If you are considering a tummy tuck, it’s natural to wonder about the recovery process. While all abdominoplasty procedures require downtime for healing, the extent can vary based on the specifics of your surgery. Read on as we break down what to expect and how the recovery differs with the three main types of tummy tucks: full, mini, and 360 with liposuction.
The Full Breakdown
A full tummy tuck is one of the most comprehensive options, as it removes the excess skin and fat from your belly while also tightening stretched belly muscles. The incision runs hip to hip and swelling and bruising are common.
- Full recovery will last at least 4 weeks
- You’ll need help with basic tasks (driving, housekeeping, childcare, etc) during the first 1-2 weeks
- After 2 weeks you can resume lighter activities but may still have some intermittent discomfort
- Plan to avoid any strenuous activities and exercise for 4-6 weeks
The Mini Breakdown
A mini tummy tuck has a shorter incision and focuses on the skin below the belly button. It removes extra skin and fat but doesn’t usually address the stretched stomach muscles. Recovery is slightly less than a full tummy tuck but the downtime is similar.
- Recovery lasts 3-4 weeks
- You can ease back into your daily routine after 2 weeks, as soreness should subside in 10-14 days
- Should wait at least 4 weeks for vigorous exercise
The 360-Degree Breakdown
The most extensive procedure is a full tummy tuck combined with 360-degree liposuction. This procedure adds liposuction that targets the fat on your flanks, upper/lower back, and sometimes your hips and thighs. The more extensive the liposuction procedure is, the more it will increase swelling, pain, and recovery time.
- Recovery lasts 4-6 weeks depending on the extent of the liposuction
- You’ll need at least 1-2 weeks off work and help with your normal daily activities
- You will be able to advance to light exercise after 4 weeks and full activity after 6-8 weeks
- Waiting 8 weeks before starting vigorous exercise is recommended
What Matters Most
There are a few factors that affect recovery far beyond the procedure type. Here is a list of the four factors that make the biggest difference:
- Muscle repair: Plicating or tightening abdominal muscles adds 1-2 weeks to recovery and is common with full tummy tucks.
- Liposuction: Even with a mini tummy tuck, adding liposuction will increase swelling and soreness, which can persist intermittently for months
- Age and overall health: Younger patients tend to bounce back quicker from surgery as they have more of a reserve. Healthier patients also, by and large, recover more quickly than those with chronic medical issues.
- The post-op plan: Failing to follow the postoperative instructions carefully will definitely slow your recovery
Is it Worth the Extra Recovery?
While it will add to your tummy tuck recovery, adding a muscle repair, and liposuction to your procedure, if indicated, is the best way to get dramatic results. So it is definitely worth it, even if it adds on more time to your recovery. With proper planning and support, you can easily get through the first few weeks and be on your way to a tighter midsection.