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The Ultimate Tummy Tuck Recovery Checklist

October 17, 2022

Everything You Actually Need To Ace Post-Op

Tummy tucks are an investment in you. When preparing for postoperative care, your main priority should be safety and comfort.

Surgery recovery isn’t as scary or intense as you might think. Your team will prep you with exact expectations, but you generally don’t have to purchase much beyond what your surgeon’s office will likely provide to you. Of course, everyone is different, so analyze your unique situation to ensure that you feel ready and confident!

Your Tummy Tuck Recovery Must Haves

Preparing for your tummy tuck surgery

What should you make sure you have on hand before your tummy tuck? Here’s what we recommend to our patients:

  • Compression garments
  • Thin undershirts
  • Protein supplements
  • Lanyard for surgical drain
  • Gauze pads & medicated ointment
  • Scar gel
  • Pre-surgery prescription pick-up

Two compression garments

Your binder is your best friend for the first six weeks of recovery. Compression garments prevent fluid buildup, or seromas, beneath the skin. You will leave the surgery center wearing a compression garment and we will give you an additional garment at your first post-op appointment. That way, you’ll have one to wear while you wash the other.

Thin undershirt

Wearing a thin, soft camisole or tank top beneath your binder prevents pinching or discomfort that your compression binder may cause. If you and your binder are joined at the hip throughout recovery, you might as well be comfortable!

Protein supplement

Protein shakes or powders are a must for any kind of surgery recovery. Your body is repairing itself after having surgery and needs extra nutritional support. Dr. Sieffert recommends a minimum of 50 grams of protein per day for optimal healing.

Lanyard for your drain

A drain after a tummy tuck collects excess fluid buildup. Drain lanyards hold up your drain, allowing for a hands-free experience. This is especially helpful during your showers. You can learn more about performing proper drain care here.

Gauze pads & medicated ointment

Small openings in your surgical site aren’t uncommon during recovery. Having gauze pads and antibacterial ointments like Neosporin, Aquafor, or Bacitracin, is helpful in case your patient care team instructs you to apply them at home.

Scar gel

Some scarring is inevitable after surgery, but scar gel can make it as unnoticeable as possible. Begin use of scar gel 3-4 weeks after your surgery. This is a great way to protect the results you just invested in.


You’ll be instructed to prop up your feet and your head throughout the first few weeks of your recovery. Pillows provide support and structure throughout this time. Consider purchasing a wedge pillow for optimal support.

Pick up prescriptions before your surgery

Your surgical team will review exactly what medications they will prescribe you and how to take them. Remember to pick them up prior to your surgery date and contact your team with any questions!

Options Tummy Tuck Recovery Items

Optional Supplies for Tummy Tuck Recovery

Here are things that could make your tummy tuck recovery more comfortable or easier, but they aren’t totally necessary:

  • Additional compression garments
  • Arnica gel/tablets
  • Shapewear
  • Multivitamins
  • A recliner
  • A temporary recovery home
  • Food delivery services
  • Pet care

Additional compression garments

The more the merrier! Feel free to purchase additional compression garments to supplement the two that we provide you. If you buy them online, look for a three-panel abdominal binder. And remember, they should be snug but not too tight!

Arnica gel or tablets

Arnica is a homeopathic solution for decreasing bruising and swelling and speeding up wound healing. Arnica can be taken orally as a tablet or applied topically as a gel or cream.


Down the line, you may opt to wear a compression garment other than your abdominal binder. We recommend a compression tank top or tummy-control underwear. Shapewear can provide support and compression that can aid in results and comfort, while being a bit more discrete than your post-op binder. Remember to abide by the post-op instructions that your surgical team lays out for you.

Daily multivitamin

Vitamin supplements Columbus, Ohio

Vitamins are especially helpful during post-op, so your body can stay strong and healthy while healing. Most people aren’t getting the rainbow of fruits and vegetables as is. A multivitamin ensures your body is getting enough of the required micronutrients necessary for healing.


After a tummy tuck, you must sit and lay down in a way that doesn’t stretch or irritate your incision site. You must sleep propped up for the first couple of weeks after surgery. A recliner can make this easier, but you can achieve the same elevation by propping yourself up with pillows.

Recovery home

A recovery home would only be necessary for the first few days after your tummy tuck if you don’t have someone at home to assist you or if you would just rather be alone. The most important consideration when choosing a recovery home is that the staff is qualified nurses. The vast majority of our patients go home after surgery and only need assistance from a loved one for the first 2-3 days following surgery.

Food delivery options

You should be focused on resting after your tummy tuck – not on cooking. Research healthy meal prep options or food delivery near you to make sure you have access to balanced meals post-operatively.

Pet care

You love your pets, but they shouldn’t be cuddling on your tummy after a tummy tuck! Keep in mind that your recovery timeline may interfere with fur babies’ schedules for a bit. We’re sure they will forgive you!

Feeling Prepared For Your Tummy Tuck?

We’ve constructed intentional checkpoints throughout your surgical journey to make sure you feel prepared. It’s normal to have pre-surgery jitters, but it’s not okay to feel alone or confused.

Dr. Michelle Sieffert Author Photo 2

About the Author

Dr. Michelle Sieffert is an experienced breast and body plastic surgeon in Columbus, Ohio. During her time as a board-certified plastic surgeon, she has transformed the lives of men and women with one of her specialties, the abdominoplasty. Dr. Sieffert understands that the abdominoplasty (often referred to as tummy tuck surgery) is an investment that should produce natural yet meaningful results.