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Tummy Tuck Before and After PhotosAs a major surgery, abdominoplasty has a recovery period, and like all major surgeries, this recovery period will require you to take some time off from “normal life” while your body heals. The best way to prepare for this procedure is to know what to expect for your tummy tuck recovery. Once your body has healed, you will be able to jump back into your normal activities with a new appreciation and admiration for your recently improved and better-contoured abdomen.

What to Expect

The following descriptions are generalized for the average patient. Dr. Pollack can provide you with more detailed expectations based on your health and your surgery techniques. While your recovery experience may vary, this guideline will give you an idea of what you might expect.

  • Bruising and Redness: These will typically subside after one to two weeks.
  • Swelling: Cold compresses and compression garments can help minimize swelling. Much of the swelling will subside by six weeks after the procedure. Some residual swelling may take as long as six months to one year to resolve.
  • Soreness and Discomfort: Oral pain medications can reduce discomfort and soreness while the body heals. Dr. Pollack will also offer you EXPAREL®, an optional, long-lasting local anesthetic that can help you stay comfortable. Soreness may continue for several weeks but typically diminishes beginning sometime during the second week of recovery.
  • A Need for Rest: You should expect to need lots of rest but be willing to walk around and engage in light activities to promote circulation. Resting from regular exercise is especially important until your body heals.
  • Necessary Time Off Work: You will need to take time off from work. This timeline can vary from patient to patient. For the sake of your health, be willing to follow your surgeon’s recommendations on how long to wait before returning to work.

Important Timelines

  • Returning to Work: Most patients can go back to work within two weeks after surgery, but patients plan to take three weeks in many cases. If your job is labor intensive, you may need to plan for a longer leave of absence.
  • Resuming Exercise: Most patients can resume regular exercise (other than walking, which should be resumed sooner) somewhere between four to six weeks after the surgery. Every new activity should be introduced gradually, and you should not expect that you will be able to pick up right where you left off. The healing process takes a lot out of the body, so exercise should be reintroduced in stages, saving intense abdominal exercises for last after you have already reintroduced your other preferred exercise routines.

Possible Complications

Most patients have few (if any) complications after a tummy tuck, but it is best to be armed with the knowledge of what could possibly happen so that you know how to respond if it does. Because the procedure is conducted under general anesthesia, it can cause complications such as nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, etc. during the hours after the procedure. Your risk of surgical complications is generally low. The list includes complications such as bleeding, infection, seromas (excess fluid buildup), blood clots, numbness, poor healing, and scarring. If you experience any of these complications, call Dr. Pollack or emergency medical services right away and you will be taken care of.

Recovery After Full vs. Mini Tummy Tuck

The above recovery descriptions are for patients who undergo traditional abdominoplasty. Patients who receive a mini tummy tuck may have a somewhat shorter and easier recovery. With a mini tummy tuck, the procedure is less invasive, which means that patients may heal more quickly and be able to resume normal activities sooner than they would after a full tummy tuck.


Tummy tuck surgery is an exciting experience that can reshape your abdominal contours to restore the youthful and firm waistline you’ve been dreaming of. Dr. Pollack will be happy to answer all your questions during your , one-on-one consultation with him. To book your appointment, please call 858-450-9100 or contact us online today.