Mr. Jackson

What Is the Recovery Like After a Tummy Tuck?


A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that can help you achieve a flat, toned abdomen. It will remove the loose skin, the “pouch,” and the stretch marks (if they are in the right location).

If you are considering a tummy tuck, you probably have lots of questions. You may be wondering about the recovery period and what it will entail for you. You may be wondering if it will be painful or how long it will take you to get back to normal.

Every patient is different, so it stands to reason that all recovery stories will not be the same. But this general information about tummy tuck recovery will help you to better understand what to expect as you go into the procedure.

Two things are true for all patients who undergo a tummy tuck. You will have a bikini line scar and you will have a substantial recovery period. The first week of healing will most likely be your toughest. After your surgery, be prepared to experience swelling, bruising, numbness, tingling, tightness, moderate pain, and limited strength and mobility.

Once they get through the healing process, most patients are happy that they decided to have a tummy tuck and wish that they hadn’t waited so long to do the procedure.

Your Recovery Timeline

When you first wake up you should be prepared to experience soreness and tightness. This is the result of the muscle tightening and the large amount of skin that has been removed. You will be given medications to help alleviate your discomfort.

Most patients will be discharged home on the same day of surgery. But depending on their overall health and the extent of the surgery, some patients will need to stay overnight in the hospital.

You will need to have a friend or family member drive you home and help you to get settled. You will need a responsible caretaker to be with you during the first 24 hours following surgery. You will need to rest and heal, so don’t overdo it. You don’t want to put any strain on your incisions.

During the first week of recovery you may experience some discomfort and frustration performing simple tasks, like going to the bathroom. It is important to rest during this early stage of healing, but you need to walk a little every 3 to 4 hours to improve your circulation. Make sure to keep your dressings clean and dry as instructed by your doctor. You may have small drainage tubes in place after the surgery. You will need to empty the tubes at least 2 or 3 times a day. You will be sent home wearing a compression garment that will facilitate healing and help to reduce swelling and discomfort. Do not remove the compression garment during the first week. You should continue to wear the garment for at least 23 hours a day for about six weeks following surgery (or as instructed by your surgeon). You should not engage in any physical activity during the first week following surgery.

During the second and third week after surgery, you will begin to feel better, but you will not be ready to return to normal life. You can start moving around several times a day. Do not force yourself to stand up straight yet unless it feels comfortable. Your activity will be limited.

During week four most patients feel pretty good. You can start being more active and ease yourself back into your normal routine. Moderate to heavy exercise should still be avoided. You may be able to return to work if it is not too physically demanding. You should not lift more than 20 pounds for about six weeks.

Every patient is different, so you will recuperate at your own pace.

To find out if a tummy tuck is right for you, contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation. Port City Plastic Surgery serves Charleston, Daniel Island, Mount Pleasant and Summerville, South Carolina from two locations in Charleston and Daniel Island.


2683 Lake Park Drive
Charleston, SC 29406


125 River Landing Drive
Suite 101
Daniel Island, SC 29492