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Recovery After a Tummy Tuck

Published on February 7, 2023
Close up of a young multi-ethnic woman's stomach cupped by her hands

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a major surgical procedure that involves trimming excess fat and skin from your midsection. Tummy tuck recovery varies from one patient to another and can be affected by several factors, including your age.

To ensure proper healing, patients must come in for a thorough consultation to confirm their eligibility to the procedure. Because it is an invasive surgery, it is vital to be in good overall health and, ideally, a non-smoker.

What Happens the First Week After a Tummy Tuck?

Immediately after the tummy tuck surgery, you will be in the recovery room for a few hours. Then you will be released to recuperate at home. Patients feel pain and discomfort as soon as the anesthesia wears off. However, prescribed pain-control medications will help alleviate the pain. Ice packs can minimize swelling.

You will not be able to stand upright for a time after your surgery, so make sure you have someone to help you around for a day or two. The first few days will be marked with soreness and bruising. You will be recommended to wear compression garments to avoid fluid buildup and for additional support.

Common Do’s and Don’ts After Abdominoplasty


  • Sleep at an angle and place a pillow under your knees to reduce pressure on the abdominal area.
  • Engage in light movements such as walking around your house to reduce risk of blood clots.
  • Follow care guidelines and instructions to facilitate faster healing.
  • Have a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.
  • Take your antibiotics and pain medication as directed.
  • Rest as much as you can, since it is normal to feel fatigued during the recovery period.


  • Do not wear tight undergarments or clothing that could put pressure on your abdominoplasty incisions.
  • Do not stay in one position for too long.
  • Do not drink alcohol or smoke.
  • Do not engage in strenuous activities or sudden jerky movements.
  • Do not bend, lift, or overexert yourself for several months until you are cleared to resume your exercises.

Tummy Tuck Timeline for Recovery

The initial healing happens for the first one to two weeks after your tummy tuck surgery. It could take up to two weeks before you can get back to work. The swelling can take up to a month or longer to fully resolve. In one to three months, you will feel numbness and a pulling sensation in your abdomen.

You will be cleared for almost all activities by the second month, except for boxing, martial arts, and other similar activities. You may be able to get back to heavy lifting and strenuous exercise, as long as you don’t put too much strain on your abdominal muscles. It could take six months to a year to see the final full results of your abdominoplasty surgery.

Contact Us to Learn More

Learn more important recovery tips for tummy tuck surgery—contact Plastic Surgery Center of Scottsdale today to schedule your consultation! Our skilled plastic surgeons will be happy to answer your abdominoplasty questions.