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“Beauty is pain,” they say. 

And to an extent, this maxim is inarguably true. What are hair waxings, vigorous exercise regimens, and piercings if not examples of beauty rituals that are particularly painful?

But does beauty have to equal pain? Not necessarily.

Take tummy tucks, for example. Does a pain-free tummy tuck exist?

Whether we like it or not, tummy tuck pain is indeed a seemingly integral part of the procedure. It is simply a given that anyone undergoing tummy tuck surgery is going to be in severe discomfort for at least a week or two (or more). But it doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact, there are ways to considerably reduce the amount of pain a patient experiences after tummy tuck surgery.

Up ahead, we’ll first take a look at tummy tuck pain in general. And then we’ll go over some techniques you can use to reduce the tummy tuck pain you experience throughout your recovery.

How Painful Is a Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Tummy Tuck Pain Generally speaking, pain after a tummy tuck will be mild to moderate. Pain tends to be worse at the beginning of tummy tuck recovery — usually over the first week. 

During this week, and especially over the first three to four days, patients have noted a pain level of around six to seven (on a one to ten scale). After the first week, this pain level is typically reduced to three or four on a one to ten scale. Of course, all patients are different, and pain isn’t the same for everyone.

In addition to pain at the incision sites, you may feel other sensations as well. For example, patients often complain of feeling like their abdominal skin feels tight. Some patients experience numbness at their incisions sites as well. 

These are all normal sensations. After a while, they should dissipate, and you should regain sensation even over your incisions. Essentially, the tissue needs time to settle into its new position. The nerves must also reconnect over the incision sites.

If pain is ever excruciating or does not reduce with time, speak to your surgeon right away.

How Can I Ease the Pain After a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tuck surgery inherently comes with some pain. Here’s how to ease your discomfort and quicken your recovery:

  • Take pain medications. If you are a good candidate for prescription pain medications, your doctor will prescribe you one to assist with pain. You can also take over-the-counter pain meds, especially as your pain decreases.
  • Eat healthy foods. Don’t let your recovery become a time of eating junk food and treats. Keep up your healthy lifestyle with well-balanced meals and healthy snacks.
  • Drink lots of water. Adequate water intake can reduce swelling and speed up your metabolism.
  • Get moving. When you get the “okay” from your surgeon, start taking short walks around your house. Increasing your circulation (safely) can help reduce pain and speed up your recovery.
  • Try to avoid laughing, sneezing, or making sudden movements. This is easier said than done, but if you can avoid these things, you’ll be far more comfortable as jerky movements tend to exacerbate discomfort after tummy tuck surgery.

FAQ: Tummy Tuck Pain

How long after tummy tuck do you feel normal?

This is up for debate because everyone is different. But most patients say they feel just about back to “normal” after approximately eight weeks post-surgery. 

At this point, you should not have any pain or significant discomfort. Swelling and bruising should be almost entirely gone. And you should not feel that tightness and numbness near the incision sites, both of which are frequent sensations directly after surgery. 

Keep in mind, however, that even after you recover from tummy tuck pain and the surgery entirely, you’ll still have tummy tuck scars to contend with. Some patients say this can feel rather odd, but scars are an unavoidable part of tummy tuck surgery. Furthermore, there are techniques you can use to minimize their appearance if you wish.

How long does tummy tuck pain last?

Pain tends to be the worst after a tummy tuck during the first few days and up to one week post-surgery. From there, you’ll notice significant improvements in your pain levels with each subsequent week. 

Most patients do not have any pain after the first two to three weeks post-surgery. If there is residual discomfort, it is usually mild and goes away soon.

Is it normal for your stomach to hurt after a tummy tuck?

Yes, stomach pain (abdominal pain) is normal after tummy tuck surgery. The procedure requires incisions to be made on the stomach. Therefore, the soreness of surgery will be focused near these incisions sites.

How can I ease the pain after a tummy tuck?

Use pain medications where safe and necessary. Try to avoid jerky movements. Eat a healthy diet. Drink plenty of water. Get plenty of rest. And (as soon as you are allowed), get on your feet and start taking a few short and gentle walks each day.

Can I have a pain free tummy tuck?

There is really no such thing as a pain-free tummy tuck, but you can certainly mitigate your pain during recovery. Your best resource for tummy tuck pain relief tips is your plastic surgeon. Pain medications are often used (prescribed and over-the-counter), and there are other at-home techniques to try as well.

Learn More About Tummy Tuck Surgery

woman at a desk with a laptop on itAlthough all tummy tuck patients will experience tummy tuck pain after their surgeries, as you can see, there are ways to reduce this pain and maintain relative comfort until full recovery has been achieved.

If you would like to learn more about the recovery phase of tummy tuck surgery or the procedure itself, contact Hill Country Plastic Surgery today to sit down with a plastic surgeon and talk about your options. We look forward to hearing from you!


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