Tummy Tuck Recovery Week by Week

tummy tuck recovery week by week
Medically reviewed by Dr. Omar Tillo MD, MS, EBOPRAS, FRCS (Plast)

Patients who are considering a tummy tuck want to know more about what to expect during recovery from surgery.

Along with our tummy tuck survival guide, we have compiled this recovery timeline so that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your procedure. 

What to Expect After a Tummy Tuck


After your tummy tuck, your surgeon will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions, 

including information on how to manage any drains and dressings. 

Your surgeon will also book you in for several follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and ensure that your body is healing as expected. At the CREO Clinic, you can expect at least three aftercare appointments: one week, six weeks, and six months after your tummy tuck. 

Rest & Recovery

You will need to give your body ample time to recuperate and heal after your tummy tuck. In general, patients are usually able to resume most light, daily activities 1-2 weeks after their tummy tuck, including a return to work. 

However, patients must wait to begin light exercising after tummy tuck for at least 3-4 weeks and should avoid more strenuous activity until they are fully recovered, which can take up to 12 weeks. 

Pain & Discomfort

Like any surgical procedure, we understand that patients may have concerns regarding how painful a tummy tuck is. That’s why our surgeons are experts in pain management and will ensure you have the most comfortable recovery possible.

During surgery, you will be under general anaesthetic (asleep) or local anaesthetic (numbing the abdomen) with sedation. As a result, you won’t feel any pain during surgery. You may experience side effects such as soreness, bruising, and swelling after your tummy tuck. You will be provided with any necessary prescriptions for pain relief and will be advised on how best to manage these side effects before heading home.

Abdominal Pressure Garment

For the first six weeks after your tummy tuck, you will have to wear a compression garment around your abdomen. This will help to reduce post-surgical swelling and support the skin to prevent sagging and provide additional comfort. 

Day 1 After Tummy Tuck

On the first day after surgery, you may experience bruising, soreness, and swelling around the abdomen. Surgeons may use drains remove excess fluid from the surgical site. You will be shown how to empty and maintain any drains before going home.  

To manage discomfort at this stage, you may be provided with short-term prescription pain medication. Your surgeon will provide you with important information on how to take this medication correctly.

Alternatively, you may find it possible to manage pain with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and by applying a cool compress to soothe the area.

Week 1 After Tummy Tuck

During the first week after your tummy tuck, side effects should gradually dissipate, including any discomfort you may be experiencing. 

You can expect to have a follow-up appointment a week after your tummy tuck, where your surgeon will remove any drains. However, you must continue to wear your compression garment to reduce swelling. 

In addition, you can reduce swelling further by having a lymphatic drainage massage to help move excess fluid, starting in the first week after your tummy tuck. 

You will also be advised to get mobile as soon as possible to promote circulation and healing. You should start slowly and go at a pace that feels right to you and your body.

Week 2 After Tummy Tuck

Most patients are able to return to light, daily activities, including work, 1-2 weeks after their tummy tuck. Patients are advised to avoid any unnecessary strain on the incisions to prevent damage to the stitches. 

Swelling should continue to dissipate, and other side effects should also slowly subside. 

Week 3 After Tummy Tuck

Three weeks after your tummy tuck, you should be given the all-clear to get back into light exercise. This is important in promoting circulation and healing while also helping you to maintain a healthy weight and get the most out of your tummy tuck. 

Make sure to go slowly at first and recognise your body’s limits. You should continue to wear your compression garment, including while exercising, to help with any remaining swelling.

Month 3 After Tummy Tuck

After twelve weeks, you should have made a full recovery, with the incision sites completely healed. You will now be able to engage in all activities, including strenuous exercise. This will help you to stick to a stable weight and maximise your results. 

Patients are usually able to notice and enjoy their substantially flatter and more contoured tummy at this stage, although every patient’s results timeline is as unique as their body. 

Overall, it can take between 6-12 months for swelling to completely dissipate and for the final result to become apparent. After this, you can enjoy your permanently taut tummy.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Tips

It can help to have a few tips and tricks for your tummy tuck recovery to use when needed: 

  • Keep the incision sites clean and dry – this helps to prevent wound breakdown and infection, which can delay healing. 
  • Get some rest Sleeping after tummy tuck is essential in giving your body time to heal. Aim for 7-9 hours a night. 
  • Get on your feet – Start walking slowly as soon as possible after your tummy tuck to promote circulation and healing. 
  • Stay hydrated – Drinking enough liquids is key to helping your body function normally and heal from surgery. Hydration can help to prevent water retention, assist lymphatic drainage, and reduce swelling 
  • Eat wellA healthy balanced diet is an important component in maintaining a healthy weight and getting the most out of your newly taut tummy. 
  • Wear your compression garment – This is key to reducing swelling and preventing sagging.
  • Use a cold compress – This can help provide cool relief to your swollen abdomen. 
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol – Both nicotine and alcohol can cause complications for your recovery and slow down the healing process, so it’s best to avoid them for at least six weeks after surgery.

Stay positive – Although recovery may feel like a long journey, it won’t be long until you can enjoy your permanently flatter and toned tummy!

Is a Tummy Tuck Worth It?

A tummy tuck can both assist patients in achieving their aesthetic goals of a flatter, contoured abdomen while addressing medical conditions caused by muscle separation, such as back pain and postural issues.

Thanks to this wide array of benefits, many patients consider the recovery associated with their tummy tuck to be worthwhile for the permanent, life-changing results. 

Schedule a Consultation with CREO Clinic Today

Finding a surgeon with the specialist expertise and experience to design tailored tummy tucks is essential in having a smooth body contouring journey. 

At the CREO Clinic, Dr Omar Tillo is a master of body contouring surgeries, with a particular specialism in tummy tucks. Contact us today to book a consultation with Dr Tillo and get on track to toning your tummy. 

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