Recovery after Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty

Timeline and Tips for Recovery after Abdominoplasty Surgery

  • How much effort is required for recovery after a tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty surgery?
  • What precautions are needed during recovery after abdominoplasty?
  • When can you get back to work and exercise after the abdominoplasty?

An abdominoplasty procedure is very popular body surgery. Losing a significant amount of weight or going through multiple pregnancies can leave you with saggy skin folds on the abdomen. This saggy skin can be removed during the abdominoplasty procedure and the abdominal muscles can be strengthened. The procedure will leave you with a more toned abdomen and a scar that can be easily hidden in your underwear or your bikini bottoms. 

Specialist Plastic Surgeon, Dr Michael Kernohan is a highly experienced plastic surgeon and performs Abdominoplasty in Sydney Southwest Suburbs and the Southern Highlands.

Click to Download Dr Michael Kernohan Excess Skin Reduction Guide

Guide Excess Skin Reduction

UPDATE – New 30175 Medicare Item Number to subsidise some Tummy Tucks/ Abdominoplasties

LATEST NEWS – The Australian Government has reinstated a Medicare Item Number for a Tummy Tuck/ abdominoplasty for some post-pregnancy patients suffering from Diastasis Recti (Split Tummy Muscles) if you are eligible and meet the new criteria. This 30175 Medicare Item Number – was effective 1st July 2022. Read the 30175 Medicare Item Number factsheet.

IF you qualify for the 30175 Medicare item number you may also get a subsidy from your Health Fund. There will still be a significant out-of-pocket GAP as Private Tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty surgery is NOT FREE. There is NO Free Tummy Tuck/ abdominoplasty Surgery available with Dr Kernohan.

Getting Optimal Results after Abdominoplasty

The results of the abdominoplasty procedure depend on the skill of your surgeon, your health, and how well you take care of yourself during the recovery period. If you don’t follow the surgeon’s recommendations during the recovery period the results of your surgery can be affected. Your recovery period can make or break the results of your procedure. 

About the Recovery after Abdominoplasty

The recovery period after an abdominoplasty procedure is the same as the recovery period for most elective cosmetic surgery procedures. Your full recovery period can take between six to eight weeks, by the end of which you should be able to resume your daily life activities.

The recovery period is marked by swelling and discomfort which will subside on its own by the end of the first two weeks. There may be slight swelling after that, however, it is not as noticeable. Moreover, you can take pain management medications and antibiotics during the first couple of weeks to help you with the side effects of the abdominoplasty procedure.

Take Your Medications

Regularly taking the antibiotics prescribed by Dr Kernohan is important as they help prevent infections that can cause several further complications such as exaggerated scarring, wound separation, and prolonged healing of the wounds. 

Wear Your Garments

You should wear a compression garment throughout your recovery period to prevent fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. The compression belts are also helpful. It is best to wear it every day, only taking it off to shower, especially during the first couple of weeks of the recovery period. 

Avoid Smoking, Vaping and Drinking Alcohol

Another important thing to focus on during the recovery period is avoiding drinking and smoking, completely. You should especially refrain from drinking when you are taking the prescribed antibiotics as they may interact with each other and increase the severity of side effects of the antibiotics or reduce their efficiency overall. Abstain from smoking completely as the risk of wound infection increases significantly with smoking. 

Going Back to the Gym

You should be able to go back to the gym for light exercise by around six weeks to eight weeks. However, it is worth mentioning that the final results of the procedure may not be apparent right away. In fact, they may take up to six months to be completely visible. Some of the side effects of the procedure may also persist during this period, however, they are almost all temporary meaning that they will subside eventually. 

Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Recovery Timeline

The recovery timeline for the procedure is as follows:

·       First 24 Hours

You should be resting. It is not recommended to shower or move about too much. You will also have difficulty going to the toilet or standing up straight. Your appetite might also be reduced. 

·       At 48 Hours

Resting is still important. You may be able to shower after 36 hours. Constipation may occur. To prevent this, you should hydrate well and eat foods rich in fibre. You may still be hunched over, and your appetite most probably hasn’t returned. Move gently to avoid the chances of a clot or DVT forming.

·       First Week

By the end of this period, you should be able to walk properly, although it is not recommended to go overboard with exercise. Just walk gently around. Your constipation should have resolved and your appetite is bound to have returned. You can go back to work during this stage if you are working an office desk job. You should also sleep on your back during this period, so as to not put any pressure on the incisions. It might also be helpful to avoid sleeping with others as a way to avoid injuring yourself during the night.  

·       Week 2 to Week 4

During this period, you are allowed to do light exercises like taking a brisk walk, moving about in your personal space, and doing simple feet exercises. It is not recommended to do any strenuous exercises that put pressure on your incisions as your body is still healing.

·       Week 6 to Week 8

This is the last stage of your recovery period and is often marked by starting to resume your daily life activities. You can begin your workouts after this period, including intensive physical workouts as your body has mostly healed. Start gently and watch for any pain. Swelling, discomfort, and bruising should have subsided by now, although you may not be able to see complete results of the surgery. 


Best Tips for Recovery after Abdominoplasty Surgery

You will receive a list of recommendations for your recovery period that you should follow closely. Apart from that, here are some tips to help you throughout your recovery period:

  • Keep yourself hydrated. Dehydrated skin cannot heal properly and this will impair the wound healing process
  • Rest as much as you can. Take some time off work and rest so that your body can focus all of its energy on healing from the complex surgical procedure
  • Get some Support – You will need some help or support around the house from someone who really cares and is an emotional support. (You can hire a support nurse if you need to)
  • Be prepared in advance . Have everything ready for your recovery period before you go for the surgery so you come back to a comfortable spot for resting. You should also keep all food and toiletries close by so you don’t have to move about
  • Wear your compression garment regularly as it will help you avoid several complications

FAQS – Questions about Recovery after Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty

  How long does it take to heal after abdominoplasty?

  • Abdominoplasty or a tummy tuck procedure is a complex cosmetic surgery procedure. The recovery can take anywhere between four to eight weeks. However, this is not the amount of time it will take for you to be able to see the final results of the procedure. It can take up to three to six months for the final results to become visible

How long does tightness last after abdominoplasty?

  • A feeling of tightness may persist during your recovery period and may even last for six to 12 weeks. This is a normal occurrence after your abdominoplasty procedure and is not a cause for concern.

What is the fastest way to recover after a tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty?

  • Getting enough rest, avoiding putting any pressure on the incisions, and generally refraining from alcohol and smoking can help speed up your recovery period. However, try to give your body enough time to heal from the complex surgical procedure that is abdominoplasty. Speed is not the aim here, but rather how well your body heals and how well the results look. 

How bad is the pain after a tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty?

  • The procedure is followed by the recovery period which is marked by swelling, bruising, and discomfort. However, these symptoms can be easily managed by pain medication prescribed by your surgeon or over-the-counter painkillers. The pain will subside by the end of the first week of your recovery period although, there might be some discomfort through the rest of your recovery period.

Why is my stomach still big after an abdominoplasty?

  • There may be some swelling around your belly after the procedure. Your stomach may seem big but it is due to the swelling that will eventually subside.

What happens if you don’t wear a compression garment after a tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty?

  • A compression garment is meant to help support the abdomen. It also helps prevent fluid accumulation, to reduce post-abdominoplasty swelling. Not wearing a compression garment could increase the risk of excessive swelling or seroma after the surgery and impair the final results of your procedure. Please wear your garment as instructed.

When can I sleep on my side after an abdominoplasty?

  • You can sleep on your side after a couple of weeks after the procedure. It is best to initially sleep on your back and alone, so as to avoid putting any pressure on the incisions. 

Does a tummy tuck / abdominoplasty lift your pubic area?

  • An abdominoplasty works on your abdominal region, specifically the midsection and lower abdominal region. While it enhances the natural contours of your belly, it can have a minimal effect the pubic area unless you specifically request extra mons liposuction. 

How do you poop after an abdominoplasty?

  • You may experience constipation for a few days after the procedure, which may add to the discomfort you feel during the first week of recovery. You can avoid this by eating a diet rich in fibre or using stool softeners. It is quite important that you do not strain your abdominal muscles in an attempt to defecate as this can put too much pressure on your incisions. Using a toilet booster seat may also be helpful with defecation and urinating, as getting low enough to sit on the toilet seat may be difficult. 

How long is the tummy swollen after a tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty?

  • The swelling will subside on its own by the end of the first couple of weeks of the recovery period. 

Can you gain belly fat after a tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty?

  • Yes, you can gain weight after abdominoplasty. This will stretch your skin, hence ruining the results of your procedure. While minor weight fluctuations are fine, it is not recommended to gain or lose a significant amount of weight. 

How long do you walk hunched over after a tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty?

  • Walking about or standing straight right after the procedure is difficult and not recommended. In fact, you should spend the first week of the recovery period walking with the back slightly bent forward for a couple of minutes at a time, making sure to not put pressure on the incisions. Eventually, you will be able to stand straight.

Further Reading about Tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty

Further Reading – Medical References about Recovery after Abdominoplasty Tummy Tuck Surgery