How Long Is the Recovery After a Tummy Tuck?

Over the years, you’ve put your abs through the ringer. You’ve lost and gained weight, had one or more babies, and maybe had a C-section or other surgical procedure. If you find that your skin and muscles no longer bounce back, you can blame these life events plus the natural aging process and genetics.

The good news is you don’t have to accept a saggy stomach. Abdominoplasty, commonly called a tummy tuck, performed by a skilled specialist like Dr. Kiran Polavarapu can transform your abs and restore the sleeker, tighter tummy of your youth. 

At Polavarapu Plastic Surgery in Fort Worth, Texas, Dr. Polavarapu is known for her expert skills, precise technique, natural results, and personal approach. If you’re considering a tummy tuck, she guides you through the procedure, making sure you know all your options, including the risks and benefits. 

Although tummy tucks are increasingly popular — nearly 98,000 were performed last year alone — one of the most important but most overlooked aspects of any surgical procedure is the recovery period. Here, Dr. Polavarapu explains what you can expect after your tummy tuck.

Recovering from a tummy tuck

Every tummy tuck is different. Dr. Polavarapu customizes your procedure to meet your goals and accommodate your unique body features. It stands to reason, though, that the more you have done, the longer it will take you to recover. 

On average, it takes 2-6 weeks of downtime after a tummy tuck procedure before you’re able to go back to work and resume normal daily activities. Several factors influence this, including:

You may get to go home a few hours after your abdominoplasty, or you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days. Dr. Polavarapu lets you know what to expect at your consultation. 

Whether you have to lay low for a couple of weeks or a couple of months, there are some experiences common to all or most tummy tuck patients.


Depending on your tolerance level, you may classify your post-operative feelings as discomfort or outright pain. This is normal, as you have just undergone major surgery. You can expect this to last for the first few days, and Dr. Polavarapu prescribes pain medication to keep you comfortable.

Surgical dressing

To keep your incision clean and infection-free, we dress it with a sterile bandage. You may notice a bit of blood or other fluid on the gauze. This is to be expected, but if it seems excessive, or it’s discolored or foul-smelling, contact us right away.

Compression wrap

Dr. Polavarapu may apply a supportive wrap around your abdomen to keep it stable and prevent the stitches from pulling. This may be in place when you awake from your surgery.

Drainage tubes

In some cases, drainage tubes are necessary to allow excess fluid to escape the surgical area freely so they don’t fill up your abdominal cavity. We remove these when they’ve served their purpose. 


To minimize your chance of infection while your incision heals, we prescribe an antibiotic until the risk has passed. 

Limited activity

During your abdominoplasty, Dr. Polavarapu rearranged your insides: she tightened and repositioned your muscles with sutures, removed excess fat and skin, separated skin from muscles, and may have even moved your belly button. So, for the first few days and weeks, it’s important to minimize the stress and strain on your abdomen.

Avoid extensive movement. Prop up some pillows behind your head and under your knees to reduce pressure on your tummy. Use your arms and legs rather than your core abdominal muscles as much as possible. 

But don’t stay completely sedentary. It’s important to get up and walk around a little bit to keep your blood circulating well. This also promotes the healing process. 

Full recovery

Everyone recovers at a different pace, so don’t compare yourself to others. Dr. Polavarapu can give you a general idea of when you can return to work and become more active again, but consider your timeline fluid.

Once you reach the point where you can move around without pain, and your incision has mostly healed, you still may experience lingering issues, such as a tightness in your tummy when you stand up straight, or numbness at your incision site. Talk to Dr. Polavarapu about all your symptoms and concerns at your follow-up appointments so she can let you know if they are a normal part of healing or medical issues.

If you follow our post-operative care instructions carefully, you can get back to your normal routine in about 2-4 weeks and expect to be fully recovered in a few months. 

If you’re ready to transform your midsection with a tummy tuck, schedule a consultation with Dr. Polavarapu today. Book online, or call us at 817-615-8576. 

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