How Long Does Your Belly Button Need To Heal After A Tummy Tuck?

Dr. Atul Kesarwani is the medical director of the Cosmedical Rejuvenation Clinic. As a board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Kesarwani has 30+ years of experience in the field. Read more about Dr. Kesarwani >


Did you just get a tummy tuck? Wondering how long it takes the belly button to heal? Read on to find out.

Did you know that 129,753 people got a tummy tuck in 2017 alone? Well, if you’re one of the thousands of people who’ve undertaken this procedure, you’ll probably want to know how long it’ll be before your belly button fully heals.

Luckily for you, we’re going to explore this topic right here in this blog post. Let’s dive in!

What Happens During a Tummy Tuck?

In short, this surgical procedure removes excess skin and fat from around the tummy area, and the abdominal muscles are compressed to give the appearance of a flatter stomach.

Occasionally, liposuction is also necessary to get rid of the harder fatty deposits.

Typically, the incision runs horizontally from one hip to the other. Sometimes, the surgery results in your belly button having to move to complement your tighter abdomen.

You’ll Be Briefed by Your Doctor

Often surgeons need to reconstruct a natural-looking belly button during the procedure. This means you’ll need to speak with your surgeon beforehand to ensure you know what to expect afterward.

How to Care for Your Belly Button After Surgery

Naturally, you need to take care of your belly button during the aftermath of your surgery. This means taking time to rest (however hard this might be). It’s common for patients to take a couple of weeks off of work to help them recover fully.

Under no circumstances can you participate in heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for six weeks.

It’s usually essential for you to wear a compression garment for at least three weeks after your surgery.  Not only does this help your body to heal but it also supports the new contours of your abdomen.

It’s entirely natural for your belly button to swell after your procedure. It can take as long as six months for it to recover completely. However, in some cases, it could be as little as three weeks!

Unsurprisingly, this can result in minor ‘crusting’ across your scars. However, this should also clear itself up in around a months time.

In short, you’ll need to be patient with yourself while you wait for the full results of your surgery.

What Should You Look For?

Most of us aren’t medically trained so, it can be difficult to know what symptoms are considered ‘out of the ordinary.’ So, here are a few things you to keep an eye on:

  • Does the belly button look overly constricted?
  • Does the belly button appear too open?
  • Has the scar got more prominent over time rather than fading?
  • Does the belly button look distorted?
  • Is there either pus or blood coating the belly button?

If you’re suffering from any of these or you’re uncomfortable with anything else you see, consult your doctor.

When Do You Need Professional Help?

If after six months your belly button hasn’t mended,  you need to get medical help. There’s a good chance it will be infected. Not to worry,  this is easily treated with antibiotics.

Your Recovery

Be prepared for your stomach to feel numb for a few weeks after your surgery. Whatever you do, don’t use a heating pad to counteract the numbness- you’ll just end up burning yourself without realizing. Ouch!

You should note: it’s entirely reasonable to feel more tired than you would usually. Healing zaps up a lot of energy, so it can take anywhere up to six weeks for you to enjoy normal energy level again.

Unfortunately, you might not be able to stand straight for a while. Don’t let this distress you, or put you off from walking every day. You’ll need to push yourself to walk around; it’s the only way to regain normal posture and movement.

As the days go by, try to walk a little further each time. This helps stimulate blood flow which is imperative for fighting pneumonia and/or constipation.

Activity Tips

When it comes to physical movement, be sure to heed the below advice:

  • If you’re tired, allow yourself to rest. Sleep helps recovery. Period.
  • Don’t participate in workouts focusing on the stomach or attempt any strenuous aerobic activities, for at least eight weeks.
  • Consult your doctor to find out when it’s safe for you to drive. This same rule also applies to sexual intercourse.
  • You should be able to shower two days after your tummy tuck (providing your doctors okay with that). However, bathing isn’t recommended for at least two weeks.

If you follow all the above advice, you shouldn’t go too far wrong!

How to Care for Your Incision

If you want to care for your incision properly, take on board the tips below:

There’s a good chance you’ll have pieces of tape covering your incision. Try to keep these on for at least a week, and follow any advice your doctors give about their removal.

Once you’ve taken the tape off, it’s imperative you keep the area clean by cleansing it with warm soapy water, daily.

You can gently pat the site of the incision dry with a clean towel. However, DON’T use alcohol rubs or products with peroxide in them. This can cause tons of aggravation and hinder the healing process.

If the site of the incision starts to ooze or irritate you, you can cover it with a clean bandage. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and change the dressing every day to avoid infection.


If you were taking regular medicines before your surgery, follow your doctor’s advice as to when you can start retaking these drugs.

They’ll also tell you how to take new medication they prescribe. For example, there’s a chance you’ll be prescribed antibiotics.

If you are, take the full course. Do NOT stop taking them because you begin feeling an improvement; this only makes things worse in the long run.

The same’s true of painkillers, only take them as directed or as prescribed. If you haven’t been prescribed medication for pain management, check with your doctor whether you can take painkillers from the drug store. If they say you’re allowed to take drugs for pain relief, ask them which pain medication they recommend.

Occasionally, patients find that prescribed pain medication makes them feel nauseous. If this is something you’re suffering with, try taking your medicine after eating.

However, if this doesn’t help, speak with your doctor and see if they’ll prescribe you an alternative.

When Should I Contact My Doctor?

You should call your physician if any of the following scenarios apply to you:

  • Your stitches become loose,
  • Your pain medicine isn’t giving you any relief,
  • The site of your incision opens up and/or is bleeding.
  • You’re showing symptoms of infection. For example:
    • Swelling,
    • Increased pain,
    • Redness.
    • Red streaks or pus is coming from the site of the incision.
    • You’re feverish
  • You’re exhibiting signs of a blood clot in your leg. For example:
    • You’re suffering from either a: painful calf, knee, back of the knee, groin, or thigh,
    • Your leg or groin are showing redness.
    • There’s swelling in your leg or groin,
  • You’re vomiting continually.

All in all, you need to be more aware of your health, if you don’t get better as you expected, reach out to your GP.

When Should You Call for Emergency Help?

If you’re seriously concerned about the immediate state of your health, you may need to call 911. If any of these symptoms below apply to you,  contact emergency services- straight away:

  • Have you passed out?
  • Have you experienced rapid chest pain and/or find it hard to breathe?
  • Have you coughed up any blood?
  • Do you have excruciating stomach pains?

If so, don’t hesitate to dial 911.

Last Pieces of Advice

Last but not least, we have some final pieces of advice for you.

You may find it painful to cough immediately after your surgery. If so, try placing a soft pillow over your incision, and breath deeply. This helps support the stomach are and hopefully lessen the pain.

There’s a good chance you’ll need a few follow up appointments with your doctor. If so, be sure to make and attend them as directed by the medical professionals you’ve been in contact with.

Have You Just Had a Tummy Tuck?

If you’ve just undergone a tummy tuck procedure and found this article useful, then we’re confident you’ll love our other feature on how to continue tightening and toning your stomach. Enjoy!

Alternatively, if you’ve any questions or concerns about what you’ve just read, please feel free to reach out and contact us. We’re always more than happy to help. Speak soon!

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