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Recovery from Abdominoplasty Surgery - what you need to know

Updated: Jun 23

Here we are talking about what patients commonly ask me in regards to the immediate post-operative pathway and the at home recovery phase of Abdominoplasty Surgery.

The most important factor influencing your recovery is the extent of surgery! Abdominoplasty actually comes in many shapes and forms.

  • Mini Abdominoplasty - removal of skin and fat below the umbilicus (belly button). The umbilicus is not moved. This operation may suit patients with laxity which is low in the belly or limited excess hanging over a ceasar scar.

  • Standard Abdominoplasty - the skin and fat between the pubic area and above the belly button is removed. The area superior to this is undermined and brought down, and the umbilicus is re-inset.

  • Radical Abdominoplasty - as above along with repair of the abdominal wall muscles which can separate after pregnancy.

  • Fleur-de-lis Abdominoplasty - as above along with a vertical scar to allow for excision of skin in the horizontal plane, leaving an upside down 'T' shaped scar. Usually used in massive weight loss patients.

  • Corset Abdominoplasty - as above with a an additional scar under the breasts, leaving an 'I' shaped scar. Again, usually in patient that have lost significant weight and have redundant skin in all planes.

It is common to augment these procedures with liposuction.

As you can appreciate, the extent of recovery will vary depending on what procedure you have! This in turn depends of your consult and assessment, aligned with your goals.


Most cases require a hospital stay of 2-5 nights, except for a mini-abdominoplasty which can sometimes be offered as day surgery.

You can usually shower after the first 2 days, following advice from Mr. Bunker in regards to the dressings.

Happy female patient after abdominopasty by Dr. Bunker
The Hospital Team is there to help you!

Long acting local anaesthetic is used during the operation to minimise discomfort. You will also have pain relief tablets and sometimes ones given through a drip.

For anything other than a mini-abdiminoplasty, drains are used and may remain for 1-2 weeks (occasionally longer). These are removed in the rooms during your post-operative visits. Prior to discharge, you are provided with education on how to care for the drains.

A catheter is sometimes placed to maximise your comfort. It is removed as soon as you feel mobile enough to get the the bathroom unassisted. It usually comes out in the first 48 hours.

A abdominal binder (think of a corset) is recommended to support your abdomen and any repair to your abdominal wall muscles if performed. This is used for 6-8 weeks, progressively weaning it and using only when straining your core. The binder also helps with reducing any swelling associated with liposuction


You will be dischargeed home with oral antibiotics and pain relief.

Dr. Dan Bunker and his nursing team
We will continue to see you in the rooms after discharge to ensure your recovery is on track

An appointment will be made to follow-up in the rooms. Typically this would be at weeks 1,2 6 and 12. This allows us to monitor your healing progress, remove drains and ensure all the dressings are intact and clean.

A major factor influencing the rate of recovery is whether you have any abdominal wall muscle separation which requires correction. Correction of the muscles means that your recovery will be at the longer end of the spectrum. This means 6-8 weeks before fully loading the core unrestricted - similar to a hernia operation

Return to work? If you have a more limited procedure and have a job which is not physically strenuous, you can usually return to work in 2 -3 weeks. You can also consider the option of part-time hours or working from home. Very physical jobs after a more involved procedure will necessitate 6 weeks off work.

Remember, all patients are different and your journeys will vary.

That is wy Mr. Bunker emphasises that surgery is 'Personalised to you.'

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Stay safe!

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