Everything You Need to Know About Recovering From a Tummy Tuck

tummy tuck

Cosmetic surgeons once told their patients to stay in bed, and as still as possible to allow the body to heal for weeks following their tummy tucks. Complete patient immobility was found not to be the best practice for the duration of the recovery period. Recovery times can vary from patient to patient, and the recovery process varies as well.

How someone recovers from a tummy tuck depends on a number of variables. If you are a person was reasonably healthy before the procedure and you exercised on a regular basis, you would be more prone to heal sooner than someone who engaged in less physical activity, or someone who did not participate in a healthy lifestyle. If you are planning to have an abdominoplasty, you should plan on taking at least three weeks of leave from your place of employment. You should also plan on not being able to drive during this period of time. Here are some other tips to help you recover faster following a tummy tuck.

Set Yourself Up Properly

Once you have had your abdominoplasty surgery and you have been discharged from the hospital or clinic, we’ll need to spend the first five days in bed. You should lay in bed with pillows positioned underneath your knees so that they are slightly bent. You will also want to make sure that the head of your bed is slightly elevated. This will help prevent issues such as pulmonary embolism and the development of blood clots in the legs. This position is also good because it reduces the amount of stress on the skin in your abdominal area. This is important because the abdominal skin is stretched when the stitches are applied. Relax skin allows for greater supply of the blood which is essential to healing.


Although people who have had tummy tucks need to remain virtually immobile for at least the first five days following the procedure, it is important that you begin to ambulate as soon as you are able. Patients who are not ambulatory for extended periods of time are more prone to develop blood clots in the legs and also in the lungs. Most surgeons will ask their patients to walk at a limited rate five days after their procedure. They encourage patients to go to the restroom with the help of someone else. Patients are also encouraged to get out of bed and try sitting in a chair for 10 to 20 minutes several times during the day.

Doctors don’t want their patients engaging in whole lot of movement following their tummy tucks because certain movements can cause the opening of incisions, infections and the collection of serous fluid. You have to remember, the abdominal region of the body is its core, and many of the muscles needed to support movement and other regions of the body are located in the abdominal region.

The Importance of the Compression Garment

You will need to wear your compression garment as directed by your physician. Removing it before you are directed to could cause complications like edema or swelling, and the accumulation of fluid. Most cosmetic surgeons will instruct their patients to wear their compression garments for the first five days following their surgery. Your compression garment will cover an area which will extend to right underneath your breast to the middle of your thighs. It will have suspenders, which will help keep the garment in place while you are lounging. You may not shower during the time you are asked to wear your compression garment; you may sponge off the areas not covered by the garment.

Choose the Right Foods to Promote Healing

Believe it or not your diet can either help or hinder your abdominoplasty recovery process. One of the things that you need to remember is, majority of the prescription pain medications on the market cause constipation. When you have had an abdominoplasty, the last thing that you would ever want to be is constipated. Constipation could lead straining and the separation of your incisions. Some of the foods that you should stay away from following your procedure include:

  • Milk and dairy products
  • Processed foods
  • Dehydrated foods
  • Dried nuts
  • Beef jerky
  • Potato chips

You should also stay away from sweets including pastries candies cakes and other sugary foods. Finally stay away from red meat, as red meat is difficult for the body to digest.

Some of the foods that you would want to include into your diet following surgery would be fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and fiber is what you need to keep your digestive track moving. You will also want to incorporate whole grain breads. Stay away from white bread as you were recovering, as it is typically not a good choice of fiber because it has been refined. Finally, cereal is a good option to incorporate into your diet during your recovery. You will need to check the labels to make sure that you are selecting cereal rich in fiber. Oatmeal and cream of wheat are good options.

In terms of your meat options you will want to select lean protein options. Lean meats like turkey, pork, chicken and Seafood are good sources of lean protein. If you are not a meat eater, you still need to make sure your body gets the protein it needs. Some good choices would be beans texturized vegetable protein tofu and tempeth.

You can also opt for protein powdered drinks, and smoothies which contain protein powder.

You should also increase your intake of fluids to help the body eliminate the effects of anesthesia and other substances that were introduced during your procedure. Water juice tea and Gatorade will also help make sure that your body’s temperature is regulated following the procedure, in addition to helping your body stay hydrated. Increasing your fluid intake is extremely importing the first 72 hours after your surgery. It is equally important that you get enough calories into your diet following surgery. Not getting at least the recommended number of calories into your system each day will cause your body to not heal properly.

Don’t Be a Hero – Take Your Pain Medication

Anytime you have abdominal surgery, you can expect a fair amount of pain due to layers of muscles and skin involved. It is best to take your pain medicines as directed by your physician. You should avoid waiting until your pain begins to take the medication, as doing so will only prolong and diminish the effectiveness of the drug.

If you are given a pain pump, you should use it along with your oral medications. A pain pump is a device which will deliver a local anesthetic similar to what you would get in your dental office, into the incisional area.

Week by Week

You should be aware of the bench marks and the things you should do to help you through your recovery. Remember, an abdominoplasty is a major operation, so it will take time and patience to get yourself up and running again. Here is a list of things to so and be aware of the weeks following your surgery.

You will need to monitor your temperature during the first week after surgery. You need to make sure that it goes no higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You will also want to make sure to check your incisional area for redness, odor and oozing. You should have your first follow up appointment with your physician five days after your procedure. Your drains and pain pump will be removed, unless your physician your body is still producing too much serous fluid. If that is the case your physician may remove the pain pump but leave the drain in for a few more days. Remember, the first week you should basically be immobile.

By week two, you should start moving around a bit. Engaging in activities like going to the bathroom with help, and going to the refrigerator two to three times a day will help stimulate your muscles, and improve your circulation. You will still need to keep the head of your bed elevated, and you may also require help with getting your compression garment odd and on. You should still be wearing your compression garment around the clock at this point. You can begin to take showers during your second week of recovery. It is okay to allow warm soapy water run over your incision, however, you should not rub the area. Carefully pat your incision dry. Also, you should use tepid to cool water when showering. You can also begin to taper off of your pain medications at this point.

Week three issues in the real recovery phase. You will be able to wear your compression garment 12 hours instead of 24. If you feel you need additional support, you may continue wearing your compression garment for another week or so. If you still have swelling, you should continue to wear the garment. At this point, you should be able to seep without your garment. You should also be able to walk around the house in intervals, but you still don’t want to over-exert yourself. You may not drive at this point.

You should try doing gentle stretches during recovery week four. You can lift, but nothing over five pounds. You will fill some hardened areas around your incision, however you should not be alarmed. These hardened areas are called healing ridges, and are a natural part of the healing process. You should also have a follow-up appointment with your physician in week five. Your swelling should be almost gone at this point, and your new physic more evident. You physician may clear you to drive if you are no longer taking your pain medications, and your incisions look okay upon examination.