When considering a tummy tuck, one of the most prevalent concerns people have is the post-op discomfort level. A tummy tuck creates dramatic improvements in the body, but it is also an invasive procedure that requires some downtime for recovery. Your decision of whether a tummy tuck is right for you may be weighed by a very natural question: How painful is tummy tuck recovery, exactly?
In this blog post, we’ll answer a few common questions about post-tummy tuck discomfort to help you understand what to expect during the recovery process.
How much does tummy tuck recovery hurt?
As with any surgery, it’s normal to experience some discomfort during the first few days post-op. This is typically well managed with medication.
Along with general fatigue, expect some soreness in the abdomen and sensitivity around your incisions, especially when they are stressed. If your tummy tuck included a repair of stretched abdominal muscles (diastasis recti), your lower abdomen might also feel a bit tight.
Will I have pain medication prescribed after a tummy tuck?
Yes. We will prescribe pain medication for your initial tummy tuck recovery. You can pick these up in advance so you have them as soon as you arrive home from your surgery.
After a few days to a week, most people find they can comfortably switch to over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®).
Is it hard to stand up straight after a tummy tuck?
Tightness in your lower abdomen after a muscle repair may give you some difficulty standing up straight for the first 2 weeks. Your range of motion will gradually improve over this time as your muscles settle and adjust to their new positioning.
You will likely have trouble lying down flat, so we recommend sleeping in a recliner or propping up on pillows for the first couple of weeks. This will help with swelling, minimize stress on your muscles and incisions, and make it easier for you to transition from reclining to standing.
When will I feel back to normal after a tummy tuck?
Most people return to work and other daily activities after 1 to 2 weeks. After the first few days, your energy levels will pick back up and you’ll start to feel more like your usual self again.
Studies have shown it’s a great idea to take short, light walks as soon as you can to promote healthy circulation and keep yourself active. It takes about 6 weeks to resume your full exercise routine and other physical activities. Be careful not to push yourself too far, too fast.
How long does tummy tuck swelling last?
Most swelling subsides within the first 2 months. However, it may take about 6 months to a year for the last bit of residual swelling to resolve completely, revealing your final result of a sculpted new abdomen.
You’ll wear a compression garment for the first 4 weeks, which helps reduce swelling and gives your abdomen a shapely contour.
To see examples of the results you can expect at the end of your tummy tuck journey, please visit our before-and-after photo gallery.