How to Care for Your Tummy Tuck After Surgery

Female patient being readied for liposuction procedure
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A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is performed to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen, as well as to tighten the underlying muscles when necessary. Here's what to expect in terms how to care for your abdomen and your incision after a tummy tuck.

  • You may have some bruising or swelling for two to three weeks. This is normal.
  • Twenty-four hours after surgery, you may remove your dressings, except for the skin tapes (also called steri-strips) that are directly over your incisions, and shower. Because the steri-strips have been applied with a skin adhesive, they are fairly water-resistant. Blot them dry after showering with a clean cloth.
  • You may continue to cover the incisions and gauze dressings, as needed, for one week.
  • Do not remove your steri-strips. They will eventually fall off on their own.
  • If you have drains, they should be emptied and the amount of drainage recorded three times per day. It is important to record the amount because this will tell your surgeon when the drains are ready to be removed.
  • Most plastic surgeons will allow you to shower 24 hours after surgery. However, most will ask you to avoid any water that is still (not running) for two weeks after surgery. This includes bath water, swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, and oceans.
  • A girdle-like compression garment and/or abdominal binder should be worn at all times except for showering. Your plastic surgeon will let you know when you can stop wearing the garment/binder.
View Article Sources
  • Aly A. Abdominoplasty and Lower Truncal Circumferential Body Contouring. In Thorne CHM, Beasely RW, Aston SJ, Bartlett SP, Gurtner GC, Spear S, eds. Grabb and Smith’s Plastic Surgery, 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 2007.
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Tummy Tuck Recovery
  • Shestak KC, Fedele GM. Abdominoplasty. In Evans GRD, ed. Operative Plastic Surgery. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.