The recovery time for a tummy tuck can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. However, the final results become clearer in the 6-12 month range post-operatively. This is not a simple procedure; therefore the body will require time and patience to heal properly.
Initially, there will be swelling in the abdomen and possibly throbbing pain that should subdue after the second week. Medication will be given to prevent the pain, and in some cases a pain pump is given in order to numb the area. The excessive pain is due to all the manipulation of the tissues, fat, muscles, and skin in the abdominal area during the operation. Excessive pain prevents the body from healing well, so no one should resist taking these medications prescribed.
Upon leaving the facility, the patient is given a list of instructions regarding how to care for the incision and what medications to take and how often. They are also given information about what symptoms to watch for, and when to call if they appear. It is vital that these directions are followed precisely as they are given to ensure an easy recovery.
During recovery, the bruising, swelling and pain will slowly get better. Itching or tingling may also begin as the nerves reestablish themselves throughout the skin, but this should only last a couple of months post-operatively. Some patients may be concerned because of the swelling, scarring and time needed for a full recovery after the operation. This is a normal feeling, but should be monitored and discussed with their surgeon and the surgical coordinator prior to surgery.
Several postoperative appointments will be scheduled. This allows your plastic surgeon to monitor the recovery process. The first appointment is usually scheduled within the first three to five days following a tummy tuck. Additional appointments may be weekly, then monthly, and then every couple of months usually for the year after the surgery.