A tummy tuck surgery or abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure that removes extra tissue from the abdomen, typically after weight loss or pregnancy. The surgery is focused on removing excess skin and fat from the tummy area. A full Abdominoplasty with muscle repair can also restore weak abdominal muscles for both men and women. If you are dealing with excess or loose skin around the tummy area, abdominoplasty surgery could be an option. You should note that your recovery is vital to your abdominoplasty results.
Guide to Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
Reasons for Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Surgery
Below are some of the top reasons for the surgery:
- Repair of muscle separation which can occur after pregnancy
- Removal of excess skin after weight loss
- Removal of fat deposits that don’t respond to healthy exercise and diet
- Treatment of skin irritation caused by excess skin
Tips for Recovery after Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
The length of the recovery period is different from person to person. Generally, it will take most patients 3 months to recover completely after an abdominoplasty. The majority of the discomfort should be gone within the first few weeks of the surgery. It is important to hold off strenuous physical activities during the recovery phase. Vigourous Exercise and Activities such as weightlifting, running, sports, and motorbikes must be avoided for six weeks or more after the treatment. Always consult your surgeon before starting these activities.
Things to keep in mind after the surgery:
Most Importantly – Do Not Smoke, Vape or Take Recreational Drugs during your recovery period. Bad things can happen, your wound could become infected, split open (dehiscence) or your skin could die (skin Necrosis).
· Adopt a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle – Nutrition before and after surgery
Good Nutrition is vital for good results and helps the healing process during recovery. Eat well in the months before surgery. Organise and prepare healthy nutritious meals in advance that are low in sodium and loaded with fibre & protein. Excess sodium can lead to fluid retention and prolonged swelling. Drink enough water to keep your body well-hydrated and kick-start the healing process.
· Wear your Support & Compression Garments
You will be asked to wear a compression garment for a specified time duration post-surgery. It helps reduce post-operative swelling and offers adequate support to the abdomen. Post-surgical garments help promote healing and recovery. Make sure to wear it for at least the first four weeks or as instructed by your surgeon.
· Incision Care
Your incisions will be covered by a surgical dressing and bandage to offer protection against the external environment. Your surgeon will guide you regarding wound care. Keep the wounds clean and dry at all times and be very gentle. If you experience abnormal swelling, intense pain, and discharge, immediately get in touch with your medical team. Avoid hot baths until the incisions heal.
· Wound Drain Care (if req)
In some cases, a temporary drain tube will be placed near the surgical site to get rid of the excess fluid. It is used as required. Take care of it properly and empty out the drains as instructed by your surgeon
· Medications – Antibiotics and Painkillers
You will be prescribed medication, including antibiotics and painkillers. It is important to take them as directed and on time to reduce discomfort, minimise pain, and reduce the risk of post-operative swelling.
What to Expect with Recovery after Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Surgery
Here is a timeline to follow post-surgery and suggested activities after the surgery
Week 1 to 2 Post Tummy Tuck – abdominoplasty
It is very important to wear your compression garment for the first four to six weeks post-surgery. For the first two weeks, you will be required to wear it 24/7. A compression garment helps minimise swelling and improves the results of the surgery. Make sure to gently walk around the house for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day. It helps prevent blood-clot formation and can improve blood circulation.
Week 3 to 4 Post Tummy Tuck- abdominoplasty
Continue with light walking. You can also begin with cycling on a stationary bike. Stay clear of all sorts of strenuous exercises and workouts that target your abdominal muscles. These include sit-ups, crunches and heavy lifting. Before starting any kind of workout, get your surgeon’s approval and ensure it is suitable for you. Do not go to the gym just yet.
Week 4 to 6 Post Tummy Tuck – abdominoplasty
Most patients can start low-impact exercise routines if your surgeon approves. Generally, low-impact aerobics, long walks, low weights, and gentle Pilates movements can be resumed now.
Week 6 to 8 Post Tummy Tuck – abdominoplasty
Most patients are able to do all sorts of activities at this point during the recovery phase. Moderate swimming, running outside, and walking on a treadmill helps. You can also start incorporating body strengthening exercises. Avoid putting excessive strain on the incision site. Don’t try to get back to your busy routine and exercise program immediately. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to exercising post-surgery.
Week 8 Post Abdominoplasty
If you are healing well, your surgeon may give you permission to resume your full exercise routine. It is important to avoid martial arts, boxing, Cross Fit, F45 and anything of similar intensity. You have to wait at least three months before resuming high-intensity activities in the gym or at work.
Driving Post Abdominoplasty Surgery
You need to take at least two weeks off from work after the abdominoplasty surgery. This will give you enough time to rest and recover. The recovery varies from person to person and each individual will recover at a different pace. It is important to be very patient with yourself and follow your surgeon’s instructions as closely as possible.
It is important to avoid driving post-surgery during the initial four weeks as it can put a strain on your incisions and internal wounds. Here are a few reasons to avoid driving:
- You will NOT be able to drive once you are discharged from the hospital as you will still be under the effects of anaesthesia (Someone responsible will be needed to drive you home)
- The surgery can lead to some pain and exhaustion and driving immediately post the surgery can be dangerous for you.
- Even a bit of pressure on your incision site could lead to increased discomfort and can cause pain, a seroma or delayed healing
If you are able to sit comfortably in a car, open the door without trouble, don’t experience any rubbing or pressure due to the seatbelt, are able to turn the wheel comfortably, and are able to make an emergency stop in case of a sharp turn or to prevent accidents, you should be OK for driving but always check with your surgeon.
Swimming after Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery
You must recover fully before you start swimming again. In most cases, your surgeon will allow you to resume swimming once the initial 8 weeks have passed. If you start too soon, you can increase the risk of wound infections. Open incisions will allow the germs to seep through and make you more prone to nasty infections. It can further lead to the splitting of incision sites which leads to delayed wound healing, bad scarring and complications.
During the first few months, you need to be cautious while taking a bath. The goal is to keep your incisions clean and dry at all times till your incisions heal fully. Always consult Dr Hunt prior to resuming swimming, diving in hot tubs, going to saunas and even taking hot baths.
Intimacy and Sex after Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery
The abdominoplasty surgery not only involves the removal of fat and skin but can also include the stitching of abdominal muscles. You will have sutures and incisions and your skin will be quite tender. That is why the recommendation is to avoid sexual activities post-surgery until you feel comfortable. As a standard guideline, you will be asked to avoid sexual intercourse for a minimum of four to six weeks. Just be gentle!
Make sure to consult your surgeon’s team in this regard if you want to avoid complications.
Dos and Don’ts Regarding Your Recovery after Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty surgery
Here is a list of dos regarding abdominoplasty surgery:
- Follow all your surgeons instructions
- Take your medications as directed on time
- Wear your supportive garments for the specified time frame
- Wear comfortable and breathable clothing that is easy to take on and off
- Walk around the house for 10 to 15 minutes every few hours while awake
- Attend all your follow up surgeon appointments
- Contact your surgeon or medical advisor if you suspect an infection
The outcomes shown are only relevant for this patient and do not necessarily reflect the results other patients may experience, as results may vary due to many factors including the individual’s genetics, diet and exercise.
Here is a list of don’ts:
- Don’t smoke, vape, take recreational drugs or drink during the healing phase as it can trigger complications
- Do take over the counter drugs, herbal supplements and blood-thinning medication unless instructed by your surgeon
- Avoid foods that are high in sodium or low in protein
- Avoid caffeinated beverages
- Do not overexert your body and always get a confirmation from your surgeon prior to returning to your exercise routine
- Do not swim, drive, and engage in sexual activities during the first few weeks post-op
FAQs about Recovery after Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery
Here is a list of frequently asked questions we get regarding the recovery:
What are the restrictions after an abdominoplasty?
Your initial recovery period is 2 to 3 weeks long. During this time, you need to rest as much as possible. It will help minimise bruising/swelling and complications. Some of the key restrictions right after abdominoplasty surgery include:
- Avoid heavy lifting as it can put pressure on your incisions
- Stay clear of strenuous physical activities that can cause your heart rate to go up
- Avoid swimming and driving till Dr Hunt gives you a go
- Take two to three weeks off from work
- Do not smoke or drink
- Avoid blood-thinning medications and herbal supplements
What happens two weeks after a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty?
- By the end of the two-week mark, most of swelling and bruising will subside significantly. Most of the discomfort is also gone by this point. However, you are in the initial stages of recovery and need to be very careful. Keep on taking the prescribed meds, listen to your surgeon’s instructions, and pay attention to incisions care.
How soon can I drive after an abdominoplasty?
- You will need to take time off from work during the recovery phase. There is no rush to get behind the wheel. Dr Hunt will advise you to wait for a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks before you start driving again. This will give your body enough time to heal, prevent pressure on the incision site, and allow you to recover smoothly.
What are some of the possible complications of abdominoplasty surgery?
- Bad scarring, excessive bleeding, infection, fluid build-up, slow healing of your incision, blood clots, lack of feeling around your incision, and uneven or lopsided swelling are some of the possible complications of abdominoplasty surgery.
Further Reading about Dr Hunt’s Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery
- Read Dr Hunt’s Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Belt Lipectomy page
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog on Bruising and Swelling after Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog on Benefits of Lymphatic Massage after Plastic Surgery
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog on Exercising After Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery
- See Dr Hunt’s Real Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Patients Before and After Photos
Medical References about Recovery after Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery
- What you need to know about your abdominoplasty recovery on ASPS
- Tummy tuck abdominoplasty on Mayo Clinic site
- What to Know About Recovery from a Tummy Tuck Abdominoplasty on WebMD
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Plastic Surgeon
He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing plastic surgery in Sydney.
Careful, considerate and honest, Dr Jeremy Hunt works with you to find a solution that is suitable for your body and your lifestyle. Every patient is unique and requires a personalised approach to reach their goals.
Dr Hunt has provided his one-on-one service and attention to detail to thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A. Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from well-established and experienced plastic surgeons.
Next Step – Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Want more information before scheduling your consultation?
- Find out more about pricing, medical payment plans and paying for your surgery
- Request more information about the procedure – call on 1300 157 200 or contact us
If blepharoplasty is something you’re considering, Dr Hunt can thoroughly explain all the options to you in a one-on-one consultation.
- Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.