Category Archives: post operative

Recovery after Tummy Tuck Surgery

copy-SurgicalArtistry_womanlogo-original-smaller.jpgWe get this very important question a lot.  In fact after “how much does a tummy tuck cost,” our next most common question is “what’s the recovery like after tummy tuck.”

This is a difficult question because of the complexities of the surgery and the uniqueness of each patient.  In fact there are several different types of tummy tucks too.  But I’ll try to simplify the answers as much as possible.

Disclaimer: please talk to your plastic surgeon in person.  My answers here are based on discussions with our Modesto Plastic Surgeon:  Dr. Tammy Wu.


There’s recovery factors of pain

Patients usually are somewhat uncomfortable and taking pain killers for about 2 weeks after the procedure.  We do encourage the use of a pain pump after surgery which will lessen the worst part of the pain after surgery which is the first few days after the tummy tuck surgery.

When can one drive after Tummy Tuck surgery

Basically when one doesn’t feel the pain and is off the pain killers.  Plus one would need unrestricted movement so that one can see around the car.  Thus for most patients it’s about 3 weeks after the tummy tuck surgery – but everyone is different.  But if it’s driving a vehicle that requires much getting in and out of the car – such as a forklift – one would usually want to wait 6 weeks.  Getting in and out of a vehicle requires activation of core muscles which could potentially disrupt tummy tuck sutures.  See what I mean about this being a complex question with complex answers?

When can one go back to work after Tummy Tuck surgery?

  • Desk work only:  2-3 weeks.
  • Heavy lifting greater than 10 pounds: 6 weeks.

These are just rough guidelines.

When can one go back to lifting greater than 10 lbs?

After 6 weeks.

When can one go back to doing core exercises such as sit ups?

After 6 weeks.

What exercises can I do during the first 6 weeks after a Tummy Tuck?

Mainly walking.  In fact we encourage walking the day of your tummy tuck surgery – the same day – after the surgery.

See explanations at these valuable posts we made regarding core exercises, lifting, and going to work after Tummy Tuck Surgery:

So quick answers to the question: What’s the Recovery like after Tummy Tuck?

  • Back to desk work in 2-3 weeks
  • Back to usual activity lifting more than 10 lbs and exercising again in 6 weeks.

Please see us or your tummy tuck plastic surgeon to discuss your individual case.  Above info is just a generallization.

Dr. Tammy Wu & Dr. Calvin Lee.   Surgical Artistry, Modesto, CA. (209) 551-1888

Dr. Tammy Wu & Dr. Calvin Lee.
Surgical Artistry, Modesto, CA.
(209) 551-1888


Drains after Tummy Tuck

Drains are commonly used for Tummy Tuck Surgery

This article describes the post operative experience of having drains in place.

Description of the drains

The drains use vary somewhat, but the most common drains have either a canal along a tube pattern or holes along a slender hollow piece of tubing.  At the end of the tubing which is outside the body is a suction bulb.  The suction bulb of the drain is placed in a squeezed down position and sealed; thus providing negative pressure.  These are closed drains as opposed to drains which are open to the air.  Blake drains is one type of drain and the other type of drain is none as a Jackson Pratt drain – but these are technical terms usually reserved for the surgeon to communicate with the rest of the team.

Usage of the drains

These drains with bulbs at the end (sometimes they are affectionately called grenades) are placed under the skin of the tummy tuck flap, across the abdomen.  In our Modesto, California practice we are in the routine of using two drains.  And we have the drains come out of separate incisions.  This is separate from the Tummy Tuck incision as a strategy to avoid infection.  The tubes of the drains are sutured securely to the skin.

Reason for the drains

The body normally tends to collect fluid – sometimes called seroma.  This seroma gets in the way of healing and creates unfavorable contours.  Thus the drains are used to drain away the seroma which the body normal creates.  Sometimes the drains are also used to indicate if there is any postoperative bleeding after tummy tuck surgery.

Removal of the surgical drains

In our Modesto, California Plastic Surgery practice, Dr. Tammy Wu has instructed her patients to record their daily outputs.  She uses less than 30 cc’s per day of drainage fluid to be a possible indication for removal.  She usually considers removing one drain at a time.  During this post operative period after the tummy tuck surgery, patients are in close contact with Dr. Tammy Wu, Modesto Plastic Surgeon.  The drains are removed in the office.  Most patients report minimal discomfort, and are usually glad that they are out.

How long are surgical drains in place?

The time varies tremendously between individuals as to how long the drains are in place.  Sometimes they are in for 1 week, and other times they are in for a month.  During this time period, we usually consider orally taken antibiotics.

Dr. Tammy Wu & Dr. Calvin Lee.   Surgical Artistry, Modesto, CA. (209) 551-1888

Dr. Tammy Wu & Dr. Calvin Lee.
Surgical Artistry, Modesto, CA.
(209) 551-1888