Abdominal Damage Due to Heavy Coughing 1 Week Post Op, What Can I Do? (photo)

I recently had a Circumferential Abdominoplasty Feb 29th. About 8-10 days after (I can't remember exactly), I choked on some water while sitting up. I coughed pretty hard a few times and felt a burning sensation in my lower abdomen (right above the incision line). Since then, the area has been swollen, almost bulging out. There was no swelling/bulging right after surgery. I am draining fluid still, and my doctor couldn't get any fluid with a syringe in the area. I am worried. (23 year old male).

Doctor Answers (3)

Abdominal swelling after surgery and coughing.

+1

Swelling after an abdominoplasty is normal, especially in the lower abdomen where the tissue swelling is likely to be greatest due to either normal swelling of the tissues or a fluid build up underneath the tissues.  Your surgeon could not get any fluid out with a syringe and your drains are still in and they drain that area, so it's unlikely there is a fluid collection in that area, it's probably the tissues themselves which are swollen.  Time, your compression garment and patience should see this resolve over 3-6 months.  Be sure to follow closely with your plastic surgeon.


Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Damage from Coughing after Tummy Tuck Surgery

+1

Thank you for your question.

As always, it is best to be seen in person ( by your plastic surgeon) for precise diagnosis and treatment and it sounds like your surgeon is taking care of you.
Abdominal wall "swelling" after tummy tuck may be related to:
1. Swelling in the soft tissues.  This may take several months to resolve and may worsen with increased activity  or at the end of the day.   Patience  is required to allow for resolution of the swelling. The swelling occurs because of the interruption of venous and lymphatic channels that occurs during the tummy tuck operation.
2. Fluid accumulation in the space between the skin and the abdominal wall muscle.  this may consist of blood ( hematoma)  or serum (seroma).  This fluid accumulation can generally be diagnosed by physical examination ( occasionally ultrasound  may be helpful).  Treatment consists of aspiration;  several episodes of aspiration may be necessary. 
3. Separation of the abdominal wall muscle repair may lead to a swelling/bulge appearance. This may be diagnosed on physical examination  with your surgeon examining you in different bodily positions. One of the steps of a tummy tuck procedure involves reapproximation (plication)  of the rectus muscles.  These muscles have spread apart during pregnancy and/or weight gain. Bringing them together again in the midline helps to “tighten” the abdominal wall as well as to narrow the waistline.
4. Residual adipose tissue may be confused for swelling. Again this is most easily diagnosed by physical examination. Additional liposuction surgery maybe necessary to improve the results of surgery.
Generally, it takes many months for swelling to resolve after tummy tuck surgery and it may take up to one year  (or greater)  a complete skin redraping  to occur.
I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 781 reviews

Swelling after a Tummy Tuck / Abdominoplasty

+1

Lower abdominal welling within the first 1-2 weeks following abdominoplasty is either from a seroma or edema. As there is no redness or mention of fever I doubt that there is an infection. If your drains are functioning well and your doctor had a "dry tap" then it is probably edema. Use of an elastic garment and time will usually resolve this issue. A physical exam would be required to tell you more.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.