Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Recovery

Thu 21st Apr 2022

The Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) is designed to address both functional and aesthetic concerns of the abdominal wall by removing excess, overhanging skin, and its associated fatty tissue and repairing damaged abdominal wall muscles.

Like all invasive surgical procedures, a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) does involve needing to take time off from your regular lifestyle for recovery. For most people it will take a minimum of 6 weeks before you can begin returning to your normal routine.

This article will explore in-depth the postoperative recovery process following Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) surgery. If you have any further questions or would like to request a consultation with Dr Dona please call our clinic on 1300 373 662 or use the contact form at the bottom of this article to send us a message.

Everyone’s Recovery is Different:

Your age, weight, genetics and other factors can affect the length of your recovery.

Another issue that can affect how long your recovery can take is the variation of Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) performed. Some patients experiencing very large amounts of excess skin or require significant abdominal wall reconstruction may require a Fleur De Lis Abdominoplasty or Open Book Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty).

These more extensive procedures are likely going to result in longer recovery times than a traditional Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) or a Mini Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) which is the shortest Tummy Tuck procedure.

The First 24 Hours After Surgery:

The first 24 hours after the surgery is the least pleasant stage of the recovery timeline. However, this discomfort is short-lived.

Whilst in your hospital bed you will be positioned with your head elevated and pillows lodged underneath your knees to ensure that there is minimal tension on your incision wounds.

Where the incisions were made around the midsection, you will have dressing applied. Along with the bandages, you will be wearing a compression garment to reduce swelling. Finally, you will likely have one or two plastic drains coming directly out of or just below the incision wounds to prevent fluid buildup. These drains will be removed before you go home.

Any other apparatus used at the hospital is entirely used for your comfort. You will have a catheter to help you urinate and at least one drip in place to give you intravenous fluids, pain control medication and antibiotics.

Post-Hospital Discharge to Two Weeks Post Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Surgery

During the first two weeks of your recovery, where you will spend most of your time resting around the house, it is important to delegate as much of the household duties as possible so that you can rest and allow your wounds to heal.

Swelling and bruising are also to be expected heavily during the first week, along with pain around the midsection, which is what your prescription pain medication is there to assist with. Despite the pain and discomfort, it is highly recommended that you try and move around the house to promote overall well-being and recovery.

Following your surgery, and once you have been discharged from hospital, you will attend our practice for your first post-operative review with one our post-operative nurses. Generally speaking, your first appointment will be scheduled no later than the day following your hospital discharge. Within your first post-operative appointment, one of our friendly and caring post-operative nurses will inspect your wounds and administer light therapy treatment, aimed at optimizing your recovery. Our post-operative nurses will continue to see you, at least three times per week for the following few weeks, and of course, will be available to answer any questions in-between your in-clinic appointments.

You can consider driving after two-weeks if you feel safe to get behind a wheel, however, as always common sense is required.

Three to Four Weeks Post Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Surgery:

Pain should be mostly dissipated within four-week stage while sitting or lying down in the affected areas. However, pain or discomfort may pop up from time to time while sitting straight, getting out of bed and driving.

Although the pain has subsided significantly at this stage, it is still recommended to undertake daily household activities with caution as your body is still healing.

If your job involves office work or light duties, you will be able to return to work during this stage of your recovery, for more intensive workloads you will need to wait a little longer.

Six Weeks Post Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Surgery

At the six-week stage of the recovery process, the initial symptoms of pain, swelling and bruising should have subsided while resting and standing up and doing daily tasks.

At this point you are free to continue returning back to your normal routines and normal levels of physical activity without fear of jeopardising your results or the incision wounds. Obviously, you will still be a little sore here and there but just let your body guide you.

Ultimately common sense will tell you what’s right and wrong at this stage.

Pain after Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Surgery

All surgical procedures do involve some level of pain during your postoperative recovery, a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) is no different to this. The initial post-operative pain from a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) can be described as a significant tightness across the abdomen. Many women who’ve had a caesarean would say a caesarean is worse than a tummy tuck, others say it’s worse than a caesarean. Either way, it’s similar.

As with any chest or abdominal surgery, any straining during the first four – six weeks will cause significant pain. So, anything that causes you to strain your abdomen such as coughing, sneezing etc will be uncomfortable. Therefore, it is important to avoid these as much as possible and firmly hold your belly when doing this during the first few of weeks of your Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) recovery.

For the first six weeks after your Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) surgery, you will need to avoid any activities that involve activating or using your abdominal wall muscles. This is because, during your Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) procedure, you will likely have had muscle tightening performed, which Dr Eddy Dona performs by using multiple layers of internal stitches. It takes at least six weeks before this repaired muscle has scarred into position and ready to undergo activation.

Driving after Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Surgery

For the first week or two following your surgery, you will need to get a friend or family member to drive you. After two-weeks postoperative you can get behind a wheel if you feel safe to do so. However, you may want to start with shorter drives initially just to see how you cope behind a wheel in that position. Gradually you will be able to work your way up to longer car drives as you feel able and comfortable doing so.

As a guideline, you should be able to go on longer car drives comfortably by the six to eight-week mark after surgery.

Sex after Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) surgery

You should avoid any sexual activity for the first two weeks. Anything that gets your heart rate and blood pressure up is not ideal and any potential pressure etc on your abdominal wall and pubic area will potentially compromise your wound healing.

When you do return to having sex, as previously stated, don’t undergo any sexual activity for the first six weeks that involves you being too active or activating your core muscles. So basically, up until the six weeks post op period, you are taking on a very passive role during sex.

After six weeks, you can do what you like without any fear that you’re going to compromise your results. Obviously, you will still be a little sore here and there but just let your body guide you. Ultimately common sense will tell you what’s right and wrong at this stage.

Exercise after Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) surgery

Once you have reached the six-week mark following your tummy tuck surgery you are free to begin returning to your normal daily life including recreational sports and exercise without fear of jeopardising the results of your surgery. This will still require a gradual return to your normal levels of physical activities as you will still experience some levels of pain and discomfort.

Returning to work after Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) surgery

The length of time off you will need to take will depend on the type of job you have (i.e. labour or non-labour). When you will be able to return to your line of work will be a discussion point throughout your pre and postoperative clinic appointments, where we can assess how you are feeling and recovering after surgery.

As a general guide, depending on the level of physical activity of your work, you will be to return to work at different times;

  • Office work is allowed at three weeks.
  • Hospitality work at four weeks.
  • Heavy manual labour work is not recommended until after six weeks as a minimum.
Request a Consultation with Dr Dona

Dr Eddy Dona has been a specialist plastic surgeon since 2007, and is a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. From your first clinic visit, and throughout your surgical journey, Dr Dona and his team will be there to make it as smooth as possible.
Get in touch with our clinic to request a consultation with Dr Eddy Dona

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