One of the biggest concerns after major surgery such as abdominoplasty is the recovery process. How you go about the recovery stage can go a long way to influence the outcome of your tummy tuck procedure. This guide outlines the recovery timeline to help you learn what to expect after cosmetic abdominal surgery.

Week 1

  • The first week after tummy tuck surgery is arguably the most difficult. Most patients experience swelling, bruising, tightness, and fatigue. Your surgeon will have provided pain medication to alleviate the discomfort as well as antibiotics to prevent infections. Make sure to take this medication as prescribed.
  • It is important that you eat healthy and balanced foods right after your abdominoplasty procedure. Your body needs to be supplied with all the key nutrients in order to facilitate effective healing. Make sure you include foods that are rich in protein, fiber-rich foods, as well as generous portions of fruits and vegetables.
  • It is also absolutely important that you stay hydrated after undergoing tummy tuck surgery. Your body needs this water to eliminate the toxins from anesthesia, reduce fatigue, and move the nutrients needed for healing throughout the body.
  • Take a walk. Your plastic surgeon will most likely ask that you take a light walk as soon as you are able to within the first 24 to 48 hours. This is important to promote proper blood circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots, which is a risk factor after any surgery. You should take a light walk daily for about 24-35 minutes throughout the first week.
  • Take it easy. You should take a lot of rest especially within the first week after abdominoplasty surgery. Your body needs the energy so it can concentrate on the recovery process. Avoid any work, exercising, alcohol consumption, and smoking at this time.
  • Keep your compression garment on. Plastic surgeons apply a special compression garment immediately after abdominoplasty surgery in order to reduce the swelling and help with healing. Make sure to keep this garment on until your surgeon says otherwise.
  • Maintain the proper position. Keep in mind that you should rest and sleep in an elevated position following abdominoplasty surgery. Use a lot of large pillows to prop up and support your body in an inclined position. Avoid sleeping on your abdomen or doing anything that can strain your abdominal muscles at this time.

Week 2

  • Drains are typically inserted after abdominoplasty surgery. These are usually removed early on in the second week.
  • Bruising, pain, and tightness tends to diminish significantly during the second week of recovery. However, keep in mind that fatigue and swelling may persist for a lot longer.
  • You can increase the intensity of your walks and engage in some light activities at this time. Strenuous exercises and heavy lifting should still be avoided though.
  • Keep the compression garment on, sleep in an elevated position, drink a lot of water, and do all of the after-care things you did in week 1.

Week 3 and 4

  • Throughout week 3 and 4, the majority of tummy tuck patients are able to resume light work.
  • You may also start to go back to your regular diet as much of the healing has taken place. Still, you should make a point to integrate healthful and balanced options.
  • Light activities can be increased gradually but you should still avoid sit-ups, heavy lifting, and any motions that can put severe strain on your abdominal muscles.
  • If you are traveling by car or flying, limit the time to one hour. Swelling my start to subside at this time but soreness will likely persist.

Week 6 – 18

  • Depending on the pace of your recovery, you may be able to resume regular exercise. Talk to your surgeon to learn whether this is okay based on your individualized tummy tuck recovery timeline.
  • You should still avoid abdominal workouts until after at least 8 months.
  • Fatigue, swelling, and soreness will gradually diminish during this stretch of time.
  • The results of your tummy tuck will become increasingly evident.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that the outcome of your tummy tuck may take up to six months (sometimes up to a year) to manifest. While you may feel anxious to see what the surgery achieved, it is important that you are patient with yourself and take the time to focus on the recovery process. If you notice any concerns or are worried about something, make sure to let your plastic surgeon know. This should be easy because most plastic surgeons keep an open line so you can reach out for support at any time throughout your recovery journey.