Last updated on October 30, 2023
How long is the Recovery After a Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck is one of the most common cosmetic surgeries performed worldwide and is often sought after by women who want to restore their pre-pregnancy figure. For women who have had a c-section, a tummy tuck after a c-section can be an effective way to address the excess skin and stretched abdominal muscles that may result from childbirth. However, due to the very nature of the procedure, recovery can be a long road. Many factors play a role in your tummy tuck recovery. Certain factors like smoking habits and level of physical activity can have an influence. The most effective way to lower your risk of postoperative complications is to follow all your recovery instructions exactly as they have been given to you.
During the First week of recovery
The first week of recovery is usually the most uncomfortable for a patient. You can expect the tummy to be swollen, bruised, and sore. Ice packs can help reduce swelling, and pain medication will be prescribed to help with pain and soreness during recovery. You must take your pain medication on time, as this will help take the edge off before it gets too bad. You can manage pain better by taking painkillers at regular intervals and not letting pain shoot up.
You will also be prescribed antibiotics to take home after surgery. After surgery, your abdomen will have a dressing and you will start using a compression garment, like an abdominal binder. This will help reduce swelling. Dressings will be changed in one week and the area should be carefully cleaned. You should carry on using the compression garments 24 hours a day for at least the first 6 weeks.
In addition, you may also go home with an abdominal drain. This is to allow excess fluid to be removed from your body during the healing process. You will be given specific instructions on how to clean the area, empty the drain, and record the volume of fluid removed.
Lastly, you should try to relax as much as you can for the first week to 10 days, with no vigorous activity or housework for at least four to six weeks. When lying down it helps to have a pillow both below your knees and below your head to help relieve discomfort.
You should try to walk for at least a few minutes every hour to keep your circulation flowing. You’ll most likely be walking with a hunched posture for a little while, at least until your sutures are removed. Throughout your recovery, you should be avoiding alcohol and nicotine
During the Second week of recovery
By the second week of recovery, you should notice pain beginning to subside and any bruising should begin to fade. The swelling should also have begun to go down, but it will almost certainly still be present. You should still be following your instructions concerning pain and antibiotic medication, as well as sticking to only light activity. Following these instructions will have a positive effect on swelling and pain.
You should continue changing your bandages and cleaning the incision area on a regular schedule, as instructed. Your compression garments should continue to be worn throughout your recovery.
During your second week of recovery, you will be encouraged to begin taking light walks. Some patients may even feel well enough to return to work after only 10 to 14 days, but any kind of strenuous activity should still be avoided.
During the Third & fourth weeks of recovery, and beyond
By the third and fourth weeks of recovery, you may feel pretty much back to normal. At this point, you can usually begin a routine of light exercise. However, strenuous exercises like sit-ups or weight lifting should be avoided for a few more weeks. Most patients are fully recovered by about week six, and once reviewed by the doctor, can return to full exercise and activity levels.
Pain, swelling, and bruising should be gone between three and four weeks into recovery. At this point, you will probably be advised to stop wearing your compression garment, and you can return to your normal activities. This will include your normal diet.
It is not uncommon to experience some numbness in the lower abdomen following a tummy tuck. This can sometimes take up to two years to fade and is associated with occasional twinges of abdominal pain. Swelling can also come and go for months after the procedure. You should continue using the second stage abdominal binder from 6 weeks onwards for up to another 4-6 months.
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