Tummy tuck surgery or abdominoplasty requires a relatively long recovery because it involves removing the excess skin and fat and reshaping the abdominal muscle. In fact, the general rule of thumb is to take things slow for at least three weeks to avoid bleeding and healing problems.
In the first three days of recovery, post-op symptom such as pain and swelling is at its highest peak. To help you cope with the discomfort, your doctor will recommend pain catheter and medications.
It is important to note that while pain meds will not completely eliminate all the post-op discomfort, you still have to move around (i.e., short walks several times a day, although you must slightly stoop to prevent tension on the incision site) to avoid blood clots especially in the legs and increased swelling, which could lead to longer recovery.
In case that you are not still ready to take short, gentle walks, at least try to alternate your resting positions to improve blood flow and avoid muscle stiffness.
While pain medications can minimize discomfort, the tradeoff is that you are at risk of constipation. You can avoid this by taking laxatives, eating foods rich in fiber, and drinking plenty of water especially during the first week of your recovery.
Five to seven days after tummy tuck, most of the pain is gone or at least tolerable. This will allow you become more mobile. Nevertheless, a slightly stooped posture at the hip level while walking or standing is still recommended to reduce the tension on the wound.
While it all depends on your level of comfort, take note that a week after tummy tuck most patients no longer need pain catheter and surgical drains, so during this period expect that you can resume most of your light activities. However, you still have to avoid rigorous exercises and heavy lifting, which could affect your healing.
Within a week or so, your posture will be more upright, although it is not uncommon to experience some slight discomfort because of the “tightness.” During this period, you should also increase the duration of your walks, but not to the point that you feel exhausted.
If your job is not physically demanding, you could return to work within two weeks. Just make sure that you avoid heavy lifting and prolonged standing (more than two to three hours).
A month after tummy tuck, you will start to feel normal again. Nevertheless, you should still avoid rigorous exercises and activities for at least another two weeks, or depending on your surgeon’s instructions.