Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline

September 28, 2012

Atlanta plastic surgeon Marcus Crawford offers a breakdown of what our patients can expect during the tummy tuck recovery period.

Week 1 after Surgery

Diet: Patients should maintain a diet that is low in sodium for the first week after surgery to reduce swelling.

Side Effects: Patients experience some pain, bruising, swelling, and tightness the first week after surgery.

Drains: Most patients will require the use of a drain for the first few days after surgery; the drain directs excess fluid away from the incision and out of the body. In most cases, the drain can be removed in three to seven days.

Bandages: Tummy tuck bandages may be replaced, and the area around the incision gently cleaned, every other day after surgery.

Compression Garment: Patients should wear a compression garment at all times in the week after surgery. The compression garment will aid in healing and help patients achieve their desired contour.

Showering: In many cases, patients can take a shower a day or two after surgery. However, if you are feeling lightheaded, it is a good idea to wait. Patients with drains may find it easier to sponge bathe for a few days after surgery.

Off Limits: A number of activities are off limits the first week after tummy tuck surgery. These include: driving, exercise, work, chores, smoking, and drinking alcohol.

Week One Recovery Tips:

  • Take pain medication as directed
  • Wear a compression garment
  • Use an ice compress to minimize pain and swelling
  • Limit movement
  • Stay slightly bent at the waist
  • Have 24-hour care and assistance for the first three days after surgery
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay in bed and rest

Week 2 after Surgery

Diet: Patients will be ready to go back to their regular diet the second week after surgery, but it is a good idea to continue to limit sodium this week.

Side Effects: At this point, there is still swelling in the treatment area. However, the pain, bruising, and feeling of tightness are beginning to fade.

Massage: The second week after surgery, patients can begin to lightly massage to treatment area to promote healing.

Scar treatments: Patients can usually begin treatment to minimize scarring the second week after surgery. Scar minimizing techniques may include the application of vitamin E or silicone sheets to the incision.

Compression Garment: To achieve the best possible results, patients should continue to wear a compression garment two weeks after surgery.

Work: Patients may feel ready to return to work and other obligations 10 to 14 days after surgery. Patients that undergo tummy tuck in combination with another treatment, such as liposuction, butt lift, breast augmentation, arm lift, or thigh lift, may need an extra few days to recover.

Off Limits: A number of activities remain off limits the second week after tummy tuck surgery. These include: exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol.

Week Two Recovery Tips:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Wear a compression garment
  • Start taking brief walks a few times throughout the day to get your blood flowing

Weeks 3 and 4 after Surgery

Diet: Many patients return to their normal diet by the third and fourth week after surgery. However, it is important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet to stay at your ideal weight range.

Exercise: Patients can usually engage in light exercise four weeks after surgery. However, more strenuous moves such as sit-ups and weight lifting should be avoided until six weeks after surgery.

Compression Garment: Dr. Crawford may recommend that you continue to wear a compression garment for one month after surgery.

To learn more about the tummy tuck recovery process, contact Crawford Plastic Surgery today.


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