In general, most patients take four weeks off work for a tummy tuck. However, some occupations may return to work sooner. This article covers how occupations relate to tummy tuck recovery time. The type of tummy tuck surgery and individual healing are also factors that determine how many much tummy tuck time off work is needed.
Various occupations are discussed in detail, along with how long workers in those fields can return to work after a tummy tuck.
Types of Tummy Tucks
Tummy tucks are not one size fits all. It is a very customized surgery. There is a whole range of different tummy tucks — 28 techniques in total! Each surgery is designed to address certain areas of the abdomen and some remove more excess skin than others. New mums may only need a small amount of skin removal, while post-weight loss patients may have a large amount of loose skin that requires extensive skin removal surgery. Thus, the recovery time varies.
Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck removes loose skin on the lower abdomen. Doctor Bernard performs a mini VASER liposuction abdominoplasty. It is useful for removing the flap of loose skin after a c-section birth. A mini tummy tuck tightens the lower abdomen with minimal scarring compared to a full tummy tuck. However, it does not address loose skin higher on the tummy.
The good news is the recovery time is shorter than a full tummy tuck. Mini tummy tuck downtime is minimal compared to other tummy tucks. Sedentary workers can resume work just two weeks after a mini tummy tuck in most cases.
Full Tummy Tuck
Doctor Bernard’s Lipo-abdominoplasty is a full-service procedure that fixes various cosmetic problems at once. It includes excess skin removal on the upper and lower abdomen, fat removal with VASER lipo, and repair of ab muscle separation.
A full tummy tuck requires four weeks off work on average. Sedentary workers may get away with returning to work at two weeks, but this is not guaranteed. Two weeks would be the absolute minimum. Patients with a long commute or active careers will take four weeks off work on average.
Belt Lipectomy, or Body Lift Surgery
After weight loss surgery (ex. bariatric surgery), some patients may benefit most from a body lift surgery. This is also known as a belt lipectomy, trunkal body lift, or LBL (lower body lift).
A body lift is specially designed for post-weight loss skin removal. It is a major surgery that entails three procedures in one. It removes excess skin 360 degrees around the waist line, aka an extended body lift. Additionally, the waist, buttocks and lateral thighs are also lifted as the skin is pulled upward and sutured closed. This gives PWL patients a flat tummy while reducing sagging thighs and buttocks.
This is the most extensive tummy tuck surgery available. Recovery time can be lengthy. Many patients get back to work in four weeks or so. Others may need a little more time to recover. The physical demands of your career will also be a factor. The more physically demanding your job, the more time you will likely need.
Tummy tuck revision is a surgery that corrects or improves the results of a past tummy tuck. This can be as simple as liposuction with a small amount of skin removal, to a full abdominoplasty with muscle repair. Because the extent of surgery varies, so does recovery time.
Time off work can vary, but most patients should expect four weeks on average. The simpler the surgery and the less physical your career is, the less downtime.
Download our short guide: “Preparing for your Abdominoplasty Surgery Checklist”
Driving to work after a tummy tuck
The time off driving after a tummy tuck depends on the type of surgery. A mini tummy tuck usually requires 7-10 days off driving, while a full tummy tuck or mummy makeover requires 2-3 weeks on average. Body lifts, fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty and extended tummy tucks require 3-4 weeks off driving. For more information about driving after a tummy tuck, click here.
Occupation & tummy tuck downtime
Generally, it takes about four weeks for most patients to return to work after tummy tuck surgery. However, there are some occupations that may require less downtime. These includes jobs that don’t require you to drive very far, nor heavy lifting or being very physical. With some occupations, you may be able to get back to work in two weeks.
Work from home jobs
Some patients feel well enough to do light computer work a day or two after surgery. Maybe answer some quick emails. Most patients report their physical discomfort peaks on the second day after surgery, then gradually subsides. Therefore, you should not make any work commitments for the first few days, even if you are working from home.
If you have to do Skype meetings or video conferences, bear in mind ‘getting ready’ to look presentable when you are feeling weak may be an unnecessary strain. Physical movement will be limited. It’s better to push video meetings and work obligations back at least a few days post-op.
If you can answer a few emails or feel up to doing some work from home in the first week, then great. But it is important not to push yourself. It’s worth considering the type of tummy tuck, as this factors into recovery time. The extent of skin removal affects how you might feel in the days after surgery. For example, mini tummy tuck recovery is faster than a full tummy tuck, which has an easier recovery than a body lift or belt lipectomy.
In essence, the more time you can take off work, the better. Since you can’t predict exactly how you will be feeling shortly after surgery. Generally 1-2 weeks would be the ideal scenario for patients that work from home.
Receptionists and office workers fall in this category. While four weeks is the average time off work after a full tummy tuck, sedentary workers with a small to moderate amount of skin removal may feel well enough to return to work at two weeks. That is, if you don’t have to drive very far or do much lifting, moving, or walking at the office.
Then there are sedentary jobs that require a small amount of physical activity. One example could be a toll booth worker. While it does not require much physical activity to perform a job such as this, consider how much reaching or turning your body is needed to do the task. These small movements can add up during the day.
The bottom line is, even if you have a sedentary career, be realistic about how much walking, driving, bending or lifting you must do every day. The more physical activity, the longer the time off work
Athletes, manual laborers, warehouse workers, gardeners, etc.
This category is for people with physically demanding careers. These patients will usually need at least 4-6 weeks off work. The more skin removal that was done, the more time off may be needed.
Athletes and heavy lifters of all kinds should be cautious not to strain themselves too hard in the first 6 weeks post-op. Modified physical activity may be necessary in these early stages of healing. However, if you had a lighter surgery such as a mini tummy tuck, it will be less of a problem.
For physical careers, it is important to speak with Doctor Bernard about what types of activities are safe to resume, and when. The type of surgery and extent of your job’s physical demands will both play a role.
Individual healing can also vary greatly. Everyone’s body is different. For this reason, it is also important to listen to your body. While a small amount of discomfort is normal in the first few weeks post-op, avoid overexerting yourself physically.
Stay at home mom
Arguably, the most important job in the world is being a mother. Taking care of kids can certainly be a lot of work. Many tummy tuck patients come in to remove loose skin after having a baby.
Whether you are a stay-at-home mum or a working mum, those are big shoes to fill. Recovery time is an important consideration. After all, mums needs to know when they can return to motherly duties after a tummy tuck.
Why do new mums need loose skin removal after pregnancy?
Pregnancy stretches the skin on the tummy. While some women bounce back quickly after giving birth, others are left with loose skin. This is more common after multiple pregnancies.
Age, genetics and lifestyle choices, such as a history of smoking, can also be a factor in skin elasticity. This can contribute to poor elastin production. Elastin is a protein made by the skin. It is responsible for elasticity so your skin can stretch. The more elastin, the better belly skin will expand and then contract after pregnancy.
Further, a lot of new mothers have abdominal muscle separation from pregnancy. That can impact recovery since it is more invasive than a simple mini tummy tuck to remove a c-section scar, for example.
Tummy tuck recovery time for mothers
As far as the standard tummy tuck downtime, most new mothers need about four weeks off on average. This can vary based on the children’s age and your motherly demands.
For children age 0-3
Help from family members, friends, or child care is necessary for the first few weeks post-op. New mums with young children have a lot of physical demands. From diaper changes to bathing or lifting a toddler, it can take a toll on you after a tummy tuck. Extra help is necessary to facilitate healing. For mums with children younger than two years old, Doctor Bernard recommends 2-3 weeks of assistance with mom duties.
For children age 4-12
For children aged 4-12 years old, many stay-at-home mums require just 1-2 weeks off post-op, with some help from a significant other or family members.
For children age 12+
Women with older children may have less physical demands, but there is still much to be done. Teenagers can do a lot for themselves. Most mums can do some basic tasks around the house about 1-2 weeks post-op. However, one thing to consider, even with older children, is driving kids to school. Mini tummy tuck patients usually need 7-10 days off driving. A full tummy tuck or mummy makeover normally requires 3-4 weeks off driving.
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Returning to work is one thing. Feeling totally ‘normal’ after a tummy tuck is another. Most patients say they feel completely ‘back to normal’ about three months after surgery. That doesn’t mean you will be in pain. It just means it takes time for swelling to subside. There can be a little discomfort when straining or bending. The tummy may feel a little tender.
During surgery, some nerve endings in the skin are also cut. Some patients experience tingling, temporary numbness, or quick but unusual sensations in the skin for a few weeks. Most patients don’t find this bothersome. But it is something to be aware of.
None of this will impede your ability to work. It’s just the tissues in the body settling in after surgery.
95% of Doctor Bernard’s patients return to work in 4 weeks
Each tummy tuck is a bit different. Every body heals at its own pace. And every career is unique. In general, three to four weeks is the average time off work for a full tummy tuck. The surest way to find out how much time you will need off work is an in-person tummy tuck consultation. This allows Doctor Bernard to examine the loose skin, recommend a surgical plan and learn about the demands of your career so he can tell you a more exact timeline.