Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline - What to Expect By Oren Zvi Lerman, M.D. on April 05, 2016

A woman with a tight and toned tummyIf you are undergoing a plastic surgery procedure such as a tummy tuck, it is important to know what to expect in the weeks following treatment. The tummy tuck procedure can effectively tighten and tone the abdomen, and patients can expect to see good results from the procedure after about six weeks. However, in the meantime, patients should expect to experience some side effects, follow their surgeon’s aftercare instructions, and avoid certain activities. In this blog post, Oren Z. Lerman, MD explains the tummy tuck recovery timeline so our Manhattan, NY patients know what to expect after surgery.

Week One

  • The day of surgery: When you return home from surgery, lie down and rest for the remainder of the day. Since you have undergone IV sedation or general anesthesia, you may experience nausea or fatigue. Take your pain medication as directed, and eat light, low sodium meals.
  • Days two to seven: During this time, you can expect the side effects to be at their worst. You may experience pain, tightness, swelling, and bruising of the abdomen. Continue to take pain medication as directed, consume low sodium meals, and rest. By day two, you are encouraged to take brief, light walks around the house to encourage blood flow and reduce the risk of clots. However, do not engage in any other strenuous activity. If you had surgical drains placed during surgery, be sure to empty the drains and record the amount of fluid drained and the time of drainage.

Week Two

By now, you should notice an improvement in your side effects. Sometime during the second week after surgery, you should be able to return to work and most normal activities. However, you should continue to avoid any strenuous activity that could increase inflammation or risk opening your incision. If you are still experiencing discomfort, continue to use your pain medication. If you had surgical drains placed, they may be removed sometime during week two.

Weeks Three through Six

By the third week after surgery, most of the side effects should be minimal. Many patients still experience slight discomfort, swelling, and tightness at this time, but these have improved greatly from the first week after surgery. Although patients are feeling better and able to return to normal activities by the third week after surgery, it is important to avoid heavy exercise and strenuous activity until six weeks after surgery. You may go on walks or engage in other light exercise by week four, but be sure to discuss this with your surgeon.

Week Six and Beyond

Six weeks after surgery, most of the side effects have subsided. Patients may still have some swelling, but the results of surgery should be noticeable. Swelling will continue to resolve over the next few months.

The incisions made during tummy tuck surgery should be fully closed six weeks after surgery, but they may still appear red. Keep in mind that the scar will continue to fade during the next year, especially if you reduce sun exposure and use scar-reducing cream. One year after surgery, the scars will have reached their final appearance.

To learn more about the tummy tuck recovery timeline, contact the practice of Oren Z. Lerman, MD.

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Dr. Oren Lerman

Oren Z. Lerman, MD

Dr. Oren Lerman performs a variety of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures with a specialty in reconstructive breast surgery. In fact, he is the director of breast reconstruction at Lenox Hill Hospital's Institute for Comprehensive Breast Care as well as the Microvascular and Cosmetic Breast Fellowship. In addition to the hospital, Dr. Lerman is affiliated with:

  • The New York Regional Society of Plastic Surgeons (Past President)
  • The American Board of Plastic Surgery (Diplomate)
  • The American College of Surgeons (Fellow)
  • The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • The American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery

You can schedule a consultation with Dr. Lerman by filling out our online form or calling (212) 434-6980.

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