A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a highly effective and popular procedure as patients are aware that it can deliver dramatic improvements – a flatter abdomen, more defined waistline and improved body contours. They also may have concerns over the tummy tuck recovery process and how lengthy it will be.

A tummy tuck involves repositioning and tightening the muscles up the length of the abdominal wall, removing excess skin and fat and then potentially repositioning the umbilicus. A tummy tuck is often combined with liposuction for optimal results. As a result, the recovery can be challenging than after other cosmetic surgery procedures.

Being fully aware of what to expect can help you prepare for a smooth tummy tuck recovery.

Tummy tuck recovery tips

Stevie, our highly experienced surgical nurse, gives her tips on how best to manage your tummy tuck recovery period.

Best sleeping position after a tummy tuck

Why you should wear your compression garment after a tummy tuck

How best to prepare for your tummy tuck recovery

Why you should get moving after a tummy tuck

How to protect your abdominoplasty incision

Our tummy tuck recovery timeline

A tummy tuck is a very invasive cosmetic surgery procedure as the muscles, skin and fatty tissue of the abdomen are manipulated to produce a more pleasing appearance. Recovery depends on the individual, the extent of the procedure and whether other procedures were performed in combination with an abdominoplasty.

The first 24 hours: patients typically stay at least one night in hospital after a tummy tuck. You will have a compression garment wrapped around your waist and abdomen to reduce swelling and bleeding. Typically, there will be two drains placed just under the skin to remove any fluid build-up; these are usually removed the next day.

The stomach area will feel uncomfortable and the muscles in the midline may feel tight and sore. You will be encouraged to become mobile quickly to boost your circulation in the legs. You may feel a ‘pulling’ sensation in the abdomen.

The first week: you will experience swelling and some bruising in the abdomen. The stitches we use are dissolvable so you do not need to return to have them removed. It is important you rest during the first couple of weeks as your body requires lots of energy to heal. Having someone on hand to help is also essential, as you should keep lifting and stretching to a minimum.

The first month: the bruising should dissipate after three weeks but subtle swelling can be present in the lower abdomen for many months after surgery. The area around the incision will feel firm to the touch as scar tissue forms and you’re encouraged to massage the area. Most patients return to work after two to three weeks, unless their job requires heavy lifting.

Full recovery: most patients experience a reduction in sensation to the skin in the lower abdomen, but that should resolve itself after a few months. The tummy tuck scar can extend from hip to hip across the abdomen and it can take 12 to 18 months before it has fully flattened and faded.

Tummy tuck recovery FAQs

Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about the tummy tuck recovery process:

The answer to this frequently asked question about tummy tuck recovery is that this is very patient dependent. Immediately after surgery, you’ll feel disorientated from the anaesthetic and in the first few days you’ll feel some pain and will probably need pain medication to manage any discomfort.

We advise you to rest in the initial weeks as your body uses up a lot of energy when healing. After about two to three weeks, you will probably have returned to work and resumed your usual daily activities, avoiding anything too strenuous. After six weeks, you should be able to resume exercise and most patients feel they have returned to their normal energy levels.

We have recently relaunched the Karidis Clinic App, which supports you throughout your patient journey. A successful cosmetic surgery procedure goes beyond the operating room and the app provide invaluable advice on how to optimise your recovery process as well as sending you alerts for all your post-op check-ups.

At Karidis Clinic, all tummy tuck procedures are carried out by one of the best known abdominoplasty surgeons in London, Mr Alex Karidis.

For UK-leading aftercare, get in touch today.