Tummy Tuck Recovery – Everything You Need to Know

In terms of overall results, there are few, if any, plastic surgery procedures that can compare to a tummy tuck. If you have an extremely big waist and a lot of loose skin, possibly due to having kids, a tummy tuck is the only way to achieve a small, sexy waist line once again. Unlike liposuction, a tummy tuck treats both excess fat AND loose skin (read more about liposuction vs tummy tuck). However, many people are concerned about the tummy tuck recovery after surgery. While a tummy tuck will certainly yield fantastic results, it is a major surgical procedure and there will definitely be a considerable recovery period after the surgery. In this article, we will discuss the tummy tuck recovery phase in more detail.

Tummy Tuck Recovery – The Early Stages

The tummy tuck recovery will begin the moment you wake up from the surgery. You may or may not require and overnight hospital stay, although many people do it just to be safe. Again, a tummy tuck is a very major surgery, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Immediately following the surgery, your entire midsection will be bruised, swollen, and sore. You will be prescribed some pain medication as this is the most painful part of the tummy tuck recovery phase. You will likely spend most of the first week in bed, moving as little as possible. It is important to have someone look after you during these early stages of the tummy tuck recovery. After the first week, you will be able to move around a lot more freely, but you will be sore and your midsection will not be as flexible, inhibiting your movement a bit. Although it varies from patient to patient, most people will take at least two to three weeks off from work to recover.

Tummy Tuck Scars in Early Stages

Right after the surgery, of course all the fat and skin will have been removed, but you will unfortunately be left with quite a large scar across your lower abdomen. The scar will likely be bright red, raised up from the rest of the skin, and might even be painful to touch. The scar can easily be hidden by clothes, however, and it will fade in time. The scarring is the part that takes the longest to heal – it won’t even begin to fade for another six months.

Tummy Tuck Recovery – The Middle Stages

After about three to four weeks into your tummy tuck recovery, you will be able to return to work. It is also a good idea to start light to moderate exercise during this period. Your doctor will instruct you on just how much exercise is permissible and what types exercises are allowed. Remember though, when in doubt, always take it extra slow during your tummy tuck recovery. Always remember, you are healing from a very major surgery. It will not be until about six to eight weeks that you will be able to return to full on, intense exercise. However, during this intermediate phase, you will regain most of your mobility and regular, everyday activities such as grocery shopping should no longer represent a challenge. You will have made great progress during this period of the tummy tuck recovery, but remember, you not quite back to normal yet. Take everything a step slower than you normally would.

Tummy Tuck Scars in Middle Stages

Unfortunately, the scars will not have began to fade yet during this part of the tummy tuck recovery, and it will be total of six months before the scars even start to fade. During the first 3-6 months, the scars may even appear to worsen. It is important to stay out of the sun as much as possible (or if you must tan, make sure to cover the entire area around the scar extremely well) because the sun light will darken the scar and make it look worse. Later down the road in the later stages of the tummy tuck recovery is when you will really see the scar start to fade.

Tummy Tuck Recovery – The Later Stages

Eight to twelve weeks into your tummy tuck recovery, you will have made significant progress. Most the pain and swelling should be gone. However, as has been stated many times in this article, a tummy tuck is a very serious operation, and you may not be 100% recovered to the point where there is absolutely no pain, swelling, abdominal tightness, etc. for up to a year and half. That’s right, the tummy tuck recovery may take up to 18 months post-op before your stomach feels exactly the same as it did before (minus the fact that it is much smaller now, of course). For instance, most patients will not be able to resume hardcore ab workouts in the gym for at least six months, maybe more. It will also depend on if you had a mini tummy tuck or a full tummy tuck. Patience is key, especially during the later stages of the tummy tuck recovery.

Tummy Tuck Scars in Later Stages

In the early stages of the tummy tuck recovery, the scars will be bright red and raised. However, after about six months in, they will begin to heal. How well the tummy tuck scars heal with depend on:

  • The skill of the surgeon – how well the tummy tuck was performed
  • Your skin type – how quickly it heals
  • If you are a smoker or not – non smokers heal better obviously
  • If you stay out of the sun – tanning will darken the scar
  • If you apply skin healing cream religiously or not – Some creams work fantastically, discuss with your doctor

If you follow all the guidelines above and had the surgery performed by a highly skilled surgeon, then you will most likely have your scar fade quite well over the next year. The scar will probably always be somewhat visible, but if you really take care of yourself, the scarring will fade very favorably. Plus, the location of the scar makes it extremely easy to hide anyway, even in a bikini. The scar will only be visible when you are fully nude.

Tummy Tuck Scar

Tummy tuck scar a few weeks after surgery

Tummy Tuck Scar Faded

Tummy tuck scar a few months after surgery that has faded quite a bit. Overtime, it may continue to fade and become even less visible


Tummy Tuck Recovery – Conclusion

So, in the end, is a tummy tuck worth the hefty recovery phase? The answers will vary from person to person, but assuming you find a good doctor who did a good job on the surgery, the answer is usually a resounding yes. For women who have had their bodies “ruined” from having kids, leaving lots of lose skin and extra flab, a tummy tuck is the absolutely only way for them to get their body back. Liposuction will remove fat, but does nothing to treat excess skin (again, you can read liposuction vs tummy tuck for more information). A tummy tuck is the only solution for fat and excess skin. Before you decide whether or not it is right for you, understand that the tummy tuck recovery, including the period of time it takes for scars to fade, can last up to two years after the initial surgery. In the end, only you can decide if it is worth it for you, but the majority of women are in fact very pleased with the end result of a tummy tuck, despite the long recovery.

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