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What to Expect During Your Tummy Tuck Recovery

What to Expect During Your Tummy Tuck Recovery

Have you been thinking about a tummy tuck? This procedure is one that people undergo for many reasons, including post-pregnancy body changes, significant weight loss, or simply for a more contoured abdomen. 

If you’re on the fence because of questions about what comes after the surgery, you’re in the right place. Board-certified plastic surgeon James J. Chao, MD, and our care team at OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare with offices in San Diego, Temecula, and Encinitas, California, want to be sure you have all the information you need to make an informed choice about any medical procedures you select. 

That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide, outlining the recovery process after a tummy tuck and giving you the information you need to ensure you’re well-informed and ready for this amazing, transformative procedure.    

Understanding the stages of recovery

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is surgery that removes excess skin and fat from your belly area while also tightening your stomach muscles. The result is a flatter, firmer abdomen that helps you fit into clothes more comfortably and feel more confident in your skin. 

Recovery varies from person to person depending on many factors, such as age, overall health, and the condition of your skin. However, there are some common milestones most people experience and general tips that can help anyone recovering from a tummy tuck. 

Here’s a closer look at the stages you can expect to go through and our advice for getting through them safely and smoothly:

The two weeks post-op

The first week after your tummy tuck is critical for the rest of your recovery. Most patients go home the same day as their procedure, and you can expect swelling, discomfort, and tiredness, which is entirely normal. 

Dr. Chao will recommend wearing a compression garment to help reduce swelling and support your abdomen. You’ll also receive pain medication to manage any discomfort and help you rest—just remember to follow your surgeon's advice on medication and care to avoid issues.

While rest is important, this doesn’t mean you should lie still all day. Dr. Chao generally encourages short, gentle walks to promote circulation and prevent blood clots. Just be sure to listen to your body and don’t rush into any physical activity—gradual progression is key.

Week 3-6: Returning to normal

You'll start to feel more like yourself after the first two weeks following your abdominoplasty, but it's essential to continue monitoring your activity levels. Strenuous activities and heavy lifting are off the table. 

Through these first six weeks, be sure to use caution when moving and avoid sitting, standing, or bending in ways that strain or risk reopening your incision. 

You can expect to see your surgeon for follow-up visits during this time. These visits ensure your recovery is on track and also provide an opportunity for you to ask questions or get tailored guidance.

Special considerations for parents

If you’re a parent of young children, a tummy tuck recovery has unique challenges. Your instincts might be to jump back into your caretaking role, but it’s crucial to arrange for help in advance. 

Be sure to set up childcare before your surgery, especially if your kids are young enough to require constant attention or lifting, as this is a big no-no in the early stages of recovery. This help can come from family, friends, or a professional service.  

It can be helpful to set up a separate, comfortable space within your home for recovery where you won’t feel isolated from your family. Make sure essentials are within easy reach and that it's a place you can relax but still participate in family conversations. 

Before your procedure, take time to find creative, low-energy ways you can engage with your children during your recovery. For example, reading stories, completing simple arts and crafts, or even watching movies together keeps you connected without physically straining. 

Long-term recovery and results

Full recovery and the final results after your tummy tuck can take several months. Scar care, according to Dr. Chao’s instructions, helps your incisions heal and minimizes the appearance of scars, so be sure to follow directions carefully. 

As the months pass and the post-surgery swelling decreases, you’ll see your new abdominal profile take shape. Be sure to enhance your results and keep them long-term by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and physical fitness. 

Always keep your post-surgery appointments and don’t hesitate to reach out to your surgery team with any questions or concerns along the way. 

If you’re contemplating a tummy tuck, take the first steps by scheduling a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon at the OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare location nearest you in Southern California. 

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