How to reduce swelling after a tummy tuck

Updated February 21, 2017

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty or abdomen reduction, is a surgical procedure to reduce the skin and fat located in the stomach and abdominal area. A tummy tuck is performed by a cosmetic or plastic surgeon and requires approximately six weeks of recovery before you will be able to resume your normal activities, including exercising and stretching. Some swelling after a tummy tuck procedure is normal, although there are some ways to reduce the swelling during your recovery.

Drink eight 236ml glasses of water per day. You may think that drinking water will add to bloating and water weight, but the real culprit is constipation. Taking pain medication during your recovery will cause constipation, which can add to the swelling of your stomach during recovery. Constipation can be remedied by drinking water.

Eat less salt. Sodium causes water retention and bloating, especially in the stomach area. Avoid fast food and other foods high in salt, like chips, canned soups, and salted nuts, while you are recovering from your tummy tuck.

Exercise appropriately. Try walking around the block the first day you feel comfortable walking short distances. Then, continue increasing your walking pace every day. Do not, however, go jogging, do sit-ups, or stretch your hands above your head, because these activities will increase swelling and prolong your recovery time.

Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine will retain fluid in your body and create swelling in your stomach. Do not drink colas, tea, or coffee. Do not take caffeine pills while you are recovering from a tummy tuck.

Get a massage. Ask your surgeon if massage treatment is right for you. If you had other surgical procedures done at the same time as your tummy tuck, your doctor may recommend another activity, like gentle stretching and walking, to help circulation. If you get the go-ahead, wait two weeks after the procedure before getting a massage. Tell your masseuse that you will not be able to lie on your stomach, and to be gentle around your stomach area. The massage will help your blood flow and assist with the drainage of lymph fluid that can build up in the body and cause tissue swelling.


Tummy tuck surgery is not right for everyone--consult your doctor to see if a tummy tuck is the right option for you.


If you experience severe bleeding during your recovery, contact your doctor immediately.

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