Tummy Tuck Recovery, Risks and Complications

Tummy tuck recovery takes a while...and it can hurt! What are the tummy tuck complications you need to know about if you're considering this type of plastic surgery?


You probably know what a tummy tuck is. Here's what happens after you've had the operation.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Time

Most surgeons advise patients to allow six weeks for a full recovery. Some patients will feel back to 100% before this - but if complications arise, recovery can take longer. During this six weeks you'll need to avoid any vigorous physical activity.

In all honesty, you can expect the first one to two weeks to be a fairly painful experience. At this point the abdomen will be bruised and swollen, so small movements can be very painful. You will be given painkillers for this period, but don't expect them to completely eliminate the pain.

One tummy tuck patient quoted in the UK Daily Mail, described her third day after surgery: 'The pressure on my tummy is so intense I can't breathe properly and have to take shallow panting breaths. Coughing is out of the question and I live in mortal fear of a sneeze.'

By five weeks though, she was back to strenuous sport and living a normal life - but bear in mind that she was fit and active before the surgery and only overweight around the tummy area.

This operation is only suitable for people who are not seriously overweight, and ideally are already eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, habits you'll need to continue to get the best out of your plastic surgery.

Another part of recovery is the support garment or "corset" you'll need to wear to hold your body's new shape. You'll need to keep it on from anywhere from one to six weeks, depending on how quickly your body heals.

Tummy Tuck Recovery: Side Effects

Bruising and tenderness can last for over a month following the procedure. There are also potential psychological side effects and while it should give you a much more positive self-image, some patients also feel a sense of guilt at achieving a better body without "working" for it.

As well as swelling that can last several months, you'll also have scars from the procedure. These will diminish over time, but never disappear completely. A good surgeon will make incisions in the right places to leave the smallest scars possible.

Also, because the procedure involves removing some nerve tissue, you're likely to experience numbness in your abdomen for several months after the procedure. New nerves should grow eventually though, so this numbness is usually not permanent - but in some cases it lasts a lifetime.

You can expect to be off work for a minimum of two weeks, but more likely closer to four.

Tummy Tuck Complications

Many people only think about the cost of tummy tuck when deciding whether to go for it. But before you can truly make an informed decision about whether or not to have a tummy tuck as a part of your fight against menopausal weight gain, you need to understand what can go wrong. Problems can include:

  • Internal bleeding - this could need more surgery to fix
  • Infection - one of the more common complications that arises after surgery. You'll probably be put on antibiotics.
  • Deformity - your stomach could end up appearing uneven after the procedure, and some patients even lose their belly button. Some patients also experience unusually prominent and red scars, which can be improved by treatment but may never disappear altogether

Ultimately, talk to a surgeon to help you asses the risks, and ask yourself how much it means to you to have a flat belly, and whether you're happy to cope with a tummy tuck recovery.

Go from Tummy Tuck Recovery to What Is A Tummy Tuck.

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