The tummy tuck is a popular cosmetic surgery that promises to give you shapelier curves and a flatter tummy in a single surgical session. Patients often choose a tummy tuck after significant weight loss, where there is still some belly fat left behind and a bit of abdominal sag. Women also choose this ab-shaping procedure following childbirth and breastfeeding, which can help return their mid-sections to pre-pregnancy conditions.
Many people want a tummy tuck because they have become more aware of how their body looks, particularly in a bathing suit or in the nude. The belly area can be particularly frustrating because even strict dieting and arduous physical activity can fail to remove the last few pounds from the abdominal area. A tummy tuck can help.
However, some people hold back on signing up for a tummy tuck. Why? They fear being ‘down for the count’ for an extended period of time during tummy tuck recovery. What if they overeat while they cannot move their bodies? Won’t the tummy tuck results simply become undone? Why spend all that money if you can’t exercise like you normally would to keep the excess pounds at bay?
If these thoughts have ever crossed your mind, you’re in good company. A common question cosmetic surgeons often get is:
“I want to stay fit after my tummy tuck. When can I exercise again?”
To answer that question, it helps to understand what takes place during tummy tuck surgery, the importance of the recovery period afterward, and how it is still possible to retain your results even as you rest. And believe it or not, your absence from exercise after tummy tuck will not last that long. You will be back to your normal routine before you know it, looking better than ever, we might add.
Why Do Men and Women Choose Tummy Tuck Surgery?
In addition to removing excess fat and saggy skin, the tummy tuck tightens and strengthens your abdominal muscles. This is important for mothers to know if they are considering a tummy tuck. The abdominal muscles can become weakened during childbirth. The tummy tuck can give you a tighter midsection, improved control over your abdominal muscles, and can help with involuntary incontinence, not to mention back pain.
Here’s something else mothers considering the tummy tuck may not know. Stretch marks can be removed using the procedure, but only if they appear within the area where excess skin will be removed.
For all others, the tummy tuck takes around two to four hours, and when you wake up, you will have noticeably slimmer abdominal contours, and a flatter belly. Some swelling may occur after the surgery but will subside, allowing the true results of the procedure to shine through in a matter of weeks.
“What Can I Expect During Tummy Tuck Surgery?”
The medical term for a tummy tuck is abdominoplasty, which refers to the surgical removal of excess fatty tissue and skin from the abdomen. Tummy tuck surgery is often used as a component of mommy makeover surgery, which allows women to transform their bodies with multiple surgeries in one session. Examples of mommy makeover procedures include breast augmentation, tummy tuck, liposuction, and Renuvion for added skin tightening.
The surgery can also be used by itself, sometimes along with liposuction, to make your abdominal section appear more youthful and attractive.
The surgery begins with the anesthesiologist placing you under general anesthesia. You will not be awake during the procedure, so you will not feel a thing, nor will you remember anything about the surgery after you wake up in the recovery area.
Once you are under the effects of anesthesia, the cosmetic surgeon creates an incision along the lower portion of the abdomen. The incisional line runs just above your pubic bone and extends to your hips.
It should be noted that there are different types of tummy tucks, including mini and full tummy tucks, which require different incision lengths. The procedure we’re describing is a full tummy tuck.
It is at this stage that liposuction can be used. You can also opt for High-Definition Liposuction (HD-Lipo) for even deeper abdominal etching. The liposuction procedure gently suctions the fat out of the abdominal area. Imagine, all those hours of dieting and exercising, and a machine can do the work in minutes. But this rapid fat removal is what makes the tummy tuck so popular.
Once the fat is sufficiently removed, the surgeon pulls the abdominal muscles taught and reattaches them to fortify the abdominal wall. The belly button may be repositioned for natural placement, and to add symmetry to your newly shaped curves.
Excess skin can be removed from the abdominal area at this time before the skin is tightened and sutured in place.
After surgery, when you open your eyes, you will find yourself in a recovery staging area. The nursing staff monitors your vital signs closely to ensure your wellness and safety as you briefly recover from your successful tummy tuck surgery.
Is a Tummy Tuck Procedure Painful?
You don’t notice how much you use your abdominal muscles for every movement until they are sore from something like tummy tuck surgery. You may feel some soreness and tenderness around the abdominal area following the abdominoplasty procedure. This is part of the healing process.
While you do feel soreness, it is important that you do not exercise. Not only would working out be uncomfortable for you as you heal from a tummy tuck, but any strain you put on the area could cause damage to your hard-earned results.
But what about exercise after tummy tuck? Finally, the part you came for.
Timeline from Tummy Tuck Surgery to Exercise
Day of Surgery
Patients typically remain in the recovery area of the surgical center for up to 24-hours after the tummy tuck is completed. You are then released to a trusted friend or family member. Your surgeon gives you post-operative instructions to follow, so you can comfortably rest at home.
The information given by your surgeon includes care tips for incision wounds, ways to prevent swelling, and infection prevention advice.
As you settle in at home, you could find it difficult to sit up or stand without assistance. This is a normal experience during recovery. Your ability to sit and stand unassisted should improve day by day.
Your surgeon gives you a compression garment to wear for four to six weeks. This prosthetic device provides adequate pressure to the surgical site to aid with blood circulation. This in turn helps speed the healing process while also preserving your results as the wounds from surgery close.
As you recover, you may start feeling more yourself after the first week. It is important to refrain from exercising, even if you feel like a low-impact workout will help scratch that itch.
Your surgical incisions are still healing, and you could still feel pain or discomfort as a result. There might also be swelling and post-op fatigue.
Take it easy. Your results will be better for it, and this time will pass quickly, at least in hindsight.
Two Weeks After Tummy Tuck Surgery
Fourteen days have passed since your tummy tuck surgery. Your doctor has already cleared you to return to work, depending on how you make your living. A desk job is easier on a post-tummy tuck patient than a job that has you on your feet all day. Construction and other labor-intensive jobs may require longer recovery times before you are cleared to return for duty.
Since you’ll be back at work, you may get an inkling that exercise might be okay. Try to go a little longer without exercising. Your core muscles should not be subjected to strain at this time.
Rest and Recovery Week Three and Four
By week three, you begin to rejoice. Your surgeon has cleared you for light exercise after tummy tuck. You should continue working out lightly for at least four weeks post-operation. The tummy tuck leaves your abdominal muscles stronger, but only if the surgical wounds heal properly. You should avoid ab-heavy exercises like sit-ups, crunches, planks, squats, lunges, and weightlifting.
By light exercises, your surgeon means walking and easy biking.
Six Weeks Following Your Tummy Tuck Procedure
By week six, you are back in the weight room if that’s your preferred way to work out. That’s right! You are back to your regular exercise routine by the sixth week, though you should still be vigilant. Be aware of signs that you are pushing your body too far or working your abdominal muscles past the point of comfort.
Start slowly and work your way back up to the monster routine you were accustomed to prior to tummy tuck surgery. Since normal exercise routines vary, you’ll just have to trust yourself when enough feels like enough. Talk to your surgeon for details about your specific case.
What About Working Out (In the Bedroom)?
Waiting six weeks to lift weight is one thing. Are you also supposed to refrain from getting sweaty between the sheets?
You should never be embarrassed to talk to your surgeon about when it is safe to resume sex after a tummy tuck. Your surgeon will recommend you wait at least two weeks following a tummy tuck. Even then, go easy, and let your partner do all the heavy lifting.
Don’t Forget About Sleep
Getting enough sleep at night helps with tummy tuck recovery and gives you better results following exercise. Immediately after your procedure, within the first week, try not to sleep on your stomach. Only sleep prone if your abdominal muscles no longer feel sore.
Many tummy tuck patients find sleeping with pillows propped up underneath their knees and head helps to reduce discomfort. This position, known as the semi-Fowler’s position, can be used for up to two weeks after surgery to avoid straining the surgical area. A recliner also works.
By now, you are well-versed on what to expect from tummy tuck surgery. You are also more aware of how long you have to wait before you can resume strenuous activities like spinning, Cross-Fit, and heavy lifting.
Six weeks is usually the time it takes to go from the tummy tuck to your regularly scheduled exercise routine. Although, you could be back to light exercise four weeks after tummy tuck surgery. That’s nothing!
To make the recovery process go by faster, make a list of fitness goals you want to accomplish once you are cleared for regular workouts, and take the time to watch videos and study up on your routine so you know how to proceed once your surgical area has healed. By then, you’ll be able to engage in light exercise, strenuous exercise, and cardiovascular exercises to your heart’s content. A killer routine might just transform your entire physique, now that you’ve done your part to attain a flatter, more youthful belly with tummy tuck surgery.
Ready to Experience a Slimmer You?
Moein Surgical Arts is a state-of-the-art surgical center located in Los Angeles, California. Using tools and decades of experience, Dr. Babak Moein and his professional staff warmly welcome you. We encourage you to call us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Moein.