What to Expect after a Tummy Tuck

shutterstock_113243173Getting a tummy tuck can be an exciting moment in a person’s life. The procedure can transform a flabby stomach into a toned, flat midsection by removing excess skin and fat and repairing separated stomach muscles. However, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations. A tummy tuck won’t give you an instant six-pack or remove your love handles. Learning about what to expect during the first few days and weeks after your procedure can help prepare you for the best results.


A tummy tuck is an outpatient procedure, so it’s important that you arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery. Your surgeon will fit you with a surgical binder, which helps to reduce swelling and promote healing. You’ll wear this compression garment for the first several weeks of recovery. The swelling should gradually resolve over 6 to 8 weeks.

Recommended Activity

In the first few days, your stomach will feel sore and tight, which will limit your mobility. You may need help getting up from a seated position. Discomfort is typically managed with pain medication. It’s important to get up regularly and move around to keep your blood circulating. Gentle activities are recommended, but you should avoid extended walks, vigorous activity and heavy lifting. You should be able to return to most normal activities within 6 weeks.

Drain Care and Scar Management

Depending upon the technique used for your tummy tuck, you may have a drain attached to your surgical site. If you don’t have a drainless tummy tuck, you will need to regularly empty these drains and keep a log that tracks date, time and amount of fluid. Most people begin scar management about 7 to 10 days following surgery using a special cream that helps the incision to heal and minimizes the scar.

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What to Expect after a Tummy Tuck
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What to Expect after a Tummy Tuck
Nashville board-certified plastic surgeon and abdominoplasty specialist Dr. Alexander Nein offers a helpful list of things to expect after a tummy tuck.
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Dr. Alexander Nein
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