Back aching after tummy tuck

There’s no denying that tummy tuck and liposuction are two of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the country. But what happens when you have tummy tuck or lipo, but then end up with back pain?

According to a recent study from the Journal of Neurosurgery, up to 70% of patients who undergo a tummy tuck or liposuction may experience some level of back pain. This is understandable—after all, these procedures usually involve removing fat deposits from the belly area, which means that your waistline will be significantly smaller than before. That’s great news if you’re looking for a slimmer figure, but it can lead to other problems if it leaves your muscles and ligaments stretched out and weakened. In this guide, we review the aspects of Back aching after tummy tuck, how to relieve back pain after abdominal surgery, worst days after tummy tuck, Back aching after tummy tuck.

In addition to stretching out your muscles, the skin around your abdomen may also become loose after surgery, which can cause sagging and other issues down the road (and make clothes fit differently). And finally, many people find themselves having trouble walking after these procedures because they’re so sore or uncomfortable.

So what can you do if you’re experiencing back pain after tummy tuck or lipo? First off: don’t

Back aching after tummy tuck

Recently, a patient came into my office for a consultation about a body contouring operation. She was concerned about back pain after a tummy tuck as she had read that it can be a problem. Unfortunately, she ended up choosing another surgeon to perform her tummy tuck operation, one who claimed to have a special technique to prevent resulting back pain. If your back pain is a result of a sports injury, then you may need to seek Sports Medicine Injury Therapy.

Why unfortunately? Because I know through tummy tuck surgical experience and research at my NYC practice that the only way to guarantee zero back pain after a tummy tuck is to perform a subpar operation. Let me explain.

The Anatomy of a Tummy Tuck

During a tummy tuck, an incision is made in the lower abdomen, and the skin from the umbilicus down to the incision is removed. The remaining tummy skin is then pulled down while the mons pubis region is lifted slightly in order to close the resulting wound. How tightly the wound is closed depends almost entirely on the height at which the initial incision is made.The lower the incision, the tighter the closure will be.
There is always some pain associated with a tummy tuck, as with any surgery, but there are tips for relieving tummy tuck pain which your surgeon will discuss with you. However, some patients experience back pain as well. There are some useful references you can find online in this regard.

What Causes Back Pain After a Tummy Tuck?

Back pain after a tummy tuck is an occasional phenomenon but is not the norm. It sometimes occurs in patients who don’t have a lot of lower tummy skin to remove, resulting in a tighter closure than usual. This prevents the patient from being able to stand upright for a few days or sometimes weeks after the surgery. It is important to mention that there are NO reported incidents of patients not being able to stand straight after reasonable recovery time.

However, many similar patients with very little tummy skin to remove never experience back pain while recovering from a tummy tuck. So, why does this happen in some patients and not others?

This tight closure is both the ideal result of a tummy tuck operation and the ultimate cause of related back pain. A tight closure requires more time after the operation to allow the patient to relax, stand straight, sleep on their belly, or extend their back.

If this recovery period goes on for more than a week—as sometimes happens—then it should be no surprise that patients might develop some back pain. This is the result of remaining in a hunched position for a week and has nothing to do with the surgery proper. You might check out this useful reference to relieve back pain and get well ASAP.

If this recovery period goes on for more than a week—as sometimes happens—then it should be no surprise that patients might develop some back pain. This is the result of remaining in a hunched position for a week and has nothing to do with the surgery proper.

The Reality of the “Special Technique”

So what was the “special technique” developed by a plastic surgeon in Chicago that my consult patient chose in order to avoid back pain?
In order for the surgeon to promise no back pain after a tummy tuck, he would have to make the incision higher on the tummy. In doing so, he would remove less tummy skin and would not have a tight abdominal closure.

In other words, to avoid the possibility of back pain, a patient undergoing this “special technique” would come away with her tummy not as tight as it could be. Not only that, she may not be able to wear a bikini ever again because the scar will show from the higher incision.

Be Informed About Your Tummy Tuck

Realistically, if you are going to sign up for a tummy tuck—including all of the cost, both financial and otherwise—wouldn’t you want the best tummy tuck you could get in NY? If my consult patient had understood the problems associated with back pain prevention, I wonder what choice she would have made.

If you are considering a tummy tuck or any surgery, make sure you are fully informed of the techniques your surgeon plans to use and ask questions about recovery times, scarring and, any other concerns you might have. You might even want to check out one of my other blog posts regarding tummy tuck recovery — it even includes a video to help you better understand the process.

Informed decisions are the key to great results. Visit my website for more information about tummy tucks, including procedures, recovery and photos of actual patients. You can schedule your tummy tuck consultation using this online form or by calling my office at (212) 249-4020.

Back pain is a serious issue. Unless it is a result of a surgery, you should consult a chiropractor. Go to to learn about the benefits of chiropractic care.

Click on the following BioGreen Life – plant-based nutrition news to get your healthy daily inputs.

how to relieve back pain after abdominal surgery

Abdominal surgeries can include anything from a hernia repair to a c-section, or a gynecologic scope procedure or diastasis repair.  They may all seem unrelated except for ONE main thing… The CORE muscles were CUT!

Regardless of the size of the incision or scar, this was a major impact to the abdominal muscles and larger core muscle team.

Often, the abdominals will reflexively become overly tense due to pain while recovering and guarding while moving in the first days and perhaps weeks.  Left to their own devices, the abdominal muscles could become disconnected from the rest of the core team.

(This is where pelvic PT comes in to play)

The following is a list of things you can do in the early days and weeks to care for YOUR abdominal incision.  Note: have you had abdominal surgery but it has been a while?  Read on! There may still be some concepts that are missing from your self care or concepts that may be the missing piece to your complete recovery.

1). Abdominal Binder:

These are often prescribed to patients as they are getting discharged from the hospital.  Think of them as a corset of sorts, but the goal with these is to provide moderate support to the belly muscles as they are newly healing.  Why?  Abdominal muscles can often feel quite sore when you move at all or try to pick up something more than 3-5 pounds.  A binder should fit snug, but not feel restrictive.  

Some people choose to wear their binder morning and night at first and then wean off of the time they are sleeping or are sedentary.

NOTE: If you are wearing a brace after a c-section, watch for any increase in sensation of downward pelvic floor pressure. Discontinue using the brace if this is a case and consult with your healthcare provider. You can also learn more in the postpartum guide:

2). Scar Care:

As your doctor or surgeon likely told you, it is important to get eyes on the incisions daily in the first few weeks to watch for any signs of infection.  That would look like excessive redness, puffiness, or feel excessively painful.

Once the scabs have fallen off is when it is safe to begin scar massage.  This is where you place your fingertips around and on top of the scar/s and help the tissues to move and glide again.  It can look like making circles, criss cross pattern, or mild to moderate sustained stretch to the soft tissues around the incision.  I usually encourage patients to work on their scar most days for only a few minutes with the window of biggest impact being the first 3 months.  

Specific scar lotions, salves, oils can also be helpful here to lessen any discoloration or dryness.

3). Belly Breathing:

As mentioned earlier in this post, the abdominal muscles are a part of the greater core muscle team.  With any injury or surgery involving any of these muscles, the core team will be affected.  Namely, the synchronized coordination of these muscles with breathing can be altered.

To belly breath, one should lay on their back to start with a pillow under their knees.  A hand can be placed on their belly and a hand on their chest.  Focus on inhaling through the nose with the belly rising and exhale through the mouth with the belly falling back down.  Work in groups of 10 to start as it can take a lot of focus for many.  Work into a full breathing session of 5-10 minutes.

Progression: once breathing on your back feels better and normalized, you can progress to doing this same breathing pattern (inhale through nose- belly expands, exhale- let belly recoil).  If side lying posture feels easy, then progress on all fours.  The challenge here is to actually let the belly FULLY release towards the floor with inhale and then gently engage the abdominals to lift the belly back up to the spine.

4). Sneeze Alert:

A hard sneeze in the early days after surgery can be quite the painful thing… I mean this is forced quick contraction of the very core muscles that were just cut and then stitched back up!  I recommend having a small little pillow handy in the first couple of weeks following surgery.  And when you feel a sneeze coming on, grab that pillow and gently press it into the belly where the stitches are located to provide some bracing of the muscles.

How do we know when we can progress to higher level core activities??

This will firstly be based on your surgeon’s protocol.  But once you are given the “all clear” it doesn’t mean that a run or cross fit gym is the right thing for you just yet.  You’ll want to know that your core muscle team is organized and can accommodate to the demand of higher level activities without having to compensate or seeing the belly bulge outward (indicating loss of pressure management).

THIS is where a pelvic PT can come in VERY HANDY to help guide you towards increasing activity safely or continue to help you heal and resolve any remaining pain.  Pelvic PTs are typically pretty obsessed with good exercise form and will be sure that you are safe the entire way on your healing journey.

Have questions about your post surgery journey?  Click the link below to schedule a consult to have us listen to your story and help with determining if we are a good match to help you find the healing that you deserve.

Have questions? I’d love to hear from you!

Buffy Stinchfield is an expert in women’s and pelvic health as a pelvic health physical therapist. She helps women in the Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon area from pregnancy and postpartum through peri menopause and post menopause regain their core and pelvic floor health and resolve pelvic, hip, and low back pain.

Her clients are able to resolve issues including urinary incontinence, urinary frequency, bladder pain, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, back pain, hip pain, and more. She is also known by some of her patients as a birth coach as she helps them prepare their bodies for a successful vaginal delivery as well as recover and return to fitness activities safely.

worst days after tummy tuck

How long does it take to recover from a tummy tuck procedure? Contrary to common belief, tummy tuck recovery time is not nearly as long and painful as it once was. New surgical and treatment techniques allow patients to recover more quickly and with relatively minimal discomfort.

How Long Does It Take to Heal from a Tummy Tuck?

There are a variety of abdominoplasty and tummy tuck procedures available, and each one has a slightly different recovery time. Your treatment plan is determined by the level of correction needed to meet the desired end results.

Most patients return to work after a tummy tuck within 7-10 days and resume strenuous exercise in about 4-6 weeks. By 3 to 6 months post-op, most patients are enjoying their permanent results.

However, it is also important to note that results are only permanent when patients maintain them with regular exercise and a healthy diet.

As you read the tummy tuck recovery week by week details below, understand that the healing time for every tummy tuck is different and depends upon the extent of your surgical plan. However, in most cases, there is a relatively predictable tummy tuck recovery timeline.

Day 1 of the Surgery

Tummy tuck procedures are performed under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Therefore, you must have someone to drive you home after surgery and take care of you afterward so you can rest for the remainder of the day. It may take several hours for the anesthesia medication to wear off, so expect to be groggy for a while.

Discomfort is also to be expected, which can be managed with medications. During your pre-operative appointment, you will receive prescriptions for oral medications to take prior to surgery to reduce the likelihood of infection as well as prescription pain medications to help you manage your discomfort.

Week 1 After Surgery

Week one of tummy tuck recovery involves getting plenty of rest and following all of the surgeon’s post-operative instructions. This will not only help heal your incision heal and reduce swelling more quickly, but it will also help to maximize your tummy tuck results.

What does a tummy tuck recovery day by day timeline look like in the first week? Here’s what to keep in mind:

Remember, discomfort, bruising, and swelling are to be expected, but if you begin to experience fever, nausea, unusual pain, or redness around the incision site, contact your surgeon.

Back aching after tummy tuck

The Truth About Tummy Tuck Recovery: Does It Really Hurt?

As patient counselors at our plastic surgery centers in Denver and Golden, CO, Carrie and I have listened to many tummy tuck patients. We have talked with these patients before surgery and after recovery—and helped them push through their fears.

We meet with women daily who want to eliminate sagging skin and a protruding abdomen and reduce the extent of stretch marks left behind after pregnancy or weight loss. However, many patients have become so frightened by the perceived “painful” recovery—that they end up postponing their procedure for months and sometimes years!

Listen up! Procrastination is a big mistake! Why put off the future of a sleek, flat, bikini-wearing, defined stomach for a few weeks of discomfort? Understanding the truth about pain, taking advantage of modern pain management, and setting yourself up with ample recovery time and support will make for a successful recovery.

How painful is a tummy tuck?

Many patients worry about what to expect after a tummy tuck. Luckily, the pain during tummy tuck recovery does not outweigh the amazing results afterward, and men and women who’ve had the procedure give it a 96% Worth It rating on Keep in mind that the human psyche is extremely masterful at dramatizing a painful recovery scene before we have experienced the event. The truth is, nothing about the tummy tuck recovery is excruciating.

How long does the tightness last after a tummy tuck?

The discomfort after a tummy tuck comes not from the incision, which will actually be numb for some time, but from the muscle tightening. Patients find normal activities such as standing up straight, walking up stairs, and getting out of a seated position or bed uncomfortable because the core muscles are sore after being sewn together from the breast bone to the pubic bone.

Think about it this way: A tummy tuck is basically military boot camp for the abdominal muscles. Those stubborn muscles loved the roominess of your loose abdomen. For about a week, they retaliate by acting sore and tired. Those muscles quickly become angry and fatigued from the layers of sutures placed to keep them tight. The soreness diminishes after a week and you start to think less and less about it. Most women are walking upright and going about daily activities after just 2 weeks.

Patients go back to working out at 4 to 6 weeks post-tummy tuck. Some report small muscle “zingers” with workouts or yoga, which is completely normal. However, we advise patients to go back to working out slowly and back off if it hurts. Many of our extremely active patients get back to working out sooner and report stronger core strength as an added benefit.

A game-changer in pain management: How effective is EXPAREL?

In addition to using a no-drain tummy tuck technique and prescribing the best oral pain medications available, Dr. Vath, Dr. Wolfe, and Dr. Steinwald offer EXPAREL® for long-lasting pain control. This non-narcotic, non-opioid pain reliever is injected directly into the abdominal tissue, fascia, and muscles during surgery. It is effective in managing pain for up to 72 hours post-op.

Not only does EXPAREL help patients get through the first 72 hours post-op with significantly reduced discomfort, but it is also great for patients who wish to limit the amount of narcotic pain meds they need to take. Oral pain relievers can cause extreme drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, and constipation in some patients. Our patients who opt to add EXPAREL to their procedure report a 50% reduction in narcotic pain medication consumption versus those who do not. EXPAREL adds to the total surgical investment, but the patients who have used it feel it is well worth the cost.

What is the fastest way to recover from a tummy tuck?

Set yourself up for 2 weeks of doing nothing but recovering. Carrie and I counsel patients about getting into the “recovery mindset.” Most of us modern women are busy and overscheduled. We do it all: From working, cooking, rearing children, exercising, to volunteer work. We like to think we are superhuman. This notion can make for a frustrating and uncomfortable recovery process because we aren’t able to keep up with the demands and responsibilities of “normal” life during the first 2 weeks post-surgery.

Your energy will return in a few short weeks. However, you will not be able to run the household or your career by yourself during this time.

Sleeping a lot is normal (and encouraged!) during recovery. You shouldn’t be making any important decisions or responding to serious emails while on pain medication. Remind yourself that you just had SURGERY and you need downtime. Enlist your family and friends to help out with meals, cleaning, running errands, and watching the kids. You’ll be glad you asked for support.

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