Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) Post-Op Care Patient Q&A

Here are frequently asked questions and answers for patients of the New York Group for Plastic Surgery following abdominoplasty:

Q: How long will I have my drains?

A: Drains are typically in for 7-10 days. Output from drains should be less than 20cc during a 24 hour time period.

Q: How long do I need to wear a compression garment?

A: We typically recommend wearing the garment you are placed in at the time of surgery for 2 weeks. Then you may switch into a SPANX type garment to be worn for 4 to 6 weeks.

Q: When can I begin exercising?

A: You may walk at any point, but strenuous exercise where you may raise your blood pressure should not be done for 2 weeks. After that period, you may begin a brisk walk, but true cardio and weight lifting should not be done until 4-6 weeks out from surgery to prevent damage to the abdominal repair that was completed. (FYI, sex is considered cardio!)

Q: How long will the swelling take to resolve?

A: Swelling typically begins to resolve in the first 2-3 weeks, but can take a full 3 months before it’s completely resolved.

Q: My abdomen and/or scars feel numb, is this normal?

A: Yes. Sensation changes right after surgery are very common. You may experience numbness or tingling all through the abdomen or even an itchy sensation that you just can’t seem to scratch. The areas will return to normal sensation in 6-9 months. You may always have a slight numb feeling to your belly button and/or right around your scarring.

Q: When can I begin using scar treatment remedies like Mederma or silicone scar sheeting?

A: We recommend that you begin this type of treatment once the scar has fully healed, which is typically around 2 weeks after surgery. You may purchase Mederma at any pharmacy and silicone scar sheeting is available for purchase at our office or online. Scar treatment remedies are best used for 6-8 weeks after surgery.

Q: When do I need my sutures (stitches) removed?

A: All of your sutures are internal and will dissolve on their own over 3-6 months. The only sutures that require removal are the ones securing your drains, which are removed when the drains are pulled at 10-14 days after surgery.

Q: When can I drive?

A: You may drive when you are off pain medication and can safely and comfortably maneuver the car; typically this is 10-14 days after surgery.

Q: When can I travel?

A: You may go on long car rides or fly on a plane at 4 weeks after surgery, but you need to get up and walk around every 2-3 hours if possible.

Q: When can I get in a pool, submerge in a bathtub or go to the beach?

A: You may be submerged in water at 3 weeks post-op as long as you don’t have any open wounds. It’s best to wait for 1 month before going in hot tubs because they typically harbor more bacteria than pools.