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When can I drive after a tummy tuck? Plus, when you can get back to swimming, sex, and more.

September 15, 2022 - Rhys Branman, MD

Woman driving after recovering from tummy tuck surgery

A tummy tuck—which can be a standalone procedure or part of a mommy makeover in Little Rock—reshapes the midsection by removing unwanted skin and fat, and if needed, repairs abdominal muscle separation. This procedure is often life-changing for patients who are bothered by their midsection’s appearance, so it is unsurprising that 96% of tummy tuck patients feel like the procedure is worth it when considering the cost and recovery time required.

We understand you will be eager to show off your new contours, but, for best results, we encourage all tummy tuck patients to prioritize their recovery and gradually ease back into daily life. While timelines will vary depending on which tummy tuck technique Little Rock cosmetic surgeon Dr. Rhys Branman uses, as well as your unique healing process, the following are some general guidelines for when you can return to routine activities after abdominoplasty.

Devoting sufficient time to recover from your tummy tuck procedure will minimize complications and prevent recovery setbacks.

When can I drive after a tummy tuck?

Timeline: Approximately 2 weeks

Considerations: If you are taking narcotics for pain management, you must avoid driving until you no longer need them. Your newly tightened abdomen will also require you to keep a slightly bent posture for a couple of weeks, and your mobility will be somewhat limited: be very careful getting in and out of any vehicle. Also, be aware of twisting your torso when you are behind the wheel; this could strain healing incisions.

As these recovery constraints may compromise your ability to drive safely, don’t rush into it and start by driving a short distance. Adjusting your seat position to accommodate your posture and carefully situating your seatbelt may make driving more comfortable, however, it is still important to listen to your body and continue to get assistance with rides until you feel confident your healing tissues won’t distract you from the road.

When can I lift my children or heavy objects after a tummy tuck?

Timeline: 4-10 weeks

Considerations: Lifting anything more than 5lbs before you are cleared by your cosmetic surgeon could strain your tummy tuck incision site and abdominal muscles—increasing the risk of bleeding and recovery setbacks. Straining healing incisions can also easily affect final results, resulting in wider, more noticeable scars.

After a strict 4-6 weeks of avoiding lifting, including shopping bags, you will likely be able to resume your normal activities, including picking up small children. As far as heavy lifting is concerned, Dr. Branman recommends waiting up to 10 weeks and starting by only gradually exerting yourself.

When can I start exercising after a tummy tuck?

Timeline: 4-10 weeks

Considerations: We will encourage you to take short, gentle walks after surgery to keep your blood flowing. You may resume light weight and cardio exercises—with Dr. Branman’s approval—around week 4, being careful to avoid targeting your abdominals. Yoga or pilates-type exercises may resume after about 6 weeks, and you can ease into your full pre-procedure workout routine roughly 7-10 weeks after surgery.

When can I have sex after a tummy tuck?

Timeline: 3-4 weeks

Considerations: To avoid post-op complications, we recommend delaying any activity that elevates your heart rate and blood pressure, or that could disturb your incision during the critical first few weeks of healing. Once you are cleared for sexual activity, you may find some positions are more accommodating than others, so be sure to communicate with your partner on what feels safe and comfortable for you.

When can I swim after a tummy tuck?

Timeline: 4-6 weeks

Considerations: Your incision should be fully healed with no scabbing before submerging the area in water. If you plan on actively swimming, wait at least 6 weeks and get approval from your cosmetic surgeon. Putting on tight swimwear can also strain healing tissues; many patients finally feel comfortable in a swimsuit at the 12-week mark, so you may prefer to delay your bikini debut until then.

When can I return to a desk job after a tummy tuck?

Timeline: 2 weeks

Considerations: After two weeks, you will still be experiencing some mild discomfort and swelling but working behind a desk should be doable. Keep in mind that you are still several weeks away from full recovery—meaning you will tire more easily and should avoid working overtime. Have water and nutritious snacks readily available to continue supporting your body’s healing process once you are back at the office.

When can I return to a physically demanding job after a tummy tuck?

Timeline: 6+ weeks

Considerations: Much like the timeline for exercising, a physically demanding job, such as nursing or parcel delivery services, will require more time for your body to heal before resuming your duties. If it is possible to temporarily modify your job requirements, you may be able to return sooner. We understand that 6 weeks is a significant amount of time to take leave from work, but a tummy tuck is major surgery and you need sufficient time to heal, lest you risk recovery setbacks and complications.

Consider talking with your employers beforehand and see if arrangements can be made to accommodate your recovery process. It may help to explain that a tummy tuck is not purely cosmetic in nature: correcting diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation) can help improve patient health and comfort in numerous ways, and you are likely to come back to your job stronger than ever if your recovery can be accommodated.

Little Rock tummy tuck recovery

Remember that devoting the right amount of time to recover from a tummy tuck and utilizing family or friends’ help prevents complications, such as developing post-op seromas, and ultimately speeds along the healing process. These guidelines are a great starting point for getting back into a routine, but if you feel like you need more time, listen to your body and check in with your cosmetic surgeon if you have any concerns during the recovery process.

Choose Dr. Rhys Branman for your tummy tuck in Little Rock

Dr. Rhys Branman and his team at the Cosmetic Surgery Center in Little Rock, AR will help you through every step of your tummy tuck journey—from your consultation, to recovery, and beyond. With over 30 years of cosmetic surgery experience, Dr. Branman has helped thousands of patients look and feel beautiful. We invite you to schedule your consultation by calling 501.227.0707 or contacting us online.

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