Tummy Tuck Recovery (Abdominoplasty)


Tummy Tuck Recovery Details

The procedure will take approximately 2-3 hours.

After you return home from your tummy tuck surgery, you may feel groggy and want to sleep. The following day, we encourage you to walk around the house.

Returning to work can be somewhat variable depending on your job. If your job is sedentary you will be able to return to work in 10 to 14 days. If your job is labor intensive it may take up to 6 weeks to return.

You may resume light exercise that does not require abdominal activity at approximately four weeks. Abdominal activity, however, should not be attempted prior to 8 weeks and should only be done when there is absolutely no pain.

The majority of the bruising and swelling from the tummy tuck will have subsided by 3 weeks, but complete resolution will take at least 6 months to occur.

Typically, scars heal in a very methodical manner. For the first 6 to 8 weeks the scar becomes red as the body heals. After that stage, however, the scar becomes much less red and thinner. By one year, the scar is usually very light and easily hidden by underwear or a bikini.


  1. Get plenty of rest and limit yourself to light activities the first 10 days after surgery. When resting or sleeping, your head should be slightly elevated for the first 3 days.
  2. You may take a cool shower the day after surgery. If you don't feel up to it, sponge bath until you are ready. Make sure you have someone helping you. Use a shower chair. Let water run gently over the drains exits. Dab dry. Place gauze over drain exit. Put your binder back on.
  3. Walk every hour while awake for the first day and then every 2 hours. Avoid stairs.
  4. Take all medications as directed. If you need a refill on pain medications call the office.
  5. Empty drains every 8 hours or when they become full and write down the amount of drainage.
  6. Do not be concerned if the fluid from the body comes around drain. If the drain clogs you will need to milk it. If you are not sure how, call the office for instructions.
  7. At one week start wearing a girdle under the binder. The girdle should be snug but not too tight. Wear both items for 6 weeks.
  8. At 2-3 weeks after surgery take your steri-strips off. Apply ScarLess®, allow it to dry and then re-apply silicone sheets twice a day for two months.
  9. Sutures will dissolve on their own.
  10. Do not drive for the first week or while on pain medications. Do not do heavy housework (this includes vacuuming). Do not work out at all for the first 3 weeks, and once you resume working out, do not do abdominal exercises for at least 8 weeks.
  11. Avoid lifting anything heavier than 5 pounds for 2 weeks.
  12. Please avoid exposing the incision to sunlight for at least 6 weeks. This will help the scar to heal without being noticeable.
  13. After 6 weeks, apply sunscreen (at least SPF 15) to the area of the incision, if you will be in the sun for extended periods of time.
  14. Do not smoke for at least 2 weeks after surgery.
  15. Do not use aspirin-containing products for at least 1 week. You may take Tylenol or pain medication as prescribed.
  16. You may apply ice or frozen peas or corn on the abdomen for the first 48 hours to decrease swelling. Do not apply it directly on your skin.
  17. It is not uncommon for a small part of incision to open up and look like a pimple at 4-8 weeks. This is called a Stitch Abscess - it is caused by a suture which is expelled by the body. Simply wash it with soap and water and apply Neosporin or Polysporin on it. If the redness is larger than a dime call the office.
  18. Remember it may take up to 3-4 months to completely get your energy back. Do not get frustrated if you get tired easily.


    1. Immediately after tummy tuck surgery, some patients feel groggy or nauseous. These feelings normally subside by the next day.
    2. Many patients experience some pain for the first 3-4 days and soreness for the first 2 weeks

Standing straight will be difficult for about 1-2 weeks. You may also experience some temporary lower back pain due to this bent posture.

  • Swelling and bruising usually clears up within 2 weeks.
  • The scar may become thick and puffy as it heals. It will also look bunched up. The scar will flatten out within 6-12 months. After one year, if the scar is more noticeable than desired, you may discuss scar revision with the doctor.


Post-surgical complications are rare and are often easily solved by the doctor if you notify us. Call us if you experience any of the following:

A temperature of 101 F or higher, increased local redness or warmth, chest pain, shortness of breath, legs swelling, calf pain, if you have continuous discharge from the incision line or if you feel anything else might be wrong. Please call the office during normal business hours@ 949-644-4808 or after hours page Joseph T Cruise, MD @ 714-304-8050 .


Blood Clot
  1. It is important to walk at least every 2 hours while you're awake to prevent blood clotting- do not over do it. Right after surgery you will be instructed to walk around every 1 hour.
  2. Pay specific attention to Leg Swelling. If you notice swelling on only one leg or calf pain contact the office.
Drain Function
  1. Make sure that your drains are functioning.
  2. Empty drains every 8 hours or when they become more than half full and write down amount of drainage.
  3. Do not be concerned if the fluid from the body comes around drain.
  4. You may need to milk the tube if it appears to be clogged.
  5. Drains come out at about 2-3 weeks, depending on the amount of drainage.
  6. Note - the drain is always uncomfortable but it is absolutely necessary to prevent fluid accumulation.
  1. If you are constipated at day 2 stop taking Vicodin or Darvocet.
  2. Encourage walking, drinking a lot of fluids, consider laxative (Ex-lax or Correctol).
  1. Make sure to cough and breath deep as fever is usually in lungs for the first 3 days after surgery.
Garment Placement
  1. ADJUST GARMENT/ BANDAGE EVERY 2 HOURS. This may mean undoing and repositioning the binder. You should have gentle compression. If you cannot put your finger in between the garment and your body, it means it is too tight. If the garment is too tight it will prevent proper blood flow.
  2. At one week start wearing a girdle under the binder. The girdle should be snag but not too tight. Wear both for 6 weeks.
  1. Walk in a flex forward position for the first 2 weeks.
  2. You can take a cool shower the day after. Hold drains in shower and allow clean water to run over drain entrance into the body. Dab dry. Make sure you have someone helping you.
  3. Walk every hour while awake for the first day and then every 2 hours.
  4. Sleep at 45 degree angle for the first 3 nights.
  5. It is important not to move or rotate abdomen for 4 weeks. Bend with knees don't bend with abdomen. Turn entire body do not rotate abdomen. Do not walk too much.
  6. You can exercise areas other than your abdomen at 4 weeks.You can start working out your abdomen at 8 weeks if there is no pain.
Wound Care
  1. Your gauze will be changed at your follow up visit.
  2. Make sure your garment is placed correctly.
  3. Keep surgical area clean and dry at all times.
  4. At 1-2 weeks after surgery take you steri-strips off. Apply ScarLess®, allow it to dry and then apply silicone sheet twice a day for two months. Make sure to keep compression on.

Possible Tummy Tuck Complications

Outlined below are the most common and significant complications associated with abdominoplasty.

  • Poor scar - All people heal differently. It is possible that a poor scar can form even if the incisions are sutured together properly.
  • Blood clot formation after abdominoplasty is more common than with other cosmetic surgery procedures. This can be minimized by wearing compressive stockings and making sure the patient walks around immediately after the operation.
  • Pulmonary embolism - This is related to the blood clot issue. If a blood clot forms in your leg, it may dislodge and then travel to your lungs. This can make it difficult for you to breathe. Therefore, it is critical to let your surgeon know if you have one sided leg swelling or shortness of breath after surgery.
  • Infection and wound healing problems
  • Fluid or blood collection within the wound
  • Asymmetry and/or contour irregularities