The recovery period for your tummy tuck is often one of the longest and most strenuous. You may not realize it beforehand, but your core muscles are used every day. If you lift anything, if you bend, or if you exercise, you are using the abdominal muscles and having limited movement in this region will be immediately noticeable. Fortunately, when correct planning meets following my post-operative instructions diligently, your tummy tuck recovery isn’t something you need to fear.

Day of the Surgery

Tummy tuck surgery is often performed as an outpatient procedure. A short hospital stay may be necessary; however, this isn’t always the case. Regardless, you will need a driver to get you home and stay with you for the first night. At this time, you will be sore, swollen, bruised, tight, and tired. Pain medication is prescribed to help alleviate any discomfort. The use of EXPAREL® may be necessary for pain control after tummy tuck surgery. It is essential that you do nothing but rest on this first evening. During your entire recovery, sleep and relaxation should be your best friend. Don’t attempt to move too much and don’t lift anything. Following your surgery, you will be wrapped in a compression garment. This garment is required not only for the first day but for the following weeks of your recovery.

Week 1

The first week of your tummy tuck recovery will be the most difficult. Swelling, bruising, and discomfort will reach a high. During this time, be sure to rest. Sleep as much as you can and don’t put any unnecessary strain on your core muscles. Have someone available who can help you with household chores and meals. In the first week, you will be able to eat most of the same foods that you always have, but try to limit your sodium intake as excess sodium can create extra swelling of the abdomen. Increase your water and be sure to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol as this can affect your recovery.

If drainage tubes were placed at the time of the surgery, they would likely be removed at this time. Your compression garment should still be worn as it will help to reduce swelling, increase blood circulation, and prevent blood clots. In addition to this garment, it is essential to try and get on your feet after a few days to further progress the circulation of blood.

Week 2

Patients can resume their regular diet but should still focus on foods that are low in sodium and high in protein. Try filling your diet with lean protein, vegetables, and lots of water. Hydration will help speed your recovery along. You will still experience swelling and bruising. These will begin to dissipate during this time; however, some swelling can take up to a few months to entirely disappear.

Patients can resume driving but should still avoid exercise and any unnecessary bending or lifting. Most patients can return to work after 10 to 14 days.

Week 3 and 4

Patients can start resuming their normal activities. It is crucial to still rest as much as you can and not overstrain yourself. Light exercising is permitted after one month as long as it doesn’t impact the abdomen. Your compression garment should still be worn.

Week 6

After six weeks, you are generally cleared to return to your full, regular schedule. Most patients can once again participate in strenuous activity and exercise; however, be sure that you are cleared by me before you attempt to do so. Everyone heals at their own rate, and you should double check your progress before straining yourself.

Three to Six Months

While the majority of the swelling dissipates within a few weeks, some swelling may linger for a couple of months, postponing the realization of your final result. Most patients see these results around the three to six month period.

If you are interested in learning more about tummy tuck surgery, contact Dr. Reichner at his Orange office at (714) 997-5200 to set up a consultation.