The Skinny on Tummy Tuck Recovery

A tummy tuck at our Toronto plastic surgery center can be a truly transformative procedure. It can correct sagging skin by smoothing out the abdomen and tightening abdominal muscles. An important part of preparing for surgery is learning about the recovery process. In this post we will provide tummy tuck post-operative care instructions and address common recovery concerns.

Post-Op Care

  • After surgery, you must wear clean bandages over the incision and under any compression garments. When you come in for surgery and post-op appointments, I will give you a definitive timeline of when you should change your bandages. As the incision heals, you will gradually need less bandaging. Typically, the outer edges of the incision heal before the center.
  • We often use surgical drains to reduce fluid buildup in the lower abdominal area. I will check the drains at a follow-up visit within the first few days after surgery. The drains will be removed when fluid output has reached a low and consistent level.
  • It is common for patients to feel some soreness or stiffness after surgery. However, any discomfort can be managed with prescription pain medication.


  • Showering will help keep your incision area clean as well as help you relax and rest during your recovery. However, you should not shower directly after surgery. I recommend that patients wait at least 48 hours after surgery before showering. Be gentle during your showers—do not vigorously clean or apply pressure to your incision area. Additionally, you may gently pat your incision with a towel after your shower, but do not rub.
  • Many patients become constipated after surgery, and this occurs for several reasons. Pain medication can slow down your bowels, and you also may be drinking less water, which can make you slightly dehydrated and constipated. During recovery you may be walking less than normal, which has the effect of slowing down your bowels. To help with constipation, I recommend a gentle stool softener. Do not strain or push as it can damage your tummy tuck.


  • Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy, balanced diet. It is important to stay away from foods with high sodium because they can increase swelling. You should also avoid foods that can cause gas, such as carbonated drinks. Alcohol is not recommended during recovery as it will thin your blood and make it harder for your body to heal. Alcohol also can interact poorly with your pain medication.

Physical Activity

  • Although you may return to work after about 2 to 3 weeks, you’ll likely need to wear a special support garment for a bit longer to support your abdomen as it continues to heal. If your job requires strenuous activity, you may need to take off additional time.
  • I recommend that you begin walking within the first few days to promote good blood circulation. After a few weeks you may begin light cardio exercises, such as cycling and using an elliptical machine. Over time you can slowly incorporate more exercises into your routine. However, listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard in the beginning.
  • You should abstain from sex for about 4 weeks after surgery. It is important to keep your heart rate and blood pressure down and to not stretch the incision site for the first few weeks. Ignoring these post-op guidelines can put you at risk for complications.

Overall, it is important to use your recovery time for rest. I know it may be hard to commit to your recovery, but in the long run, the results will be worth it. If you want to get an idea of your tummy tuck potential, visit our gallery of before and after photos.

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