to loosen the adhesive and peel the dressing away from the skin slowly. Then, allow the skin to breathe for around 12 to 24 hours before replacing the dressing.
Week four post-op is generally the halfway mark for many patients. By week four, you can begin exercising lightly, return to your normal diet, and drink alcohol again in moderation. At this point, you should also be able to see some of the results of your tummy tuck.
Four weeks post-op tummy tuck will see you feeling stronger and more restored. During this time, you'll likely find:
Use the tips below to help you recover past the halfway mark:
Reapply our scar removal products as necessary to continue treating your tummy tuck scarring. It's important to continue this treatment for the full 60 days to get the best results possible.
You should feel significantly better two months after your surgery, although your body is still going through the healing process.
Your tummy tuck two months post-op should leave you experiencing little-to-no side effects, meaning pain should be gone, scars are healing nicely, and swelling is gone or minimal. This varies on a case by case basis, but many are able to enjoy life as normal again.
As mentioned, your body is still recovering, so take it easy and apply the following tips to your post-op healing:
The first eight weeks following your surgery are the most important for scar prevention, and embrace® offers visible results in as little as four weeks. However, it's important to remain committed to your scar treatment and reapply as necessary.
By following the right tummy tuck post-op instructions and using clinically-proven scar treatments like embrace® Active Scar Defense, you can expedite the healing process—and get beautiful results. While the results of a tummy tuck may vary from person to person, you should be able to see the full outcome of your tummy tuck procedure and postsurgical efforts after one year. This is an exciting time, so take a look at your before and after photos. Before and after tummy tuck scar revision pictures can motivate you to stay in shape and keep your abdominal muscles lean.
Among the biggest post-op tummy tuck concerns is scarring. Because the procedure both tightens the abdominal muscles and removes excess skin, surgeons must make rather sizable incisions. After surgery, if the skin is pulled and tension rises, collagen will build up near the incision site and form dark, thick scar tissue.
To prevent tummy tuck scars, you must address the root cause of scarring: tension on the wound. embrace® Active Scar Defense is clinically proven to reduce and prevent scarring by relieving this tension following surgery. Whether you're six weeks post-op or five months post-surgery, here's how to use embrace® Active Scar Defense to minimize the visibility of scars:
If you're worried about post-op tummy tuck scars, embrace® Active Scar Defense is the only product clinically proven to prevent scar tissue formation through tension relief. It's easy to apply and gentle to remove and significantly reduces the appearance of scars less than six months old. Read our reviews and see why doctors and patients alike recommend embrace® tummy tuck post-op treatment.
Search our blog and find all of your answers.
SIGN UP & SAVE!