Florence Mussat, M.D.
680 N Lake Shore Dr. #1030 Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 751-9000


Complete Tummy Tuck Recovery Timeline Day by Day

A tummy tuck is one of the most transformative plastic surgery procedures. It can make your midriff look years younger. But it’s also an extensive procedure involving the muscles of your abdomen, and it requires both rest and the right kinds of activity to bounce back. As you consider a tummy tuck or plan for the procedure, it’s a good idea to look ahead to the recovery timeline.

The First Day After Your Tummy Tuck

You’ll need someone to drive you home after the procedure and someone to stay with you there to help with basic tasks. 

Expect to feel some discomfort at first. Your doctor will prescribe appropriate pain medication. You’ll find it difficult to bend at the waist, lift objects, or stand for any length of time. You’ll find it more comfortable to stand with a slight bend at the waist. Right away Some movement will be encouraged, such as a little bit of walking around the house. This activity keeps the tissues from stiffening and tightening. 

You’ll need to rest in an upright position. A comfortable arrangement is to rest with two or three pillows under your head and shoulders and another under your knees.

Days Two and Three

You’ll still need help around the house for the first two or three days of the recovery timeline. You’ll probably need a hand getting up from bed, for example. Continue gentle activity, such as walking around the house, to promote healing. You’ll need to avoid all strenuous activity.

Choose clothes that don’t put any pressure on your belly — robes and dresses rather than pants. You may be given a compression garment to reduce swelling and provide support. An ice compress can help reduce pain and swelling.

If you don’t have drainage tubes, you can take a shower two days after your surgery. Or you may want to take a sponge bath to clean yourself. If you have drainage tubes, showers won’t be allowed until 48 hours after the tubes are removed.

Days Four Through Seven

As you heal, your range of movement will gradually increase, though you’ll still experience some discomfort. Your doctor will instruct you to change your dressings periodically and gently clean the area until the skin is fully healed.

If you’ve had drainage tubes, these will probably be removed toward the end of the first week. Once the holes from the tubes have healed, you’ll be cleared to take showers. If you feel unsteady on your feet, you may want to sit in a chair for showering. 

Drink plenty of water during your recovery, and avoid alcohol and smoking.

Week Two

The dressings will come off after the first week and you’ll be instructed on how to clean and care for the incision to minimize scarring. Expect some continued swelling, but the pain, bruising, and feelings of tightness will begin to fade. You might continue to wear a compression garment through this second week after surgery.

You’ll be able to stand upright more comfortably now, and you’ll be able to drive and do light shopping. If you have an office-type job you should be able to return to work after a week or ten days, though you’ll need to take it easy. If your job has physical demands, plan to take more time off from work.

Continue to avoid strenuous activity and housework.

Weeks Three and Four

You’ll be feeling much better by this stage of the recovery timeline, and can gradually resume light exercise following your doctor’s guidance. Heavy lifting, including lifting and carrying young children, is still off-limits.

Continue to follow your doctor’s instructions for cleaning and treating the incision to minimize scarring. That will include avoiding exposure to the sun.

Six to Eight Weeks After Surgery

Most of the swelling will be gone by now. You’ll be able to resume normal levels activity, including more strenuous exercise. Follow your doctor’s guidance and pay close attention to how your body feels as you start to use your stomach muscles more vigorously. Sit-ups and weight lifting may take a little more time.

Get a Free Professional Consultation

Dr. Florence Mussat is a board-certified plastic surgeon in downtown Chicago. Call our office at (312) 751-9000 today or contact us online to schedule a personal consultation and find out if a tummy tuck might be right for you.