Q: Dr. Eppley, what is the true recovery time from a tummy tuck? In my consultation, the plastic surgeon said around two weeks. But I have read online that it can be as long as six to eight weeks. What is the truth? I am a nurse in a hospital and work in an Oncology unit. I don’t lift patients but I am up and down all the time and constantly running around.
A: The concept of recovery can mean different things to different people and understanding what that is is of great importance in a tummy tuck…where the recovery should never be underestimated and often is. The concept of a two week recovery from a tummy tuck is not a realistic one. While you may be up and around the house and doing many normal activities, that is too early to feel comfortable doing strenuous activities. Work for many people is strenuous even though it may not seem so until one is less than 100%. Short of lifting, constantly having to be up and down is a very strenuous activity to be doing just a few weeks from a tummy tuck. A more realistic approach would be to consider going back half-time, if possible, the third week after surgery and then going back full-time by a month after the tummy tuck. This will allow you to ease your way back into work. While some people will not have this luxury for recovery time and simply have to go back after two weeks (and suffer through it), a three to four week approach as described is going to be a lot better.
Dr. Barry Eppley
Q: Dr. Eppley, How long does it take to heal from a tummy tuck? What is the success rate to keep the contour? How much does the procedure cost?
A: Recovery from a tummy tuck depends on how you want to view the concept of recovery. To be 100% full recovered (feeling like before the surgery and doing all normal and strenuous activities), it will take a full 6 weeks. If you are talking about returning to work in a sitdown job, it will be closer to 10 days. Returning to a more strenuous job will be closer to three weeks. Up and about after surgery around the house will be a few days.
The success of tummy tucks in terms of long-term contour preservation is actually pretty good. The excess or loose skin is never going to return provided one does not get pregnant again, which is the primary skin-stretching mechanism for most women. (extreme weight loss is the other) One can thicken up the fat layer around the trunk and waistline based on one’s weight and diet. I have seen that in a few patients over the years. It all depends on the stability of one’s weight and the type of body build one has.
There are different forms of tummy tucks that may or may not include liposuction. For the sake of simplicity, I would look at the concept of a full tummy tuck with flank liposuction which is the most commonly performed one. As an out patient procedure this more complete tummy tuck is in the range of $6500 to $7500, all costs included. This is an approximation and may change based on an actual examination of the patient.
Dr. Barry Eppley