Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline: What to Expect

By Michael A. Devlin, MD on July 14, 2019

Before and after image of tummy tuckSometimes, despite diet and exercise, some individuals struggle with excess skin around the midsection. In these cases, a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, can smooth the skin. This procedure eliminates excess skin and fat for a flatter, sleeker, more toned abdomen.

Those considering tummy tuck surgery may be wondering what to expect during the days, weeks, and months after treatment. Here, Dr. Michael A. Devlin, a Little Rock, AR, plastic surgeon, explores the tummy tuck recovery timeline so patients can be well-informed.

The Day of Your Tummy Tuck

When you wake up after your surgery, you will notice that dressings and bandages have been placed on your incisions. In many cases, Dr. Devlin will also wrap the site with a compression garment to minimize swelling and support the tissues as they heal. Surgical drains may also be in place to help eliminate excess fluid.

Every patient is provided with a list of detailed instructions. It is important to follow these guidelines closely to promote successful healing. We will tell you:

  • How to clean and care for your incisions and surgical drains
  • Which medications to take and how often
  • What to look for, including signs of infection and other complications
  • When to return to our office for routine follow-up visits

Patients must arrange for reliable transportation to and from our office. They should also have a trusted friend or family member stay with them for a few days to assist with recovery.

The First Few Days of Recovery

Showering should be avoided until the surgical drains are removed. This typically happens within a few days. Until then, sponge baths are appropriate. Use gentle care and avoid putting pressure on the incisions.

When you are able to shower again, it is advisable to sit on a shower chair, as hot temperatures may make you lightheaded or dizzy.

Prescription medications will be provided, and they should be taken exactly as directed. These may include antibiotics and pain relievers. In some cases, we may give you an anticoagulant. Dr. Devlin may also provide topical medication to be applied to the incisions. Unless directed by your doctor, you should avoid any medications containing aspirin.

Patients should avoid smoking for at least six weeks after tummy tuck surgery. Tobacco products can hinder the body’s natural healing process and lead to complications. Additionally, individuals should steer clear of alcohol any time they are taking pain medication.

There are other things you can do to reduce the risk of complications during recovery. Here are a few tips:

  • Sleep with your upper body raised slightly and your knees bent. This can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Place pillows under your knees for support while resting.
  • Stay mobile as soon as possible after surgery. Light walking will increase circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Rest as much as possible. It is normal to feel tired and fatigued.

The Next Few Weeks

Due to the surgical nature of a tummy tuck, patients can expect some restrictions. Most patients will not be able to drive or workout for four to six weeks after the procedure. During your consultation, ask Dr. Devlin how long you will need to take off work. Those with physically demanding jobs will need to take more time off than those with desk jobs.

Once the initial healing period is over, most patients still notice a tightness in the abdomen. It is not uncommon to have numbness in the area for several months or longer.

The scar will be red and raised at first. Over time, however, it will fade. Dr. Devlin places incisions strategically so that post-operative scarring is minimized.

Contact Our Practice to Learn More

Are you thinking about undergoing a tummy tuck? To learn more about the procedure or recovery, call our office at (501) 227-8811 or contact us online.

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Dr. Devlin helped me rewrite the ending to my journey from fat to fabulous. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Lisa Bordeaux, from a Google+ Review

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Little Rock Cosmetic Surgery Office

10801 Executive Center Dr
Ste 303
Little Rock, AR 72211

More Info Directions (501) 227-8811