Recovery after Tummy Tuck Surgery – Best Tips & Activities from Dr Turner
A Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty can help contour a sagging and droopy Tummy. Your tummy tuck results are a partnership effort between you and your surgeon. You’ll need to follow the instructions to get the best from your surgery. Dr Scott Turner is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon and Tummy Tuck Expert in Newcastle and Sydney NSW. To get the best aesthetic results, here are the things that you should do for great recovery after a Tummy Tuck.
URGENT UPDATE – Australian Government has reinstated a Medicare Item Number for a Tummy Tuck for some post-pregnancy patients with Diastasis Recti (Split Tummy Muscles) if you are eligible and meet the new criteria. This new Medicare item number -30175 – will be effective 1st July 2022. Read the 30175 factsheet
When more conservative measures such as diet and exercise fail to give you the flat-toned abdomen you always desired, it’s time to consider other options. Abdominoplasty, or as more commonly known as “tummy tuck surgery,” is a cosmetic procedure that involves abdominal muscle tightening and removal of excess skin and fat in that area.
Many prospective tummy tuck patients worry about its infamous long recovery period. Will it be painful? How long will it take to fully heal? Will I be able to manage my everyday activities while recovering from abdominoplasty? It’s natural to have all of these questions bouncing around your mind before your procedure. And we’re here to answer them all.
In the first two weeks and up to a month following your tummy tuck surgery, pain, bruising and swelling are to be expected. This can cause serious discomfort, and taking some time off from work and certain daily activities is recommended.
Reasons for having a Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty
There are a number of reasons why a tummy tuck surgery is performed. You might consider the procedure if:
- You have excess skin or fat in your abdomen due to pregnancy, weight changes, or ageing.
- You have low self-esteem or confidence due to the saggy or droopy appearance of your abdomen.
- Your abdominal fat does not respond well to proper diet and regular exercise.
- You may get skin infections underneath the overhang
Timeline for Recovery After Tummy Tuck
The recovery time after a tummy tuck is different for everyone. Factors like your age, skin condition and the type of tummy tuck procedure can affect the duration of your downtime. Compliance with surgeon instructions is key. Follow your instructions for a faster recovery.
Smoking after surgery will result in delayed healing, a poor quality result and potential complications like wound dehiscence and tissue loss. Please don’t smoke!
Immediately after the surgery
After the procedure, your abdominal area will be covered with surgical dressings. In most cases, thin, small drain tubes will be placed around your incision area to prevent the accumulation of blood and other body fluids.
You will need to have someone responsible drive you home after the surgery as you may feel groggy due to the effects of the anaesthesia. You may also experience swelling and bruising on the surgical site. In the first 24 hours after your tummy tuck surgery, it is best to rest as much as possible.
During the First Week
During the first week, you may still experience some pain, bruising, swelling, and tightness in your abdominal area. Your surgical drain will be removed at this time. To speed up your recovery:
- Do NOT Smoke – this can impair your healing and give a poor result!
- Apply a cold compress to minimize pain and swelling.
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid strenuous exercises and other activities that require lifting.
- Avoid touching the incision sites with your bare hands to prevent infection.
- Do not massage the incision sites.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Limit your movements and stay slightly bent at the waist.
- Maintain a low-salt diet.
- Replace the bandages as prescribed.
- Take pain medication as directed.
- Watch out for any untoward signs and symptoms.
- Wear a compression garment at all times.
During the Second Week
At this point, you may still notice some swelling in the operated area. However, you should expect a significant reduction in pain, bruising, swelling, and tightness in your abdomen. To speed up your healing during this period:
- Don’t Smoke!
- Apply vitamin E or silicone sheets to the incision site to reduce scarring.
- Continue to wear your compression garment.
- Engage in light walking exercises to increase your blood circulation.
- Gently massage your abdominal area.
- Limit your salt intake.
During the Third and Fourth Week
During this time, you can return to your normal diet and activities. The final results of your tummy tuck should start to become noticeable after 3 to 4 weeks. However, you still need to adhere to the following to maintain the contour of your abdomen:
- Avoid sit-ups and weight lifting.
- Continue to wear your compression garment.
- Engage in light exercises.
- Follow up with your surgeon in case of untoward signs and symptoms.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Do’s and Don’ts for Top Tummy Tuck Recovery
DO – How to help your recovery after Tummy Tuck
- Always wear your abdominal binder and garments for as long as possible
- Change wound dressings regularly when instructed
- Eat foods high in fiber to prevent constipation.
- Follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions closely
- Perform light walking exercises
- Sleep with your knees bent
- Take the prescribed medications as directed on time
- Wear loose-fitting comfortable clothes.
- Eat Well – Good Nutrition is important
DON’TS – Thing to Avoid during recovery after Tummy Tuck
- Avoid Smoking, Vaping, Nicotine and passive smoke
- Avoid coughing or sneezing as much as possible.
- Avoid hot baths.
- Avoid stress and straining
- Avoid strenuous exercises and activities that require heavy lifting.
- Avoid going back to the Gym too early – ask your surgeon
- Do not laugh too heartily
- Avoid walking with your back straight.
How to Speed Up Recovery After a Tummy Tuck
What is the fastest way to recover from a tummy tuck?
- Here are some essential tips for faster recovery from a tummy tuck:
- Always wear your compression garment.
- Eat plenty of nutritious foods.
- Perform light walks for 20-30 minutes.
- Sleep in an inclined position.
- Stay hydrated.
Recovery After Tummy Tuck – Tips and Tricks
As mentioned before, healing from a tummy tuck surgery can be a lengthy process. Patients often ask Dr. Scott questions such as:
- How can you sit comfortably after an abdominoplasty?
- How to sleep after an abdominoplasty?
- Can you drive after your tummy tuck?
- What to wear after a tummy tuck?
- When can you exercise after an abdominoplasty?
- When can you have sex after a tummy tuck?
Here, you’ll find the answers, with some tips and tricks for a smooth tummy tuck recovery:
Posture after a Tummy Tuck
It’s almost instinctive for all patients after a tummy tuck surgery to have a slightly hunched-over posture. This is absolutely normal, and you should never force yourself into an upright position even when your back starts to protest.
Dr. Turner recommends you avoid standing up straight for at least a week after your abdominoplasty. This eliminates any unwelcomed strain and allows for your surgical incision wounds to heal.
Minding your postoperative posture is especially important if you’ve undergone extensive muscle tightening and repair during your abdominoplasty surgery.
Sleeping after a Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck can affect not only the way you stand and sit but also the way you sleep. Sleeping in the wrong position after an abdominoplasty can compromise your final results and prevent you from getting the well-needed rest to heal properly.
In the first 2 to 4 weeks following your tummy tuck and up to 6 weeks, if it was an extended operation, it is recommended you sleep on your back in a slightly bent and elevated position. This minimizes swelling and prevents your incisions from stretching and reopening.
Sleeping on your back may feel unnatural to many. You can always invest in a recliner or use extra pillows to support your upper body instead. This prevents any accidental tossing and turning and ensures a much-needed goodnight’s sleep during your tummy tuck recovery process.
Sleeping flat on your tummy is absolutely contraindicated. However, though less than ideal, sleeping on your side in a fetal position may be permitted 1 to 2 weeks after your tummy tuck procedure.
Driving after a Tummy Tuck
Busy professionals and full-time mums/dads may feel anxious to quickly return back to driving after their tummy tuck. Alas, you can harm yourself and even others if you don’t give yourself enough time to heal after surgery.
Simple movements like turning your body to view a blind spot, making a sharp turn, sitting in the driver’s seat, opening your car door, and even wearing a seatbelt may prove to be a challenge during your abdominoplasty recovery period.
Having a plan even before going through your tummy tuck surgery is vital. Don’t hesitate to ask your partner, older children, friends, and neighbors for assistance. You’ll be surprised how far people are willing to help. Public transportation is always an option too.
In the case of a mini tummy tuck, it takes around two weeks to be able to drive during your abdominoplasty recovery. However, the general consensus for classic and extended tummy tucks is to wait at least four weeks or until you’re comfortable to drive.
Wearing Clothes after a Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck is a transformative body contouring procedure. So, it’s only natural to feel excited to wear smaller-sized clothing and slip back into your pre-pregnancy outfits. However, you might need to wait before doing any of these two.
During the first six weeks of your tummy tuck recovery period, you’re expected to wear a compression garment at all times, even during sleep. This may make you feel like a modern-day maiden from the Victorian era. Still, it’s a sure way to reduce swelling and inflammation and provide extra support.
Healing after an abdominoplasty can be a long, draining process. We advise patients to wear loose-fitting clothes that are easily removed to make their life easier. Dr. Scott Turner recommends wearing button-up and zip-up tops with drawstring sweatpants for a more comfortable tummy tuck recovery.
Steer away from jeans, belts, or anything that might dig into your waist. Not only do they cause discomfort, but they can even disturb your tummy tuck wound site. After 4 to 6 weeks, Dr. Turner will give you the nod to go ahead and have fun with your clothing.
Sex after a Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck is a fairly major procedure, with a challenging recovery period due to the location of its incisions. Unfortunately, as a result, your love life should be put on the back burner the first few weeks following your abdominoplasty.
It is important to not stretch and cause any unnecessary strain on your tummy tuck surgical site. Your heart rate and blood pressure should also remain down during the first weeks of your recovery. We advise waiting at least three weeks, and ideally up to 6 weeks, before resuming any sexual activity.
When performing any sexual act post abdominoplasty, it is essential to consider less traumatic options. The missionary position, for example, can cause significant stress on your wounds, and therefore should be avoided. Consider positions with the female on top instead, regardless if you’re male or female who had the tummy tuck surgery.
Exercising After a Tummy Tuck
If you lead an active lifestyle and exercise is an integral part of your daily routine, the lengthy recovery period of a tummy tuck procedure, combined with its physical limitations, might prove to be complicated.
Believe it or not, you are encouraged to start walking as soon as possible. Walking, within reason and on a flat surface, of course, promotes your blood circulation. This reduces swelling and prevents blood clots.
Gradually increase the distance and speed of your walking as days progress. However, running is prohibited during the first six weeks of your tummy tuck recovery period. You should have someone to be present with you during your walks to help stabilize you if needed.
In the following two weeks after your abdominoplasty, as the pain, bruising, and swelling start to decrease, you can become more adventurous by walking longer distances. After checking with Dr. Scott, you can start with some light cardio exercises such as elliptical or stationary cycling as long as none of your abdominal or core muscles are engaged.
As your body continues to heal, light exercise may be resumed after your tummy tuck. Ensure your workout consists of smooth, continuous motions without any sudden harsh steps and a straight back. Always confirm with Dr. Scott before engaging in any new exercise.
With close attention to warning signs such as pain and increased stress, routine exercise can be resumed at a less strenuous and slow pace. Dr. Turner recommends low impact aerobics, water aerobics, and very light weightlifting (less than 2.5 kgs)
Dr. Scott Turner will clear most types of aerobics at this point. You can take up running, moderate swimming, and cardio activity again. You may also be able to incorporate upper body and leg exercises with free weights or range-of-motion exercises without putting too much pressure on your midsection following your abdominoplasty.
After 8 Weeks
Tummy tuck incision wounds generally heal within two weeks after abdominoplasty. Still, the overall strength of the scar does not reach its maximum until several weeks later. By eight weeks, you should be able to return to your regular exercise regimen without the risk of reopening and stretching your tummy tuck wounds.
Recovery After Tummy Tuck – Things to Avoid
Avoiding certain risky habits and behaviors during your tummy tuck recovery period is necessary for speedier and safer healing and more stunning results. Here are some things to avoid while recovering from your abdominoplasty at home:
- Smoking – Patients who smoke are three times more likely to develop postoperative complications, such as poor wound healing, after their tummy tuck surgery.
- Pets and Ill People – Evade snuggling with your pets and being around sick people to keep the risk of post-op tummy tuck wound infection as low as possible.
- Contaminating the Wound – Practice good sterility if touching the incision or changing bandages
- Too much Salt – Food with high sodium content can trap water inside your tissues and increase swelling after your abdominoplasty.
- Too many Soft Drinks – Carbonated drinks cause bloating and gas. This can cause a significant amount of discomfort around your abdominal area and stretch out your tummy tuck wounds.
- Alcohol – Alcohol can thin your blood and slow down healing after abdominoplasty. Moreover, it can react poorly with your pain medications.
FAQs about Recovery after Tummy Tuck
How long does it take to heal after abdominoplasty?
- Your healing time will depend on the type of tummy tuck, the extent of the surgery, and your body’s ability to heal.
How bad is the pain after a tummy tuck?
- You can expect to experience mild to moderate pain after a tummy tuck surgery. In rare cases, some pain or sensory abnormalities can carry on for months or even years. Any discomfort you may feel after the surgery can be easily managed with medications.
What hurts more lipo or tummy tuck?
- Undergoing a tummy tuck hurts more than liposuction because it involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the abdomen using different incision techniques. On the other hand, liposuction uses a small incision to allow the insertion of a thin hollow tube, or cannula in order to suck fat out of the treatment area. Visit Tummy Tuck or Liposuction or both?
How long does tightness last after abdominoplasty?
- Skin tightness usually settles within 6-12 weeks after the surgery or when swelling is completely gone.
When can I sleep on my side after a tummy tuck?
- After 3 weeks, you can sleep on your side.
How long do you walk hunched over after a tummy tuck?
- You will need to walk hunched over or bent at the waist for about a week. This helps prevent additional pressure on your incision lines.
How long does it take for the lymphatic system to heal after a tummy tuck?
- Your lymphatic system gradually heals over time. It may take 2-3 months before it heals completely.
Can you climb stairs after a tummy tuck?
- Yes, you may climb the stairs as long as you don’t apply too much pressure on the operated area.
How do you poop after a tummy tuck?
- You will likely experience constipation after a tummy tuck surgery due to the effects of general anaesthesia. To address this problem, it is recommended that you drink plenty of water and consume high-fiber foods. If not treated early, straining due to constipation can cause additional pressure on the incision lines.
What hurts worse C section or tummy tuck?
- A tummy tuck is less painful than a C-section. Also, it is easier to recover from a tummy tuck than a C-section.
Do you eat less after a tummy tuck?
- After the surgery, you may eat less because your stomach may feel constricted.
What is the best diet after a tummy tuck?
- To speed up wound healing and help tissues grow, increase your dietary intake of fluids and lean proteins such as Almonds, Beans, Broccoli, Chicken, Cottage cheese, Eggs, Fish, Greek yogurt, Lean beef, Lentils, Milk, Oats, Peas, Pumpkin seeds, Quinoa, Tofu, Tuna, Unprocessed nuts, Whey protein supplements.
What happens if you don’t wear a compression garment after a tummy tuck?
- Not wearing a compression garment can put too much stress on the sutures leading to breakage or tearing. This can also lead to fluid build-up under the surface of your skin.
How long is my stomach swollen after a tummy tuck?
- Your stomach will remain swollen for about 2 months. Once the swelling has completely subsided, you will notice the final results of the surgery. It is not always assured that you will have a totally flat stomach since the intra-abdominal contents are still behind the tightened muscles. However, excess skin and fat will be removed from your abdomen..
How do I get my stomach flat after a tummy tuck?
- It is important to maintain your ideal weight by eating a healthy diet and keeping yourself physically active. Gaining a significant amount of weight after the surgery can alter the results of a tummy tuck.
Click here for more Tummy Tuck FAQs – Q & A About Abdominoplasty.
Always Do Your Research
- Enquire to find out more about your surgery
- Please read our website to learn more about your intended procedure
Do you need a Medical Referral to see Dr Turner?
- A GP Referral is required to Consult with Dr Turner (under new AHPRA Regulations)
- Please obtain a referral from your GP or Specialist if you want a consultation for an MBS item number surgery.
- Please note that your Medicare Rebates will NOT be claimable without a valid recent Medical Referral
Making The Most Of Your Consultation
- Please arrive slightly early for your in-person consultation
- You are welcome to bring a friend or relative to help consider the information and discuss your options
- Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes
- Ensure you also take a lot of notes during the consultation and thoroughly examine all the documents provided
Want more information before scheduling your consultation?
- Find out more about pricing and payment plans
- Request more information about the procedure – call or contact us
How to Book Your Consultation
- You can book your initial consultation by paying the $350 cosmetic consultation fee in advance – when you make your appointment
BOOK A PHONE CALL FOR MORE INFO
- To find out more information about surgery you can book a FREE 15-minute phone conversation with our Friendly Patient Care team via Calendly- Book Consultant 1 or Book Consultant 2
Contact us or call on 1300 437 758 to arrange your surgeon consultation in Sydney.